Ah, we are finally at 2016, a new year giving us a chance to work on all new things. I know a lot of people like to start out the year talking about their dance goals or dance resolutions – all the things they are looking forward to doing in 2016. I like to start off every year by looking back for a moment at what was done the year before, rather than try to guess what will happen in the future. What were the highlights for your dance journey last year? There are a couple of things that stand out in my mind when I reflect on what I did during 2015: I was talked into doing a showcase performance, the second one I’ve ever done and the first time I’d ever really performed a Pasodoble. Every time I think about that day, the distance that I got my dance partner to slide down the floor increases just a little. I could swear she slid like forty feet now! The latter half of 2015 also saw Sparkledancer and I change the things we were working on, switching from Smooth to Standard as our primary focus, all because of an off-hand comment we made before a competition about how it could be fun to compete in both American Smooth and International Standard. Now it seems like the International styles get the majority of our focus. Yeah, switching over to compete in International Standard so close to the competition date might not have been the best idea in hindsight, and I worried that I almost lost my dance partner because the Standard dances did not go so hot. With some work though, things are feeling a lot better now, and I am even working on using the International styles during social dances to make myself more comfortable leading them, as opposed to just following a routine. There were unexpected adventures that I was lucky enough to be a part of, like the time I went dancing on a boat! That one makes me happy to think about. Also, somehow I managed to be friendly enough that enough people liked me and I got elected to be part of the Royal Dance Court! That’s crazy! I will try not to let all that power go to my head this year, and work to make dancing in the Dance Kingdom even better during my tenure. So much fun! I can’t wait to see what kind of dance adventures this year has in store…
I don’t know about you, but I had a lot of fun on New Year’s Eve, dancing the night away. If you weren’t dancing, then you should have come out to join us. I did my best to try to pace myself throughout the early parts of the evening, to make sure that I didn’t burn myself out before midnight hit. It did get really warm while dancing, and I made the mistake at one point of stepping outside to cool off for a little while. It had rained earlier in the day, and while the pavement was pretty dry the welcome mat was still soaked. I stepped on that in my dance shoes, so that kind of sucked for a while until they dried out completely. HotDog had come out to the party that night expecting to find himself a hot date to kiss when the ball fell, but I don’t think he realized that he already knew all the women that would be attending the party, and they had all already seen his antics trying to attract women, so he wasn’t going to get very far with anyone there. Silly HotDog! One day maybe we all can find dance love, but until then we need to learn to be happy just dancing, right? Things were pretty good up until about 10:30PM or so, when some of the older attendees started to tire out, so Lord Junior decided to do a couple of activities to keep people from sitting down and falling asleep. The first one we did was a normal Foxtrot mixer, just to get everyone up onto the floor again and have them keep moving around. I got to be the first person in line, so I could pick which way we all were going down the floor. Yay me! After the mixer was over, we danced a bit more, then Lord Junior wanted to play a game of musical chairs. Somehow he talked me into helping him run this event so that he could take care of the music. We got a count of everyone that wanted to play and pulled enough chairs to the middle of the dance floor to make the game work. As the music was playing, everyone was supposed to dance around the chairs – not with a partner, but just doing something more than walking. I allowed myself to get out around the third round so I could focus on making sure no one got hurt and keeping the number of chairs one less than the number of dancers (note: it’s easy to lose at musical chairs if you move farther away from the chairs while dancing!). Things did end up getting kind of physical – the little tiger Tanya came to the party that night, and brought her twin sister along with her. Those two are dangerous to be around, and a few times I had to help someone up off the floor as I came over to pull one of the chairs out at the end of the round. But it was all fun. Lord Junior ended up giving a prize to the last two people standing, and Bony was one of them, and the last round was just for bragging rights for the last person standing… or sitting, I guess. As the ball dropped we all made a lot of noise and confetti was thrown about, and then people started to head home. Jem, Sparkledancer and I stayed on for a bit after everyone else bailed to help Lord Junior and Lady Lovelylocks clean up some so that things would be ready to go for more dancing the next day.
I like the weeks immediately after the new year starts, because usually it brings a bunch of new faces into all the dance halls around the area, which is always nice. We had one new person join us for Latin Technique class this week. I was surprised that she decided to stick around for the class, since the technique classes are usually a lot more confusing for newcomers than the other classes where they work on learning figures, but she had had some wine after her first lesson/class at the studio, so she was enthusiastic about doing more dancing. This week we worked on Samba, and we spent most of our time looking at Promenade Runs. There were a couple of people who were in class that really hadn’t done much Samba with a partner before – they were familiar with the famous Samba line dance that shows up most places during dance parties though, so they had a rough idea of how some of the steps worked. Because of that, we spent a bit of time looking at how to do some things like the Samba basic and the Whisk with a partner, giving us a starter step to lead into the Promenade Runs. The Promenade Runs themselves were more or less successful, depending on who I got to dance them with. The new lady required some help with the steps, and kept switching feet at the wrong times, so with her I would be going through things rather slowly, letting everyone else beat us to the other end of the dance floor. Like the Cruzados Walks in Samba, the Promenade Runs are something I could probably spend several months working on and still have improvements to be made, so it felt good to spend most of our time on just running repetitions.
Since Sir Steven was planning on going out on vacation over the coming weekend, I ended up joining Sparkledancer at the Endless Dance Hall on Tuesday night this week to work on things. We continued to work on our International Standard routines. One of the main things we looked at this time was how Sparkledancer was holding her frame. We’ve spent so much time lately making sure that I am always solid, and that my head sort-of knows where it is supposed to be, so now it’s time to get Sparkledancer to start changing things. I guess the most important things for her to look at are A) keeping herself to the left, B) keeping her right ‘side’ attached to the right side of my torso, and C) pulling herself to the left some more (you can never keep yourself far enough left, as I’ve heard many times from many people). Sir Steven also wants her to start arching her upper back more as we are dancing. I likened the movement he was describing to what a pole vaulter looks like as the jump over a bar, except for her the bar is actually where my right hand is on her shoulder. As I was standing there holding still while Sir Steven worked on positioning Sparkledancer, he kept moving her hand to place it down around the midpoint of my humerus. After the second time that he moved her hand to put it there, she said that she just needed to get a tattoo to show her where to place her hand. I started to take a step, and then stopped in mid-movement and looked at her and said “Wait, wouldn’t that tattoo be on MY arm?” They both laughed at me for that sudden realization. Ten minutes later, as he was showing her something about gripping my arm with the webbing between her thumb and index finger rather than her fingers, I had turned my head to watch what they were doing. Since much of her hand was on top of the sleeve of my shirt, I told her that her tattoo idea wouldn’t work since my sleeve would cover it up, rendering it useless. She told me that she could just cut that part off so it wouldn’t be in the way. I guess not only do I get no say in getting a new tattoo, but now all of my shirts are getting destroyed too. I just can’t catch a break! As we were working on things, Lord Dormamu was also at the Endless Dance Hall working with one of his students. He kept leading her really close to where we were standing and then having her do some kind of extension or developé super close to us; not quite touching, but just about. I don’t know what to make of that – I know he’s some internationally-famous dancer, highly ranked competitor, and lots of people travel great distances to take coaching lessons with him. Whenever he’s around, everyone else at the Endless Dance Hall acts a lot more serious, including Sir Steven. But I have a hard time reading him, so I don’t know if he was doing that to be funny, or to have his student work on floorcraft, or what.
We also had several new faces show up for Standard Technique this week – ‘new’ referring to the fact that I had never met them before, and also to the fact that they hadn’t done much dancing before either. It was surprising that Lord Junior let them stick around for the class. Usually he tells people that Standard Technique is something you should avoid until you have the basics of those five dance styles down. Latin Technique he has no problem letting newcomers hang out in, since we do a lot of work that can be danced solo and also work on a lot of things that help with body control, but Standard Technique requires close contact with your dance partner, and newcomers are usually not very comfortable with being that close yet. Of the newcomers that came to class, two of them were an older married couple, so Lord Junior had them stick with dancing with each other only rather than rotate partners like the rest of us. He went over occasionally to dance with the two of them and help them out, but the rest of us stayed over on the other side of the floor to give them space. We worked on Tango for the night. We didn’t end up covering anything super fancy – a handful of Bronze-level figures and one Silver-level one at the end as a challenge. We started out with the basic Curved Walk for two steps, then a Progressive Link to turn to Promenade Position, and then a basic Closed Promenade. Simple, easy enough, and that gave the newcomers things to look at that they could use pretty often in either American or International Tango during dance parties if they wanted. Once we got through all that, we added on at the end another Progressive Link to turn back into Promenade Position again (Lord Junior said there were better ways to shift back to that position that didn’t feel so repetitive, but he used the Progressive Link again just to keep things simple), and then we added on a Fallaway Promenade. Since it was close to the end of class, we stopped with that material at that point and just ran through the figures over and over again to give everyone a chance to work through things.
Whew! One week down, only 51 left to go! I hope your year has started off great as well. Let’s keep going and see what kinds of crazy dance things we can do before 2017!