As I mentioned last week, Friday night I got a personal invitation from Lord Junior to come out to the social dance that was being held at the Electric Dance Hall, so that’s where I ended up. Over the last several weeks I have been out either at classes or practicing every night of the week except on Fridays, using that night instead to catch up on things (like buying groceries or talking to my cat). Heading out to dance meant that I did not do that, so there were some things that I just didn’t get around to last week. But, Lord Junior specifically asked me if I would go, so I would have felt bad skipping out. Dancing is more important than groceries, right?
The party was a normal social dance, but I guess that someone who had never been out ballroom dancing before wanted to bring a bunch of his friends to the studio that night to celebrate his birthday. Supposedly he was interested in doing something different from all his other birthday parties, and when he drove by the studio one day he thought it could be a lot of fun. He got some nearby local bar to provide drinks for his crew, which I’m sure also helped all of them dance better that night on. I was told later that he also wrote up a glowing review of the evening somewhere, but I never saw the review myself.
But the best part of the night was that one of the Dance Robots came out to the party and spent the night telling me jokes. Usually the Dance Robots are always seen together, but the female robot was out somewhere else on this particular evening, so only the trouble-making male robot joined us. He is pretty non-stop hilarious, so most of the times when I wasn’t dancing I was hanging out off to the side with him and chatting about things.
He asked me about the competition coming up, and told me that he expected me to do great. I told him that I would be able to do OK as long as he wasn’t dancing at the competition in any of my heats – if he was competing, then obviously all the rest of us in the heats would all tie for last place while the judges just gave him all of the other higher placements. All of them. He just laughed and promised me that he had different plans for the weekend of the competition, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that. Whew!
Early Saturday afternoon I met up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven at the Fancy Dance Hall, and the focus that day was preparation for next weekend’s competition. All three of us took a moment at the beginning to look at the tentative schedule for the competition that had been released, and based on what we could tell it looked like our first round would be heat number one on Sunday morning. That means that this guy right here, who as I’m sure you all know by now is not a morning person in the slightest, will have to be up and ready to take control of the dance floor at god-awful-o’clock in the morning. Yay……….
I have been thinking about the schedule though, and there’s a part of me that thinks it could actually work in my favor to start dancing so early. The reason that I have been spending hours and hours (and hours and hours) practicing is to get everything into muscle memory, right? My theory goes that if I go out on the floor and dance early in the morning before my mind is fully awake, then there is much less of a chance that I will over think things while I am competing, and I will just let the muscle memory that I have worked so hard on take over. Does that sound like a good theory? We’ll have to see if it is correct next weekend!
We spent our time on Saturday running our routines and then pausing to talk about a few points before moving on and running the next. It was really a lot like what I normally do with Sparkledancer during our practice time, except someone was able to watch us from the outside and tell us how he saw things. There were a few notable spots that were pointed out, things that Sparkledancer and I tried to cover in our practice sessions since Saturday to fix. They included:
- Waltz:Sir Steven wanted us to make sure that our rise and fall was clear and distinct throughout the routine. There were places that he said didn’t look so clear the first time we went through the routine, so he wanted us to emphasize that aspect more.
- Quickstep: We obviously talked about the corner of the routine that was recently changed, re-running it a few times just to make sure everything looked solid. He also said that the Running Finish we have at the end of the short wall was lacking the same power that the rest of the figures in the routine have. Part of this may have been due to the Running Finish being so close to the wall because of how much we travel while dancing, but regardless he wanted us to practice driving more in that figure to keep the amount of energy consistent from the preceding figure and into to the next.
- Tango:There were two points mentioned for the Tango. The first being that after some of our Progressive Links, Sir Steven said it looked like we were falling into our first step in Promenade Position. He wanted us to do the Progressive Link and have a clear and balanced hold in Promenade Position so that we could drive into the next step. Secondly, he wanted me to emphasize my contra-body positioning during the Open Reverse Turn. This will involve turning my body a little more sharply between the second and third step, but not too much or else I could bounce Sparkledancer away from me.
- Foxtrot: A couple of times during the runs we did of the Foxtrot, Sir Steven said that I wasn’t getting around Sparkledancer enough in the Reverse Turn. He wasn’t sure if it was because there were people in the middle of the floor doing some kind of Latin dance, and I was trying not to hit them as we passed by, but he said that there would be people on the floor during our heats this weekend so I needed to get over that fear if that was the reason. Also, during the Basic Weave and Natural Weave he told me that it looked like I was losing the contra-body position in my upper body as I went into the Feather Finish, making it hard for Sparkledancer to get around me, so I need to work on holding that better.
Some of these items I don’t think are going to be perfect by the time we compete on Sunday morning, but we will do the best we can. Hopefully it will be enough to do fairly well. That would make me happy.
Tuesday night I had to head out to a meeting of the Royal Dance Court to discuss behind-the-scenes dance things. I would have preferred if they could have moved the meeting back a week, since normally Tuesday nights I head out to practice for a while, but I made do.
Quite a bit of time at this meeting was spent discussing the annual formal dance party that the Royal Dance Court holds in the spring. Most of the discussion surrounding the formal was done by the ladies on the Royal Dance Court. I tried to make a suggestion regarding the tablecloth and chair tie combinations they were thinking about putting on all the tables, but my idea got shot down really hard, so I kept quiet for the rest of the discussion about the formal dance. I guess my ideas on decorating as a male are all considered terrible. 😦
I did get a chance to spend some time talking about the fundraiser gala that Lord Dormamu wanted to enlist the help of the Royal Dance Court to put together. Originally I had collected a stack of handouts about the event to give to everyone who would take one at the big meeting that I was supposed to attend last weekend, but since that meeting got cancelled because the organizer got sick, I passed out the handouts to the other members of the Royal Dance Court instead. Also, because I am the official Keeper of Records for the Royal Dance Court, I maaaaaay have copied all the information from the handout into the official record of the meeting, thus making it officially official.
To say that the other members of the Royal Dance Court were skeptical of the expectations for this event would be an understatement. Very few of them have ever talked with Lord Dormamu, so they don’t understand how he can have these lofty expectations for an event like this. It’s just the world of dance that he lives in, which is different from the world of dance that the rest of us see from day-to-day. I mean, before he retired from competing professionally a couple of years ago he was ranked among the ten best ballroom dance Leads in the world, so he just sees things so differently from those of us who have never competed at that level. Fancy events like this gala he is trying to put together are par for the course in his worldview.
What I tried to impart to the other members of the Royal Dance Court is that we should be the ones to step up and volunteer to help out if they need additional hands during the event. There is another social ballroom dance club in the area that is holding their monthly dance party on the same night as this fundraiser is scheduled, so I wanted to protect them from worrying about any of their organizers double booking their time to volunteer at the fundraiser and also the social dance. I’m pretty sure that most of the Royal Dance Court was on board with helping out when I explained it like that. We’ll have to see if they step up when the time comes though.
This Wednesday night, rather than go out to Standard Technique class, I headed out to meet up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven one more time to do some final competition preparation. This made the timing of the meeting that I went to the night before really less than ideal, since I didn’t get to practice all the things that the three of us had talked about on Saturday as much as I would have liked. Even so, things didn’t go too bad.
Unfortunately we were boxed in for the duration of our lesson. There were two different group classes going on at the studio at the same time we had scheduled to meet up, so we got stuck in the middle of the room between them. That meant that most of our time that night was spent looking at small sections of our routines, rather than the complete picture.
There were only a few items that I made note of for each style that we were told to continue working on after this lesson was over:
- Waltz – Sir Steven said that my transition from the starter step into the first Natural Turn had a stutter, so he wanted to make sure I smoothed that out. That could have also been because I worked my legs prior to going to this lesson, so my legs were just tired. He also wanted our Natural Spin Turn to travel a little more, since the Natural Turn before it travels a lot and they look unbalanced. I was told to make sure that the Double Reverse Spin starts more toward diagonal center that what I did that night, and finally that the Hesitation in the corner needs to stay with a bent leg and only use body rise to shape.
- Quickstep – Sir Steven thought it might be best to change the timing on the Overspin from Natural Spin Turn to make the first two steps faster and the last step and the pivot slower. Because the last step going into the pivot changes direction abruptly, we could make them more stable by having more time to get through them. Sparkledancer was also told to try to slide around me more on Running Finish as that figure changes directions in the middle.
- Tango – when I am the one closing any of our Promenades, Sir Steven told me to work on coming around Sparkledancer more in the close. The two Promenades where this was most noticeable was the one going into the Natural Twist Turn, and the one that goes into the Right-Side Lunge. We were both told to focus on having our right legs touching as we closed as a way to quickly check if we were in the general area we needed to be. During the Right-Side Lunge, I was also told to push a bit more into Sparkledancer with my upper body and hips to help her shape away from me better.
- Foxtrot – I was told to try to come around even more on Reverse Turn. Sir Steven could see the change I had practiced on Sunday after what we had talked about on Saturday, but he still wanted me to do a little more., Sparkledancer was told to make sure that her head is closing correctly on the Basic and Natural Weave figures. Finally, I was told to keep working on my sway through the Closed Impetus. It’s not bad, but it’s still not perfect, so I could always use more practice.
And that’s really that! I was planning on getting in some practice tonight, but Lord Dormamu called me on my way home from work and said that he was back in town and he wanted to get together with Sparkledancer and I before we went to the competition. Since tonight worked for all three of us, that’s what I did. I need a little time to process what he told me, so I will probably write about that next week.
I think I will be able to get in an hour or so of practice tomorrow night, but that will likely be all I get before leaving. On Saturday I am heading out to the competition venue. For this event, because my first heat is stupid early in the morning on Sunday, I booked myself a hotel room near the venue for the night. I will do much better Sunday morning if I could get up early and stretch out a little bit before taking to the floor, rather than getting up early to drive and then dance.
I know one other amateur pair who are dancing in this competition: Ms. Possible and Grampy Snaps. They are doing both Latin and Standard at this competition, so they are on the schedule to dance Saturday and Sunday. Apparently they are planning on heading out to the competition venue a day early to do some sort of bar crawl Friday night before their first day of dancing. That just sounds like a terrible idea. Also the two of them will be dancing against me in two of my rounds on Sunday, which should make things entertaining…
I’m doing my best to go into this competition like I went into the last couple that I did – with low expectations of how well I should do, and a plan to do the best that I can. That has served me well so far, and I managed to place really well at the last couple of events, but I don’t want to walk into the building this weekend and make the mistake of expecting to do well because I did well last time. Being complacent will lead me to be sloppy, and that will get me marked down.
We’ll see how things go this weekend, and I’m sure I will tell you all about it next week!