Ham it Up

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We had our Showcase preview party last night and, if I do as well Sunday as I did last night, I’ll be happy.

They were doing the solos in two heats with lots of general dancing in between. On our lesson, OwnerGuy wants to know an order so I give him the West Coast first, then the Argentine and finally the Fox Trot. I kind of figured I’d be the last solo and the Fox Trot is kind of playful so it was a natural choice for the closing act. The West Coast is a bit strange and it made a good choice for the opening because we’d be the most rested.

I really don’t know what it is about having an audience but it makes things different. Even on lessons when we are doing a practice run, I’m generally holding back a bit. There’s still part of me that resists. Until you put an audience in front of me and then it all comes out. Its weird. I suppose there’s a reason for that and maybe one day in all the stuff I read about personalities I’ll come across it.

The other thing that always happens with choreography is how much it actually slows down over time. This is a point I’ve made before and it is why you should never get discouraged the first time you try to learn something. (Again, do what I say not what I do because I always think things are going to be impossible to pick up).

Pretty sure it is just that when you are learning, most of your mind is focused on where your feet and other parts go and when you are devoting space to that, the movements are going to be slower. So the music always appears insanely fast and you are always behind. Sooner or later, your body figures out what it needs to do and you don’t have to really think about it and then, suddenly, the steps don’t seem so fast.

Anyway, the West Coast was nearly perfect. I say nearly perfect because I could always nit pick little points where we were slightly behind but perfection should never be the goal. We did enough with faces and movement to make parts of the routine a little “strange” which is of course consistent with the song because “people are strange”.

The Argentine also went really well. The toughest part of that is the very end where I’m supposed to step into her and get her around the waist and then step and circle while she balances on one toe. I have to keep the speed and distance constant or she loses balance and we were struggling with that a bit on our lesson but nailed it at the party. End with a dip which is always makes the crowd happy. This one has a bit of drama in it because I’m sort of turning her and then just get around her neck/shoulder and just dip her.

And the last dance was the Fox Trot where I got to unleash my inner ham. Our opening is that she walks on the floor like she’s done with me and I follow after begging and pleading for one last chance. She basically ignores me even as I offer my hand but finally relents and we start the routine.

The audience was loving it. As I was doing my begging, I heard several people saying things like “give him another chance”. We very clearly set the scene. Throughout most of the routine, she’s dancing with me but trying to look angry like she’s not going to take me back. At the end, she starts to smile like she’s going to but, when we hit the final pose, she reaches into my pocket to grab the shiny gold chain I’ve got hanging out. I catch her and then stomp off. They loved the ending as well. We sold it really well.

It makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have been in some kind of theater all along. Not that I think I have the talent but something about performing in front of an audience that just puts me in a different place.

I got a lot of good feedback from the other instructors and students. They were kind of split on their favorite which is good because it means we did them all pretty well. Had one guy who was a relatively new student who came over to congratulate me and another lady on how well we did. Yes, its an ego thing but it is still always a little amazing to me that I can do something that people react to in that way.

So I’ll stop talking about myself because there were other students who did their routines as well. Two of the ladies who danced with OwnerGuy killed it. One did a West Coast Swing to Witch Queen of New Orleans by Redbone. That one started with OwnerGuy on the floor and she had a little voodoo doll where she sort of brings him to life to dance. The other lady did a routine to Another One Bites the Dust by Queen. They had shovels as props which were used at the beginning and end but we didn’t get to see the whole show because they were saving something for Showcase. I’m not the only one who likes to unleash their inner ham.

The most interesting though was the guy who did two routines with the New Girl. No, they weren’t the most technically sound routines but it is the effort that matters. This guy is like a lot of guys who start ballroom – there is always that fear of looking stupid and he gets frustrated in group classes when he can’t figure out the footwork. I think it is a big deal that he was willing to do two routines. That was nice to see. Like I said, I guess there are lots of us who have a secret performer inside and this is the perfect opportunity to let them out.

But after three days this week, I’m tired today. So I skipped the workout to rest up for Sunday. I’ll do some light stuff today just to keep loose but I don’t want to overdo anything. We start bright and early at 9AM on Sunday (doors open at 8). I know I’m doing the Fox Trot in the first round of solos so that’s how my day will start. Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to have fun.


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