I was straight-up spoiled this past week! I danced four nights and saw the Dancing with the Stars Live show on the fifth night. And that was after a whole day of ballroom training at the Smooth Camp last Saturday. Yes indeed, I was spoiled.
The week started with a coaching with Marianne Nicole on Monday night. Teacher had told me the week before that she was going to be in the studio and had some times still available. At first, I thought I couldn’t afford it, but later realized my credit card bill wasn’t due until after another paycheck. So I could pay for the coaching out of this paycheck! I’ve still been doing work at night for my second job, so I would be getting extra money in the next few weeks anyway. I decided I deserved a dance treat!
We worked on tango; Teacher wanted Marianne to help me with feeling more grounded and maintaining my frame through transitions, like going from closed to shadow position. In short, the coaching was brilliant. With adjustment to just two fingers in my right hand, Marianne made my frame stronger and wider, to the point that Teacher said “wow!” when we went into closed. The trick was focusing on my pinky and ring fingers when I took Teacher’s hand. That engaged the muscles on that side of my wrist and all the way down my arm to my shoulder and my lats. It gave me a much clearer and stronger connection between the different parts of my upper body. Lightbulb!
The other lightbulb moment came as we were working on promenade position. I was having trouble making the switch from closed to promenade sharp without any wobble. I thought I wasn’t sitting enough, but it turned out that the word “sitting” was making me do the wrong action. I was trying to get too low and releasing my hips/glutes instead of keeping them engaged. Once again, just a small adjustment made a huge difference! It also helped when we worked on a double turn I do to get out of shadow later in our routine. I can’t afford coachings very often, so I’m grateful this opportunity came at a time when I had the money!
Tuesday evening was spent at the theater to see the Dancing with the Stars Live show.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I loved it! This show wasn’t like the show you watch on television. This was real ballroom, and professional dancers doing what they do best! Not just trying to lead or back lead a celebrity through a flashy ballroom-ish routine. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. My heart was filled with such joy at getting to watch great dancing and knowing that so many people were being exposed to real ballroom. I freaked out a little when Sharna Burgess and Gleb Savchenko did a ballroom version of Cyd Charisse’s and Gene Kelly’s speakeasy dance from Singin’ in the Rain.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, I was back in the studio. Wednesday was a double lesson, working on waltz and tango and applying the gems Marianne had provided on Monday. On Thursday, I met with a new potential practice partner. I’ve been posting in different Facebook groups about my search for an amateur partner, and a local teacher put me in touch with one of her former students. He’s a couple decades older than me and not interested in competing, so not a good long-term option. But he dances at the silver level in Smooth and wants an amateur partner, even if it’s only to practice. I thought our first practice together went well, especially considering he hasn’t danced with anyone in about two years!
On Friday, Teacher switched things up and went back to Rhythm. He had gotten an email from another coach with a student who was looking for an amateur partner. This one is younger than me by more than a decade and has been dancing Latin (I feel like Goldilocks). Teacher told the other coach that I danced American style but she was still interested in seeing some video of me dancing. I don’t know if I’m cut out for Latin. We did about 10 minutes of International rumba and my knees were screaming. It was all the straight-leg action and keeping my knees locked. Part of the issue was probably just that I wasn’t used to it, but my knees were so relieved when we switched back to American rumba. Teacher wanted to get video of me dancing our American rumba routine and then doing some International rumba basics, but in the end we only had time to do our routine.
I felt some nerves during Friday’s lesson! We were going to record what was basically an audition video that would be sent to someone who would decide if I was good enough or not for their student. The icing on the cake was I had to break out the arm styling and expression. No blank stare and small, half-finished arm movements. We haven’t focused on Rhythm, or styling for that matter, since I got back in town in January, and I felt rusty and awkward. And I don’t have any fears of being “not good enough” as a dancer or anything. Not at all! I did my best when we recorded at the end of my lesson. Teacher seemed happy, but I didn’t see the playback so I don’t know.
It’s all part of the partner search process, and I’m lucky that I have Teacher to help make connections like this and to help me prepare for them! I’m barely getting started, but this search is bringing me into a new aspect of ballroom dancing. It’s going to challenge my fears and require that I push myself beyond my comfort zone even more. Beyond the fears and comfort zone though should be more confidence in my abilities and less anxiety about expressing myself in my dancing. So time to take a deep breath and dance!
This coming week is less exciting. Teacher is on vacation, so I have no lessons. The project for my second job is finishing up, so my evening schedule should be less hectic. I plan on doing more Rhythm practice at home and getting to the studio at least once to review Smooth. It’s harder for me to stay disciplined when it’s just me, so wish me luck!