I get to the studio last night and OwnerGuy is working with JoNY on our Mambo. Glad to see that she was back although she didn’t look fully recovered. I think she just needs to take some time off to really rest and recover.
Now, I’m not sure if this qualifies as a karma b-slap or not but its close. After the coach, I was all about finding the character for the dance and trying to be more free and all that jazz. Sounds good in theory. And then OwnerGuy puts this thing in front of me.
Just so you know what I’m up against, here is a description of Mambo from a dance site. “Some say the Mambo is a flirtatious, sensual dance, sometimes almost raunchy. Mambo dancers appear quite passionate and seem to express that passion with the movements of their hips.” Thank you dance guide. Other dance sites tell similar stories.
Does this sound like a character I can easily find? Expressing passion with hip movements. Oh that’s funny! That actually assumes you can make those hips move.
Anyway, the song OwnerGuy picks starts with 8 beats with nothing really in between them. His vision is that we start with our backs to the audience. On each beat, one of us shifts weight to the other foot. The net effect is supposed to be the we are essentially shaking our posteriors in front of people for the first six counts before turning to face each other and start the actual dancing.
Oh, wouldn’t that just be soooo much fun! I’ve certainly done things just for laughs and to help sell the story in the routine. But this starts to border on camp. And I don’t do camp. Now this type of move is certainly appropriate for some people. Mostly young people or people who actually have something that the audience would like to see in motion. Once you reach a certain age, it just looks kind of pathetic and like you are just doing it for laughs.
I know there are going to be those screaming “loosen up” at me. I mean just go with it and have fun. Maybe. But I haven’t yet reached a point where I can be that loose. And I’m also not entirely sold on having the studio watch my backside.
Anyway, after that rousing open, he wants us to repeat the side by side stuff we do in our normal pattern. You know, the side by side stuff where I’m on my own and the thing I kept screwing up at Showcase. Oh, you mean the part of the Mambo I’m least confident in. Yep, that’s the ticket. So let’s start with the rump shaking and move into a step that taunts me. Off to flying start.
The side by side stuff hits at another insecurity. Being in frame just feels a little safer because we are a team. When I’m out there on my own, well it is just me and that’s a bit scary. Especially when I’m trying to do these stupid steps that are insanely fast. The rest of the Mambo doesn’t feel that fast but these things do.
Well then he wants to do this arm thing. It involves arms behind the back and creating tunnels and heads moving through arms and all kinds of stuff. All done to Mambo timing. Which is fast. Really fast. Now, if you pull it off, it looks super cool. If you do it wrong, then shoulders get tweaked and things go horribly wrong.
I saw him practicing with JoNY but he clearly didn’t give her all the details because our attempts were basic failures. Yes, I could get the movements down but they were clunky and put pressure on my shoulder in certain spots. I did have the whole impingement thing earlier and I might be most of the way back but I don’t have full range of motion there. Plus, there is a height difference between JoNY and I that didn’t exist for her and OwnerGuy. So it reminded me of another step where a coach saw what we were doing and told us to break contact at one point due to the height difference. There was no way to make things look good when we ended up with arms bent at strange angles. JoNY did call out to OwnerGuy on the lesson and he vowed he could fix it.
So where does that leave the Mambo right now?
Let’s just say that I was not as enthused as I was with the Quickstep. I suppose I need to give it a chance though.
At the party that evening, I had a newer student grab me for a Waltz. Actually, she came up and told me we were dancing the next dance. I was planning to ask her at some point in the night so it was cool. The next song happened to be a Waltz. Which was fine. Had to do some navigating through traffic but I figure that’s my job.
We get done and she starts talking about how that must have been boring for me but she really enjoyed it. I hate it when new students talk this way. I wish there was something I could say or do to convince them otherwise. The fun does not come strictly from doing flashy patterns. I mean I won’t lie because it is fun to do the things that really move but that’s not the only thing that makes dancing fun.
What I wanted to tell her but couldn’t is that she’s more fun to dance with than two of the supposedly advanced students. There is one lady I really don’t like dancing with because she’s stiff and heavy and bound and determined to do her own thing. So I either let her and hope for the best or try to lead which turns into a wrestling match. That isn’t fun. I like the part of dancing with two people moving as one. I could do basic box steps if the lead/follow is right and be happy. I know I’m capable of doing a lot more but I don’t need to do the fancy stuff to enjoy a dance.
Well that’s all I’ve got for now.