A Hard Practice

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Now, while I have been able to accept calling myself a dancer, I do understand that I am still an amateur and this is a hobby and not a profession. And that this quote is more likely intended for those who do this for a living. Still, spending 90 minutes last night going over the three routines and doing them to music multiple times was a work out.

The interesting thing about ballroom is that a lot of people don’t start on dance as a hobby until later in life. Then you are at a point where you don’t have the flexibility that you used to. Your body doesn’t bounce back like it used to. The years can expose certain vulnerabilities – joints that ache or don’t have full range of motion. I think if you train hard then you’d probably feel those little aches and pains at any age. It is just there are more of them the older you get.

Before I get to the routines, I wanted to briefly discuss group class which was Silver Viennese Waltz. I love Viennese Waltz but I always get a little nervous about Viennese Waltz groups. It isn’t a dance that everyone does and it does move a little quickly so it isn’t something that is fun to dance with everyone. Its a hard one to kind of pick up on the fly in a group class and since the instructor picked a Silver 3 step, it was pretty advanced stuff. I’m lucky that JoNY and I do that in our pattern so I had an advantage over the rest of the group.

There were only six people in the group and one was a male instructor who was filling in to make the class even. In the rotation, I got to a lady who has a couple of main problems. First, she’s always doubting herself so she’s spending extra time thinking about what she’s supposed to do and when you get a dance up to speed, you don’t always have time to do that. So that tends to put her out of position much of the time. Secondly, (maybe related to the first point), she tenses up for much of it so getting her to move is a problem.

The worst part of it though was she was basically clinging to me which made her very “heavy”. Now that’s a relative term because she’s not a large person but having extra weight hanging on you is not fun. After a couple of times doing the pattern, my right shoulder was getting sore from having her leaning on me. In fairness, it was a complicated pattern that she didn’t know and picking up something in group class is a challenge. It just wasn’t a particularly fun group class.

Now we get to the lesson and we started with the West Coast Swing. We just did the first run cold at the start of the lesson just to see how it would go. And, like magic, it actually went pretty well. It wasn’t perfect but if I did that well at Showcase, I’d be happy. Tells me I need to trust the process more. All this talk about not being ready is just in my head. My body knows a little more than my head and is clearly more ready than my head.

We worked on a couple of points. Me doing a head move in one pose just to make it look dramatic. Moving with her on one part to make getting into the hammerlock easier. Slowing down one part where I roll her in and we have at least a beat before she needs to go back out. The part where we roll towards each other (don’t worry it makes sense to me) is faster than I thought. Just things like that. Parts where I need to speed up and parts where I need to slow down. We focused on some specific areas and then did a couple more complete passes before moving on the Argentine Tango.

With that one, we changed the beginning. The original plan was for us to start back to back and then she takes eight steps away from me. I think we discovered that wasn’t working as well so now I’ll lead her on to the floor and position her and then take eight steps to get to my spot. Since I have longer legs and take bigger steps, this should give us a better chance of being together when we start. I think that is something we’ll have to practice a little more on Thursday.

The beginning of the Argentine Tango is solid. There were a couple of parts in the end that needed some work. In one part, I was rushing since it was a slow step and then another slow where I didn’t step but just rotated my upper body. At the very end, remembering to get my weight fully on the back foot before starting the walk around her. We had to play with the alignment to make sure the last part is done facing the audience.

The last dance was the Fox Trot and we finally got to play around with the intro. That’s the chance to ham it up just a bit (or maybe more than a bit). I’ve got a spin at the beginning which is slower than I think – maybe because we have a similar spin later in the routine which is a little faster. We played with alignments as well. Its a good problem to have but we have a section of the routine that almost covers too much ground so we had to change the rotation of other parts so we kind of end up going from corner to corner which is the longest possible path on the dance floor.

I say that’s a good thing because I’ve been told to drive and I guess that’s what is happening on that part. There is a tandem turn right before it and, in that case, I need to take a smaller step on the turn to give us the space we need for the next part. And we played with the ending which is another change for some overacting. I’m kind of getting excited about that one.

Have two more lessons tonight to focus on the individual dances and we’ll do rounds which is just running through all the dances in a particular style (smooth vs rhythm) without stopping. Its a grind but it gets you prepped for Showcase where you can often have back to back heats and have to make the quick transition from one dance to another.

Thursday we have one more lesson and then we get to demo all three routines at the party on Thursday night. That will be the last lesson I have until Showcase on Sunday. One way or another it is all happening soon.

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