From The Ashes Of The Dawn I Arise

Fairly quiet week this week for me. I took care of a bunch of stuff for a project that I have that isn’t work-related or dance-related (I know that’s hard to believe). Eventually the fruits from that project should bleed over into even this realm, believe it or not. I would say in about a month or so everything should be apparent, so if you keep an eye out you’ll probably be able to guess what happened.

There were only two dance-related things that are worth note to talk about this week. The first one was Latin Technique class on Monday night. Besides me, there was only one other student who came that night who I’ve given a name to (Gatekeeper), which is out of the ordinary. Two of the other ladies have been in the class, but haven’t done anything noteworthy enough to call them out individually yet. There was one girl who was brand new, with this being her first night visiting the Electric Dance Hall ever. She had to be young, like early high-school age or so. I’m guessing that because her parents (both of them) brought her to class, and then they took up seats in the back of the room and watched what we were doing.

We worked on a little Samba that night at the request of Gatekeeper. Starting out we spent some time warming up by going over the Whisk – breaking it down and doing each individual movement painfully slow before we tried to do the figure at something closer to tempo. Lord Junior wandered around the class quite a bit during this warm up to adjust the leg positioning of most of the ladies in class. He never adjusted mine, which I can’t tell if it was because my legs were in the right place whenever he looked or because I don’t dance Latin competitively like the others so he didn’t think it mattered. I like to believe it is because I was doing it right, so yay me!

Once we finished up working on the Whisk we looked over the Promenade and Counter Promenade Runs, which is a common figure from the Gold syllabus. The younger new girl and one other lady in class had never seen this figure before, so Lord Junior spent more time breaking down the Follower’s steps for those two as needed. We did three of the runs in a row. Since there was a group of people at the studio that night taking a class on the other half of the floor, our Promenade and Counter Promenade Runs were done down the width of the floor with a curve so that once we finished we would be facing down the line of dance of the long wall on the other side of the room.

With a bit of extra time Lord Junior had us try adding on three Natural Pivot Turns and come out into one more Promenade and Counter Promenade Run at the end. These went… OK, for the most part. Not great, but not terrible. While we did them slowly everyone seemed to be doing good, but in the last few minutes of class Lord Junior had us try them out to almost full tempo music (like 90%). I think he does these things mostly for his amusement.

I wasn’t able to get through the Pivots with everyone successfully. Lord Junior and I rotated through each partner twice at this tempo. There was only one time I had to bail on the Pivots and stop rotation with the lady for safety reasons, because I could feel her sliding the wrong way and I didn’t want to get our legs tangled and fall over. Most other times I had to slow the Pivots down to do them without worrying about the music so we could get through them safely. It was only with Gatekeeper (who has done this figure before a bunch of times) that I was able to get through the whole thing in time with the music successfully both times we danced together.

Safety is rule number one, after all!

Wednesday night I didn’t go to Standard Technique class, because I went out to a meeting instead. Remember that competition that I helped out with back in March? I am being asked to help out with the event again for next March, and the people in charge sent me a message Wednesday afternoon saying we needed to get together as a group to discuss some important items concerning the event.

By the time we finished discussing everything, I was sitting there wondering why no one had just called me to ask my opinion on the matter over the phone before making the decisions. Or just sent a group email to ask about it, I suppose that would have also worked. Either option would have taken up way less of my time and would have ended up with the same result, I bet. But, without knowing what was to be discussed ahead of time, I drove all the way out to the Endless Dance Hall to meet. They other organizers wanted to meet up there because Lord Dormamu is part of the team, and he was teaching that night. To make sure he could be included, they opted to meet at the studio between two of his lessons to have the discussion.

The issue that brought on this meeting was that the competition had been given the go ahead to run some events that are governed by one dance organization this year. In the last two years the competition had already been running events under the umbrella of a different dance organization, and the plan was that these new events would be run in addition to the events that they had the last few years. However, the dance organization that had granted the rights to run the events in those previous years now wanted to know what the schedule would look like as we added in these new events. Even though that first organization had nothing to do with the second dance organization, for some reason this was super important to them.

So… basically this meeting was just to figure out some kind of rough schedule for what sessions each organizations events would be held during. Like I said, the whole thing could have been done with a couple of phone calls or emails. There was no reason that everyone had to get together in person to figure this out (and thus make me miss Standard Technique class that night). It took about fifteen minutes to work out an outline of the schedule to send back to the person requesting it. That was about the same amount of time it took me to drive to the Endless Dance Hall, so if you count my drive back home I spent twice as long in the car for this meeting than I did actually talking things over. Grrr…

I may not have been totally paying attention…

Anyway, the other organizers are hoping that by adding these new event types a lot more people will be interested in competing at our competition, so they have already decided to make this a multi-day competition for this year. I am much more conservative in my thinking on this, since it was only through agreeing with a suggestion from Sparkledancer last year to reduce the price considerably for one age group that we had all the people that we did come to compete last year, which was exponentially more than the year before. Even with that increase in competitors, the competition still fit neatly into just one day.

The price of the tickets to compete did come up briefly. Because this second dance organization has strict requirements about what needs to happen to run these new events that fall under their umbrella, adding these events is going to add a number of expenses that we didn’t have last year. The other organizers talked about needing to raise the price of tickets to cover those costs. They still aren’t looking for the competition to turn a profit quite yet, since it is still a young competition, but they didn’t want to be too far in the red because of these added expenses.

I had to lodge my disapproval for that idea, though I was the only one there that night who did so. I still don’t think that the competition is well known or well regarded enough to absorb the kind of ticket prices that were being thrown around. I thought that the best way to attract more people to this event was to still try and offer substantially lower prices than other similar competitions throughout the country. After all, trying out that idea last year really seemed to improve the number of people signing up, so I thought we should continue down that path and see if we could attract more people, offsetting the costs through a higher number of competitors tickets sold.

No decision on price was made that night, thankfully. If they had gone ahead with me being the only voice of dissent, prices would end up being higher this year. There’s still time between now and when we have to open registration to look at what the expenses will amount to and do some math to figure out the lowest price we can offer that will cover everything and still be appealing to the cost-conscious dance competitor if they really don’t want to operate at a loss this year. That would be at least a small victory for the side of ‘budget ballroom’ proponents like me. I hope I can recruit a few people to my side before the next time we get together to discuss this competition.

Speaking of Sparkledancer… she wasn’t there for the meeting since she had some work things she was doing, but I wanted to give a quick update on how she’s doing (as far as I know). I really haven’t seen her on the dance floor much lately, but I do check in on her to see how things are improving.

So that you’re on the same page as me – the injury that she has been dealing with is centered at the top of her left leg. That spot is kind of terrible for her as a dancer for a couple of reasons: 1) it makes it painful for her to arch her back too much, so creating volume is kind of terrible, and 2) it also makes it painful for her to reach her left leg behind her, so moving backwards taking the size steps that the two of us normally take while dancing is also terrible.

She has been told by several medical professionals that the only way to get past the injury is to stop doing any activity that inflames the issue more, and just give it time to heal. The good news is that taking all this time off has really helped her, and she is starting to see noticeable gains in how much she can move her left leg before it hurts. She was told that if she continues to improve at the rate she’s going, she should be able to start doing light physical activity a couple of days a week again soon. Not next week, but the week after that. Maybe. It all depends on how she is feeling.

Of course, that means that I really don’t get to practice with her again for a long time. Just because she is allowed to do light physical activity doesn’t mean that we will get to start doing the kind of practice that the two of us usually do together when we meet up. The way her leg is required to move and the way she would arch her body to get into frame for us to dance our International Standard dances correctly is still outside of her comfortable range of motion. So we’ll have to see when we can get back into the swing of things.

Interestingly enough, one of the things that she told me was that the fact that she was in shape was actually making this harder for her to recover from than it would be for other people. I don’t really mention this because I don’t want to sound like I am objectifying Sparkledancer, but she is in really good shape. To give you an idea of how well she takes care of herself, she is actually one of the few women I’ve ever met that has visible abdominal definition (fitness is an interest we have in common, so we have talked about it a lot over the years – that’s how I found out). A lot of female dance instructors I have met are really thin and tiny, but unless they are high-level active competitors they don’t have a lot of muscle tone you can see. Sparkledancer has had that kind of muscle definition since even before she decided to take up competing seriously.

I mention this now because one of the things that Sparkledancer works on a lot when she works out is her flexibility. Because she can bend so much under normal circumstances, stretching out this muscle that has been giving her issues is hard for her. For normal people that have this issue they can get a lot of relief just through simple stretches of that area of the body, but that hasn’t been the case for Sparkledancer.  Because of this, she told me the other day that she has had to invest in all kinds of tools that sound a lot like torture devices in order to help her get a deeper stretch that she can feel helping. It sounds kind of horrible.

So yeah, that’s what’s up with her that I know of. Hopefully her recovery will continue and we can get back to dancing together soon. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I had to try to find a new competitive dance partner… so I’m not going to. She’d better get better, or else I’m going to make her find a dance partner for me so I don’t have to deal with auditioning a bunch of ladies I’ve never met before.

That’s a good incentive to help her heal faster, right?

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