Posted by: T | February 8, 2010

New Vogue: Lucille Waltz

Learned the first 22 bars of a 32 bar routine called the Lucille Waltz.  Seemed easy enough, although I need to get used to faster Viennese Waltz type tempos particularly on the steps where feet cross.

Posted by: T | February 7, 2010

Practice: Aerial+Swivels

These days I haven’t been practising any Waltz but rather just the New Vogue dances.

Swivelling while doing an Aerial as is required in the Swing Waltz is pretty hard I find.

Posted by: T | February 3, 2010

Lantern Festival 2

Second practice for the Lantern Festival.

Pretty much the same as the last one, except J taught me the Swing Waltz.  She’s impressive as a teacher; it’s a fair number of steps.

I got back home and watched some youtube clips of the Swing Waltz.  It’s certainly pretty, but much of that is to do with the flowing arm stylings.  I guess I should learn them… I have to say I’m feeling quite intimidated.  Being quite a reserved person, I’m not used to moving my arms about — that’s what I like about Standard Ballroom where you’re locked for the most part in a closed Ballroom Hold.

I’m not enjoying the Aerial+Swivel steps.  Aerials are taxing enough by themselves without having to swivel 90° at the same time…

Another thing I have to keep in mind is to try an be steady on the Merrylin (Semi-Shadow Hold) and I guess the Charmaine (Shadow Hold) so that I don’t keep bumping into my partner with each step.

Posted by: T | February 2, 2010

Lantern Festival 1

I don’t know why you’d want an amateurish performance of some Australian sequence dancing at the showcase of Chinese culture that is the Auckland Lantern Festival, but there you go.

I was asked by my Ballroom teacher, Yu-Fen, to do a routine of Evening-3-Step and Gypsy Tap.  At that stage I didn’t know any Gypsy Tap.  So I tried to learn those two with the help of Yu-Fen’s sister and another student — let’s call her J.  I later joined the New Vogue classes at Tempo Dance Studios.

So anyway this morning I noticed I had received a text-message from another student — let’s call him M informing me about a practice for the Lantern Festival.  I turned up late, but we practised the two dances I expected to do.  The person who I’m supposed to partner with wasn’t there and it’s assumed that she is out of the country at present, but I partnered with another student, (let’s call her L) for the practice.

I learned that the performance area will be very very small.  Smaller even than my living room.  I shan’t enjoy walking in Counter-Promanade Position in such a tight circle.  Oh well.. practice I guess.

My Rotary Chassés went smoothly for the most part.  I think I struggle with them at my lessons at Tempo Dance Studios because I’m overly conscious of not crashing into other dancers.

In Yu-Fen’s absence (she’s on holiday in Taiwan these days), J has taken charge of getting us prepared.  This has meant in part that I may also have to do a Charmaine and/or a Merrylin and/or a Swing Waltz, whatever that is.  More things to practice.. yay. 😐

Points to remember:

  1. Head.  I tend to look down when doing a 3-step + Aerial.  I also tend to look in the wrong directions when doing the Gypsy Tap.  Overall I need to be more conscious of where my head is.
  2. Arm stylings.  It’s time I stopped ignoring the arms and do the arms stuff properly.
  3. Maintaining distance with the other couple.  We need to makes sure the sizes of our steps match I guess.  Any tips?
Posted by: T | February 1, 2010

New Vogue: Merrilyn 2.

Went to my New Vogue class at Tempo Dance Studios.  We started off with a few rounds of Gypsy Tap.  I think I’m getting worse!

We then moved on to reviewing the Merrilyn steps from last time.  I got told off for not staying behind my partner, heh.

The next few steps weren’t too complicated for the gentlemen, but I think the women have to do a bit of a spin on one step.  The Rotary Chassés end differently in this dance because we have to end up back in the Semi-shadow Hold.

My Rotary Chassés need practising, but there’s little point I feel in practising them without a partner.

In these classes we don’t learn anything about arm styling.  Arm styling is important – it makes the dance.  It’s also something I find difficulty with due to my rather reserved personality.  I should watch youtube videos and try to learn some of the arm stylings.

Posted by: T | January 27, 2010

Practice: Better on the Open Impetus now.

I got in about an hour-and-a-half of Waltz practice last night.

I usually start with the Box Step for a song or two before moving on to a few other steps.  Last night I worked on my Open Impetus, Weave from Promenade Position, Natural Spin Turn and Turning Lock.

I think I sussed out, at least at slow tempos, some trouble I was having with the Open Impetus.  I wasn’t as smooth as I wanted on the last step.  Being quicker on the heel turn on step 5 helped.

The Weave from P.P. is fine but could do with more repetition to smooth that out. The Natural Spin Turn is also fine, but I still have to be conscious of my foot positioning.

The Turning Lock is not sorted yet.  I’m late on the first beat.  I understand there needs to be compression and a bit of a turn of the body before the first step.  I must be taking too long doing that.  Something to work on for next practice.

Posted by: T | January 26, 2010

Practice: Didn’t practice last night.

Didn’t practice last night, or the night before. Mustn’t skip tonight.

I try to practice on at least 4 out of the five days that are not Friday or Saturday night. I use the foyer of my building. It’s a reasonably smooth surface, and the lift doors are refelctive, which I use along with the glass main doors (which are partially reflective with the darkness of the night behind them) to check my posture and legs. Practising in the foyer also means I get weird looks from people walking past outside or walking through the foyer.

Posted by: T | January 25, 2010

New Vogue: Merrilyn 1.

Went to my class at Tempo Dance Studio in the North Shore.  Started off with doing the Gypsy Tap from the previous two classes.  I wasn’t too flash.  My Rotary Chassés were a mess, although I think I just about got it right on the third attempt.  I also have trouble with a curved Line-of-Dance on the walks in Promenade Position and Counter-Promenade Position and also when coming out of the turns (must remember to take smaller steps!).

So after about three rounds of that we got to learning the Merrilyn.  It’s a slow Foxtrot dance.  I think I was ok for my first time.  Moving right I tended to kick my partner’s shoes.. perhaps I’m too far forward.  Otherwise I was alright I think.  We got as far as Bar 10 in a 16 bar sequence.

Posted by: T | January 24, 2010

The story so far…

On the 8th of October, aged 26, I walked into a local dance studio.  Nervous.

It was my first ever attempt at moving my body to music.  Till then my fingers might tap or my head would bob, but my body was still.  Get up and dance?  No thanks.  Hide away in a corner more like.

Popular dance has never appealed to me.  But ballroom dancing has.  The English waltz and the slow foxtrot in particular.  I can’t remember when it first started to appeal to me, but I did see parallels between the aesthetics of those dances, and the aesthetics of my favourite sport – cricket (in the discipline of batsmanship).

So what prevented me from taking lessons sooner?  For one thing I was convinced I couldn’t dance.  I also felt that starting lessons as an adult would leave no one in any doubt that I wasn’t taking dance seriously (evidently, ensuring such a perception was important to me).  Also, I’m the sort of person that usually needs time to psych himself up before attempting something which involves interacting with other people.

Now, it may well be true that I can’t dance.  But I plan to stick with this for at least a year.  And I intend to take it reasonably seriously in that time.

(Assuming of course that other things don’t intervene – I am quite prepared to drop dancing, and this blog if things happen that need my attention.)

The studio I walked into was CityDance above McDonald’s on Queen Street in the Auckland CBD in New Zealand.  The teacher was Yu Fen Wang, a Taiwanese born New Zealander (I presume).

It wasn’t exactly a beginner’s class.  It’s a fairly casual class with a range of experience levels there.  So I didn’t get to spend much time on the closed-change before I had to learn a natural turn, an open impetus and even a wing.

In preparation for the class I did learn the steps for the change steps and the natural turn from a book (‘Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing”) so it wasn’t too bad.

After about four or so lessons at CityDance my teacher asked me to join another class she teaches in Mount Eden so that I can get two lessons a week.  This class was less casual with the same students attending each week, most of whom are at a higher standard to me (pretty much everyone was on my first day there). This class also allows for extra hours of practice after the lesson, which is awesome.

I don’t really remember what I’ve learned in the lessons that followed.  There was some Tango which went in one ear and out the other, and three New Vogue dances – Evening 3 Step, Charmaine and the Tangoette.  The Tangoette I promptly forgot by the time I walked home.  Oh yeah and the Viennese Waltz natural and reverse turns.

I’m not sure how many lessons I’ve had.. I think it’s 14 lessons with Yu-Fen.  Nine at CityDance and five in Mount Eden.  She has gone back to Taiwan over the summer so in the meantime I’ve been practising my waltz most nights, trying to learn new steps from a book and youtube and I’m also taking New Vogue classes at Tempo Dance Studios in the North Shore.  I’ve had two New Vogue classes so far, where we covered the Gypsy Tap, which I had some knowledge of before.

I think I’m okay with the Waltz.  Left-foot Change, Right-foot Change, Natural turn, Open Impetus, Wing, Reverse Turn, Whisk, Back Whisk…  I’ve also learned from a book+youtube the Natural Spin Turn, Weave, Weave from Promenade Position, Outside Change, Back Lock and Turning Lock. These I haven’t danced with a partner, so I can’t claim to actually know them just yet.  I have to watch my posture – my shoulders have a habit of rising up and tensing.

I can’t do a Viennese Waltz at the right tempo yet without my feet getting untidy.  Absolutely no Tango skills.  A bit rough but I can do the Evening 3 Step, Gypsy Tap and Charmaine somewhat.

I don’t have dance shoes yet.  Just leather soled shoes.  Not sure when I’ll get around to buying a pair.  I have no idea how to buy a pair – what’s important to look for and where’s the cheapest places to get them?

Finally, whatever success I’ve had so far hasn’t just been due to Yu Fen.  Her sister Chontelle who also attends her classes to help out and some of her other more experienced students have been very very helpful.  My sincerest thanks to them.  I attended two social dances (one on the 31st of December) with a few of them.  I was taught some basic Cha-cha-cha and Rumba and I managed to get a bit of experience trying to progress around a ballroom with my limited Waltz skills.