This past week I got to go to a meeting of the Royal Dance Court that I am a member of to discuss all sorts of dance business things. Yup, ‘dance business things’ – I’m going to stand behind that phrase. This meeting started out on a sad note. My friend Indiana had informed us that she was picking up a lot of other responsibilities in her normal job as a dance instructor, so she didn’t really have time to help out on the Court anymore. The rest of us all agreed to accept her resignation, though I wasn’t happy to do so. But there are a few of us on the council who are not old enough to be retired yet, and going to work-related things does take a priority still, so I understood where she was coming from. We had some basic discussions about who we might ask to see if they would be interested in coming on to fill Indiana’s seat, or whether we should stick with an eight-person Court instead of nine, but no final decisions were made that night so we tabled the discussion for later. Next we spent some time reviewing everything for our upcoming big end-of-month formal event happening the weekend after next. It looks like all of the official tickets are sold out now, so yay! Since there were a lot of ladies who signed up to go to the party without a ‘date’ so we decided that from here on out any single men who wanted to go or whom we could talk into going could get in free. The party is also going to have a masquerade ball theme, and we’re going to give away prizes for the person wearing the best mask during the night. A suggestion was raised that, in order to make the judging of the masks easier, we would get everyone who wanted to participate in the contest to dance in a conga line and all of the members of the Royal Dance Court would watch from around the room as everyone went by and judge who we thought had the best, so that’s what we will do that night. The other big topic of discussion we had was about planning ahead for National Ballroom Dance Week which happens in September. We have been trying to put together some kind of special event we could do that would allow us to go out into the public and perform to interest more people in dancing. One member of the Court had proposed an idea a couple of months ago about doing a performance in a local outdoor shopping center, but after several communications with the coordinators at that center it looks like the idea is a no-go. So we’ll be trying to think of something else. So those were the high points of discussion during that meeting.
One other unofficial discussion came out at the end after most people had headed home for the night – with Indiana now gone, that leaves Sparkledancer and myself as the only young people left. The leader of the Court apparently sees the two of us as the future of the organization, and is interested in training one of us to replace her so that we’d be ready to go by the time the next election for members comes around. I’m not sure how I feel about this. It sounds interesting, and since I am already a Leader when I dance I could see it as a natural transition for me to also lead something like this (that was a lame attempt at a joke). Then again, I also have a full-time job, so I don’t have as much time to put into coordinating all kinds of events like the currently retired people who run the Court do now, so it would really only work for me if I could delegate a lot of things to others. This is something I need to think about a bit more before putting my hat into or out of the ring…
Last Saturday afternoon I got together for my standing meeting with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven. We started off the same way we did the week prior, going through our Standard routines for Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and Quickstep. There were some minor things we went back to work on after going through each routine once, but nothing major. Having gotten through things so quickly this time, Sir Steven decided it was a good idea to have us try doing International Viennese Waltz. As he went to go find us a song, I thought back to the last time he had worked on the style with us and decided to try starting things off with the Natural Turn. That… did not go well. Sparkledancer seemed to be having a hard time getting into the rhythm as we started turning down the floor. After a few messy rotations I stopped, asked her if she was doing alright, got a headshake, and went back to start over. After the second attempt didn’t go any better than the first, Sparkledancer told me that at the current song’s tempo, starting with the Natural Turn was much harder for her. The third time around I started using the Reverse Turn and that helped out considerably. Since we were doing International Viennese Waltz, there wasn’t much of interest to look at, so after a few Reverse Turns, a Change Step and a few Natural Turns, Sir Steven said that had covered pretty much everything he wanted to see. There are still some issues with having too much upper body movement while turning, which I am much better about avoiding later in the evening, but things weren’t that bad. With some time left over, Sir Steven said that he remembered us wanting to go back and start looking at our American-style routines again, so he had us pull out our American Foxtrot routine and go through things for him. We briefly considered going through American Waltz, but no one (not even Sir Steven) remembered large chunks of the routine while we were all standing there, so we tabled that for later review. After going through things once, we were told that it was noticeable how all the work we put into our technique on the Standard routines has improved our American style as well. We did go back over one section to make some changes to the timing at the end of our syncopated Open Change Steps with Solo Turns, where we go into a Ronde-like movement as we link back up. He wanted us to come back together much quicker as we got back together and make the lowering from the rise on the previous sequence more pronounced, which would make the movement with our legs look more dramatic. I must say that working on American-style just seems more fun to me. Maybe it’s the wider diversity of movements, maybe it’s getting to dance in different connections than just the closed frame used in Standard, or maybe it’s because American style is what I started with when I began dancing. Whatever the case, it just feels… right. I hope we do more next weekend!
Saturday night the Royal Dance Court held our monthly dance party. This month we had decided to go with a Latin-themed dance, so much of the music that was played was going to be some variation of Rhythm or Latin styles. As I arrived at the venue and looked at the dance shoes in the back seat in my car, I briefly considered using my pair of Latin heeled shoes for the night, but then I thought better because 2” heels would be dangerous for me if I decided to do a Quickstep or Viennese Waltz. Yes, I know some of you ladies are rolling your eyes at me because you normally use heels taller than that for everything, but I’m a boy. Anyway, the event started out weird because the instructor we had asked to come in and teach a Bachata lesson was late. When someone called him a few minutes before he was supposed to be teaching, I guess he said that he forgot or something, and he would leave right away to get there. He was all the way on the other side of the area though, so it was going to take him a bit. So one of the other Court members made the executive decision to start regular dancing while waiting for him. They didn’t really tell the rest of us, and I was off on the other side of the dance floor talking to some of the guests when the music started. I excused myself to go find out what was going on. As the first song played, since the DJ was hard to understand when she gave directions, no one did any dancing. They just sat there looking at all of us behind the counter talking. The second song, once I knew what was going on, I asked a nearby lady to dance with me, and others joined us on the floor once they saw someone else do things first. It took about half an hour for the instructor to show up to give his hour-long lesson. From what we were told by the venue after the dance was over, we had about twice as much in sales of adult beverages for this party, and some of the other Royal Dance Court members have speculated that people sitting around waiting for the lesson to start are likely to drink more earlier in the evening so that they have time to sweat out the effects before the party ends. The Bachata lesson covered mostly basic movements, only a couple of things I hadn’t done before (and I almost never dance Bachata, so that says a lot). After the lesson was over the open dancing resumed. I was kept busy throughout the night dancing with as many ladies as I could find until I had to leave to go take care of some work things. It seemed like the party was successful overall though. We had expected a smaller turnout than normal with a competition going on in the Dance Kingdom that weekend, but we had a really good turnout instead. Go team!
And that leads me into yet another adventure I got to do because I’m on the Royal Dance Court now – Sunday morning I got asked to go out and do something dance related that I had never done before: volunteer to help out at the aforementioned dance competition. So I got to go back to the Dance Death Arena, but this time I had to sit at a chair behind a table at the front door, checking dancers in, taking money from spectators who wanted to go in and watch and answering questions as best I could for all kinds of people who stopped by our table. My volunteer hour was with several other members of the Royal Dance Court over the lunch hour for the competitors, so I had a lot of people coming up and asking about where they could get food near the venue. I really didn’t have a good answer for all of those people. After all, this was the first time I had ever hung out at the Dance Death Arena when I wasn’t competing, so I have never explored the surrounding area to see what was nearby. Volunteering was pretty relaxed for me – there weren’t many people left to check in to the competition, since it was the last day and most everyone had already checked in the prior days or their studio leaders had come and previously checked all of their members in. There were a couple of changes that we had to put into the system. Apparently during one heat a lady had sprained her ankle during a “particularly vigorous Cha-Cha” (that’s actually what the guy said) so we had to substitute her name out for a different partner for the rest of the heats she was to be in. There was one weird experience that happened while everyone was eating lunch: one of the competition organizers came to the table where a bunch of us were sitting and said that the room being used as the lady’s dressing room needed to be moved, since the venue had booked the room for something else that afternoon. So several of us were asked to go down to the room and move all of the competitor’s stuff to the new room that was selected as the lady’s dressing room. I felt uncomfortable grabbing and hauling around other people’s things without asking their permission, but it had to be done. Luckily Sparkledancer had come along to help, since there were a couple of girls who had left their underwear strewn all over some of the chairs. She was nice enough to pick up those piles and move them so that the guys didn’t have to worry about that.
Finally, I want to mention something more normal that I did this week, so let’s talk about the Standard Technique class that I went to. This week Lord Junior wanted to look at a Waltz figure that he called a Big Top, which I’m guessing it’s called because you do a lot of rotating and very little travelling as you go through the figure. The Big Top is an open-level figure, so you won’t find it on the normal Waltz syllabus and you wouldn’t be able to use it in any of your routines until you move beyond Gold-level, but it was fun. Lord Junior compared the figure several times during the course of the class to the Double Reverse Spin, since both involve a lot of rotation and people have a hard time even getting through the figures the first couple of times, but once you nail down where you need to turn it isn’t so bad. We spent most of the class period just working on the figure by itself and by ourselves before trying to add in a partner to the mix. The idea behind the steps is that in one three-count Waltz measure, starting in Promenade Position with your right leg free (as a guy) you take the first step in Promenade across where your other foot is (farther across than the normal CBMP step you would take) since you are turning. In the middle of beat one you rotate your upper body to bring the lady across in front of you, since she is going to collect her feet together on your left side as you cross your left foot behind your right on beat two and rotate so that you are travelling backwards. The third step is with your right foot going straight back and then you do a Reverse Pivot to turn around again, allowing you to move in the direction you started going forward for whatever you want to do next. Once we could get this figure all by itself, we added a couple figures beforehand, allowing us to get into the figure less awkwardly. We began with a prep step, took into a normal Natural Turn, then an Overturned Natural Spin Turn that spun us a full rotation so that the guys started and ended backing line of dance. Next we did a Turning Lock to the Right, coming out in Promenade Position moving toward diagonal center. This was where we added in the Big Top which, if done correctly, kept us moving toward diagonal center when finished. The steps move a lot faster than expected, even when done to slow Waltz music, so it’s a fun sequence to throw into things. At the end of class, Lord Junior said that he has also done this Big Top figure in Foxtrot, and if he remembers next week we might go through something for Foxtrot so that he can throw this in again.
Only a couple of crazy weekends left in this month! I’m starting to get worn out just thinking about all the stuff I have packed into all my April weekends. What will I do this time? Come back next week and I’ll tell you all about it!