Went to the group class at the studio tonight. As I’ve said, I don’t normally go just for group since the ride there and back is almost as long as the class itself, but today was an exception for a couple of reasons.
- The studio is doing their six week program where every group class gets you points towards fabulous prizes.
- It was my instructors first day back from vacation so I wanted to say hi.
- It was a Viennese Waltz group which is not part of the usual rotation.
I’m often asked what is my favorite dance which is difficult to answer because I like almost all of them but for different reasons. I think if you held a gun to my head and forced me to choose (which I can’t imagine anyone doing), I would pick the Viennese Waltz. To me it is the iconic ballroom dance and I just love how it moves and the way it feels as we fly down the dance floor. There is something to about the fact that it is fast and you are virtually on the edge of disaster at times trying to keep it under control especially on a crowded dance floor. It can get away from you and go really hectic so you have to find a way to keep calm and centered while you both just exude energy because it moves so fast. One of my best moments at Showcase was doing the Viennese Waltz when someone cut me off (he’s an instructor at another studio and I’m pretty sure it was intentional) and we just hesitated for a moment and then did some steps to get into a corner where there was space and got right back into the routine. Sounds minor but it was a good moment. As an aside, I sent that video to my parents and my Mom said it was obvious I was enjoying it which is interesting since that’s what the judge also said and I hadn’t told my mom about the feedback. I do actually get a kick out of how excited my parents get to watch me. I was the shy, smart kid who never really did much extracurricular stuff so they never had to watch me in anything; I guess at any edge parental approval is a good thing.
OK, I’ve seriously digressed now so back to the topic at hand. There are times when I can easily forget what it was like to be introduced to a step for the first time (or the first couple of times) when it is all awkward and it doesn’t make any sense and the instructor makes it look so easy and you try to follow but it never looks the same. Tonight was like that. We did some simple hesitations and then into the Viennese Cross or advanced left turn which is a step I’ve done a million times so it is something I’m really comfortable with but I could see the other couples struggling a bit. The challenge to Viennese Waltz (as my instructor pointed out) is that the lady has to provide the power for the second half of the cross which is not something a lot of ladies are used to. Most are certainly used to anticipating their part but this calls for actual leading and it is also a challenge for the men because if you try to help too much, it just throws everyone off-balance. She called it a true partner dance so it does require each person to do something slightly different than they are used to.
I did get to be the dancing demonstration dummy a couple of times. She wanted to illustrate to the ladies what happens if they don’t do their part and I knew enough to not try to help so that when she didn’t provide any power, the cross just stopped moving which is what was happening to the other couples. I found that when dancing with the other ladies that I could subtly help a little bit because the Viennese Waltz really has to keep rotating if you want to get two crosses in a row so I’d do my back side together but then I’d rotate just enough to help them get into the right position but not enough to pull them off-balance which was happening with some of the other couples where the guy was trying to do too much. Now, I know there is much I still have to learn but it was nice to be able to lead all three ladies through the two crosses and manage to keep it moving down the floor and almost in a straight line rather than having it die out and move in a little circle. But this is why I do still like going to group classes even when I know the step backwards and forwards because it gives me an opportunity to work on other things like the lead/follow.
All in all, it was worth the drive. I will get back into private lessons later this week.