So the big event this last weekend was that I got to have my coaching session with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer over at the brand new studio that is opening in the Dance Kingdom, well before the grand opening party that will let the general public see the place. I couldn’t’ turn that kind of opportunity down. When I got there, I could see through the big bay windows facing the parking lot that there wasn’t anyone within view inside the place, so I waited out in the parking lot for Sparkledancer to show up so that I would have someone to talk to inside. It’s a good thing that I did too, since it turned out that the Princess was there as well, inspecting the place and making sure that everyone had everything ready for the upcoming unveiling. Randomly running into the royalty like that is a bit nerve-wracking. The four of us were the only ones there, so the place felt massive as Sir Steven and the Princess took Sparkledancer and I around for a tour. There’s a little reception area just inside the front door that opens up into the main dance floor…
…which is set up so that it can be opened for events and parties, or divided in half for when there are classes going on at the same time that private lessons are.
There’s an office at about the midpoint of the building that is walled off with some one-way glass so people inside can see everything going on outside…
…and there’s even a little hidden room off on one side that can be used as a practice area prior to any studio competitions that they may host here.
Our lesson was earlier in the day on Saturday than usual, since later that afternoon everyone was going to be going and getting the big chandelier out of storage to finally hang over the main dance floor, now that almost all of the construction had been completed. From what I was told, the weekend after next will be the big opening party weekend, with open dances scheduled on both Friday and Saturday night at this venue to help introduce the space to the Dance Kingdom community. I must say, it looks rather impressive and kind of intimidating there. Quite the Fancy Dance Hall.
Once the tour was out of the way, Sparkledancer and I were given a few minutes to warm up and then we got started. The Princess was nice enough to excuse herself to go check on how things were going with the chandelier shortly after we began, so we could work on things without worrying about her watching us mess up the whole time. The nice thing that we got to do during this session, since we had all the room we wanted all to ourselves, was we got to run through our routines from start to finish without breaking things down and working in bite-sized chunks. Waltz was first, and the only real portions that we went back to spend time on was the one syncopated Spin Turn with Reverse Pivot after the first corner, and the last short wall in its entirety. The last short wall wasn’t really bad per se, it was just that no one really remembered how it went since we never usually go through the routine that far, so we had to go back over it a couple of times to make sure everyone was on the same page. When we finished up with that, we went through the Foxtrot and the Tango routines. Someone putting together the new dance hall had decided that they wanted to try out a new program for playing the music in the building, and for some reason when we switched over to the other dance styles, the program would play one song from that style’s playlist, but then for the next song it would go back to the Waltz playlist and pick a song from that, even though the Waltz playlist was no longer selected. We were looking at things in Foxtrot when this happened the first time, and no one was paying close attention to the music, but as I started going through the step we were looking over it felt really off until I stopped and paid attention to the rhythm of the song and realized it was a Waltz. This led to some rather amusing dancing as we tried to retain the rhythm of the dance even though when the song changed, if no one was nearby to specify a song, we went back to Waltz again and again. One of those fun bugs that you don’t see unless you get to go to a place before its open to the public. At the end of our session, Sir Steven asked Sparkledancer and I about a competition in the area that was coming up in a couple of weeks, to see if we would be interested in signing up for it. He said it was a pretty small event, and we should just be signing up to go through our Bronze Standard routines, but he thought it might be good for us. There were some potential schedule conflicts, so both Sparkledancer and I had to go check our schedules for that weekend to be sure we were free before either of us could commit, so we left it at that for the day.
For Latin Technique this past week we finally got around to doing Samba, but we didn’t actually end up covering a whole lot of ground. The Professor was there, which was a surprise, but he wasn’t teaching any fitness classes like the last time I saw him, or actually joining in for the class. It turns out that his daughter takes lessons with Lord Junior, and she wanted to come to class that night, so the Professor just hung out in the back watching the class and waiting so that he could bring her home when things were done. Since the young girl hadn’t done much Samba before, Lord Junior started us off by looking at one step: the Cruzados Walks. He was originally going to do the Cruzados Walks with Lock Steps, but since a couple of people who hadn’t come to many Latin Technique classes before hadn’t really worked on this figure, he backed things down to start with and just had us do Cruzados Walks down the length of the ballroom. We spent a good twenty minutes on just those before we were allowed to add in the Lock Step, and then after everyone managed to get through that fine he changed the Lock Step so that we were doing syncopated Lock Steps. We ended up starting on one side of the room with our right leg back, doing two regular Cruzados Walks and two syncopated Lock Steps, and then repeating the pattern as many times as we could before we hit the wall on the other side of the floor. We did that up until the last six or seven minutes of class, when he told us that we didn’t have to worry about doing any more of those, since we were going to work on the Bachacata for a while. You can imagine the tears of joy that this news brought on… I fail miserably at that figure, let me tell you. If there is any step that really shows off the limitations of my white boy hips, it would have to be the Bachacata. I could hear the Professor, sitting on the couch in the back of the room, just laughing at how silly we all must have looked. Even Lord Junior said, as he turned the tempo on the Samba song that was playing all the way up to 100%, that it was amusing to watch people practice this figure, because it just looks funny on everyone until they get the feeling of it down. That’s a real comforting thing to hear, right?
Sparkledancer, Sir Steven and I met up again on Wednesday since Sir Steven was planning on being in a competition over the weekend. Since the last time we met, she and I had had a couple of phone conversations o discuss the feasibility of doing the aforementioned upcoming competition. As it turns out, she had a work thing going on Saturday evening, and based on the schedule of the heats she wouldn’t be able to comfortably make the event and also her work commitment, so Saturday looked to be out. On top of that, both of us had already been volunteered to help out at the same event on Sunday because of our membership in the Royal Dance Court, so we couldn’t do the events that would have happened that day. We did discuss doing some sort of competition soon though, and the one thing that both of us decided was that if we were going to do something, we would want to sign up for both Smooth and Standard to make the event worthwhile. We told Sir Steven all this Wednesday night, and asked him if we could start spending some time looking at our Smooth routines again, to make sure we remembered them and to help ensure they would be up to snuff if we were to use them. I may have even made a really bad joke about how, if we were going to compete, we would need to “make American great again” – which came across just as cheesy as you are imagining. I’m pretty proud of coming up with that joke though, anyone reading this has my permission to use the joke if you can fit it into one of your dance conversations in the near future. With the humor being out of the way, we put in a lot of hard work, running the routines in the order we’d likely see them (Waltz, Tango then Foxtrot), and at the end we quickly went through the Quickstep, since people were starting to arrive for the upcoming class and we were losing space on the floor to do things safely. Sir Steven said that since there was so much time before the next Saturday when our session was scheduled, he would be able to look through his notes and see about our American Smooth routines for us. So that’s exciting to look forward to. I mean, I understand that doing Standard will really help us improve all sorts of technical things, but everything just flows so much more naturally for me when doing American-style. I’m excited to go back again.
Later that evening in Standard Technique class, Lord Junior wanted to work on a set of figures in Waltz that could also be used in Foxtrot with some minor variations, things that require turning with some syncopated timing. In the Waltz, the pattern started with a prep step going into a Natural Turn and then an Open Impetus. These figures were all done by the book, so the first part was simple enough. Next he wanted us to add in an Open Telemark, but since we were coming right out of the Open Impetus we were starting out on the wrong foot. What we did was what Lord Junior called a “Quick Open Telemark” which is essentially the same as a normal Open Telemark, except that you start by taking two steps over beat one of the measure to put yourself on the right foot. Coming out of the Open Impetus and traveling toward diagonal center we did a Reverse Quick Open Telemark, and then coming out of that traveling toward diagonal wall he had us do another one, this time a Natural Quick Open Telemark just to make sure we had seen it done both ways. To finish up, we closed out of Promenade Position using a Change Step where the foot crossed behind, getting us ready for another figure that would travel down the line of dance. After everyone had gotten comfortable doing everything up to speed with Waltz music, he had us switch gears and look at the same basic progress in Foxtrot. There were a couple of figure changes (aside from the obvious timing change) that had to be made in order to make the steps work in Foxtrot. At the beginning, instead of going from a prep step into a Natural Turn you would use a Natural Heel Turn. The Open Impetus is the same, and the two Quick Open Telemarks are basically the same except the timing for the steps changes from the Waltz timing of ‘one & two, three’ to ‘slow & quick, quick’ to add in that extra step you need. The last change is at the end, where you would finish things using a Feather Finish instead of a Change Step to keep the Foxtrot flow in place. So there you go! Maybe if you’re creative you could even apply the steps some other International Standard styles as well. Since the figures are only used in open-level choreography, you can basically do whatever you want, and no one would question you.
Oh man, it’s already April tomorrow! April is going to be a crazy month. So many dance things going on to choose from. Do you have your list together of what you are going to do and what things you aren’t going to be able to make it to? I have a rough outline together of my plans. It all starts this weekend with the anniversary party at the Electric Dance Hall! I hope everyone gets out tomorrow to celebrate that, since it will be a lot of fun!