Weekend Workshop and Practice

Happy Sunday dancers! I hope your weekend was relaxing and fun, and included a little dancing. I danced a little both days this weekend, with a workshop on Saturday and some practice time on Sunday. The workshop was taught by the current American Smooth champions (U.S., World, Blackpool…they’ve won them all!): Nick Cheremukhin and Viktorija! It didn’t go quite as I expected, but I was still able to take some of the teachings and apply them in my Sunday practice.

Thankfully, my back was feeling a lot better on Saturday. It was still a little stiff/achy, but not nearly as much as during the rest of the week. It did start acting up toward the end of the workshop, so I was stretching a lot in between dancing. There was a small group in attendance; if memory serves, there were six men and nine or ten women. At the beginning, Nick and Viktorija told us they wanted to work on tango and Viennese waltz. Waltz was the typical go-to dance in a Smooth workshop, and they wanted to focus on something different. Sounded good to me! They also said they had created routines that played with the timing of the steps, such that the follow’s timing would vary from the lead’s.

I was excited and ready to be knowledged! Then they demonstrated the whole tango routine they planned on teaching us. I assumed they intended to split the 2-hour workshop in half, with an hour spent on tango and an hour spent on Viennese. But as I watched them just keep going and going with that tango routine, I thought “there’s no way we’re getting through that whole thing.”

Pretty much everyone was a little wide-eyed after they finished. Nick and Viktorija insisted it was “easy.” I had my doubts.

The routine seemed to have everything, which was cool! But as predicted, we did not get through the whole thing and we never got to Viennese. We actually ended up going over 15 minutes, still working on the tango. If you’d like to see what we did get through, check out the Instagram page (link to the right on your computer or below on your cell).

While we grinded the gears in our brains to learn and remember the steps, Nick and Viktorija also talked technique. They focused on the lower body, explaining how the different joints of the legs, from the hips down to the big toe, were engaged in the dance, as well as how keeping your body aligned by stepping underneath your shoulder would keep you stable and balanced. Teacher and I had just been talking about how I needed to use my base (i.e., my hips) to rotate when I’m turning left, so it was a good follow-up and a great chance for me to practice the concept in a routine other than my own. Keeping the different sections of my body aligned is an ongoing challenge for me, so getting reminded of that was another plus of the workshop.

In the end, I left with mixed feelings. There was good information, but I felt like the choreography overwhelmed everyone, including myself, so it overshadowed the gold nuggets of knowledge. I did try to incorporate their teachings into my practice on Sunday though. I had asked Viktorija about my trouble with keeping my frame up as I transitioned from closed to open positions, and she suggested going through those steps slowly and paying attention to what my lower body was doing – check if my feet were in the right position and aligned with my shoulders, etc. So that was my focus as I practiced problem areas of my waltz. I think I made some progress, but the true test will be when I dance with Teacher again.

Stay tuned!


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