Tag Archives: Competition

Yes, There Are Two Paths You Can Go By

Last week after a class I attended was over, I got pulled into a conversation with one of the ladies who had been in class with me. The conversation started out awkwardly, with her lauding praise on me for how good of a Lead I was. Luckily the topic soon shifted to her asking me how I had improved so much, because she wanted to work on getting better at her own dancing. I told her about the things that I was currently learning in my coaching sessions, about using the technique-based group classes I attend during the week to help refine what I know, and I also told her that much of my recent improvements were completely due to setting up regular sessions to meet up with Sparkledancer for practice. After hearing my tidbits of wisdom, she sighed and said that she wished she could find an amateur partner like me.
  That last wish of hers is something I’d like to take a moment to comment upon, since I hear it quite often. I’ve met a lot of ladies who dance Pro/Am over the years, and several have asked me if I was interested in switching partners to dance with them instead, or if I knew any single men that they could dance with, or they want to lament to me about how they think it must be so much better to dance Amateur rather than Pro/Am. I have also read lots of postings online about women who want to switch from dancing Pro/Am to dancing Amateur with a male student. I’ve also had ladies tell me all about how they dream of meeting the perfect dance partner to compete with, falling in love, and (as one girl put it once upon a time) Tangoing down the aisle together on their wedding day.

I don’t think that many of these ladies who dream about this sort of dance partnership actually know what they would be getting themselves into. Dancing Amateur competitively, which is something I’ve done for years, has its good and bad points, much like dancing Pro/Am does (which is something I’ve also done, though it’s been a while). So before you sign up somewhere looking for an amateur male to dance with, let me tell you about some things that I have learned and seen over the years I’ve been doing this. I believe that once people have information about the Amateur path in ballroom dancing, they can make an informed decision about whether dancing Amateur instead of Pro/Am is right for them.

Two notes before I begin: A) this is totally from a male perspective (since I’m, you know, a guy) and B) several of these points assume that you and your amateur partner are roughly the same ‘level’ of dancer, since that seems to be what many ladies I know who are looking for an amateur partner are looking for. That said…

  1. In your lessons together, ladies won’t usually get much attention

This is the biggest thing which many of these ladies that tell me all about their desires to compete Amateur don’t seem to realize. If you are dancing with an amateur male who is roughly the same level of dancer as you, much of your lessons/coaching with instructors will end up focusing on improving what he is doing. Oftentimes it will feel like you are just being used as a dance prop in your lessons together. If you think about it, you shouldn’t be too surprised by this. If you are good at Following, and you already are capable of getting into a strong dance frame, all you really need to know is your basic footwork for the figures that are in use.

One of the instructors that I have taken lessons from over the years explained things to me like this: he and his professional partner practiced together all the time early in their careers, but they never seemed to do much better when they would compete. It wasn’t until he went off to get some intense coaching on his leading skills that both he and his partner started to get better marks, even though she didn’t go off and get any extra coaching herself. Because everything she was doing was working off of what he was doing, he was the one holding their partnership back. The better he danced, the better she was able to use his dancing to execute her shapes and steps, so the better they scored together in competitions.

So if you have been dancing Pro/Am for a while and are used to spending an hour or so in each lesson getting picked on for everything you do wrong to make you improve, you have to prepare yourself to not be the primary focus anymore, because how well he does will have the biggest impact on how well you both dance together.

  1. Dancing as an amateur couple allows the Lead to regularly work with male instructors

This is the biggest reason why I like dancing with an amateur partner myself. Alone, I would need to have a female instructor to dance with, and she would be my primary teacher unless I was willing to pay for her time and the male instructors time. Studying under male instructors regularly really helps me to learn all kinds of things from people who have primarily danced and competed doing my part of the figures, so they know all kinds of tricks to help me out. I know this information doesn’t really mean much to ladies looking to find an amateur male partner to dance with, but I personally see this as a positive point.

I work with the greatest Leaders you can imagine, obviously

  1. You will advance at a much slower rate

This one should be obvious, but I feel like I need to point it out anyway: there are now two of you who are learning to be better at the same time, so unless you start taking twice as many lessons together (which would totally negate point number four), you will advance as a dancer at a slower rate than you would if you stick with Pro/Am, since in Pro/Am half of your partnership (the Pro) already knows what he/she should be doing. If they don’t know that, you probably shouldn’t be paying them to teach you…

Also, if you switch from dancing Pro/Am to Amateur, you will probably have to spend some time with your new partner going back to basic/Bronze steps in practice until you get comfortable dancing with each other. If you have spent a lot of time dancing socially over the years, learning to adjust to a new partner won’t be so much trouble for you, so you should be able to get comfortable quicker. However, if you have only ever danced with a single person who was a higher level instructor, or even a small team of instructors, you will find that there is a big difference dancing with an amateur, so there will definitely be an adjustment period before you can perform at your peak together.

  1. Amateur does, generally, cost less, but limits some options available

It’s great only having to pay half the cost for the lessons you take and the competitions and dance events you sign up for. I’m pretty sure all of you who might read this are aware that ballroom dancing can be an expensive endeavor, so having someone else who will shoulder half the financial burden is awesome. Who wouldn’t like that?

However, there are some things that the community makes available to people competing Pro/Am that don’t show up much for people competing Amateur. Do you prefer to go to competitions and dance heats, running each of your routines several times in the course of the day and getting feedback/placements for each one? Don’t expect to get that option often when you compete in Amateur. Sure, some local studio-based competitions will allow amateur couples to sign up for multiple heats in an event, but in bigger competitions run by national organizations the option for amateurs to dance heats is usually nonexistent. Unless you sign up to dance in multiple levels or multiple age categories, expect to go out, dance once (or twice if there are enough competitors for semi-final and final rounds), and be done. And hope to all the gods above past, present and future, that your first round of the day isn’t Viennese Waltz at butt-crack-o’clock in the morning, because you won’t get another shot…

  1. You have to be motivated to practice

This may seem like an obvious point whether you are dancing Amateur or Pro/Am, but one of the points that comes up when people talk to me about how they want to dance with an amateur partner is that it will save them money because then they don’t have to pay a professional to dance with them when they want to practice. This may be true, but then again if you are not scheduling a time with and paying someone to dance with you, there is less pressure on you to stop everything else you are doing and go meet up for practice. I’ve experienced this myself – the siren song of my pillow is strong some days, so I know how hard it is to find the motivation to get out of bed on a Sunday before lunchtime just to go practice dance.

  1. Expecting to have romance with your amateur partner is often a bad idea…

This nugget of wisdom is actually from an off-hand comment I got from a high-level dance coach I worked with. He and I had gotten off on a tangent about some recent single’s event that I had attended, and that led him to talk about his previous professional dance partner. He told me that they had a fairly typical story – while training to be champions, they spent almost all of their free time together. One thing led to another and, as you can imagine, the close physical contact they had been working on to perfect their dance frame became close physical contact they worked on in bed sans clothes. They started dating, and even moved in together to save money while they continued their training.

Things were good for a while until they both started to get more into the professional coaching side of their careers rather than focusing solely on competing. This changed things so that they didn’t spend their entire balance of free time practicing dance together, so they tried to use their extra free time to… you know… date. They began to realize that even though they were incredibly compatible as dancers, they were not incredibly compatible as people when they weren’t dancing. Rather than wait until things got too ugly and they couldn’t stand to be near each other anymore, they decided to see other people and maintain a cordial friendship. Since that time they have both also moved on to new professional partners to dance with as well, since their interests in competing have also diverged.

As much as ladies I talk to want to believe the fairy tale that they can find an amateur partner to dance and compete with and then fall in love, you can’t base a romantic relationship solely on dance and expect it to work for ever and ever. What would happen if one of those ladies came to find out that while she only likes to eat waffles for breakfast on the weekends, he will only eat pancakes? So much incompatibility!

  1. …but friendship and trust are essential to a good dance partnership

There’s a reason why you see so many older couples who have been married for a long time take up dancing after their kids are out of the house and do very well dancing and competing together. They are already friends, and they trust each other (at least, I have to assume that they do, since they got married in the first place). If you have a hard time trusting people, then dancing with a partner who you aren’t paying to tell you what to do becomes very difficult.

Trust is essential. Think about it – training together as two amateurs, especially when you are practicing without an instructor hovering nearby to help, requires you to be comfortable with things like:

  • close body contact
  • getting sweaty and gross around someone during intense practice sessions
  • communicating with your partner when things don’t feel right
  • understanding when to move on to something else before frustration causes anger
  • learning not to fight about dance-related issues
  • asking your partner to help you out if needed
  • if neither partner is sure about a figure or technique, seeking out help from a professional

You don’t want to be that amateur couple that constantly gets caught up in “dance fights” instead of practicing. I’ve never seen any amateur couples over the years go through a “dance fight” that had positive results when it was resolved! Have you?

(I guess the overall theme of points 6 and 7 can be summed up as: taking on an amateur partner and falling in love with them doesn’t seem to work out as well as finding someone you love and then taking up ballroom dancing together. Your mileage may vary, of course.)

  1. You won’t have a professional dancing with you to fall back on

This is a major sticking point that most people don’t even think about until it is brought up. If you are competing as a Pro/Am partnership now, only half of your couple is scored during a competition. The Pro can also give you reminders about things you need to fix in mid-dance if need be, because the Pro knows your part of the figures. Until you start dancing at a high-enough level where you and your amateur partner are learning each-other’s half of your figures, there is really a limited amount of items your partner can remind you of when you dance together, even when not under the pressure of a competition.

  1. Finding a worthwhile amateur male partner is going to be difficult

Male leads are hard to come by, as any female dancer can tell you. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a dance class, a social dance, or a competition, there just don’t seem to be enough of us to fill the demand. That is the biggest problem many ladies I’ve talked to have when they set out looking for a guy to compete in Amateur with. I’ve looked at postings online for people searching for amateur partners in my area – the number of ladies who have posted ads is huge compared to the number of men!

There’s another underlying problem I’ve noticed though, and this one is what gives guys like me a bad reputation, even if we do our best to try to overcome the stigma: I’ve met many unattached males during my years in the dance community – males who only like to go out social dancing, males who are only interested in competing, and those that will do both. Because unattached males are hard to come by, when they come into a dance studio to take lessons, it seems like a lot of ladies fawn over them to try to get them to stick around. This behavior can go to their heads, and I’ve seen many a young man turn into essentially a diva (would that be a divo?). Suddenly he is sure that he is better than everyone else, and needs to go out of his way to prove his dominance.

As an example, I knew one young man who, after a few months of lessons, had gotten such a big ego about his perceived skills that he would go out of his way to point out all the things he thought ladies who had been dancing for years were doing wrong during a social dance. The ladies would just smile and nod at his comments, but would then go and complain about it to each other when he wasn’t in earshot because they didn’t want to scare him away!

Rumors also have it that sometimes these men can also get… skeevy. Expecting… favors, in return for their help as dance partners. You know what I mean. I’ve never met a guy who has admitted to such things, but the rumors are out there that it happens in the ballroom world. Crazy.

Anyway… that’s probably enough on this subject. I have been making these notes in my head since I had that conversation last week, so I thought I should write them down. Hopefully they are helpful to others who are considering making the switch from Pro/Am to Amateur. Having done competitions over the years with both a professional partner and an amateur partner, I can honestly say that one is not necessarily better than the other – they are just different tracks on the same path. Do whichever one is the most fun for you, because ultimately that’s what it should be about!

Did someone order a last-minute ‘corny’ joke?

These are my personal thoughts, and have not been evaluated by the administration to determine fitness for human consumption. Should you take this advice and notice discomfort in the appendix or swelling of the hands and feet, please seek medical attention immediately as these reactions may be life threatening. Always consult an expert before beginning this or any other regimen.

Feel free to ask me any questions!

So Can I Get A Handclap?

Man, this past week has been full of all sorts of twists. If there were any more, I’d almost swear I had my left hand on blue…

Since last time I posted my notes, the first thing I did was to meet up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven at the Fancy Dance Hall for my normal Saturday lesson. Except this week we didn’t meet up at the normal time. Apparently the Fancy Dance Hall had been rented out for the afternoon and evening by some group for a big West Coast Swing workshop and dance party extravaganza. In order to avoid being in the way when their event started, we had moved our lesson up to way-too-early o’clock on a Saturday morning so that we could be finished and gone before the event started. I’ve mentioned lots of times that I am the farthest thing from a morning person, so I can’t say that things really went perfectly for me that morning, even though I had consumed copious amounts of caffeine before arriving at the studio that day. Such is life…

I will admit honestly that what we worked on that morning is a bit fuzzy to me. I didn’t sleep all that well the night before, and with all the other things that happened that day the things I was supposed to remember from early that morning have eluded me. I know we started out by running through all of our routines except Viennese Waltz. I remember that when we finished up we looked at one corner of our Foxtrot routine again, and we worked on Tango a bit and I think also Viennese Waltz toward the end, but don’t quote me on that. Now that I’m sitting here at the end of the day trying to write everything down, I feel a bit stupid for not being able to remember exactly.

One thing I do remember (because it came up again later) was that as we were finishing up that day Sparkledancer told Sir Steven and I that she wasn’t going to be in town next weekend, so if I wanted to still come in for a lesson it would have to be on my own. Sir Steven asked me if I still wanted to do that, and I told him that I could go either way. He said that we could pencil something in, and he would ask around to see if any of the female instructors who teach at the Fancy Dance Hall would be interested in either filling in for Sparkledancer during my lesson with Sir Steven, or working on things with me on her own. I just agreed, and headed off to find a quick bite to eat (and some more caffeine) before the coaching session we were supposed to have that afternoon with one of the judges who was in town for the competition that Lord Dormamu was helping organize on Sunday.

The coaching session was something that Lord Dormamu, Sparkledancer and I had worked out via text message on Friday to find a time that worked out for everyone and to figure out what this would cost each of us. Since there was that event going on at the Fancy Dance Hall in the afternoon that had required us to move our lesson with Sir Steven to the morning, the staff at the Fancy Dance Hall had actually rented out the City Dance Hall for the afternoon so that all of their students could have coaching sessions and workshops with the judges before the competition. As I was heading over to the City Dance Hall, I couldn’t help but think that it was funny that the staff from one dance studio had rented out another dance studio to give lessons.

Just as I pulled my car into the parking lot at the City Dance Hall, I got a message from Lord Dormamu telling me that there had been a bunch of flight cancellations for one of the big airlines, and unfortunately one of those cancelled flights was the one that the judge/coach that I was scheduled to work with should have been on. So he wasn’t going to make it in time for our session. Instead, Lord Dormamu said that he would work with Sparkledancer and me instead, but he was going to be half an hour late since he had to deal with the fallout from the judge not being around on time before he got to us. Since I didn’t really want to sit by myself in the parking lot, I headed inside the City Dance Hall to wait until everyone was there.

Working with Lord Dormamu that afternoon was really good for my dance confidence levels. After Sparkledancer and I danced through our Waltz routine for him once, he told me that he could really see a difference in my posture and frame, so all the practice I was doing dancing by myself holding those cups must be paying off. I wasn’t told that I could stop doing that, but he did say that when I was dancing with Sparkledancer, I was now allowed to turn my head to face 45° to the left, and also start pulling my body to the left while she pulled her body to her left (though I am not pulling left anywhere near as dramatically as she is). Anytime I dance with Sparkledancer, this will now be my new ‘home’ position, and I should always come back to it until such a time as he tells me I need to change things again. So yay! He said I improved noticeably! Now I can move on to other things! Progress can be made!

But as much as I’d love to gloat about my own personal progress, there were still points that were given to me to work on. Lord Dormamu said that he didn’t like the way my upper body looked when I was moving backward. He said that sometimes it looked like I was leaning up chest forward as I moved backward, making it look like I was off balance. To help break that behavior, he wanted me to start leaning my upper body backward anytime I would be taking a step backward with bent knees. My knees have to be bent because that is the only way to counter-balance the weight of leaning my upper body backward. I couldn’t think of any times I’ve ever taken steps backward while my knees aren’t really bent (as if I were walking backward during the rise in the Waltz), so for now I am assuming that I will be leaning back slightly every time I take a step backward. That certainly makes it easier for me to practice.

Sparkledancer definitely got it worse than me that afternoon. Now that my posture and frame were less on Lord Dormamu’s radar, he could focus more on her and manipulate her posture and frame. He was trying to get her to pull her body even more to the left when she was in frame with me. Lord Dormamu at one point took Sparkledancer over to a chair and had her sit. He asked me to gently hold her waist in place on the chair so that she didn’t move anywhere while he pulled her upper body to the left, trying to get her spine into almost a 45° angle with her hips. Once he positioned her and let go so he could verify she could hold herself in that position, we helped her up gently so that I could take frame with her and we could dance for a while.

With things like this, it amazes me that anyone, especially me, does this for a hobby. The more I dance, the more it seems like the only way you know you are doing things right is if you are super uncomfortable. Why do we do this to ourselves?

As we were wrapping things up, Lord Dormamu told Sparkledancer and me that if we can remember the things that we had gone over that day and apply them during the competition that was going on the next day, then we should do fairly well. That stopped us in our tracks, since Sparkledancer and I hadn’t signed up to be in the competition. I told him that, and asked him if, since the competition was on the morrow, if we were too late to even consider signing up. Lord Dormamu just laughed and told me that since it was his competition, he could sign us up at the last minute if we wanted to take part. He told us to think about taking part during the morning for the heats in International Standard, and also later in the evening for the championship or scholarship rounds, and just let him know before the end of the day what we wanted to do so he could add Sparkledancer and me to the list, and he would see us early the next morning if we were going to run some of the heats.

Afterward, Sparkledancer and I stood in the parking lot for a while discussing what we should do. I still had something going on Sunday afternoon I wanted to be able to do, and the championship and scholarship rounds were scheduled to start super late in the evening on Sunday, so it seemed like our best option was to join in for just the heats in the morning. I sent Lord Dormamu a text telling him that we talked it over and would be good with doing two or three heats in each International Standard style in the morning, so whatever he thought was best he could put us down for and let us know the approximate cost at some point and we could get it paid for soon. Neither of us heard back from him that day, but he had already told us what time to show up the next morning, so I guess he just assumed we were all set.

With that, on Sunday morning I was once again awake much earlier than I would have wished so that I could be out at the Endless Dance Hall for the competition. I had not gotten a reply back from Lord Dormamu to the message I sent him Saturday afternoon, so as I walked through the door I had no idea what I was getting myself into that day (or how much it was going to cost me, for that matter). It turns out that I wasn’t the only person like that who was supposed to be competing that day. The lady at the check-in desk did not have a number or a heat sheet printed out for me, but told me I was the second person who had already shown up who had that problem. Lord Dormamu was wandering around getting things situated, so it was pretty easy to flag him down and get everything straightened out. He pulled a number out of the stack that wasn’t in use yet, handed it to me and told me to go ahead and start warming up while he put my number into the heats he wanted me to do.

As I was waiting for Lord Dormamu to finish up, I got roped into helping the Princess set out some noisemakers on all of the tables around the room. That basically means that I carried around a large box full of all the noise making props and followed her from table to table, while she just took what she wanted from the box and arranged things to her liking. I guess my strong arms are actually useful for some things in the dance world. By the time I had finished up with that and gotten back to the table where I had set my dance shoes, Lord Dormamu had delivered a note to the table with a bunch of handwritten numbers on it. That was all the information I got about the heats I was to be dancing in. The numbers told me I was dancing in three different five-dance sets spread throughout the morning. Unfortunately, I was also starting in heat one, so it was time to change gears and get ready to go!

With only a little time before the event was scheduled to start, I tracked down Sparkledancer and got to work warming up. Sparkledancer had recently found, fallen in love with and purchased a new competition dress that she had decided to debut that day, so it was important that we spend a bit of time getting used to dancing with her wearing that piece. The dress had a really unique design that made Sparkledancer stand out, so she was easy for me to find while scanning the room. Our initial practice was important for me because the bottom of her dress flared out a bit, and I wanted to make sure that hitting it with my lower legs as I took steps wasn’t weird. Everything felt good, and all too soon the DJ changed the music to signal that the opening remarks were going to begin, so Sparkledancer and I made our way toward the on-deck area to get ready to go.

In some ways, the competition went exactly as I expected. The first five-dance set of heats did not go as well as the two that we danced later in the morning. For the most part the dances were OK, but the Viennese Waltz left something to be desired, and the Foxtrot was a bit of a disaster for the first two walls. The Foxtrot was completely my fault though. In practice that morning, we had been running through each of our routines starting on the short wall, since that’s where we had room to work on things. When we began the first Foxtrot heat we were already in a corner to start on a short wall, so I figured we’d just go with that. Somehow by the end of that wall I had messed something up, so I was off for the beginning of the long wall, and I maaaaaaay have gone into an American Foxtrot Open Reverse Turn instead of an International Foxtrot Reverse Turn at one point (shhh… that’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone I did that). Still, I picked up enough from the first five dance set to make adjustments to all the routines for the next time through.

Even though the floor at the Endless Dance Hall is pretty huge, I was still finding myself compressed for space to fit all of the figures in during most of my routines. I took that as a good problem to have, since that meant Sparkledancer and I were really stretching our steps and pushing with our standing legs as we traveled. For the second and third five-dance sets I ended up cutting out some figures if I felt I was getting too close to the wall. Sparkledancer was awesome and able to follow me without me having to say anything to her when I did that, as well as the few times I had to break routine because of other couples on the floor getting in the way. See folks, that’s why I keep saying it’s important to go out social dancing: it really teaches you to properly navigate the floor and learn to adjust your steps on the fly to avoid other people. I hope someday they give out bonus points in competitions for floorcraft skills.

In a surprise twist, even though we only had three five-dance sets on our handwritten heat sheet, during one of the later five-dance sets that weren’t on my list the MC called out my name and number for the Viennese Waltz right in the middle of the set. I was a bit stunned, but they were looking right at where Sparkledancer and I were sitting, so I knew it was no mistake. Shaking off the surprise, I went out to dance. So in the end I did three full five-dance sets plus one random Viennese Waltz heat that morning.

Afterward, there was a short break as they transitioned from all the International Standard heats to American Smooth. Since I wasn’t doing anything else that day, I took the opportunity during break to change back into some street clothes and, after watching some dancing for a little while, I took off to go get some lunch with Sparkledancer to discuss how things went. If this competition is anything like the last one I did, I should get back my notes from the judges when I am at the Fancy Dance Hall for my normal lesson next weekend, so I can see what things the judges think I should focus on during practice to improve further. I feel pretty good about things though. For a competition I decided to join and then finished dancing all in less than twelve hours, it was a great experience.

Going back to something mentioned earlier, I got a text from Sir Steven the next afternoon. Apparently they had a short wrap-up meeting after the competition was over, and he had asked around with the female instructors there about working with me next Saturday. I guess the Princess actually told him she knew some things she wanted to work on with me based on what she saw me doing during the competition, so she volunteered to have a private lesson with me. Sir Steven wanted to make sure I was OK with that before putting it on the schedule officially. I’m a bit nervous to find out what she saw that would make her volunteer her limited and highly valued time to work with little old me exclusively, but I’m not stupid enough to turn down an offer like that from the Royalty. So I have something officially scheduled on Saturday now. We’ll have to see what she has to say about how I danced during the competition!

Back to more normal things… yesterday night I spent some time out at Standard Technique class working on Tango. Because Lord Junior is still studying for his upcoming advanced certification test in American Smooth, what we worked on that night involved some steps that would be American Tango, and finished up with a figure from International Tango. At the beginning of class it looked like we were going to have even numbers of Leads and Follows, but there were two ladies that showed up late that threw off the ratio. Not that I was complaining. Before class started, an older gentleman who was there for class was telling me all about his bad knees and ankles, and how he was going in for hernia surgery soon. I don’t know how I got roped into that conversation, but it was rather depressing. Luckily class was about to start when he began repeating himself, so I managed to get away before hearing the sad stories all over again.

What we ended up doing that night in class started out with both partners in Promenade Position. We took two steps in Promenade position before squaring up to our partner and taking a side step, then crossed our foot behind (the Lead’s right foot, Follow’s left) and did a Ronde with the other leg. You can lead the Follower to do this by sliding your hand down to their elbow as you take the side step and then use that hold and some rotation in your body to ‘push’ their right side backward. As you bring your foot down after the Ronde, we would take another side step in the opposite direction, release our partner’s left hand from our right, and turn to take a step forward, kind of like a Crossover Break, before rotating to face our partner again. As the Lead takes a step forward onto the right leg, we would bring the Follower back around in front of us and into closed dance frame once more.

After that whole section, which took much longer for many of the people in class to pick up than I expected, we took a page from the International Tango syllabus and did a Four Step. This would take you toward diagonal wall, but we did this as if we were in a corner, rotating slightly to finish up to come out in Promenade Position facing diagonal center on the new wall. The older fellow who told me all about his upcoming hernia surgery had trouble doing this figure in time with the music when we were doing things at full speed. He managed to finish things up a few beats behind where he should have, which wasn’t too bad, but the transitions between the figures and the speed of the steps in the Four Step were what kept getting him off time. I only got called out for having my head in the wrong place once during class, so I’m feeling pretty good about that overall. Yay me!

So what do you have on your dance plate for this weekend? I’ve only got a couple of things that I need to do. There is that lesson with the Princess on Saturday, and then on Saturday night I have a dance party hosted by my Royal Dance Court gang that I will be helping to organize. Oh yeah, I was supposed to put together a mini-speech about floorcraft to give before the social dance portion of the night. I wrote a few things down, but I never finished that up. Looks like I will be spending some time tomorrow night putting that together before I go to bed. Sigh… who needs rest anyway, right? It’s such an overrated luxury.

Don’t Watch That, Watch This!

As promised, let’s start off by taking a trip back to last Thursday evening when I had gone out to the Electric Dance Hall at Sparkledancer’s request so that she could meet with that high-level female coach. We’ll call her Lady Kate the Great, just so that I have a name to refer to her by. From the sounds of things, Lord Junior had been trying to arrange a time with her for quite a while to get her to come out and work with some of his female students. This young lady has a super busy schedule, since she’s in that place in her career where she’s out competing a lot and winning tons of national and international titles, and everyone around the world wants her to come by and share her wisdom with them. And wisdom she has in spades, so if you’re a lady who dances International Standard, and you find an opportunity to schedule something with her, I’d recommend putting your name on that list!

Most of what I did that night was to serve as the male partner so that Lady Kate the Great could see Sparkledancer actually dance with someone. Sparkledancer said that going to this coaching session was one of the most useful things that she has done in a long time. It wasn’t that Lady Kate the Great told her a whole bunch of things that she had never heard before, but rather that Sparkledancer actually got to see a high-level female, who was about the same height and shape as her, actually do the things that she gets told to do all the time. After all, as good as Sir Steven, Lord Dormamu and Lord Junior are at walking through the Follower’s steps of a figure, incorporating all the correct footwork and techniques, they will never look like Sparkledancer (at least not without some extensive and expensive surgery), and I really don’t think any of them would ever be able to bend like Lady Kate the Great was bending when she got into dance position.

So, what were the big things this coach said about Sparkledancer that night? The big takeaway that she gave us was that we were too close together when in frame. Since we have really been pressed lately to work on maintaining body contact, for me to lead by using my core and for Sparkledancer to follow by reading what my core is telling her, it is understandable that this might have happened – we made sure to maintain body contact by essentially pressing our right sides together. Lady Kate the Great told us that doing this is actually working against us in a number of ways. One obvious thing she pointed out to us was that when we were so close together, if I bend my knees I will end up bending them right into Sparkledancer’s legs. That limits my range of motion, and (depending on how fast I bend my knees) leaves bruises on Sparkledancer.

She took Sparkledancer over to the closest wall and gave her an exercise she could use to practice the right position. Starting by standing with her toes a few finger widths from the wall, she had Sparkledancer bend her knees until they touched the wall and then pressed her lower ribs into the wall while attempting to drive her sternum toward the ceiling. That was where the contact should come from. She emphasized this by easily sliding her hand between Sparkledancer’s stomach and the wall, showing that while we maintained contact, we shouldn’t be pressing ourselves together completely. We worked on going through some of our Waltz in this position, and it actually felt rather comfortable.

There was one other major point that she talked about that really stuck with me from that night. We looked at Foxtrot for a little bit as well, and one thing Lady Kate the Great specifically talked to Sparkledancer about there was Heel Turns. What she said, that made a lot of sense to me but I’ve never heard anyone say out loud before, was that you shouldn’t be pulling your feet together before you turn. Various technique guides I’ve seen say that the turn should not start until the foot you are dragging in is even with the standing leg, and various instructors over the years have also told me that you bring the heels together before turning. Lady Kate the Great said that you should actually be pulling the foot in and slightly past the foot of the standing leg. If you do that, your feet will end up being even when you finish the turn. If you start turning with the heels together, either your feet will run into each other and make your life difficult, or you will finish the turn with your feet in third position. It sounds so logical, doesn’t it? I have been trying to practice doing this too on the few Heel Turns that I have.

Sparkledancer was super pumped about all the help she got that night, and has already told me that she is going to sign up to see Lady Kate the Great again the next time Lord Junior invites her to come back and work with his students. Lord Junior has already said he will for sure be bringing her back when her schedule allows. He also said that he enjoys dancing with her when he gets a chance too, because it’s useful practice for him as well. The funniest thing he said to me about the experience was that dancing with his high-level students was like going out and driving a nice car, but dancing with Lady Kate the Great was like test driving a quarter-million dollar luxury sports car (test driving because he couldn’t afford to keep her, obviously). That comparison made me laugh.
  The next exciting thing that I did this past week was to actually get together with Lord Dormamu to look at things. Hooray! It felt like it had been forever since we last saw him, with him jetting off all around the world for all sorts of dance-related things. He happened to be at the Fancy Dance Hall on Saturday when I met up with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer, and since we were all there we pulled out our calendars to see if there was a time that would work for all of us. It turned out that we all had an opening around lunchtime on Sunday, so we set that time up to get together.

What kind of interesting things happened on Sunday? Well, there are really two main takeaways, one funny and the other serious. Let’s start with funny: last Sunday was the first time in my life that I’ve had another guy put my hand near his crotch. That was something I really wasn’t expecting to happen that day, and yet, looking back on it now, all I can think is that in the world of dance, it really wasn’t all that strange of an occurrence. What went down (lolz) was that Lord Dormamu was once again trying to tell me that the majority of my drive and the lead for my partner should come from my pelvic region. Rather than just watch me do things and point out what I was doing wrong, he positioned himself right in front of me, turned around, and then reached back to grab my hands. My left hand he put on his chest, and my right he put… well, in an awkward place… just slightly off to the right and below his belt. Then he told me to keep my hands there and follow him as he danced through a few steps.

Let me tell you, it’s a difficult thing to do to follow along behind someone when you don’t know what steps they are going to do and you don’t really want your hands sliding anywhere in the process. On top of that, Sparkledancer looked like she was trying really hard not to laugh at me, so much so that she had to turn around and look the other way while we were doing this. I’m sure it was because the expression on my face was priceless. Luckily we only went through a basic Natural Turn in Waltz, so I was able to get through everything without any awkward hand sliding that day. Still, that was definitely a new experience for me, and one that I don’t think would have happened if I had a female instructor.

On a more serious note, Lord Dormamu said that we still haven’t quite gotten to the point yet where the frame and posture that Sparkledancer and I are holding is consistent enough while dancing for his liking. Until further notice, this will be our number one priority. He said that what he is trying to do is to erase everything that we currently do – all our learned bad habits, all the shaping, all the stuff that other instructors have taught us over the years – and reset us so that we are able to hold a new “home” position consistently before trying to do anything else. He is even having me keep my head in one spot, with my nose in line with my sternum, not turned to the left at all anymore. For me specifically, he said that I need to increase the amount of time I spend during practice dancing alone while holding those cups to help with this process.

Lord Dormamu explained that what he is shooting for with us is to take us back down to a blank slate, so that he can rewrite all the things Sparkledancer and I do while dancing in the manner he wants. He flat-out admitted that the times he has gone out to judge competitions (he has his adjudicator’s certification, or license, or whatever it’s called), that most of what he judges on is based on how the couple looks. Their technique and their footwork may be sloppy or even incorrect at times, but if they look good then they will likely get scored better than someone who has perfect technique and footwork that looks like they just walked out of bed and onto the dance floor. That’s why our frame and posture has to be perfect, because the upper body of the person is a much easier place to look at on competitors while they are dancing, whereas feet are hard to judge when you’re on the other side of the dance floor and there are couples in between who get in the way.

To that end, he said he will be talking with Sir Steven about all the work we’ve been doing lately covering shaping and making our different dance styles look more distinct from one another. There’s a good chance we may be setting all that work to the side to work on this new top priority.

The last thing that he brought up that day was that he has a competition in a couple of weeks that he helped organize that he may want us to do. The sign-up date had already passed for competitors, but since Lord Dormamu is helping run things, I guess that items like ‘dates’ and ‘protocols’ don’t really matter. Interestingly though, he said that whether or not he puts Sparkledancer and I into the competition, he wanted to have us come out to the Fancy Dance Hall that weekend while he has the judges in town so that he can introduce Sparkledancer and I to them, and possibly even set us up with a coaching session with one or two of them so they can work with us and get to know us. He strongly implied that knowing the judges and working with them actually makes a difference for competitors.

Hearing all this doesn’t really make me feel good about choosing to head down this “serious competitor” route for dancing. It seems that immersing yourself in the world of DanceSport is more of a test of who you know and how much money you spend on looks, rather than an actual competition to determine who is more skilled as a dancer. That thought hasn’t really been sitting well with me since Sunday…

On that happy note, now for something completely different!

Tuesday night I went out to attend a meeting of the Royal Dance Court, to discuss items of concern to dance politics. Let me tell you about the high points of the discussion that night…

  First off, we have already sold out of tickets to our spring formal party. Hooray! And pretty much everyone who ordered a ticket has already paid. Hooray hooray! That means that we have more than enough money on hand to pay all the vendors and the venue before the event even starts, which is a wonderful position to be in. Things are looking really good for this party, and I’m excited about it. The next thing to do will be getting to the venue early in the day on the Saturday of the party to set everything up.

Next up we reviewed the list of our remaining monthly dance parties for the remainder of 2017. We made a few alterations to the list – nothing super serious, and there are some things that will need to be confirmed with the guest instructor we’ve invited to teach that night before we can set things in stone. One notable item we were told was that the day our monthly party is scheduled to be held in September is also the day that the famous competition adjudicator Judge Dread will be in town holding workshops. We agreed to reach out to him to see if he would be interested in being our guest instructor for our party that night. After all, our September party also coincided with National Ballroom Dance Week this year, which is a week-long celebration of ballroom dancing that some group has been trying to promote. So if we are going to celebrate properly, inviting Judge Dread to come teach would be a good way to do that.

Last week I mentioned being told a tale about how some of the amateur male dancers in the Dance Kingdom were sort-of offended by ladies hiring out a male dance instructor to attend a dance party with them as a Dance Host. At this meeting, fact was put to this rumor. It turns out that there was just one older gentleman that wrote out a long post on a social media account of his complaining about this issue. Basically his complaint boiled down to the fact that these male dance instructors are able to lead the ladies through “fancy steps” and he felt like they were out of control and running into people when they did that. Several of the ladies who are members of my Royal Dance Court spoke up in objection to that, saying that they have danced with this gentleman at parties and he is the one that actually lacks the floorcraft skills, and has run into people before. As a whole, we were unconvinced that these male instructors were really the ones who were out “running into” other people on the floor, and then we got off on a tangent for a bit trying to figure out who might be the culprit.

As a takeaway to that last point of discussion, we talked about how to reinforce the points of floorcraft to the dancers in our area. One of the members brought up a story about how, many years ago, there was a lady who would hold periodic workshops where she specifically covered floorcraft. This lady has since moved on to other things in life and no longer holds these, so we can’t promote those workshops for people to take. Instead, the Royal Dance Court decided that since our dance parties are becoming more well attended and the size of the dance floor hasn’t increased, we should start reinforcing the points of floorcraft at the beginning of each dance by giving a few floorcraft pointers before the social dance starts.

 Guess who was chosen to do that? Yup, it was this guy. I guess the rest of the members think that the men at the party (who are the ones responsible for floorcraft) will be more likely to listen to me, since I am young and I look more threatening than any of the female members of the Royal Dance Court. Sigh… I have a couple of weeks before our April monthly dance party to come up with some notes that I will say about floor craft. Don’t be surprised if I post those notes here to get some feedback once I have them written down. 🙂

And finally, let’s talk briefly about Standard Technique class last night. I almost didn’t go to class, since I had gotten up that morning around 04:00 so that I could be to work by 05:00. I hate early mornings, so I was a bit exhausted by the time I arrived at the Electric Dance Hall for class. It was good that I went though, since going out to class always helps to improve my mood, even if I’m sleepy. There were an even number of men and women in this week’s class as well, which helped lighten my load for class a bit. One of the men was the new guy who had come last week, who wasn’t overwhelmed enough to be scared off! The new lady from last week didn’t come back though, so I guess the technique class was too much for her. The other new guy was the (friend? boyfriend? husband?) of one of the ladies in class. Both men were more inexperienced with the technical side of dance, so Lord Junior ended up spending a lot more time working with them individually. That means that I got to stand in the back and just watch from time to time.

We looked at a bit of Waltz this week. There were originally three steps that Lord Junior wanted to go through in class: a Backward Lock, an Outside Spin and a Running Spin Turn. However, the other men in class had a tough time just getting through the first two of the steps so we never made it to the Running Spin Turn. Both the Backward Lock and the Outside Spin were figures that I have done lots of times before, so most of the night Lord Junior told me to work on my frame and (surprise, surprise) keeping my head in the right place. He also had me dancing with the two other ladies in class who had never done the Outside Spin before to help them get through the steps correctly. Things went mostly OK with both of them. One lady felt like she didn’t like all the turning that you do in the Outside Spin as I danced with her, as she would really put a lot of pressure on me, especially on my left arm, until we finished spinning. I think she might have been worried about losing her balance, but I never asked.

Because I was dancing mostly with those two ladies at Lord Junior’s request, that meant that Sparkledancer, who was the only other person in class who had done the figures before besides me, was getting passed back and forth between the two new men. She told me after class that she had to back-lead through parts of the figures for much of the night, since the men were struggling to get through their steps. I felt kind of bad about that. Hopefully she didn’t get stepped on too badly going through things!

There’s another busy weekend of dance or me coming up. It seems like all my weekends have been like that in recent memory. I had to rearrange things last weekend a bit and blow off practicing last Sunday just to give myself a couple of hours to do my taxes! I know, I know… people who have kids would look at me and wish that they had my kinds of problems. Hopefully I’ll be able to get in lots of practice this weekend to make up for last weekend. Maybe I’ll see you out on the dance floor!

Test Your Might

Last Friday was kind of a rough day for me, and I still went out dancing Friday night anyway. Does that mean I have a problem? There were some planned changes that needed to be made at work, so I was going to be staying at the office late to assist with those. Because of that, and because going out Friday night to dance would be my last chance to get some practice time in with my competition partner, I got up at butt-crack o’clock in the morning to work out. I hate morning workouts. My body feels all wobbly and slow the whole time. Plus it was leg day, so any exercises I did where I had to take steps just felt off balance. I am NOT a morning person. Really truly.

And yet, despite having already been up and running for sixteen hours, I met up with Sparkledancer Friday night at the Electric Dance Hall to do some dancing. This would be our last chance to have any real practicing before Saturday morning’s competition, and just like any good college student you might know, I wanted to do some final cramming before the next day’s test. When I got to the Electric Dance Hall, the crowd was fairly small. Lord Junior came over to say hi when I walked in, and told me that since he was holding a big Valentine’s themed party on Saturday night and not a lot of people had shown up for this bi-weekly Friday night party, he was letting people dance for free for a couple of hours. So not only did I get to do some practicing that night, but I got to do it for free. How awesome is that?

We got to run through almost everything at least once that night. Lord Junior did not play any Quickstep numbers while I was there, and there was only one Viennese Waltz, but there were plenty of Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango numbers to use for practice. The Viennese Waltz was actually funny that night. There were only four of us there who knew Viennese Waltz at the time he played the song – Sparkledancer and I, and the two Dance Robots. As he was putting on the song, Lord Junior made a joke about this being a five minute Viennese Waltz so that everyone could watch how well the four of us performed.

The song was an American Viennese Waltz number, which would work out for practice, but any Viennese Waltzes I did the next day would be faster… or so I thought. After the first minute or so, Lord Junior laughed and called out that there were four minutes left, but then he started to technosyndrome1increase the tempo on the song. First he turned it up just to International Viennese Waltz tempo, and then after Sparkledancer and I made it around the floor a couple of times he began increasing it further. The dance robots kept going, but stopped trying to keep up with the music when things got too fast. Sparkledancer and I tried to keep up, but it finally got to a point when it was just too funny, so we had to quit because we were both laughing so hard. Which was probably a good thing, because if we had gone too much faster I’m sure we would have broken the space-time continuum. That was a lot of fun, and the other people at the dance gave the four of us a nice round of applause as we walked off the floor.

I knew going into the competition on Saturday that the estimate that I was given by Lord Dormamu about being in and out of there in an hour was highly unlikely, because it just sounded too good to be true. As you can guess, I was right. I arrived early to get a chance to warm up, so that added on a half hour for me anyway, but then I got my heat list to look at. The first heat I was in was heat number three, but my last one was 119! By my math, even if they had managed to keep each heat to 90 seconds and run those with no lag in between that was going to take at least three hours. Since they didn’t run all the heats at 90 seconds when starting out, and they took a few breaks to let the judges get up and stretch, my one-hour competition turned into over four hours. Let that be a lesson to everyone – if someone tells you that you can participate in a dance competition and be in and out in an hour, just smile and nod and prepare to spend a large portion of your day there anyway.

Lord Dormamu had pulled out all the stops for this event, since it was the first competition to be held at the Fancy Dance Hall. He had actually brought in three judges from places near his home country to sit and watch the competitors. There was no point or scoring system set up, but rather each judge would be giving you real notes and feedback on your dancing in every heat you were in. Yes, that’s right – EVERY HEAT. I thought that was pretty awesome when they told us that. The one downside was that, in order to give the judges a chance to view and make notes about everyone in the heat, the heats were limited in the number of competitors on the floor. The largest number of competitors I saw in one heat while I was there had only four couples dancing. So that’s a big reason why there were so many heats that day. I also imagine that some of the breaks that they took were just to let the judges rest their writing hands a bit from all the furious scribbling they were doing at the judges’ table.

Overall, I felt really good about how things went that day, other than the long periods of sitting around I had to endure. I think the biggest gap I had to wait between my heats was when I technosyndrome2danced heat 35 and then didn’t have to dance again until heat 70. Sparkledancer and I ended up being signed up for ten normal heats, two in each of the International Standard styles (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep and Viennese Waltz). They decided not to put us into any of the multi-dance championship rounds since those were scheduled to be after the planned lunch and Sparkledancer had to leave at that time to make it to her other event that afternoon.

I also think that the overall winners of the competition had to be Lord Latin and Sir Steven. From what I was told, Lord Latin had been scheduled to dance in all but three of the heats that whole day in both the Standard and Latin sections. Whoa. In fact, they had to schedule some heats where it was only Lord Latin and his student out on the floor so that he could get through all of the heats his students had scheduled to do that day. Sir Steven was a distant second place to Lord Latin, being scheduled to only dance somewhere north of 100 heats. None of the other instructors had anywhere near that many students dancing in so many heats, and the two amateur couples competing (Sparkledancer and I were one of those) didn’t even come close. So no matter how well all the students did that day, those two guys should get some kind of prize for all of their hard work, because I don’t think there would have been much of a competition without them.

While we’re thinking about the competition, let’s fast forward now to Tuesday night. I had originally had a lesson scheduled with Lord Dormamu for that evening, but I got a text from Sir Steven that afternoon letting me know that Lord Dormamu had to cancel because he had an injury in one of his hip flexors flare up that he went to have looked at. I guess years ago he had surgery to have something repaired in both his hip flexors, which is why he had to stop competing professionally for several years, and that same area was causing him pain again on Monday so he wanted to get it looked at just in case. Luckily Sir Steven said that he had an opening at the same time as my scheduled lesson with Lord Dormamu, and he had our results from the competition, so he told me that if I still wanted to come in that night it would be a good chance to go over our results. Sparkledancer had already told him that she was up for it, so I said I’d be there too.

The notes we got back were actually useful, though many of them pointed out things that we are already actively working on. Some of the common notes were about making sure to hold my posture and frame through the whole dance – I had several heats where the judges commented about how it looked good and other heats where I got notes saying either my posture or frame had slipped during the dance. There were several notes about making sure to watch my footwork – I guess it must have looked like I was doing either a heel or toe step when I should have been doing the opposite. And obviously there were plenty of places they said I should push off my standing leg more. So those are just reinforcements of things that I have been working on during practice sessions already.

There were two comment pages that really stuck out to me, since they mentioned things that were unlike all the others. The first was a comment from one of the judges about my second technosyndrome3Waltz heat. The page read “Try not to work so hard.” Sir Steven said that he didn’t remember seeing us in that heat, but one of the things that Waltz is supposed to portray is being totally effortless, and if we were out there thinking a lot about all of the things we were supposed to be doing (which I know I was during that whole day), then it probably didn’t look effortless by any stretch of the imagination. So this was a comment more on the overall performance of the style as opposed to some specific technical point to fix. I’m not even sure how I could practice Waltz to fix that if the judge thought it was enough of an issue to point out. I’ll have to think about that for a while to see what I can come up with.

The second note was regarding a Viennese Waltz heat, where the judge “Use more sway.” This is something I know I have actually been working to actively do the opposite of lately. Back when I first learned Viennese Waltz, someone incorrectly taught me that there should be a lot of shaping in all the movement, and distinct rise and fall. Since then, both Lord Junior and Sir Steven told me that was absolutely wrong, and that in the real world of high-level dancers, Viennese Waltz should have absolutely no rise and fall, and while there is sway in the Natural Turns, there shouldn’t be any in the Reverse Turns. They said the most important thing to work on is to keep my Viennese Waltz down and level the whole time, and to imagine it traveling more in a straight line rather than think about it constantly spinning. I was told that once I am able to do that consistently, then they could go back and work on adding back some sway. So I’m sure that when I danced those two Viennese Waltz heats that I was pretty much level the whole time. That comment made a lot of sense to me.

Having looked through all of the notes, Sir Steven had some points that he picked out which he wanted to work on with us that night. The first thing he actually wanted to start on was that comment about adding more sway into our Viennese Waltz. I guess he figured that if the judge made a point of mentioning it, then we must be ready to start adding it in. To give us something to compare to, we looked at the sway we normally used in the Waltz during the Natural Turns, and tried to get almost the same feeling with the sway during the Natural Turns for Viennese Waltz. The sway in Viennese Waltz is bit less exaggerated, simply because we are moving so much faster so there isn’t as much time to make the movement look as dramatic, but the overall feeling we were going for is the same in both styles.

We also spent time working further on the comment about driving more from the standing leg, specifically using Foxtrot and having me moving backward and Sparkledancer moving forward. I think this is just going to be a struggle for a while, seeing as how my normal state is to be moving forward and that’s what I am most familiar with. Looking at the beginning of our routine, we look good when going through the starter step into the Feather Step and the first half of the Reverse Turn. The second half though is when I am moving backward out of the step before rotating into the Feather Finish, and that’s the part we focused on to make sure it looked like it has as much power there as it did in the steps leading into that section. We did have to cut our angles slightly different every time we went through the figure, since the group class that was going on was a bit rowdy and was not staying in a single area on the floor, but that really just adds a floorcraft challenge into the mix to make it more exciting, right?

Since we skipped ahead to Tuesday, we might as well move right on to Wednesday now. I realize that my notes about things I need to remember have been super long the last couple of weeks, so I’ll try and keep this one a bit shorter. Wednesday night I headed out to Standard Technique class and we got to look at Foxtrot. Lord Junior gave us a progression to work on that was mostly International Foxtrot, but used a Curved Three Step for fun which really only exists in the American Foxtrot syllabus. Silly Americans, curving all the things. What’s up with that?

The set of figures is fairly simple to get through: starting in the corner facing diagonal center, we did a prep step into a Feather Step, moving into a Fallaway Reverse and Slip Pivot. The timing we used for the Fallaway Reverse and Slip Pivot was all quick rather than starting with a slow step, just to give us some variation on the figure to work with. Next we did a syncopated Curved Three Step (does that make it a Four Step?), adding in that extra step at the end to come out on our right leg (left for the ladies) so that we could do a Contra Check next. If done correctly, the Curved Three Step should rotate you almost 180° so that the Contra Check is actually done against the line of dance, though the amount of rotation is entirely dependent on where you come out facing at the end of the Fallaway Reverse and Slip Pivot.

Because we were facing the wrong way, we backed out of the Contra Check for two steps before rotating into a Feather Finish that moved toward diagonal wall. Here we added in a non-curved Three Step, and then we did a figure that I had never seen before: a Natural Telemark. This figure is interesting because it is basically two turns right on top of each other, ending with a Feather Finish. Starting toward diagonal wall we would come around the lady like technosyndrome4a Natural Heel Turn, with the guy doing his first rotation, a quarter of a turn, to be backing diagonal center. As you brought your feet together but before taking the next step, you do the second turn which is a half of a turn, to end up facing diagonal center for the Feather Finish. You can get a lot of movement doing these turns right on top of each other, so it is important to hold your frame properly. I accidentally let mine slip a couple of times, and the lady I was dancing with interpreted that as me opening her up to go into Promenade Position. It wasn’t a huge deal, as I could just close her during the Feather Finish, but it wasn’t what we were trying to do so it was wrong.

I think I only have a couple of dance things on my list to accomplish this weekend. Saturday afternoon I have a lesson to get to, and I’ll be helping to host a dance party with the rest of my Royal Dance Court friends on Saturday night. Sunday will probably have a couple of hours of practice time worked in during the afternoon as well. Maybe I’ll have some time to get my hair cut too. It has been feeling really long, so I’d like to get it cut back down if possible. Hmm… I’ll work that in. It’s important, so I can make time to get it done. I hope your upcoming weekend is as fun and dance filled as mine’s going to be!