It truly is a wonderland here in the Dance Kingdom, complete with a delightful lack of snow in my area. The wonderful, wonderful lack of snow. Living where it is warmer is super great! Here’s hoping that you can also wander around in almost mid-December, with just a sweatshirt on. Let’s hope that it stays like this until spring hits…
I met up with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer a bit earlier than usual on Saturday, and over at the Electric Dance Hall rather than the Endless Dance Hall. I was told that there was something about a parade going on or something, but I don’t quite remember the exact reason we met there. It seemed like it was a popular time for everyone to be taking lessons, since we weren’t the only ones there doing so at that time of the morning. It certainly kept things interesting by having us weave around everyone as we traveled down the floor. Sir Steven started off by talking with Sparkledancer and me about how we normally warm up for things before our lessons and classes and whatnot. Usually, if she and I are together, we will spend our time warming up by running through our routines, working through figures and techniques that have been giving us trouble. While that is all well and good, he now wants us to take things down to a more basic level when warming up. He demonstrated this by having us start with Waltz. We did boxes, focusing on getting into the best frame possible. We started with doing them without any rotation, but then added in a 90° rotation for each three-count. Once we had gotten used to doing those steps for him, he had us drop my left hand and her right hand, and dance using only the connection on one side. Holding on with my right hand didn’t really cause me too many issues, since that connection really allows me to have control over what is going on (plus I’m right handed, so that helps). Then he had us switch to only hold on using the other hand. This is when things started to get funny, and movement without breaking our connection through the body became harder. Not exactly impossible, but certainly harder. Well, since we determined that it wasn’t impossible to dance that way, he had us wrap both of our arms behind our backs and then try to do the same thing. That’s when everything became impossible. Without any way to hold our distance relatively stable, we were bumping into each other with every step we took. This was pretty hilarious, and will obviously need some more practice to make things look better. I don’t know if we would be able to dance without using our hands and not ricochet off of each other in the process, but it is definitely something I will be doing again the next time I need to work on something random and fun.
Believe it or not, I did get to go to Latin Technique class this week. Hooray for me! I feel like I have missed class so much lately, mostly because of work-related things, so I’ve been pretty out-of-the-loop on what’s been going on. This week we didn’t do anything super high-level, which was kind of a nice way to get back into the groove of thinking about International Latin. Bony had convinced some new dance friends of hers that they should be taking this class along with her. Since the pair have not been dancing for terribly long, and have mostly done American style dances up until this point, Lord Junior decided to start off with Rumba for their sake. International Rumba seems to be his go-to dance style whenever new people show up for this technique class. He began class by giving an explanation of the major differences between American and International Rumba, really emphasizing the point about the legs being straightened as quickly as possible when taking weight. Our movement started by covering the basic Rumba figure for a while, rotating through until all the ladies had gotten a chance to dance with each man twice. From there, he wanted to show them another item that they would see frequently while doing International Rumba – Fan Position (as you probably guessed). As he was demonstrating the Follower’s part, he asked me if I could be a stand-in a few times so that he could show everyone what it looked like when danced with someone else. I’m usually very good at being a dance dummy for demonstration purposes – I’ve certainly been asked to help demonstrate things my fair share of times – but as we were going through the steps he kept stopping to talk about points he would think about while he was moving, so I wasn’t exactly sure when I was supposed to be taking my own steps. Later on in the evening he used me as an example to point out that while in Fan Position, the ladies should wait for the men to lead them to close their feet, which I apparently hadn’t done when I was dancing with him – but I wasn’t doing much in the way of leading the steps for him since I wasn’t sure when he was going to want to move, so it wasn’t a totally fair criticism I think. Once he was sure everyone was comfortable getting into Fan Position, he had us go into another basic step, the Hockey Stick, just to give us something they could use to get out of Fan Position. At the end of the Hockey Stick we just did a forward check to get back into normal dance position so we could start all over. As I said, it was nothing really crazy, and hopefully what we covered didn’t scare off Bony’s friends so that they come back and join class next week. It’s always nice to have another guy join class.
In Standard Technique class this week, I got outvoted when we were asked to choose a dance style to work on, so we ended up going over Tango. We were told before we voted that Viennese Waltz was right out this week, so we had to choose from the remaining four styles. I kind of hoped we would go back and continue working on the Waltz things that we had covered last week because I thought the figure was pretty cool, but the other people in class all wanted to do Tango for some strange reason. Luckily for me, Veep was also in the Waltz class with me last week, and she mentioned how much fun it was to do the Throwaway Oversway in Waltz while we were puttering around on the floor in the last few minutes before class started. Lord Junior, watching her pantomime the steps we had covered, said that we could actually do a similar step in Tango which is just called an Oversway, so he decided that we would start the class by looking at that. To get into the Oversway, we used most of the steps that make up a normal Reverse Turn: after the first three steps, I was to take one additional step back, turn and take one step sideways down the line of dance, and then do a body rotation to get the lady into position rather than the final step of the Reverse Turn that would either bring your feet together or pass your feet (depending on what you’re planning on doing next). The movement of the body in Tango is very fast – this wasn’t like the Oversway we did in Waltz where the lady could extend her body over several beats of music and make it look super graceful. This was more like a snap movement, winding up on the first beat and then getting into position over beat two and then out of it back into Promenade Position on the next beat to move on into something else. Watching him demonstrate, I could see the similarities between this figure and what we had done in Waltz the week before, but the execution had a very different feeling to it.
The something else that we moved into afterward was actually an open figure that you would probably be familiar with, but isn’t on the actual Tango syllabus – the Whisk. Prez was confused when Lord Junior started talking about doing the Whisk, so he showed her what the figure looks like in the Waltz, the version that most people are familiar with doing. The Whisk in Tango is actually just an adaptation of the same Waltz figure, based on what he told us. Lord Junior had us doing two Whisks in a row, which moved very fast and covered a lot of ground when done correctly. The first step out of the Oversway in Promenade Position was the only slow step until the end, so we would take off going forward, then I would cut in front of the lady, take a step to the side, and then do the footwork that is associated with a Whisk where my left foot crosses behind the right and turns us back into Promenade Position, allowing us to basically start all over. After two of these back-to-back, we had curved ourselves in toward the middle of the room, so the way we were doing things would really work best when going around a corner. Lord Junior said that this could be done traveling straight down a wall, but you would have to make the figures arc along the wall in order to make it work. We closed everything out by doing a normal close for a Promenade, bringing our feet together at the end. We didn’t have enough time to look at any more figures beyond the Oversway and the Whisk, since it took us all a while to be able to do everything correctly with everyone in attendance that night. Still, Lord Junior made a point of telling me that the Whisk was definitely a figure that I could lead anyone with a passing knowledge of Tango through in a social situation, since there is really no way for them to take steps in the wrong direction (assuming they are on the right foot when taking said steps). That’s something to keep in mind for later.
This weekend starts the holiday dance rush! Are you excited? There are sooooo many dance parties and workshops being offered as holiday presents for dancers in the area over the next couple of weekends. I’ve got a few in particular that I’ve picked out as ‘must attend’ events, but I’m sure I will get talked into going to some other ones on top of that as well. Dance parties are really the best thing that you can get for Christmas that isn’t peace on Earth, so I plan on attending as many as I am able to get to. If you’re around, you should come with me! We can all don Santa hats and dance the nights away until after New Year’s Day is over. Sure, the hats will make our heads sweat, but we can handle that for an evening. I believe in us!