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 #8 – Cha Cha & Samba Review

Little late in posting this, so hopefully I remember everything haha :p

Wednesday night was my private lesson with C.  We started with reviewing samba from my last lesson.  My feet are okay, it’s the general Cuban body movements that I can’t comprehend for some reason.  C demonstrated while I had my hands on his side to see what muscles did what.  I determined he was Gumby.  More to attempt to practice…

Cha cha was second..  We haven’t done cha cha in my lessons for about 3 weeks, ever since my spotlight performance!  I was a tiny bit rusty on the choreography but that was okay.  Then he started really hammering into technique.  I started to get frustrated.  It was partially due to being tired and thinking what I was doing before was correct only to find out it wasn’t quite there.  I have to get sharper on my Alemanas and my turns in general.  I hope I remember to practice this weekend.

Maybe C sensed my frustration and asked me to do him a favor … I got to have a bit of fun after class and got to play dress-up with the dresses in the studios little boutique area!  He knows I love the dresses and I always spend some time looking at the new ones that come in.  C and E (the owner) were pulling out dresses left and right.  I spent about an hour trying them on and modeling.  I discovered that I really like fringe.  Pretty much obsessed with fringe.  I don’t like feathers so much because I feel like they retain heat and stick to your skin with the tiniest bit of perspiration.

I want to learn how to sew and make costumes.  I got some nice ideas on how to construct them, what I like and don’t like, and what styles I prefer on me.

I want rhinestones on everything!

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening.  There are things I have to work on, but that is expected at this and every point in my dancing.  I should never be complacent no matter what skill level I achieve.

For fun, here’s throwback video to 2003 and 2002, respectively, with Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Elena Grinenko dancing samba at a competition. She sure loved to change up the hair:

Private #7 – Paso Doble & Samba Review

It has been another 5 days since my last lesson.  I always worry that I forgot everything I learned.  I think it is because I end up not practicing at home far more than I end up actually practicing.

We started with paso doble.  Last time, we only completed two counts of eight.  Last night we finished the routine with the remaining three parts.  Since my last lesson, my toes seemed to have gotten stronger and I wasn’t as wobbly as last time.

Turning my feet out seem to be a constant battle.  I think I am slowly winning because I am catching myself standing at the store, work, home, etc with my feet turned out!  Yes!

I really like the paso routine, once C got it straight.  He has a few parts switched and changed it a couple times as we were reviewing.  I decided to just follow him, except when I knew some parts were different and I reminded him he skipped something lol.  Learning paso and dancing to music will take some time to getting used to.  In my mind it’s slower and more intense, but in reality it is much faster!  This will be one thing I should practice at home  for my lesson tomorrow.

The last few minutes we spent reviewing the samba routine.  I got most of it right, but we’ll spend next lesson tomorrow reviewing.  I can use some practice with the body movements.

I use the website to review my steps (or cram before a lesson).  So far, it has been pretty helpful when I can’t remember what something looks like.

Contemplating getting practice shoes, or to at least have a pair for class and a pair to perform in.  I’d love to save up for these Ray Rose shoes (Snow Flake, Carmen, Practice) because I’ve heard they’re amazing.  Any other recommendations?

And because I like to end my lesson posts with a video or two, here is one of my favorite paso performances from Dancing with the Stars is this “50s-Style” paso doble from Derek Hough with his celebrity partner Nicole Scherzinger. I love how they both got into character with the routine:

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:

Valentine’s Social – My Spotlight Performance!

Thursday, February 12 was the studio’s Valentine’s social. In all of the other days when I knew I had a performance (PTA meeting in school, salsa performances in college and one at a studio after college), I would be a ball of anxiety all day. I was surprisingly calm and actually excited about the performance. That was definitely a first! Maybe it was my relinquishing all control of what happens and choosing to enjoy it instead the night before? Could be. It was a great way to go about my day.

I felt a little bummed because I didn’t think anyone would be able to come see my performance … until I chatted online with my oh-so reliable, supportive and amazing sister! She lives about an hour and a half away in Tampa. I was chatting with her as usual, we start talking about the performance. She asks me what time it starts, I tell her 8pm and I’m expected to go on at about 9pm.

“I think I can make it.”


So we planned on meeting at my place and then we head to the studio together. Well, with rush hour traffic, that plan was nixed.

We walked in the studio and it was decorated really cute (a little cheesy, but aren’t all Valentine’s decorations cheesy?), with a table full of food and drinks. I started to get a tad nervous there, but C and I social danced for a little bit, going over the choreography. I danced with another instructor, then the first set of performances began. Another studio joined us and some of their students performed. It was really nice to see all the different levels of students. Some were nervous, some came there to have fun. There were a couple where you could really see they loved to dance. I hope I came across that way.

A little more social dancing, then my performance! We shared “Uptown Funk” with some other couples, who were also doing cha cha. There were two other couples, male students with their female instructors. They did a bit of choreo together and C and I were “tagged in” do to our part. I’m pretty sure I smiled the whole time. I messed up a couple times, but I kept going with it. C said I did a great job. Of course he knew I messed up, but he said the great part about it was that I kept going and didn’t let that stop me. Awesome!

I have video, but I’m a little wary about posting it, to be honest. Watching the video, I am pretty critical of myself (naturally). Maybe I’ll post it later, maybe later as a “before and after”/”look where I started” kind of thing.

Overall, it was a really great experience to have, especially as my first time performing. I’m actually looking forward to more opportunities in the future, and they’ll actually come sooner than later 🙂

And now I leave you with a bit of “Uptown Funk”: