Meeting up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven during our normal slot over this past weekend, we spent the whole time working on our showcase routine, as you might imagine. The lady from the Fancy Dance Hall who is putting together the show sat in on the lesson because she wanted to take notes about our costumes and what we were doing so that she could figure out where the lights should be pointed and how we would walk on and off the floor to transition between acts, and also give her general ideas about things she thought would improve the show. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about some of her ideas for how she thinks we should dress for the showcase. There was no overarching theme for the night, since it is the first showcase the Fancy Dance Hall is holding after their opening. Supposedly their future events will have themes and all the acts will need to fit in with that theme to make it more of an overarching show, but since this is the first showcase they were going to let everyone do whatever they wanted just to show off the students. At least, that’s what I was originally told when I signed up for the event. This new lady wanted me to add things to my costume (like cuffs and collars and a bow tie) to make me look fancier and fit in with the ‘theme’ of the night. I had actually brought my costume with me that afternoon at Sir Steven’s request so that we could run through things once or twice while wearing it. When I pulled it out of my backpack and put it on, the first thing the lady says to everyone is “Well, I don’t hate it as much as I thought I would.” Glowing endorsement, right?
We ran through the routine a lot in that hour. Since it was a warm day outside and the Fancy Dance Hall is always sort-of warm, and I was picking up another human being over and over again during each run-through, I will tell you that I got pretty sweaty by the end of things. It wasn’t because I was struggling to pick Sparkledancer up or anything, but we would go through the routine, Sir Steven would take a minute or two to go through some notes on what he saw with us, and then we would do it again. There were a few times I had to tell them to give me an extra minute so that I could go find a towel and make sure my hands were dry so that I didn’t risk my grip slipping when I grabbed my dance partner. That was about the longest break I got between runs. I was the one who wanted to make sure that our routine was more athletic than all of the other ones being performed, so I really have no one but myself to blame for this, right?
There were only three real changes of note that we made during all of our runs of the act. We actually were a couple of beats behind in the music, as I had counted last week, so to correct that we added in two steps before the second chorus to ensure that the second Lindy Hop section starts at the transition. They really are just two additional steps forward after I finish up rolling her out from closed dance position, nothing fancy. Adding in something fancier would have required changing some other things, so this was just the easiest solution to get everything working on the counts we expected. The next change that we did was to work on how we were transitioning onto the dance floor at the beginning. The previous act will be walking off, and as they start the music for our song there are a couple of measures that we left open at the beginning that we are now going to cover by walking across the floor toward our starting spot. I spin Sparkledancer out as we get close to allow her to settle into position, and then walk up behind her to take my place in Shadow Position. When timed correctly, I get in place just moments before we’re supposed to actually start dancing, so we are not standing there awkwardly waiting for any amount of time. The last change was to the ending. Everyone watching wanted us to do something more than just stand up and bow and walk off the stage. I threw out my suggestion for the ending when they were thinking, and everyone actually loved it. So now we are doing the dip as I mentioned, ending with me holding Sparkledancer parallel to the floor on my right side as she sticks her feet up toward the sky. From there, rather than put her back on her feet, I am just going to lift her and throw her over my left shoulder and walk off stage carrying her. Sir Steven suggested that I run off stage rather than walk, just to keep up the energy that we had while we danced. The first time I tried that, Sparkledancer clamped down, driving her pointy elbows into the rear of my shoulder as I ran. That hurt. The second time we tried was much better.
When I got home, I looked at my costume with some of the changes that were thrown out. With the changes, things looked too… contrived. I like my original costume idea better without adding on any of the other accessories mentioned. For the ridiculous amount of money I’m paying just to do a two-minute performance, I’m going to stick to my guns and do it my way.
Saturday night there was a member appreciation dance being held at the Endless Dance Hall for a local ballroom dancing group that practically everyone who dances that I know is a part of (including me). It was an interesting party to attend. The theme was something about ‘around the world’ and people were supposed to dress up in globally cultural attire. I did not find this out until I arrived at the party, so my costume was not that great – you might even say non-existent. Since it was a free dance party for members and also a charity event, monies to be raised couldn’t come from admission payments, so they had to come up with a different plan. They had gathered up a number of dance teachers from places all around the Dance Kingdom, and you could pay a token fee to sign up to dance a song with one of them. The money collected from all the purchased dances would become the pot given over to the charity. Hooray! The list of songs had been set before the party, so everyone could sign up for a particular dance style they wanted ahead of time, rather than just sitting around waiting for a particular type of song. As you can imagine, I didn’t sign up for any dances. Being one of the few males in attendance, I had my hands full dancing with ladies who hadn’t paid for a dance with one of the male instructors (there were a lot of them), and there were also only three female instructors participating, meaning their dance cards were pretty full all night even if I had wanted to purchase a dance. I did win two free dance tickets I could have used in one of the raffle drawings of the night, but I gave both of those tickets to Ms. Possible so she could sign up for two more dances with different male instructors (she had already purchased a couple before the event started).
One of the three female instructors who was auctioning off her time that night came to the party wearing a costume that was made up of really short shorts and a tiny shirt. I’m not sure what country that was supposed to represent exactly. At the beginning of the night there might have been a hat with the get-up, but she must have taken it off when the dancing started. Hatless, she had her hair in pigtails, so she looked really young. Like dancing-schoolgirl-from-a-music-video young. Every time I saw her out on the floor dancing with all the older gentlemen that looked so much older than her by comparison, it was almost creepy. I don’t know why that stuck out to me so much. There was also a guy who was dressed in a garb that made him look like a samurai, other than the suede-bottomed dance shoes of course. His pant legs were really billowy, so when he was out dancing he was quite noticeable as well. Let me tell you, pants like that really help accentuate your leg movements.
Monday night at Latin Technique ended up covering Cha-Cha, and turned out to be another one of those nights where it was mostly a workout for this guy. We had a new student of Lord Junior’s join us in class that night, a young lady who looked barely old enough to be driving the car she showed up in if I had to guess. She had only had one lesson with him so far, but looked like she already knew way more than I did as I watched her working on the figures. Based on the extreme turnout of her feet and some of the comments Lord Junior made about things she was doing, she has to have had a lot of ballet training, so it probably won’t be too much of an adjustment for her to pick up ballroom styles. With her in class, we ended up with seven ladies to two men, but Lord Junior still wanted to work on things with partners.
What we covered in class was a similar pattern to things we have done before in Cha-Cha. To keep things simple, we started out with the ladies already in Fan Position. We went into a Hockey Stick, overturning the twist in the middle using a subtle wrist rotation so that we do the Lock Step at the tail end of the Hockey Stick in something akin to Shadow Position. At the tip of the Hockey Stick the ladies will rotate back around as the men do a forward check, and coming out the ladies will do a Lock Step forward while the men were supposed to do the first two steps of a Backward Lock Step followed by a step to the left. As we worked through things, it became easier just to do a Slip Chasse and step to the left instead as we link back up into closed dance position with our partners. From there we went into a Natural Top. At the end of the first chasse in the Natural Top, the men would step forward instead of behind to put the ladies on our right side so that we could go into an Opening Out action, coming out with the ladies doing a Hip Twist Chasse and the men doing a Ronde Chasse. To keep things simple, we stopped there for the night and used the time to go through the pattern repeatedly to make sure everyone could get the steps as the tempo was increased in the music, until right at the end when Lord Junior put on a song at full speed for us to try everything a few times.
During Standard Technique class this week we decided to go through Waltz. Since all the ladies who had shown up for class had scattered about the studio, lost in conversations with each other, Lord Junior and I were standing in the middle of the floor just before class started and he was trying to figure out what we should do in class. After racking his brain and coming up blank, he asked me what I would want to work on in Waltz. I said that I wanted it to be hard, even though some of the ladies who were there wouldn’t like that too much. He thought about things some more, then asked if I wanted to look at a pattern of things that he had shown me back in December again. I thought that sounded like fun, so that’s what we did. The pattern wasn’t much changed from the first time we had gone through it: starting out in Promenade Position facing diagonal center, we went into a basic Promenade Chasse. From there we did a Quick Open Reverse with Reverse Pivot. Lord Junior spent a few minutes talking about what the difference between a Waltz Reverse, Open Reverse and Quick Open Reverse was for those of us who were interested. In case you were wondering yourself… I’m assuming if you’ve read this you have certainly seen a normal Waltz Reverse Turn by now. An Open Reverse is like a normal Reverse Turn except you don’t close your feet at the end. The Quick designation at the beginning of a figure tells you that you are starting the figure on the opposite foot, so you need to add in an extra step (usually a syncopated step) to finish things up on the correct foot. So a Quick Open Reverse is an open Reverse Turn that you start by stepping forward on the right foot followed immediately by a syncopated step forward on the left foot. At the end of the figure, rather than just pass your feet on beat three, you also add in a syncopated Reverse Pivot to flip you all the way around so you are moving forward again.
Once we got through that small lecture on what the prefixes on figures mean, we moved on to the next step which was a Double Reverse Spin with Reverse Pivot. Much like the Quick Open Reverse with Reverse Pivot, the Reverse Pivot on the end of this figure is a quick turn at the end of beat three to turn you 180° again, setting you up to add on the Throwaway Oversway. To come out of the Throwaway Oversway we just shifted our weight back to the other foot slowly over two beats while the men helped the ladies back up from their shaped back bend, coming out in Promenade Position facing diagonal wall at the end. Once we all had gone through things enough so that everyone felt pretty comfortable with the figures, we started to run through the pattern to music. Lord Junior had all the ladies line up on one side of the floor while he and I stood at the front so that we could dance down the length of the floor. The ladies were supposed to dance with him and then rotate to dance with me before heading to the back of the line again, but most of the time the ladies finished up dancing with Lord Junior and then walked toward the line of ladies, leaving me standing at the front of the floor all by myself. Even after pointing it out to them, the ladies still sometimes forgot I was there, much to everyone else’s amusement.
Well, this weekend is the first performance of my showcase number. Friday night there is supposed to be a dress rehearsal that will take most of the evening, so no dance party that night for me. Hopefully this first run through goes well and sets us up in a good place to repeat the performance the next weekend at the second showcase. After that, we’ll have to figure out what to work toward next. Are you excited? Are you coming to the show? If not, then I’ll tell you how things go next week!