Just a Warm Body

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It was a weird day at the Famous Franchise.  I get there for group class and I don’t see Kid T’s car in the parking lot.  Trust me, her car is unique and very noticeable so it was easy to see it wasn’t there.  At first, I’m thinking I missed a phone call or that my lesson accidentally dropped off the books.  But I’ve got no messages and the app and email reminder still say I had a lesson.  Weird and confusing.

I get in and I see my book on a table but there is no sight of Kid T.  At one point, OwnerGuy walks by and says to me “I’ve got plans for you tonight”.  Now, I’m thinking, oh crap, she’s quit and I’m on my own again.  So I start running through my mind all the ways I’m going to deal with this but another student comes in and tells me that she’s out sick since they saw her on Saturday night.  Now, that makes me feel a bit better but I’m still confused as to what in the world OwnerGuy has planned.  Z is not at the studio either so that just leaves NewestGirl and Trainee.

Before I continue, I suspect you need a pretty strong immune system to be a dance instructor and you do a lot of pro-am.  With couples, you can mostly watch and direct but, with pro-am, you are in the action and dancing is very physical.  Plus, you are trading partners through the night and likely exposed to all sorts of things.  Throw in something like the Big Dance Event where people bring things from all over the country and if you get worn down physically, it is probably easier to catch things.  While I want her to come back, I also don’t want her to push it.

Well, back to the story.  Without Kid T and Z and with NewestGirl teaching a lesson, OwnerGuy has no choice but to fold everyone into the same group class.  Which means he has to strike a balance between something that is at least a little different for us advanced dancers but not so impossible that all the beginners are lost.  Group was swing and he picked a couple of early bronze steps (tuck turn and hammerlock) but added some additional styling and flair and a couple of other things to make them a bit more advanced.

It started with a throw out and then we lead a tuck turn.  After she turned, we offered the other hand so we did a hand change and then lead another tuck turn.  Then we got into a two hand hold and did a hammerlock and then let her out of that with a little spin.  Nothing too complicated but different enough that it didn’t feel like bronze I swing.  It was actually kind of a cool little pattern.

Oh, at some point, OwnerGuy finally let me know that I’d be dancing with NewestGirl but he’d be directing the lesson because he had some things he wanted to work on.  This is the one downside of our Famous Franchise.  Since instructors are not guaranteed, they didn’t have any need to tell me until I walked in the door.  Probably because they knew that if I had found out before leaving my house that I might have decided to just skip the lesson.  I guess it was kind of like going to school and finding out you have a substitute teacher.

And I guess he had been planning this the entire day since NewestGirl knew which patterns we were going to go over.  I tried to ask her but that’s when she said she was just a warm body and that OwnerGuy was calling all the shots.  He headed off to the bathroom before our lesson and just told us over his shoulder to “dance some Waltz”.  Well I had dancing on command and I’ve not done a lot with NewestGirl so we just awkwardly did a few Waltz steps until OwnerGuy showed up to take over.

He had us do a Whisk and Fallaway in the Waltz and I later found out that was in Silver III.  But his focus was on getting me to do more sway.  I still don’t quite precisely get it except that it is using your ribcage and back to create elevation in your upper body without tipping over and with still keeping a solid frame.  How do you do this?  Well, you are supposed to stretch one side up.  No, wait, that is what you are supposed to do.  As for how, well, my body was struggling with that concept and how it was supposed to feel.

He also wanted us to focus more on connection – particularly with my left hand.  He wanted us pressed palm to palm more and with the thumbs in a certain position.  I do have to say that I could actually feel improvement from the first time I danced to the last time.  The first time was a bit jerky but, by the end, it really had nice continuity of movement.

We moved into Fox Trot and he had me do a Whiplash which was similar to the Whisk and had some of the same ideas with sway and all that.  At the end of that, he also had me doing the lead in twinkle different with more contra body and even the feather finish at the end.  It was a lot like some of the concepts Mindy was trying to get me to do when we were doing Fox Trot.

All in all, it was a good lesson.  It was nice to actually get to work with a male dancer and to hear his perspective on how I should be moving.  I think having someone watch and be able to offer feedback was also a good change.  I have a vague understanding of the concept but I don’t yet have the feel enough to really consistently create it.  That’s why you practice though, right?  Ugh.

Oh, then he tells me that have to work on me driving more.  I don’t doubt this.  I’m a little to concerned with where my partner is and not wanting to step on her and collide with her.  So I get tentative when I’m supposed to “drive right through her”.

Lastly, I did sign up for the Showcase that is slightly out of town and coming up at the end of September.  We picked the usual nine dances (Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot, Viennese Waltz, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Swing, Bolero and Mambo) and then my off dances (Argentine Tango, Two-Step, Peabody and West Coast Swing).  Going to do 4 each of the main dances and 2 each of the off dances.  Plus the country Waltz and two-step routines.  Decided against doing the Argentine Tango routine.  I should say OwnerGuy helped me decide.  I told him we had been working on three and then he said “but are they ready to be put on the floor in a couple of weeks”?  And I panicked a bit and decided to drop the Argentine Tango for now.

Well that was the fun and games from last night.  What will happen tonight?  I have no idea.  Guess you’ll just have to wait and see.

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