Private #9 – Revisiting Rumba, Cha Cha Technique & Samba Run-Through

Tonight’s private was a lot of fun and well-received.  I usually try to go into the studio with my mind open and ready to learn.  I think I was very tired during my last lesson and I got mentally frustrated with myself and left feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything.  Well as you all know, this ballroom game is not cheap and I made a promise to myself to make every lesson worth every penny and productive.  Today’s lesson, as you can see, was very productive.  Three dances in 45 minutes, what?!

We started with the neglected rumba.  It has been over a month since I’ve danced rumba.  I was a little rusty on the routine, but saw overall improvement.  My rumba walk and hip movement is much better.  C didn’t have to remind me to open up my hips as much as before (I still had some reminders of course) and I have gotten better at settling in my hips.

Next was cha cha.  More drilling technique with my legs.  It’s funny how my legs feel straight but they’re not.  C said judges love it when your knees are locked, the shape of them.  They apparently go crazy for bowed legs.  Well, these bowed legs of mine that I’ve kept from locking all my life are finally good for something! (This is not the bowed legs looking at them from the side, but when your legs are straight back)  I still have some things to work on with my footwork.  C had me record him to do drills as practice at home.

For the last five minutes, we touched on samba for a bit.  He put on a really fast samba and I just didn’t have it in me at that point to even attempt it.  After doing rumba and cha cha for forty minutes straight, my legs instinctively would straighten and not bend like it’s supposed to in samba.  He would stop and we would dance to half-tempo, and I’d be fine.  I guess that’s one skill I have to work on when it comes to doing a competition and dancing to heats of different styles of dance, being able to change technique right away.

I finished the lesson proud of the work I put in today!  I will continue to try to practice more at home so I can continue to improve with each lesson 🙂

And to end this post, some 2008 bronze dancers at the Ohio Star Ball:

Private #6 – Samba Review & Starting Paso Doble!

It has been a week since I last set foot in the studio and the perfectionist in me was nervous that I may have forgotten everything I learned the week before (the samba choreography). I was also disappointed in myself for not practicing. I disclosed these feelings to C right away and he asked if I wanted to walk through everything.

The walk-through went successfully! I remembered all of the steps, it was the little details that I had to review more.  A few observations:

  1. In comparison to the other dances I’ve done, samba seems the most difficult to keep my feet turned out. I think it has to deal with the many directional changes involved. That will take me practicing more at home, which I plan on doing.
  2. I’m getting used to the side and back hip movement, still not thrusting as much as C wants to see.  I supposed that is a more unnatural movement for me lol.  I will be practicing that in the mirror too.
  3. I don’t know where it comes from, but I have a tendency to want to keep my spine in a straight line.  So with my hip up, my body is diagonal.  Maybe from the standard dances?

While reviewing the technique, C had me add some styling. Pretty standard hand out, hand up kind of things, but it made me feel like I was really doing it lol. He then put on a pretty speedy samba (for me, at least) and we ran through the routine at half time, then to tempo. I was able to keep up dancing at tempo with the added styling! Hooray!

The last ten minutes were spent starting on the paso doble routine. This was my first time ever doing paso and I was soooo excited! I’ve never done a dance that, to me, is so intense! Tango has a certain mood to it, but paso is on a different level.

I’ve learned toes are not very strong! I thought I was getting a little better with my balance, but put me on my tippy-toes and all of that improvement went out the window!

I learned about 3 counts of 8 for the routine, all very basic with that fantastic shaping I get excited about whenever I watch paso.

Both samba and paso are very “pelvis forward” dances. That’s going to have to take some getting used to!

I’m so excited, but it’s going to take some work and practicing at home on my part. I shoud be doing that anyway lol.

As usual, a couple videos for inspiration:

I selected a video that shows a more realistic goal of my “later this year” goal of reaching gold and hopefully competing as an amateur:

And because I love a good paso:

Private #3 – Cha Cha & Rumba Review/Styling, More Samba and A Couple Revelations

Today’s post will be short. Not sure why, maybe because the lesson was mostly review…

I felt so much better for last night’s lesson in comparison to Thursday night’s lesson.  I got to about 85% recovery yesterday, and with the exception of being a little congested and a stuffy/runny nose, I’d say I’m at about 90% today.  This up and down weather in Florida kicks my butt every year!

We went over the same cha cha and rumba choreography as last week, adding some fun styling into the routine. Trying to add some sass and maintain the technique we were working on is some tough work!

Our instructor/student relationship is developing as well. I’m apparently pretty witty and had him cracking up at a few times and we even have a “thing” now.

A few lessons ago, we had an intro to samba, now he started to dive more into technique. The hip action doesn’t feel as natural to me just yet when broken down, but when in motion it makes more sense.

Revelation #1 – My toes hurt! Yesterday’s lesson was the first time I didn’t wear socks with my dance heels. They are new shoes and I wear socks to help break them in (and I don’t want to make the shoes too sweaty). I didn’t realize how constraining socks were. I felt more grounded, more of a connection with the floor. I woke up today with just my toes sore. It’s pretty interesting.

Revelation #2 – I’ve always known dancing is not an inexpensive hobby to have, especially if you plan on investing time and doing performances and competitions, which is my intent. I have come to the conclusion that I am willing to getting a part time job. A couple nights a week after work and maybe a shift on the weekend. I hope I will find something soon!

Private #4 – Intro to Samba & A Lil’ More Jive

Yesterday’s private lesson was the final private lesson included in the intro package. I still have group lessons left to use.

My instructor gave me a head’s up that this lesson will be an intro to samba. I was excited, but scared. On DWTS, Len Goodman always says how samba is one of the hardest dances to learn. I think they all are equally difficult for different reasons. Maybe that will be a topic for a next post…

Anyway, I learned a few basic samba steps starting with the basic. I felt almost like a cartoon character when their legs get tied up in knots. Of course when I get home to practice on my own is when it clicks for me. The second move I learned were the voltas. It reminded me of the Susie Q that I’m used to in salsa, but with bounce and the samba rhythm of course. The last one I learned were the whisks. So fun! That was the step where I felt the way my hips are supposed to move more naturally. Now I just have to figure out how to fit that in the basic. The voltas could use a little bit more hip action, but I can see where it’s supposed to go.

For the jive portion, we went over the basic (so I can clean it up a bit) and the American spin.  The American spin was the last move I had the most trouble with at my last studio, but with swing (but called tuck-in I think).  I guess I practiced enough at home because I got it right the first time!  Hooray!

Overall, it was a successful lesson.  I decided to commit to additional lessons and got to see my six-month plan C (my instructor) laid out for me.

I’ll leave you with a couple videos, a fun samba and jive routine.  The samba is an exhibition performance from America’s Ballroom Challenge with 2008 Max Kozhevnikov and Yulia Zagoruychenko.  The jive is my recording of the Dancing with the Stars tour I was able to attend last month 🙂


Private #2 – International Rumba & Body Movements; Jive Workout

Last night was my second private lesson at the new studio.  We spent the time mostly going over feet, leg, hip and core movements while doing rumba.  This was another tough one, for all the reasons of my last private lesson, but also because of the amount of control that it takes.  Rumba is slow and beautiful, but you have that much more time to be really detailed and specific in your movements.

The rumba walk alone is soooo beautiful when done correctly. I have the ability to do the movements, it’s just a matter of drilling and doing the movements over and over and being comfortable with it.

I didn’t feel super comfortable doing everything. Not because I was insecure or anything, but because I didn’t feel stable in my shoes. They are a little big on me and I felt wobbly and my balance felt off. I had a hard time adjusting. I’m looking forward to getting my new shoes (being delivered today!!!) and breaking them in by doing the drills he’s given me.

I have to work on balance, elongating myself, turning out my feet, and settling in my hips with each step.

Kind of excited to do my homework 🙂

After my private, I attended the group jive workout class. It was taught by my instructor. He really broke down the basics, and we had kick drills. I’m excited to review those at home too. I didn’t sweat as much with this class as I did at last week’s, but it was still a lot of fun and helpful for me to see what I have to work on (balance and turnout!).