This past week I met up with Sparkledancer for one of Sir Steven’s Friday night group classes. The dance hall was really empty when I got there – Sir Steven was chatting with Lady Detroit, one of the other teachers there, and Sparkledancer was on the couch putting her shoes on. As the class was about to begin, no one else had shown up, so Lady Detroit took her leave. We chatted a bit to give any stragglers time to make it to the dance hall, but after the class time started and no one else had shown up, Sir Steven decided to use the time with us as a personal coaching lesson. We spent the stint working on our International Rumba routine, with a bit of Cha-Cha near the end, rather than going over the lesson he had planned for the class. It was an evening well spent working on things he said he would have gone through with us later in the week anyway. He had already planned to make some changes to the Rumba because he didn’t like the ending section anymore, and now we had this perfect opportunity to review all the changes he wanted to make early so that she and I could get the new pattern memorized before we saw him again on Tuesday night. We managed to get a lot done in an hour despite some… unexpected adversity. During our class, something must have been going on with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer that I didn’t quite understand, because they thought that everything was really hilarious while we were working, and they just wouldn’t stop laughing. There were a couple of points where we actually had to stop what we were doing for a bit because they were laughing too hard to continue, and even I would find myself drawn into their mirth and began laughing along with them because of the absurdity of it all. I’m still not quite sure what set them off – it all seemed to start when a particular Cha-Cha song came on while we were waiting to see if others would arrive, and then we were talking about being like the song’s singer and wandering around wearing clothes made of meat, and then I think someone made a crack about how men would look pretty beefy if they wore meat-clothes (feel free to groan at that), and it just kind of devolved from there. Luckily, even with that going on, by the end we had the new pattern for Rumba. I even insisted that we make a recording of what we did just in case all any of us remembered from the class was the comedy (which has been known to happen in my life).
Sir Steven had one other lesson late that night after the class with the Band kids Ramone and Misfit. They had been working hard the last couple of months trying to finish their wedding dance since they are getting married soon. They had started dancing quite a while back with the intention to do a wedding dance, but ended up covering more and more material in all kinds of dance styles without actually working on what they came in to do. They were having so much fun, they completely forgot about things until a couple of months ago when they realized that they had to get the actual wedding dance finished before the big day. So, on the recommendation of some of us one Friday night, they got in touch with Sir Steven and he put together their choreography. Fast forward to this past Friday night, and while we were headed over to get ice cream (like we usually do), Sir Steven sent a bunch of us a message to come over to the dance hall to be an audience for Ramone and Misfit to perform in front of for practice. Since Sparkledancer and I had just left, it was easy for us to return, and Bony showed up a short while later. Sir Steven was quite proud of himself for this routine – he said that too many people lately would do a wedding dance that was slow to start with, and then would fade into a more up-tempo song like 45 seconds in. He wanted these two to do a real slow Rumba to start with, an entire routine with a nice pose of Ramone dipping Misfit at the end, and after a short pause for likely applause then they would transition into a second completely different Hustle routine, making their wedding dance more like two separate dances than one that transitioned into the other. We watched them run things over and over again, cheering them on and providing feedback when requested. Sir Steven even asked us in the ‘crowd’ to try and make them laugh, since the more they practiced that night the less they smiled as they tired out. In the end, they said they were as ready as they would ever be, so we all packed up and went to finally get to the ice cream parlor to meet up with everyone else there.
When Sir Steven, Sparkledancer and I met up again Tuesday night for our regularly scheduled coaching lesson, we went back to the Rumba again. Now that we had the new pattern down, there was talk about putting some sort of character into the dance, or as Sir Steven so lovingly phrased it, I needed to ‘put on a sexy Rumba face.’ This is where I think I am going to struggle the most. I don’t really do sexy. I don’t know if I can do sexy. I can do comical, and I’m sure that anything I do to try and look sexy will inadvertently come across as comical. While I would feel more at home eliciting laughter rather than swooning from anyone watching me dance, I don’t think that would go over well in a competition environment. There are all these spots during the dance that Sir Steven wants me to make a point of making eye contact with Sparkledancer, and all I can think of is how it is going to look really silly when I do that, or how much I’ll have to resist sticking my tongue out at her… things which are going to cause her to laugh, which would break the dance character, which will inevitably get me banned from dancing for being too funny looking. Am I getting to a point where what I’m doing is going to become more like acting than dancing? Or is dancing really just acting in time to music? Sir Steven also told us that we are apparently too close together while we are dancing certain Rumba figures. He told us that even when we are in closed positions, we need to pretend like there is a cow encircled by our arms. Cows get really unhappy when you don’t give them enough room, so we’re supposed to make sure that there is always enough space for that cow as we work through things. To emphasize his point, as we worked through the figures he would randomly decide to duck under our arms and come up in the middle between us. Obviously the man is nowhere near as big as a cow, but if we forgot to leave enough room for even his trifling physique, then we weren’t doing things how he wanted.
While I’m thinking about Sir Steven not being as big as a cow… recently he has made it a goal in his life to get out to the gym and bulk up a bit. I’ve been discussing this with him a lot, because I remember going through the same thing many years ago (I will admit, the ‘discussing’ we do may contain a fair amount of ribbing). He is a lot smaller than I ever was – I’m sure you have a good mental picture of him, with the slight frame of your average dance instructor, looking like he might weigh 130 pounds after jumping into a pool while wearing a three-piece suit. Back in the day when I was an avid runner and had very little upper body mass, I still easily weighed more than that, and he and I are about the same height. But you know what the funniest thing Sir Steven told me is? He said that he was the biggest person in his family. I’m convinced now that the man must come from a tiny race of tiny people! It boggles my mind to think about how much he will have to eat in order to actually build significant muscle. The amount of food I had to take in during those times I attempted to add mass over the years seemed like a lot to me, and I never spent as much of my average day dancing around and burning off all those calories like he does. He might have to eat constantly when he’s not teaching, or sew an extra pocket into his vest that is used for snacks. I hope it works out for him, but it will be challenging. On one day recently that he went out to the gym with Lord Junior, he already managed to injure himself by pushing too hard. From what he explained to me, it sounded like he was trying to do a squat with a barbell that had far too much weight, and his back did not like trying to do that move. He had trouble bending forward fully for a few days after that.
There’s a dance field trip this weekend to the City Dance Hall. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, so I’m looking forward to it. With everyone being so busy lately, it looks like the stars might align and there could be another dance field trip a couple of weeks from now as well. So much to look forward to in August! If you want to tag along, stay tuned for next time!