Entertainment vs Dancing Skill

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So I posted those resolutions with one about not “rolling my eyes” during a lesson when a new move is suggested.  I managed to follow that but the resolution said nothing about a snarky blog post to complain about what OwnerGuy wants so I’m going to use that loophole.  Too often, I feel that OwnerGuy just tosses things in that he thinks would look cool and they probably would look cool in the hands of a different person but part of me thinks you should consider a particular person’s strengths and/or personality before just tossing random junk into a routine.  There are a lot of reasons why Derek Hough wins all the time on Dancing with the Stars but I think part of it is because he does design choreography that works for the particular partner he has.  Heck, he had one who hurt her knee half way through the show and really couldn’t move and he still managed to win by emphasizing what she could do and playing to her strengths.

And, they picked the song “Walk Like an Egyptian” for the dance.  If you haven’t seen the video (and how could you have missed it?), there are several cuts of people doing silly walks that are have somehow become associated with ancient Egypt.  I suppose that since that song was selected, it was unavoidable that OwnerGuy would want us to strike a couple of poses like that during the course of our routine.  I just think it is too obvious and too easy and it just goes for the cheap laugh.  I don’t mind doing a little campy stuff in a routine to add some entertainment value and I certainly did that in my now classic Highway to Hell routine and we plan to do a little for the Drunk on a Plane shuffle.  But I tend to prefer to do that stuff in the beginning and just get it out of the way to catch everyone’s eye and then the rest of the routine is about the dancing.

I now realize I didn’t set the stage properly so you may be wondering why I’ve started on this rant.  Thursday, my lesson was with the Body Double and OwnerGuy was free so he was booked to observe us and tweak things appropriately.  We do need to add things to the end of the routine to fill up time since this was done for a ShowStoppers and those are shorter than a solo routine done at a Showcase.  I was hoping to get some fine tuning on the technical parts of the Quickstep but there was precious little of that.  About the only thing he did was to change our frame to make it bigger.  The Body Double may be part Amazon.  She’s either as tall or taller than me (clearly taller in heels) and, like me has very long arms so OwnerGuy is wanting to create a very visual top line since we’ve got miles of arms to work with.  That meant he had me stretch my left arm farther than I thought possible and adjust my wrist slightly.  I’ve been working on some upper body strengthening because holding a frame is tiring but keeping things that stretched out is going to be a challenge.

He did add a few steps towards the end of the routine.  He changed one thing where he wants me to bend my bad knee with all my weight on that leg and partially supporting the Body Double in a lunge.  Then, we come out, do a few things and I end up in some kind of Throwaway Oversway where I’m twisted the other way with my left leg bent and all my weight on it.  My knees were not happy with me on Friday, let me tell you.  I do a lot of treadmill time during the week but I need some additional leg strength to pull this off.  Don’t let anyone tell you dancing is not a sport and that dancers aren’t athletes.  It is a darn good thing that I’ve been doing some strength training the last year.  I still have more to do but I seriously doubt I could have pulled off some of these moves earlier in my dance life.

But his main focus was on adding some entertainment value.  We had this campy little thing at the beginning where I’m just standing there in what is supposed to be a very pharaoh-like pose while the Body Double stands behind me moving her arms in what is again supposed to be ancient Egyptian and then comes out beside me and I roll her into frame and off we go.  I’m standing with my hands on my hips creating a small amount of space and OwnerGuy figures it would be super cool if she sticks her arms through that space and then we do some coordinated arm movements.  Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it?  Well, I take up less space than I used to which means it is easier for her to get her arms in front of me but it still requires VERY close contact between her front and my back for her to pull this off.  Not that I’m complaining or anything but I’m not sure it is the most comfortable for her.  You can let your imagination run with this for a bit.  Then, after the new steps, he started going into a bunch of ideas about how we could end the routine with a series of these faux Egyptian type poses and walks although he made it very clear that we had to make it obvious that is what we were going for because otherwise it would create some pretty ugly lines.  I’m not sold on this.  I’m OK with the bit at the beginning but I don’t want to turn this into some kind of parody.  Too much humor and it looks like you are using it as a crutch to cover up for a lack of dancing skills.  But we have until May so we’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday, the studio did one of their open houses where people can just walk in off the streets and get a large group class where they learn the basic steps to a couple of dances and then get a chance to dance.  In between, there are demos from the instructors to pitch the Famous Franchise methods and they do student demonstrations to show new students what it is possible to achieve.  Normally, they give us a great deal of advanced warning about this, but on Thursday, Z says to me “So you want to dance on Friday?”.  I think she knows by now that I’m not about to turn down a chance to show off but we didn’t have a lesson that day and we’d been working on the Tango and Mambo routines but they aren’t complete enough to do so we settled on the closed Rumba routine which I really haven’t worked on since Showcase back in November.  I actually had to go to my video and watch the Rumba from Northstar to remember the parts.  I got there a little early on Friday and she did set aside a little bit of time for us to do one time through although telling me that she didn’t remember the routine either but muscle memory is an amazing thing because it just all came out.

There were only two new students at this particular open house and both were ladies.  When they got to the giant group class, they paired us off.  Even though all the female instructors were there, they steered me towards one of the new students while OwnerGuy took the other.  Fortunately, mine had taken some community college type dance courses over the years so she knew a little but I’m dancing next to OwnerGuy hearing him offering encouragement so I figured I’d play the part and do the same.  We were talking during while practicing and it is difficult to explain my whole story in a short period of time but she took two pieces of information (one that I was there solo and two that I don’t live in the area so I have a long commute to the studio) and asked me if I was an instructor.  It might also be that Z was leading the group class and she does tend to single me out for “humorous” comments during her teaching.  Well it isn’t just me because she picks on 3 of 3 from time to time so I can understand the confusion.  I don’t know if this one will stick around but she did sign up for the introductory package (wonder if I should press for commission??)

Oh, and the demo went fine.  Z actually messed it up in one place but she covers just fine and nobody noticed.  It was funny because they demo different levels and she was doing a Tango with Tex to show off the Associate Bronze and I guess he was super freaked out about doing it.  I get that because I’ve been there.  It is probably a big thing that I could agree to do a routine on such short notice with just one opportunity to practice and not totally freak out about it.  I did practice some breathing exercises while we were waiting to go on and I was visualizing the dance and all the steps.  I know these are my peeps but I don’t want to disappoint them and mess something up.  I will say that even though I didn’t feel that nervous going in, there was still the rush and I get to then end and walk off the floor and then I remember I have to breathe and it takes me at least one song to recover.  Weird that I do enjoy the performing – but the after effects are still there even after years of doing it.  I don’t get that at showcase when doing it with a bunch of other couples on the floor but solo routines always do this to me.

But the party was fun and the routine went well (had someone tell me they always look forward to watching me dance).  So it was a good way to end the week.  We have a January thaw today with temperatures well above freezing and I get Monday off.  Life is good.

2 comments

    1. Marian – in an insane society, the sane man must appear to be insane. Maybe the ballroom world in insane and I’ve just been drawn further into it where I now appear to be sane to those who are deep into that world. Perhaps to the outside world of non dancers, it would look like I’m losing my mind. (Sorry, had to go with the geek humor here)

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