Lesson 9: Dirty Samba

Hey there dancers,

I had my lesson today. Last week’s lesson was Monday because Teach had something important that Thursday, and it felt like I hadn’t seen Teach in months.

I should relax, it was only a week and a half.

Either way, when Teach showed up and we started chatting and began our lesson, I got giddy super quick and started giggling for no reason. He was also giddy and laughing at odd times, so we were all good. We discussed our Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez hitting home run number 661 (YAY!) to pass Willie Mays on the list. I’m sadly not following the Yankees anymore like I used to, but these things must be commemorated nonetheless.

He asked how rumba was going. “Good!” I said. I’d been practicing our routine, as well as going back to the basics; collecting my center, swivels, Sliding Doors, etc. I’m actually thinking from this point on, I’ll start practicing more often with napkins under my shoes. I don’t know if I brought that up here, but it’s a tip I saw in one of Slavik and Karina’s Step Up videos and it’s a really good one, super effective. So Teach high fived me and said, “Let’s move on to another dance!”

“Yaaaayyyy,” I said in a monotone. I was excited, I really was, but you know how it is, you’re soΒ  excited to start something new and then you find out it hurts more and makes you feel dumber than the last thing you were doing. Teach laughed, thought for a second, and decided, “Let’s get into samba.”

I had no preference because everything was going to confuse me and make me say “ouchy” nonetheless, but I was perfectly fine with this because I looooooove samba.

Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko samba at Dance Legends, 2013

Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko samba at Dance Legends, 2013

On my usual picture tangent, how banging is this dress?! I saw her wear this in black when dancing at the 2012 Embassy Ball. I love the ruched fabric, the cutouts are sickening on her gorgeous body, and the ribbons on the skirt are just fabulous.

We jumped right into it and this was one of my “DAMN, I have the best teacher” lessons. He picked out a few steps that make up the majority of samba and, after showing me how to really squeeze every last ounce of “juice”, so to speak, out of them, he got his music and said, “Let me look for a samba.” With my back to him, I decided to try and get these things more into my body and it took him longer than I thought it would, so I turned around and told him, “Make sure it’s dirty!”

He cracked up, “This girl!” I didn’t see what was funny about it, because I was dead serious. See, another reason our partnership works so well is I can easily see he approaches this dance very differently from most people, which I’m happy for because I think and feel a very particular way about samba. The way he approaches it ties directly into the way I see samba: I think it’s “dirty”.

Let me explain what that means to me. I don’t mean overtly sexy and I don’t mean crossing the line into trashy or “get a room”.

When I say samba is dirty, I mean that it is primal. I love every dance for different reasons, but the reason I love samba so much is because its music feels like my very heartbeat. It speaks to the very core of human body rhythm. Dancing samba is like a conversation we would have had when we were still cavemen. That’s, to me, what makes samba sexy.


This time, Teach had a lesson right after me so we didn’t have our usual sitdown to write my notes, but he made sure to tell me what I needed to write down. I grabbed my notebook, sat down, and started writing. Then, just for the heck of it, I started doing the things he taught me again, and then I realized something really interesting that I never noticed before.

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff - Dancing Basics with Passion: Samba

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff – Dancing Basics with Passion: Samba

This screencap is an okay illustration of what I noticed when I was practicing it. I never realized just how much of samba is done on your instep. I’m not yet sure how that happens, but I noticed over and over that I wasn’t able to catch my weight and keep balance unless I was totally on my instep, with my ankle damn near touching floor. It was a cool discovery. At the risk of sounding blonde, that most likely will span all other Latin dances. I’ll let you know.

Couple more things. The Emerald Ball was last week and ParadigmDVD posted some video from the events. Everyone looked fantastic! Anastasia Muravyeva’s dress in the final round was absolutely breathtaking. And you want to talk exciting news, there’s this!

Nina Langella & Anna Melnikova

Nina Langella & Anna Melnikova

Anna Melnikova (I adore her) posted this on her Instagram with the hashtag #NinoLangella&AnnaMelnikova. This partnership is going to be beyond amazing. I wonder a little bit, though, how he’ll mature in his dancing. Nino is great, undeniably, but he just looks and kind of dances young. And Anna is such a femme fatale! I don’t think it’ll be a problem, though.

Let’s all remember America’s Ballroom Challenge’s grand finale airs tomorrow! I’ll also check out this week’s Dancing With the Stars results show.

And I leave you with this. Phyllis Sues, 92-year-old woman with arthritis and osteoporosis, dancing this lovely tango. Team #NoExcuses


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