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 BallroomDancers.com 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 #5 – In Love With Samba

Last night’s private made me feel pretty accomplished!  I managed to learn a “whole bronze competition routine” (according to C) in 45 minutes.  This was my second time doing samba for longer than 15 minutes!

I learned the routine, now I have to make it pretty.  The hip action is a bit challenging, with all of the hip thrusting involved.  It’s funny how it is perfectly normal to stand and do pelvic thrusts in a mirror at a dance studio–anywhere else, people will not know what to think.  You don’t feel silly about it, either, you just want to do it correctly.  I will spend some time at home in the mirror thrusting this weekend haha.

As I learned the choreography, we stood face to face and C said, “now what we’re going to do here is …”  I freaked out and got way too excited (with a few jumps and clapping haha) and replied, “is it this thing?” and did an idea of the steps.  We were going to do stationary samba walks!

I realized that counting the steps (“a 1, a 2, a 3, a 4”) works for me in some dances, but I need the vocalizing of the actual music (“dun, da dun, da dun …”) for me to get it.  It was easier for me to do the steps and to get the bounce.

Another adjustment I had to make was my instinct to “sit in” my hip of the leg my weight is on.  I think that makes sense.  Once I got the motion going, it made more sense.

I am so excited to learn even more samba, especially the samba roll!  And the costumes!  Oh, the costumes!  I’m all about fringe, feathers, ruffles and rhinestones!

I’m already in love with this energetic and flirty party dance!