Being a new month, Friday night class has been switched out, and now we are working on International Rumba. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on Rumba, or any International Latin or American Rhythm dances that are not Pasodoble for that matter. Being the first class of the month, with a bunch of newcomers who had never done this dance style before attending, we only covered some basic things – the Rumba basic, the Cross-Body Lead, then going from the Cross-Body out to Fan Position, and finishing with a couple of different ways to close back to dance frame from Fan Position. Since enough people who were new to International Rumba were there, we also spent some time talking about the timing for this style and how it differed from American Rumba. Of everything that we covered during class, this concept was the one most people found confusing (especially if we started from the middle of a figure we were learning), so Sir Steven spent a lot of time counting out the beats in the music rather than leaving people to their own devices. Sparkledancer told me that HotDog was complaining to her during the class that he was bored, since everything that we were doing was so basic and he had already learned some more advanced things in American Rumba, so he didn’t really want to be going through the same thing over and over again any longer. Apparently he was struggling with the timing when he was dancing with her, so I guess he didn’t have the basic concepts down quite as well as he claimed. I did my best to take all the things that I had been working on during all the Latin Technique classes I had taken on Rumba and apply them to everything that we covered during class. I had hoped that Lord Junior would have noticed and been proud of me for what I was doing, but he was off in a different corner teaching a personal lesson to a different student, so he wasn’t paying attention. Some of the ladies noticed though, so that made me feel pretty good. One lady who I had never met before would watch my feet every time we were dancing together, to see what we were doing. I’m not sure how helpful that was for some things, since the Lead’s footwork is so different from what she was supposed to be doing, but she seemed happiest when she was looking down while dancing so I didn’t say too much to distract her when she did that.
Speaking of HotDog, during the social dance that was held after class, I was surprised by him when he quit dancing about halfway through. From what I was told by numerous sources, he had been given the opportunity to purchase a really inexpensive pair of Latin Dance shoes not too long ago, a deal which was too good for him to pass up… but the shoes were like three sizes too small for him. When buying the shoes, he claimed that he was into extreme outdoor sports and was used to having to cram his feet into small spaces, so he didn’t think there would be a problem. The shoes are waaaaaay too small for him. He managed to get through the Rumba class while wearing them, but forty-five minutes into the social dance he had to take them off because his feet just couldn’t handle being cramped like that any longer, and he doesn’t own any other dance shoes, so he just called it a night after that. I will admit, I did the same thing as he did, purchasing a new pair of dance shoes that were a great deal even though they were a smaller size than I generally wear. My shoes were only a half-size too small when I got them, so they were tighter than I was used to, but not to the point of extreme discomfort, and they have since been stretched out enough that they are comfortable on my feet now. I can’t imagine having to go through the same process with shoes that are even smaller than what I dealt with. It makes my big toes feel cramped just thinking about it! I talked to him before he left and told him that I had an old pair of ballroom shoes that I just use for practicing at home that I could bring in for him to try out. They are going to be way too big for him, since his feet are much smaller than mine, but when he’s in the early stages of learning things they should work out well if he laces them up as tight as they will go. That reminds me, I should go throw those by my front door so I don’t forget to put them in my car…
The funniest thing that happened during the dance was when Lord Junior put on a Viennese Waltz. As you may know, I happen to like Viennese Waltz, but I know that many people just don’t spend the time to learn the style. It’s not something that is taught to brand new students often, so when most of the people attending a social dance are relatively new they all get to sit out and watch while those of us who are ‘veterans’ take to the floor to show off. But when there aren’t even that many experienced dancers at a party, it leaves the floor feeling really empty. This was readily apparent that night – I was near Sparkledancer, so of course I asked her to go out to dance laps with me since social dances are one of the few times we get to practice Viennese Waltz. As the song started, we were the only ones that began dancing. Both Lord Junior and Sir Steven were along the side, asking all the ladies present if any of them knew Viennese Waltz and wanted to go out there. None of the ladies stepped up to the challenge, so rather than leave Sparkledancer and I out there on our own, Lord Junior and Sir Steven got together and began dancing. As they rounded the first corner and we could hear the ‘audience’ laughing, Sparkledancer and I stepped off to the side of the floor to watch what the two of them were doing. Now, Lord Junior is a tall man, a good six inches taller than me, and I’m a bit taller than Sir Steven, so watching Sir Steven take the Lead role and guide Lord Junior around the floor was quite comical. They only did two laps before they stopped and Lord Junior went to go change to a different style of song that more people would know, laughing the whole time. We all gave them a round of applause as they finished, of course.
When I met up with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer on Saturday for our coaching session, we spent most of the time working on Foxtrot. It was a nice change of pace from getting beaten up while working on Tango so much lately, but it wasn’t any less strenuous in any way. After going through the same wall of our routine over and over, poking at little things and trying to make them better, we ended up just doing a pattern of Three-Steps and Feathers going in a straight line down the floor. I still have issues keeping my head in the right place, and even when I feel like I have it aligned correctly it doesn’t look right from the outside so I get stopped often to fix that. I’m hoping I’m actually starting to improve at that, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like I am, and since I often can’t see what I’m doing in the mirror without turning my head (and thus breaking the alignment), I can’t tell what I actually look like while doing things. As we talked about things during our time, Sir Steven was telling us about how he has signed up with his professional partner to take part in a competition in a few months in the northern part of the Dance Kingdom, and he is looking to handily beat the competition. He has been spending a lot of time lately working with his own coach to make sure he is ready for whatever comes up. Maybe all the work he has been doing to push himself is part of what is driving him to push Sparkledancer and I so much. I wonder if there is some kind of correlation there.
Then on Monday during Latin Technique group class, it was only Sparkledancer and I there to work with Lord Junior. With no one else to give any suggestions on what to work on, he let us continue working on Pasodoble technique. Last week we worked on Promenade figures, starting with a basic Promenade, moving to a Promenade/Counter-Promenade, then a Promenade with a with a two-hundred-seventy degree swivel, then the continuous Promenade with the swivels like we had started in on the week before. This week we switched over to working on cape-style movements. Going through all of these movements and walking around while having such an exaggerated curve in my back makes me feel like my lower-back muscles are ridiculously tight when we are finished. I really noticed that when I got out of bed Tuesday morning and still felt like I had the muscles in my back flexed. I had talked with Lord Junior about the experience I had trying to bend my arm upward and my apparent lack of flexibility, so Lord Junior said that he is going to start taking ten minutes or so at the beginning of all the Latin Technique classes to work on just stretching, which should help me improve my flexibility. He understands the issues I face, since he likes to spend time at the gym lifting heavy things as well, so he said it would be a good thing for both of us to get into a habit of doing. At this rate, by the time the performance rolls around this summer, maybe I’ll be able to clap my hands behind my back without bending my elbows!
…although, maybe that would be too much.
It’s confirmed – tomorrow night I am getting to go on a dance field trip to the Prime Dance Hall, the place where so many things started. What kind of crazy things will happen while I’m there? Are they going to make fun of my dancing, or are they going to ask me to join them in their quest for dance-world domination? What should I wear when going to a prestigious location such as this? This is the dance field trip I think I am most nervous about, even though I’ve been lots of other places around the Dance Kingdom. This particular dance hall has so much history behind it… supposedly the King and Princess met there long ago, Lord Junior taught there at one point in his long career, and Sir Steven had been asked at one point to help the Dance Lords from the Prime Dance Hall open a new location on the north-side of the Dance Kingdom. So I have to make sure I am at the top of my game while I’m there. Will I pull it off? I’ll tell you all about it next week!