I Said My Shoes Ain’t Got No Soul

This week has been a fairly normal one for me, without a lot of crazy out-of-the-ordinary things going on. It was admittedly very nice; relaxing, even. Last Saturday I got to get together with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer for our normal coaching session. We started out this time with our American Waltz routine to go over the final pieces that we added on last week. I had tried to practice things as best I could when I had time, but with the different (i.e. non-dance) event that I attended last Saturday evening after my lesson was over, I totally forgot most of how the new pieces we had added in worked. This time we went over things and I made sure to use my handy-dandy camera to record the progression, which helps prevent any confusion the next time we need to do these figures. Once we had gone over the steps enough times to get everything in memory, and then one extra time for me to get it all on video, we switched over to going through our International Standard routines one at a time like we normally do. There was nothing major done with any of these this weekend, but going through everything was more difficult than it normally would be on other weekends at the Fancy Dance Hall. You see, this weekend Lord Dormamu was in serious training mode with his professional partner. You could tell that this was serious practice time for him because he wasn’t sporting his normal ‘dress shirt and tie’ look that I always see him in. He and his partner had both taken this month off from the normal classes and coaching sessions they teach to get ready for a huge competition/dance festival that they will be competing in overseas at the end of the month, which is why she had flown all the way over to the Dance Kingdom from the other side of the country. So the two of them were all over the place on the dance floor as they worked. Also, Lord Dormamu has a strange sense of humor, and I’m not sure if I entirely understand it (much like I don’t entirely understand his English). When he’s practicing, he likes to get super close to everyone else on the dance floor. Super. Close. Sir Steven, Sparkledancer and I weren’t the only people working on things on the floor that afternoon, and I watched as Lord Dormamu would lead his partner through the same thing with each grouping of people – getting close, often close enough to make everyone stop what they were doing and turn to watch, before gliding away as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. At one point Sir Steven, Sparkledancer Bills1and I were working on some things in our Quickstep in one of the corners of the dance floor, and Sir Steven was having Sparkledancer and I step through things slowly. Lord Dormamu danced up really close to where Sir Steven was standing and talking to us, hesitated, broke frame to reach out with his left hand and place it on Sir Steven’s cheek, and then smiled and pivoted to move down the floor in another direction. That was enough to get all of us to laugh, and we obviously lost our train of thought for a bit.

Last weekend at the end of our session, Sir Steven had brought up the fact that the Fancy Dance Hall was putting together a showcase for a weekend in August, which at the time he told me the date they had picked for their event was the day before the summer showcase that Lord Junior was going to be putting on (the staff at the Fancy Dance Hall have since moved theirs to the weekend prior). He asked us then if Sparkledancer or I had any thoughts on a routine we might want to do, or a song that we might find interesting. There had actually been a song that Sparkledancer and I had talked about one day while practicing things, and how we thought it could be pretty funny as a Foxtrot/Quickstep combo routine, so we told him about that idea and he said he would go listen to the song to see what he thought when he heard it. It seemed like it could be fun, and with two different performances in two very different sections of the Dance Kingdom back to back, I felt like we might be able to use what we worked on more than once for the first time. At the end of our session this week, he brought up the idea again. Mostly it was because after we had left last week, he had forgotten the name of the song we had told him, so this time he made sure to write it down in his notebook to look things up later. He also had general pricing information of what a performance would cost. That’s where I started to feel hesitant about my glorious dreams of multiple performances. Without giving away any actual numbers, let’s just say that what the asking price for the showcase at the Fancy Dance Hall is stupid expensive. Sure I can afford it, but on principle it seems dumb to pay that much for about two minutes of dancing. By comparison, the showcase that Lord Junior is putting on is a lot less expensive to dance as an amateur. I could pay for both mine AND Sparkledancer’s entry fee for doing six different dance numbers during Lord Junior’s showcase for the cost of one dance at the Fancy Dance Hall’s showcase night. So… I’m not sold on the idea of doing the performance there quite yet. There is time to decide, so I can think about it for a while yet. What would you do?

This past Monday night at Latin Technique class we didn’t do anything all that complicated or new. We had some newcomers to the class, a couple who has come far enough along in their dancing that they are looking for the challenge that this advanced class will offer, but not far enough along quite yet that things can just be thrown at them without a couple of weeks of technique acclimation so they know how the class normally works. There are a few basic concepts that have beaten into the brains of those of us who are regulars that these two will need to become familiar with before we can do anything super hard (like always keeping your feet turned out and always landing on straight legs). It generally only takes a couple of weeks of getting called out on those common mistakes before you start to become paranoid about how your feet and legs look, so they should come up to speed in no time at all if they keep showing up week after week. This week we looked at Rumba. The pattern we did was fairly simple: starting from what would have been the end of a Hockey Stick, we went into a Natural Top. The Bills2new kids in class had never done a Natural Top before, so the first few times through the figure we were doing the Natural Top by the book. Once they had that under control, he changed things to a slightly more complicated version, cutting out the last four count that the figure has you doing if you are following the syllabus and adding in an extra syncopated step into the second four count. That put us on the same foot at the end in two four-counts of turning that we would have ended on if we had used the three normal four-counts. Next up we did three Opening Outs for the ladies, with guys doing simple side-to-side Cucarachas (we always get the easy part, right?). At the end of the third one, instead of going into a fourth we led the ladies into a Spiral Turn and then out to Fan Position. That allowed us to go back and do the Hockey Stick we glossed over at the beginning of class to repeat the whole conglomeration of figures f we wanted.

This Wednesday night during Standard Technique class, we covered some Foxtrot. Well, let me rephrase that: we covered a thing in Foxtrot. The whole hour was spent looking at a single Open-level figure that I had never seen before (even though Lord Junior swore up and down that he had used it in a class with at least some of us in attendance at one point). The figure was called “Three Fallaways” and, as you can imagine, is basically a person doing three Fallaway figures in a row without stopping. The name is kind of misleading to me. I know that it’s technically correct (the best kind of correct, so I hear), but the second Fallaway you do is a quick rotating number, so it looks nothing like a Fallaway to the casual observer on the outside. Unless the people watching you know what’s going on, I wouldn’t recommend telling the name of the figure to your audiences as you go by. We started everything with a normal Feather step just to make things easier. From there, it makes the most sense to break the figure down into four pieces. For piece one, you do a basic Fallaway with three steps in Promenade Position travelling backwards, and on the fourth step you move straight back down the line of dance so that the lady would be stepping between your feet. The second piece is the turn (the “second” Fallaway”) that has you stepping down the line of dance and rotating your body toward the wall on step one, and step two has the right foot hooking behind the left to finish the turn with a small pivot so you are facing the line of dance for a short period of time. The third piece of the figure is another basic Fallaway using four steps, but the end of this Fallaway doesn’t go straight Bills3back like the first Fallaway did. Rather it goes into the fourth piece of the figure, which for us was just a normal Feather Ending. The big thing we spent most of our time going over, that also makes this figure a lot easier, is the shaping requirements. There is some head turning that is needed to make sure that everyone stays moving correctly and the ladies are facing the right direction, and the shaping of the Lead’s body is what indicates to the Follower how she should be shaping and what direction her head faces. Piece one has the gentlemen shaping out to the left, with the ladies looking to their right since we are in Promenade Position. Piece two has the men shaping to the right, which causes the ladies to turn their heads back to the left. If done correctly, the gentlemen should also turn their heads for this piece so that they are looking off to the right. Then for piece three of the figure we are back to shaping left since we are back in normal Promenade Position. As we straighten things out for the Feather Ending, we are done with the major shaping so things should move toward neutral (minus the natural shaping for a Feather Ending). It’s a fun step to do, and it really covers a lot of distance if you stay low and push off the standing leg well. I would recommend it to everyone!

Well, one weekend of rest is enough for me, so this weekend I will be out attending a few dance parties again. I hear it’s supposed to rain a lot though, so that may keep people home instead of bringing them out to the dance floor. That leaves more space for me to stretch my legs in, so I guess I couldn’t complain too much if that happens. If you’re bored this weekend, come out and join me!

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