Hurry Boy, It’s Waiting There For You

I didn’t do a whole lot of dancing this past week. Lots of people seemed to go on vacation over the weekend, so I ended up just hanging around at home sorting through some old drawers and getting rid of a bunch of stuff I no longer use. That was kind of liberating. I probably could have done it in a lot less time and still gone out dancing at some point last weekend, but my cat decided that she wanted to “help” me with my cleaning, which made everything take a lot longer than it should have. She’s just too fuzzy to ignore…

So Monday night was my first notable time out dancing when I decided to get out of the house and go to Latin Technique class. Some notable faces who had been out on vacation for the last few weeks also came back to real life that night, so we had a fairly large turnout. Unfortunately, large turnouts also mean that my vote on what to do in Latin Technique got easily overridden, so we ended up going over some Cha-Cha during that class.

We started off by looking at the Curl figure from the Silver Cha-Cha syllabus. To get into the Curl gracefully we used a Forward Lock as a starting point. Once everyone had the Curl down, Lord Junior decided that we would take out the syllabus ending for the figure, where the Lead would lead the lady out into Fan Position, and instead replace that with a Reverse Top for fun. I know, that sounds like so much fun, doesn’t it? Starting the Reverse Top after the Spiral Turn portion of the Curl isn’t so bad if the lady knows what you are going to lead her through, but if you want to pull off this combination of figures socially you have to be really confident in your lead between the two to make sure the lady doesn’t try and step off in the wrong direction.

After two measures of rotation in the Reverse Top we finished with a side step to the left. While we were practicing the choreography really slowly Lord Junior gave us a set amount of rotation to shoot for so that we would all come out of the Reverse Top facing the same direction, but as we tried to speed up the figure that idea got thrown out the window. We had started class all lined up in one row to make rotation through partners easier, but as we added on more figures after the Reverse Top we had to stagger everyone to different parts of the room so that there would be space around us no matter which direction we ended up coming out in. Even staggered as we were there were still a few times when someone had to pull their steps short to avoid a collision. Barely controlled chaos, I suppose.

Once we took that side step to the left, we led our partner through another quick Spiral Turn, and then started walking backwards while leading her to follow us before rotating her into an Aida. We did the basic rocking action in the middle of our Aida, but rather than coming out and leading the lady through a simple Spot Turn we instead came out by turning into Solo Switch Turns side-by-side. After the turns we were able to link back up with our partner and go into a basic chasse to the right to finish for the evening.

At the end of class Lord Junior thought it would be funny to have us all try this out at full speed. One of the ladies in class opted to sit out from that exercise. She said that the spinning action in the Reverse Top was making her dizzy, so she just watched the rest of us try things out from the sideline. I felt like I got through everything fairly well, so yay me! Also no one intruded into my area of the floor, so I didn’t have to worry about diving in front of my partner to avoid someone running into her. Also yay! What a good way to end the class.

On Wednesday night when I got to Standard Technique class, the only other person that I saw there for class was Sparkledancer. It was good to see her again, since she was one of the people who had gone off on vacation and hadn’t been around for a week or so. While waiting for others to show up for class we were looking at our calendars together to plan out when we would be meeting up to resume practicing now that she was back in town.

But by the time class was going to start no one else had shown up. Lord Junior told the two of us that a number of the other regulars in class had told him that they weren’t going to make it that night. Many of them are in the midst of preparing for a big Pro/Am competition that is happening this coming weekend, so they all have been working hard and just wanted a night off to rest, or were nursing some kind of injury and didn’t want to aggravate it by doing more physical activity. With Lord Junior all to ourselves for the next hour, Sparkledancer and I decided to look over some Tango for fun.

Because the two of us don’t often work with Lord Junior by ourselves, he had a few things that he wanted to go over with us that he told us he notices when he has seen us dancing – either in Standard Technique class or during the days when we go to the Electric Dance Hall to practice. Because these things were more for various points that were unrelated, we ended up looking at just a couple of unconnected specific figures to work on only the ideas that he had in mind, rather than trying a string of new choreography that we would need to spend time learning.

There were some interesting notes that Lord Junior gave us about figures that we had in our routine. Two in particular came up: the Back Open Promenade and the Fallaway Promenade. The notes were interesting because based on what Lord Junior said, the way we do these figures in our choreography may not actually be legal. For the Back Open Promenade what we do is that we start in Promenade Position moving toward diagonal wall, then on the third step I close around Sparkledancer so that I am backing line of dance. On the fourth step we had been told to put our feet down (my right foot, her left foot) and do a small pivot so that we end up facing diagonal wall against line of dance. That pivoting action is not something that is actually in the syllabus.

This particular variation wasn’t that bad though, and Lord Junior said that he could see what Lord Dormamu was trying to accomplish in the routine by having us add it there. In the Fallaway Promenade however, things are a little different. I think I mentioned that on the fourth step of the figure we were told to do a Ronde action with our outside leg. Lord Junior told us that there were no Rondes in any figures of the Silver syllabus. He’s never even heard of anyone trying to add one in before we showed him how we did it in our routine, because if he had he told us that he would have added it into his own routines for fun. So that… may be something to watch out for. If I get called out by an Invigilator for doing that variation, can I just tell them that Lord Dormamu told me to do it that way? Is that a valid answer?

Anyway, the last thing that Lord Junior was most interested in having the two of us work on was making our top line bigger. He had gone through quite a few of the coaching sessions with Lady Kate the Great just like Sparkledancer and I had two weeks beforehand, and that was one thing that she had told him he needed to work on with all of his students. Most of this involved Lord Junior helping Sparkledancer stretch even further up and to the left during the figures that we walked through. I could pull myself a bit further in some ways, but doing too much to how I hold myself risks distorting my frame, which in turn would have made it super hard for Sparkledancer to do any of the things that Lord Junior wanted her to try.

So it was just a fun bit of playing around to see how much bigger we could make ourselves look while walking through a variety of figures. Like I mentioned, we did the Back Open Promenade and the Fallaway Promenade, but we also tried it out with the Fallaway Reverse and Slip Pivot to see if we could hold ourselves out bigger through some major rotation like the pivots in that figure require.

Now that Sparkledancer is back in town, I’ll be back to practicing a lot starting this weekend. It looks like it will be hot this weekend, so hanging around inside the studio might keep me cool. At least, until we decide to work on Quickstep or something. Then it may not be so easy to stay cool. Maybe if I brought along a fan that could help? Or some sunglasses? That could improve my coolness.

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Whatever Makes You Happy

Let me drift a bit off topic here today to tell you about the continued misadventures of Seedling…

I last saw him during that Pilates class I went to the Sunday before last, and since that day he has been doing a lot of things that I have heard about vicariously through Sparkledancer. When I have met up with Sparkledancer for practice several times this past week, she has had all kinds of things to tell me about his strange way of muddling through life. A few times she has even forwarded me messages from him that she received because she was having such a hard time figuring out if he is serious about what he is saying. It’s become pretty clear that Seedling lives in a very different headspace, where he thinks that he can make all kinds of stuff happen in his life without actually putting in much effort for it, which is why Sparkledancer questions what he says a lot of the time.

Previously I mentioned that Seedling was asked to leave the franchise dance studio where he was a member. The story that I got was that he was asking some questions of one of the female students at the studio who he thought was his friend, and when his questions toward this other student got weird somehow, one of the studio owners got dragged into the mix.

Seedling was unhappy with how the conversation was going, and even though he claims that he was ‘discussing’ the situation with the owner in a level-headed manner, somewhere along the line the owner threatened to call the police on him if he didn’t calm down. A few days later Seedling called to confirm his scheduled lesson with his instructor, and whoever was on the phone from the studio told him that his lessons had been cancelled, his money refunded and he was no longer welcome on premise. That was the end of his franchise studio membership.

He moped about this situation for a few days, sending Sparkledancer mean-spirited words about the studio owners and claiming that he was going to figure out some way to get in touch with his former instructor there. Because he was convinced that he and his instructor had a ‘connection’ and were meant to be more than just a teacher and student, he was going to ask her to start teaching him independently at one of the other studios in the Dance Kingdom. He knew in his guts that she was going to jump at the chance as soon as he asked her. Apparently Seedling had never heard of a non-compete clause before, and as soon as what that kind of clause is was explained to him, he had all sorts of choice words about how stupid that sounded.

Without a dance home, Sparkledancer pushed him to explore some of the other studios in the Dance Kingdom and see what other instructors were out there before doing something crazy like stalking his former instructor online and sending messages that might start trouble. He did take that advice and spent a few days going to some group classes and a Friday night dance party at a couple of the studios. Somehow in his search he ended up at the Prime Dance Hall of all places. This studio doesn’t really offer much in the way of group classes that Seedling could use to evaluate the studio, so he just called and signed up for one of their low-cost introductory private lessons instead.

That call was a life-changing event for Seedling. Holy cow. The minute he met the new instructor that had offered to give him his introductory lesson, all of his thoughts of his old instructor (including his crush on her) disappeared. After the first day at the Prime Dance Hall, Sparkledancer says that Seedling told her all about how the new instructor said that she was surprised that Seedling knew so much, and how he agreed with her that he “just had to” stay for another lesson after the introductory lesson was over (at full price, of course) because they had so many things to look at together.

…I’m sure the fact that this new instructor was shorter than average, blonde, also a fitness instructor, also a Yoga instructor, etc. etc. had nothing to do with him wanting to stay and hang around with her for longer. It was all purely about the dancing. Obviously.

So here we are, two-and-a-half weeks after that first lesson with the new girl. Seedling has dropped SO MUCH MONEY at the Prime Dance Hall in just two-and-a-half weeks, it’s crazy. He doesn’t make a lot on his job (he’s not afraid to tell people how much he makes per hour), but somehow he has managed to find over $5,000 to spend at the studio in just that short amount of time. Yeah. And at the rate he seems to be using his lesson packages, the amount of money he looks to drop at the studio will exceed what he takes home annually. But he doesn’t seem to care.

On top of that, because the Prime Dance Hall has an open studio policy for all current students, he is spending ridiculous amounts of time there. He claims that he is using all the extra time for practice, but he has also admitted that he was spending large chunks of time there before he had even been given routines or exercises to practice from his new instructor. What he was really doing there is anyone’s guess. He talks about watching dance videos to learn new things, but then he also spends large amounts of time sending messages to people outside the studio, one of them being Sparkledancer. It’s hard to watch dance videos to learn, and also hard to practice when you are constantly typing things on your phone, isn’t it?

Working hard, or hardly working?

The amount of money Seedling has already dropped at the studio is really surprising to me. The times I have talked to him, he always seemed to mention that he never had money to do the things he wanted and he was always looking for ways to earn more money without having to put in any effort to get a real education or an actual career. Since taking up dancing, he has been living paycheck-to-paycheck to pay for dance classes and lessons. When he forcibly left the franchise studio he claimed that it would save him money because he wouldn’t be paying for access to low-level classes he didn’t want to take anymore, but moving from unlimited group classes and one private lesson a week to nothing but private lessons several times a week is certainly negating any savings in cost he imagined.

Then again, now that I think about it, in some ways it’s really not surprising that he spent a sum like that. The owners at the Prime Dance Hall are best described as ‘slimy’ based on conversations with many of their former employees, which is why I so rarely go there. They keep a tight leash on their instructors while still trying to maintain a label as an ‘independent’ studio, and are always telling the instructors to have their students sign up for all kinds of expensive packages and outings to bring in more money for the venue. A lot of instructors have been brought in from other states or other countries to teach at the Prime Dance Hall. Many left there on short notice because they no longer wanted to be under the thumb of the owners of that studio. So the instructor that took on Seedling convincing him to part with large sums of money fits in with that kind of studio culture that I have been told about.

His original plan when going to the Prime Dance Hall was to start working on becoming a high-level International Latin competitor like he has talked about before. He is planning on competing in an upcoming Pro/Am competition in September, and has already started working on learning routines for that event. Seedling was quite insistent on telling Sparkledancer during one of their chat sessions that his new instructor is so much better than two other high-level female dance instructors in the area. I’m not sure how he knows the names of these two ladies, but they are two instructors whom I have met, who both have been competing since they were very young and have a whole bunch of dance titles under their names from various countries around the world.

I thought his claim sounded a little fishy when Sparkledancer told me that he had said that, and yet the rates to take lessons with his instructor are significantly less than what I know these other two ladies charge for their time and expertise. At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe I had just never heard about his new instructor before. The Sparkledancer told me that Seedling had admitted that he has never seen either of these two ladies dance before, which makes any comparison he tried to make sound really dumb because he only knows one side of the equation.

But now… a few days ago one of the managers at the Prime Dance Hall was talking to Seedling about how exciting it was that he was going to be doing his first competition in September, and also unexpectedly told him that this will also be his instructors first competition ever as well – Pro/Am or Amateur. Hearing that now leads me to believe that Seedling is saying that his new instructor is so good for other reasons. Now I believe that he thinks that his instructor is so much better than ladies he has never seen before simply because he is watching his new instructor dance with hearts in his eyes.

I talked with Sparkledancer about it at practice one night, telling her that I thought it was likely that he has already developed a crush on this new instructor just like he had on his old instructor. Sparkledancer just laughed at me and told me that if I read the things he wrote about this girl, I would be able to see that very plainly. Sparkledancer said that she told him early on not to develop feelings for his instructor because that could lead to him making poor decisions, but he never replies to her when she brings it up to try and confirm that he hasn’t done that. Avoidance often implies that someone is too embarrassed to say that the thing they were told not to do has already happened.

To take the weirdness of his crush on this lady up a notch, ever since Seedling started going to the Prime Dance Hall’s Friday night dance lessons and parties, which are mostly attended by newcomers, he has become convinced that he wants to become a dance instructor. I know that sounds like a noble pursuit and all, brought about by his love of correcting the mistakes of newcomers during class, but when pressed about actually following through with his goal to be a dance instructor, his reasons for wanting to do it are the kind of reasons that sound just plain creepy. He wants to become a dance instructor because A) he wants to be his new instructor’s Professional partner, so they can practice together all day and then compete together at big Pro events, and B) he wants to be paid to spend all day hanging out at what he calls his “happy place,” which is now the Prime Dance Hall.

If you try and tell him that he would really only get paid if he is at the studio teaching students, that just goes in one ear and out the other. Teaching is not what he focuses on as what you do when you’re a dance instructor. He thinks that his days will be filled with practicing with his Professional partner, and mentions very little about the concept of finding students and convincing them to give the studio money or actually teaching students how to dance. In fact, when it was mentioned to him that he could become an independent instructor at any time once he knows the female side of the figures so that he could teach students, he was surprised because he had never considered that he would have to know both the Lead’s and the Follow’s steps. Did he think that he would lead the figures so well when he’s an instructor that his students would be able to figure out what to do all by themselves?

Apparently he already asked one of the owners of the Prime Dance Hall if he can be trained to be an instructor. She gave him what I would call a ‘soft no’ by saying that they were currently training two instructors who were already working there, then had another three waiting in the wings to be trained, but maybe after that they could look into it. He thinks that means that he is already in, and one day in fact he had been telling Sparkledancer how he was researching apartments that are near the studio that he could move into that area in the next few months… except that these apartments are a little over an hour from his current job, which would add time (and cost) to his commute to make money every day so he could spend it on dancing. Does he cart-before-the-horse much?

So… yeah. Seedling may never come back to the Electric Dance Hall. It sounds like he is already spending four- to eight-hours a day at the Prime Dance Hall Monday through Friday, so he has no time to do anything else. Yup. Four- to eight-hours a day, with only part of that time used for taking lessons, and only a little bit of practicing on his own. What else is he doing there? Who knows. Most days of the week they don’t have group classes or parties, so he is… just hanging around? Sitting at a table and chatting with people over various messaging apps? I don’t know. He said that this week he has moved up to taking two lessons a day, so that’s some more of his time at the studio accounted for, but that still leaves at least two-and-a-half hours or more that he only half-explains how he fills.

Well… that rambled on for a bit longer than I planned. I guess I’ll end things here by talking about Standard Technique class last night. I thought it was a lot of fun, and it was just last night so it is fresh in my memory. We didn’t have anyone new in class last night so we could actually work on Quickstep for a change, which was great! As promised, Lord Junior looked at the Running Right Turn for both Sparkledancer and I, since that was the specific figure that we asked him about which brought up Quickstep in the first place two weeks ago.

Because Sparkledancer and I had figured out all our issues with the figure during previous practice sessions this past week, we were able to work with Lord Junior on refining our sway and Sparkledancer’s head movements during the figure rather than just focusing on the timing and footwork. The other students in class spent most of the hour just trying to get those pieces right, sometimes in pretty hilarious ways. It made the class pretty amusing to be in.

We started off the Running Right Turn in the first corner along one of the short walls of the studio, and used that figure to cover the whole short wall before going into another basic Natural Turn to turn the second corner. From there we did a few Open-level figures to close things out: an Open Impetus into a Promenade Lunge followed by an Oversway, and then to finish we did a series of bunny hops in place while holding out one leg before coming out into an Open Natural Turn. The hopping action was to bounce on the right leg for two beats, then the left leg for two, then one on the right leg, one on the left, and a final bounce on the right leg before settling and pushing out onto the left leg on the eighth beat so that we could go into the Open Natural Turn.

Wait a minute… when did that guy get here?

Class that night started out with myself, Apollo, Sparkledancer and a young lady who was home on break from college, but ten minutes into class Lord Junior’s intern also decided to join us once she finished up all the front desk stuff she had been working on. It was a good group of people to be around, because while all of us were willing to work hard to get what we were doing right, none of us took things so seriously that we couldn’t laugh when we messed things up. And trust me, we messed up enough to be laughing pretty consistently throughout the class.

After class was over, Apollo was hanging around and talking with Sparkledancer and the college girl. I got pulled into the conversation just before I took my shoes off. Apollo was asking about why he had so much trouble at the end of the Running Right Turn with the ladies rotating to go into Promenade Position. He had asked the ladies there if they had any thoughts, but also wanted to see if I could help out since I had gotten through the figure without anyone opening to Promenade Position for me.

After watching him do the Running Finish (which is what the last three steps of the Running Right Turn are), I saw him doing the same thing that I saw him do a couple of times during class when I was able to watch. As he was dancing with Sparkledancer and she was helping him feel what it was like to have his body in Contra-Body Movement Position (CBMP), I saw that he was also letting his left arm push forward. That turned out to be the key once I pointed out what he was doing.

Neither Sparkledancer nor the young college girl weighed very much (they are both really tiny compared to Apollo, and super small compared to me), so as he was rotating his body to be in CBMP, when he also brought his left arm forward the ladies couldn’t do anything to fight back and their bodies would open up away from him like Promenade Position. As soon as I had him pull his elbow back and keep it in line with his shoulder, the next time he tried the figure he was able to get the lady into Outside Partner without causing her to open all the way out to Promenade Position. Look at that! Group problem solving! If all four of us worked together, we could probably teach a class and be almost as competent as an actual instructor!

Maybe we all should look into career changes, just like Seedling. Do they allow “team teaching” for ballroom instructors? 🙂

The next few days are already pretty full of dance items for me. Lord Dormamu got back in town yesterday after his overseas excursion to some big training camp and competition. He had a friend of his, who also happens to be a high-level dance coach, meet him in town today so that they could discuss some business. Because he was in town for today only, I was signed up to meet with him for a coaching session before even meeting up with Lord Dormamu again so that he could look at my new routines to begin polishing them. So yeah… that was weird, but I’ll talk more about that coaching session next time.

I do have two lessons on the book for Friday and Saturday with Lord Dormamu to make up for not being able to see him over the last couple of weeks. Hopefully by the end of this weekend we will have our Tango routine completed and will be able to start looking at the other three to get his feedback on how we’ve been doing with them so far. So much to do!! I hope my brains survives the influx of information I am expecting…

Meet Me In Outerspace

My Amateur dance partner and I happened to choose the Electric Dance Hall as the location for where we were going to practice last Saturday afternoon. When I showed up there at the time Sparkledancer and I chose, Lord Junior was hanging around the studio, cleaning thing a little bit while waiting for his next student to show up. He waved at me when I walked in the door and told me that he was having someone come in the next day to teach a Pilates class. It wasn’t really an informative statement he was giving me, it sounded more like a note to let me know where I was going to be the next day.

And that’s the story of how I ended up doing Pilates randomly on a Sunday afternoon.

Pilates is not something that I do very often. Sure, I have done it quite a few times over the course of my life (most of those times being at some dance studio or another), but I don’t really go out of my way to join classes unless someone else I know is going and they ask me to go with them. It’s not that I dislike Pilates or anything – I know all the benefits a number of Pilates exercises have for dancers – it’s just that all the Pilates classes that I get invited to go to don’t end up being all that difficult for me. I like a higher degree of difficulty in my core workouts.

Please don’t take that the wrong way – I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, it’s just that I have worked on my core strength for a long, long time, and the exercises that I am asked to do in the average Pilates class don’t really challenge me because of all of that work I have done for the last decade. Holding my legs up in the air and my shoulders off the ground while wiggling my arms up and down (I think the move is called the Hundred?) is really not a big deal for me. Later that same day I was doing slow crunches with a four-second count up and down while holding 60lbs over my chest, because that’s the kind of thing I do to get that good burning feeling in my abdominal muscles when I work them. Plus I think it’s fun. I’m weird like that.

But, since Lord Junior specifically mentioned it to me, I showed up and did the Pilates class with him. I am not one to shy away from a physical challenge so I was right there on the floor with everyone else. There were actually three guys in this class: myself, Lord Junior, and then Seedling. I guess he had been telling Sparkledancer for weeks how he wanted to try and get into shape and he needed to lose forty or fifty pounds because he has dreams of becoming a champion Latin competitor and also ballroom instructor someday, so when she heard about the class from Lord Junior telling me on Saturday she told Seedling that he should also go. Sparkledancer was also there, because she wouldn’t just challenge someone else to go and not show up herself.

I put my mat down in the back row for class, and ended up being right next to Lord Junior. He actually struggled with things as class went on, and I felt really bad for him. A couple of weeks ago, I guess he was doing some outdoor activity and ended up getting hit in the chest pretty hard, which may have bruised or cracked a rib. His doctor told him that he would have to take it easy for a few months until things healed enough. Ribs usually take a long time to get better.

He thought that he was going to be fine through this class since the incident was weeks ago, but any of the exercises where he had to curl his body up around that side of his rib cage ended up being a lot more painful for Lord Junior than he had anticipated. Gritting his teeth helped him get through things at the beginning of class, but by the time we got halfway through he started having to keep his back on the mat because it hurt too much. By the end of the hour Lord Junior was really only getting in work through his legs and trying to leave his entire core out of it. Poor guy.

Lord Junior was no longer feeling pain in his core on Monday night thankfully, so Latin Technique class went on as scheduled. Before class started, Lord Junior told all of us that he had promised one lady a few days ago that we could work on Samba in class, but she wasn’t there yet. I guess the last time she came to class she was ten minutes late, so he said that we could get started with warm up exercises and see if she showed her face before deciding what we wanted to work on. We did two different exercises, Batucadas – which Lord Junior said was good for everyone to do whether we worked on Samba that night or not – and Three Step Turns going from left to right.

Once we finished up those and the lady he had promised a class on Samba to still hadn’t shown up, Lord Junior decided that he should save Samba for her another time and work on some Rumba instead. He asked everyone if they could think of anything we hadn’t worked on in Rumba for a while. The first thing that came to my mind was the Rope Spin figure, but I didn’t say anything about it. There were a lot more women than men in class that night, so I didn’t want to pick something since I was in the minority. I’m not sure where the other guys who had been coming to class lately were (Seedling and Apollo for instance), but I sure could have used some help that night.

After a long pause, Veep, who was standing to my left at the time, ended up being the first person to speak up. Do you know what she suggested? Yeah, you guessed it: the Rope Spin. I thought that was really funny, as if she had read my mind or something. I leaned to my left and told her that I was just thinking about that figure too, and so we high-fived. Since the two of us seemed pretty happy about the Rope Spin, Lord Junior said that we would go ahead and work on it this week.

The progression that he had us work on was fairly short, which was good because there were a lot of ladies for Lord Junior and I to rotate through so that everyone could try it with a partner a couple of times. We started off with the lady out in Fan Position, closing her back to us to lead her through an Alemana. Once she finished the three steps for the Alemana, she did a Spiral Turn and then went into the Rope Spin. When she got to the Lead’s left side, she did another set of three turning walks (which is all an Alemana is) to end up on the Lead’s right side. Rotating ourselves 90° to the right, we took her into an Opening Out action on the right side, with the Lead faking the last step to stay on our left leg. That allowed us to finish up by taking the lady through a Telespin.

Finally this week, last night I managed to make it out to Standard Technique class. When I got to the Electric Dance Hall, the parking lot was pretty empty and it was raining really hard. The other class that usually goes on Wednesday nights had been cancelled, so those of us who were brave enough to face the rain to come out to Standard Technique class had the whole studio to use. Some of us started to talk about what we wanted to look at that night since we had all kinds of space to work with. Sparkledancer, Veep and I were leaning toward Quickstep, possibly to get in some extra work on the Running Right Turn just for fun.

However, there was one pair of students that were going to join us in class that night that had never been to Standard Technique before. The two of them had come for the other class that had been cancelled, and since they had driven a long way to be there they didn’t want to just turn around and go home quite yet. Lord Junior let them stay for his class for free because he’s such a nice guy. The pair were a husband and wife, and they only dance socially, so going to a class that was supposed to be for working on dance technique was a new experience for them.

Since we had been talking about doing Quickstep in class that night, we asked the two of them if they had ever done that style of dance before. Neither one of them had, so that idea got thrown out for their sake. Lord Junior then asked if the two of them had ever done Viennese Waltz. They both said that they had done a little bit, so Lord Junior said that would be good enough, and thus the decision was made. To make things easier on them, Lord Junior kept the tempo that we were working at below the normal speed for American Viennese Waltz. The fastest we got that night was 90% of the American style tempo, and that was only for a few rounds right before the end of class.

To evaluate how much the newcomers to class actually knew about Viennese Waltz, we spent several minutes working on just doing Reverse Turns going down the length of the floor, first with everyone dancing by themselves and then with Leads and Follows paired up. The two of them seemed to do OK, with only a few minor corrections needing to be made. The lady didn’t cross her left foot in front of her right on the front half of the Reverse Turn until told to do so. I guess she had never been told to do it that way before, which is weird. The guy needed to make some minor adjustments to his frame, most noticeable of which was that he was told to stop looking at his partner while he danced, because it was pulling his body to the right when he did so.

The bit of choreography that we were given to work on was something that would be pretty familiar to anyone who does American Viennese Waltz. There were one-and-a-half Reverse Turns followed by a Backward Change Step where the Lead actually took a larger step than the Follower while sliding his right hand down her left arm to put some space between the partners. That allowed the Leads to take one step back on the left foot and hold as the Follower did a Développé over the rest of the measure of music.

Coming out of that, the Lead would turn the Follower across his chest as he took two steps back in Canter timing so that we ended up in Shadow Position. From here we stayed in Canter timing and did four Canter Grapevine actions down the line of dance. Once we finished with those we wrapped the progression up by doing two Open Natural Turns that were allowed to curve off to the left as if we were going around one of the corners in the room. Most everyone in class could use the short progression to cover the length of the dance floor and actually do the Open Natural Turns around the far corner, except for the two newcomers who were more focused on getting their footwork right and thus didn’t travel as far as they took their steps.
Would you look at that? Another week has already passed by! We are getting close to being halfway through all of 2019 already! Holy cow! I guess time flies when you are having fun, or when there is just a ton of stuff going on, right?

Roll The Windows Down And Take A Breath

I’m three for four now, as I managed to get together with Sparkledancer and Lord Dormamu this past week to work out my Quickstep routine. With Waltz and Foxtrot already done, that only leaves the Tango left to finish. Unfortunately, the three of us were not able to find a time to get together to work through that routine before Lord Dormamu got on a plane to take a trip overseas. I think that he said he would be gone for ten days, so that means that it will be the week after next at the earliest that we can get my last routine done.

On the bright side though, that gives me ten days or so to make sure that I have the three new routines that I do have already locked into my memory so that I can pull them out correctly from any starting point when asked. I feel like ten days should be more than enough time for getting that done, don’t you? Maybe I can even go over them using what’s written out in the book to make sure I have all the figures on par with the way they are written out, which is the bare minimum needed to make sure the routines are presentable. Can I do that much in ten days? We’ll have to see!

Before going any further, let me list what’s in my new Quickstep routine. Partly for my own documentation, but also so that anyone else reading this can picture what I am trying to do:

L Wall 1 S Wall 1 L Wall 2 S Wall 2
Starter Step Natural Spin Turn Natural Spin Turn Running Right Turn
Natural Turn Reverse Pivot V6 Quick Open Reverse
Natural Spin Turn Double Reverse Spin Quick Open Reverse Progressive Chasse
Progressive Chasse Progressive Chasse Four Quick Run Forward Lock
Quick Open Reverse Open Reverse Turn Natural Turn Natural Turn
Progressive Chasse Forward Lock Backward Lock
Fishtail Natural Turn Running Finish
Natural Turn
Backward Lock
Running Finish
Natural Turn

 

This routine has a feature that I was not given in the other two routines: a specific place to cut things if I am dancing on a small floor.

On both long walls you can see that there is a Natural Turn near the end, and after that both go into a Backward Lock and Running Finish before doing another Natural Turn. I know I didn’t write it down, but on the second long wall the Natural Turn is actually the beginning of the Running Right Turn if you look at the figure in the book, so I thought that putting it on the list would be A) wrong and B) redundant. Anyway… this small section of figures I was told to keep in mind for use on any floor that was long enough to support them, but on a shorter floor I can just drop them and end the wall at the first Natural Turn instead.

The part that gave me the most trouble in the routine was the Running Right Turn. This was a figure that was not familiar to me at all when Lord Dormamu showed it to me. And for good reason – according to my notes (which I keep on this site) I have only done that figure twice before, both times in Standard Technique  class. The first time was way back in October of 2015 in a class that Lord Junior taught on Quickstep. The second time only back in September of 2018 – which was much more recent, but I didn’t remember this particular instance because we were doing a modified version of the Running Right Turn to use in Viennese Waltz.

After finding my notes on the figure I feel a lot better about the mechanics of it now. Had I known that we were going to incorporate the figure into the routine, I would have tried to look it up beforehand to help me avoid looking stupid. Ah well, such is life. Next time I see Lord Dormamu, I hope we can spend a few minutes going through the Quickstep routine again so that I can show him that I can get through the whole routine competently now.

The other exciting thing that I did this past week was to go to Standard Technique class on Wednesday night. Lord Junior ended up asking me before class started what it was I had been working on in practice, and what I told him ended up being the material that everyone got to work on during class that evening. I feel a little bad for the other people in class because they were forced to struggle through a figure that I wanted to do, but not bad enough that I wouldn’t do it again if given the chance. Like maybe next week. 🙂

The figure that I wanted to look at was the Hover Cross in the Foxtrot. I was pretty sure that I had all the steps right, but I wanted to look at it with Lord Junior to see if there was anything that I could be doing with the figure to make it look better. He thought that was a great idea for the class. Apollo however did not like my idea at all, since Foxtrot is his least favorite dance style.

What we went through in class was pretty short, since we spent a majority of our time looking at just the Hover Cross. Both Sparkledancer and I had an advantage as class started since we had been working on this figure in our practice sessions lately, but everyone else who came to class that night had never seen the Hover Cross before. The whole class was spent along one of the short sides of the Electric Dance Hall, and Lord Junior built this progression of figures to start off heading toward diagonal wall at the end of the long side, turn the corner using the Hover Cross, move down the entire short side and then turn the corner again with a check action to start going down the next short side.

We started with a Three Step and went right into the Hover Cross, getting the hardest figure out of the way as soon as possible. Everything after that was pretty basic: we came out of the Hover Cross into a Basic Weave, then went into a Reverse Turn that rotated a full 180°, took one more step into a check action, and then came out in another Basic Weave down the new wall. If you’ve done Bronze International Foxtrot, everything but the Hover Cross should seem extremely familiar to you.

After class was over I ended up hanging around at the Electric Dance Hall for a bit, listening to Sparkledancer and Apollo talking. She was getting an update on how his dancing has been going, since he has been off on vacation recently and hadn’t been around for class, and then she wanted to tell the two of us all about how Seedling’s dance life has been treating him… that got to be a bit weird, and kind of sad.

So… it appears as though Seedling is no longer taking lessons at the franchise studio that he was a member of. But not of his own choice – apparently he got mad about something and mouthed off to the wrong person at the studio, and was asked to never come back. He was upset about the situation, as you might imagine, until he found a new non-franchise studio to join and a new instructor to teach him. The dramatic turn in his demeanor kind of makes my head spin hearing about it. This story is continuing to unfold, so stay tuned and I will do my best to try and explain what I find out is going on with him.

Apollo is quite happy with his own change, leaving the same franchise studio of his own volition to join the Electric Dance Hall. He is still working with Lord Junior, taking private lessons with him that focus on getting his technique up to par. Apollo admitted that some days he has gotten frustrated when he has been at the studio practicing, because if he had originally started at the Electric Dance Hall and learned all of the technique correctly from the beginning he wouldn’t be in this position now. That is completely understandable – I went through a similar period of frustration after I left the franchise studio where I started and was told that in the wider world of ballroom dancing people do things differently than I had originally learned.

Learning through lessons with Lord Junior has been great and all, but obviously the two of them can’t do dance events together. To that end, Lord Junior talked to one of the female instructors that teaches at the Electric Dance Hall about working with Apollo. They met up and seem to get along pretty well, so they are going to start our working on International Latin together with hopes of doing a competition in the near future if everything continues to go well. Because he is basically starting over from scratch, he said that he is looking at competing in the Newcomer/Pre-Bronze category at this event. He told Sparkledancer and I all about the competition and pulled out his phone to show us the web page. You can clearly see that he is excited about the prospect ahead of him,

He even made friends with one of Lord Junior’s Pro/Am students who happens to be home from college for the summer, and the two of them have been meeting up to practice together a couple of times a week. That practice, he told us, has been invaluable. The girl is on her college ballroom team, and competes with her Amateur partner regularly during the school year. Because of that, she is able to point out to Apollo things that he is doing when they dance together that don’t feel right to her based on her experience, allowing him to on fixing it, or to make a note to ask Lord Junior about what he is doing wrong later if he can’t figure it out on his own.

But working with her has made Apollo realize that someday he would want to be able to practice AND compete with an Amateur partner. Unfortunately for him, his wife only likes dancing socially, and so far hasn’t been interested in spending time working on her own dance technique at the level Apollo is heading toward. That means that if he wants to compete as an Amateur he would have to find a partner that he gets along with well somewhere else. While he is starting out with just Latin, eventually he wants to do Standard too, which is why he has been coming to Standard Technique classes.

So if you  know any ladies who are interested in competing in 10-dance and aren’t afraid of starting over from the beginning for a little while with a new partner, let me know! While Apollo has some bad habits that he picked up from his days as a franchise dancer, he is working hard to overcome them, and has made significant progress in just the few weeks I have known him. Any lady willing to help him along and practice with him as he improves will be very lucky, because Apollo has the mindset to go far in this pursuit.

That’s all I’m going to say for this week. Hopefully you have a fun dance weekend lined up. My plan is to put in some more time practicing my new routines, and maybe hit up a dance party on Friday or Saturday night. I know of events going on both nights, and I was thinking about going to one or the other of them (or maybe both, if I’m feeling up to it). Maybe I’ll see you there!