Lesson 18: Sambaaaaa

Happy Friday, dancers!!!

A couple days ago, I had my lesson. This wasn’t even a big deal.

I was kind of thrilled, though, that this time entailed not much of anything. It’s almost painful to do nothing but just drill technique and steps again and again and again. Plus, I think my supply of seemingly unlimited brainpower tends to crap out after a while.

Teach and I discussed our weekends. I told him about how I shopped and partied in an awesome club and he told me about Manhattan Dancesport. I wish I had been there! Really only for him and Emmanuel and Liana, though, even though just watching the competition is fun. The energy level at Manhattan is absolutely insane.

After that, Teach pretty much just grabbed me and started dancing samba. See, I keep thinking I can’t remember my choreography, but then when he does something wrong, I hit him with, “Actually…”

We hadn’t done samba in weeks! And we didn’t even know if that would be our routine because he kind of just threw it together so he would have some bones to build on. But I remembered quite a bit of it. “Nooooo that wasn’t it, you wrote bota fogos, inside turn, THEN Argentine crosses – ” I must have been so annoying. It’s okay though, my teacher has the patience of a saint.

No, that’s not true at all. Not even a saint. My teacher has the patience of God himself. It’s hysterical because it drives me crazy at times when I’m laughing even though I’m frustrated at myself and I lash out at him because I feel like fighting, but no matter the circumstance, he just does not engage.

I showed him what he had come up with before, so he grabbed my phone and wandered around the ballroom marking it while I stood there practicing…something. I find it fascinating how dancers choreograph. Before he solidified it, he held my phone out to me and asked if I could give him a samba. I started scrolling. “How dirty do you want it?” I asked. “As much as you want,” he answered, nearly bouncing with anticipation. “I’ll give you a really nasty one,” I said, then played “Gordita” by Shakira.

He heard the song and nearly burst out of his skin with excitement. I stood there in amazement as he bounced his way around the ballroom, dancing the routine. “That’ll work!” he scrambled back over to me and we danced the whole thing through. After that, we ended up just doing pieces.

My question in my mind here is, when did I become so sloppy in samba? This used to be MY dance – the one whose syllabus I could recite backwards. I definitely felt like my arms were flying all over the place and I was very confused because half of it felt like Teach was throwing me around, but at the same time, dancing the samba felt so easy and natural to me. I’m gonna need to figure this out.

While I was looking for some awesome samba picture to put up here, I found this by accident – Franco Formica doing a rumba demonstration with Kristina Moshenskaya! Whaaaaattttt.

I thought it was fascinating to see these two dancing together! Franco really is incredible – he gets so much juice out of his movements that he looks like he’s hardly moving. On the other side of the spectrum, Kristina is someone I absolutely know for her speed and precision. I wonder what the story is behind this dance happening…


Lesson 17 and Manhattan Dancesport 2015!

Dancers, I’m writing to you all on a Tuesday! It’s deceptively easy to fall behind on these things. But this past Saturday was my birthday! I took a trip for the weekend with my best friend to hang out with some dance friends of mine and had my greatest birthday thus far, so I was bursting with happiness all this time. Now, back to reality.

Last Thursday I had my seemingly long-awaited lesson. My teacher surprised me and brought me a birthday present! I had gotten him one for his birthday a couple of months back, but didn’t expect this and therefore was oddly touched.

It’s all been such a blur that I have zero clue how the lesson started. I got all excited when I saw him enter, stopped stretching, and sat down to gossip about how I deliberately stalked him and found his final from a recent competition on YouTube. Then I put my shoes on and he goes, “You ready to do this?” I shot up onto my feet and exclaimed, “LET’S GOOO!”

I have too much energy. But these are things about life I can never change.

We danced through our rumba and cha cha routines. Like, a million times. It ended up being one of those lessons where we both got so into things that we went over our lesson time.

That day, he had me really focus on dancing rumba with my ribs and center, with miraculous results. It’s also what made us take forever to go through the entire routine. My first time around the ballroom, I prided myself on my Shakira hips. I swear it wasn’t just me! I knew people in the studio who told me they called me “swivel hips” in their minds. But I didn’t seem to have that same range of motion when I started dancing again.

I learned down the road that the hip action I had back then was “surface” movement, like I only used placement. To hopefully clear that up, I really only was putting this foot here and moving my hip forward, sideways, and back. And it looked pretty lame.

Anyway, I’m over here spending all this time trying to better my legs and feet, and now I see why the center is the most important thing a dancer can learn. The center of my foot started burning after five minutes, too. We also talked about finding the heaviness in rumba and when to direct energy high or low. Ooh, we also did something in the Natural Top we hadn’t done before.

I don’t know about you, but it’s one of my favorite things to do to “play” in routines and find ways to convey different emotions, or different dynamics in the relationship between you and your partner. See, I never really liked the Natural Top until Teach gave me some options as to the way we could do it. We could either dance it very close to each other, or we could create space between our bodies. I picked the second one because that’s what made me see the point of the step – I like how when you create space in a Natural Top, it shows the way a man and a woman dance around each other.

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff - Dancing Basics With Passion: Rumba

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff – Dancing Basics With Passion: Rumba

I think Karina’s face says it all.

When we went through cha cha, Teach taught me how to create the action and step at the same time. It didn’t make sense to me because I’m so used to doing a delayed action, but I was able to learn it quickly. He was thinking out loud, spat out a certain word, and I started dancing like that word. That ended up fixing a lot of what I was doing wrong, and I could see that it looked way different! That was really exciting.

Then we ended up chatting about a competition not too long ago that he and his stunning pro partner attended and won. He was doing Manhattan Dancesport this weekend! Manhattan in 2011 was the first competition I ever went to, plus it’s in my city so I’ve got a soft spot for it. It was where I first saw Riccardo and Yulia and where I first fell in love with Emmanuel and Liana! I remember Liana had the most stunning white lace dress in the final!

I usually hit Manhattan Dancesport if I can and root for my Teach, but as I decided to go away, I wasn’t able to, but, of course, I stayed very alert on the internet so I would be able to see the results as soon as they appeared.

Results are after the jump! I got all the pictures from the Manhattan Dancesport article on Dance Beat’s web site!

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