Lesson 20: The Rib Cage and the Scarf

Hello, ballroom dancers!

EDIT: I swear to everything that I wrote this blog entry this past Friday, the 18th. But I had such a screwed-up schedule I kept forgetting to actually post it. So that’s just a little FYI.

Sooooo, it’s very exciting. I had a lesson with Matt yesterday…it’s been, what, three months? OMG, it’s been four…geez, no wonder. Nothing about anything made sense to either one of us. Fortunately, I remembered the routines that he forgot (cha cha, samba) and he remembered the one I forgot (rumba).

I have no idea why both of us spent the entire time so confused. He’s had a lot going on in his life, so he’s been away from It. So he, in fact, did not kill me for not practicing. In fact, when he told me to practice, he promised he would, as well. So that made me feel a teensy bit better.

We went through the routines. Rumba first. That was agonizingly…”meaty”, if you will. He was really stressing the rib cage today, which, at the risk of sounding petulant, was way more work than I wanted to do my first lesson back. Of course, Matt’s not being Matt if there’s no silver lining in whatever it is I’m complaining about…so the up side here is that right away, I felt way more centered and therefore my balance was infinitely better.

How annoying.

Also, I have no idea why I was doing this, but there are three spirals in my rumba routine and I was somehow doing every one of them entirely too slow. Teach laughed at one point and said that my spirals were four counts instead of one. I kept my connected arm way too high on them because I thought I was supposed to always shape my spirals. I was wrong. So he started just clearing my head on the spirals and saying, “SCARF, not Statue of Liberty.” So that’s that, then. I guess I can’t ever do a high bun since he wants to screw with me by brushing my head.

Justinas Duknauskas & Anna Kovalova, Holiday Classic 2015

Justinas Duknauskas & Anna Kovalova, Holiday Classic 2015

That right there is the new pro Latin partnership I’ve been wanting to talk about. But we’ll circle back to that. I’m aware that technically it’s Stefano and Dasha week on the internet, but my today my legs had a very similar position to Anna’s here, so that’s why I chose them instead.

Actually, I lied. My legs looked more like this:

Stefano Di Filippo & Dasha Chesnokova, World Latin Championship 2015

Stefano Di Filippo & Dasha Chesnokova, World Latin Championship 2015

Matt was working on my swivel into the fan and I caught sight of my legs in the mirror and was wondering why my foot was so far forward from where the point at the floor under my knee was. It’s not like I have freaky hyperextension in my knees like Dasha does, but it’s a pretty good amount for Latin! On another tangent, I usually don’t like dresses with a ton of fringe, but I REALLY like this one! So unique. And it’s even prettier in the light blue color she has it in!

Anyway, cha cha came next. I had to have my rib cage contracted the whole time. That way, I am able to move faster and stay more grounded. Matt told me to try a different posture which is probably technically wrong, but I ended up getting the leg and hip action more accurately and was way more grounded that way. Like…a curvy, loopy zigzag. I felt the difference. It was weird – really weird – but it worked.

All we did with samba was try to remind him of the routine (LOL) and then correct my voltas. We also pinpointed a few moments to make our choreography a little more rhythmical, seeing as we’re both Latin so we must have the dirtiest samba.

We also talked quite a bit about connection, which was awesome. It’s kind of always been this way with Matt as long as I’ve known him, but now that he’s telling me to listen for the nuances in his lead, I’m able to sense little “ticks” from him better and it will certainly end up adding more character to our dancing. Like, now if I dance a cucaracha up high and then back down, I’ll know he’s leading it that way and I’m not crazy. And also, now that we had that chat, I don’t really have to look at him to see how he’s leading me (i.e., he may overturn me into a fan – or not).

It’s probably my favorite thing thus far. Because isn’t this – the connection – such a huge part of the reason we dance? I know for me it’s probably at least half the reason. I like telling The Story. And no two love stories are the same, so that’s another thing about dance that’s so beautiful.

Speaking of…let’s talk about this tall, gorgeous new partnership.

This was the first video I saw of them together and nearly had a heart attack. I was so pleasantly surprised. I think he’s similar to Roman, Anna’s ex partner, in all the right ways for her, and there is a new maturity and elegance to her dancing.

Also here’s their cha cha from another competition:

I’ve always loved watching her cha cha because I personally think she’s got the finest legs on Earth, but the stamina on her in here!!! Incredible. And Justinas is dancing at a whole new level.

And let’s just discuss some of their results:
1st comp: WDC World Masters Pro Latin: 2nd place
2nd comp: WDC World Championship, World Professional Latin: 7th place
3rd comp: WDC Shanghai Open, International Pro Latin: 4th place
4th comp: Holiday Dance Classic Pro Latin: 1st place

In the competition they placed seventh, they came in behind Riccardo & Yulia, Maurizio & Andra, Stefano & Dasha, Troels & Ina, Evgeni Smagin & Polina, and Dorin Frecautnatu & Marina Sergeeva. And in the one they placed fourth, it was behind Stefano & Dasha, Troels & Ina, and Dorin & Marina. Also, when they placed second, it was to a couple from Italy I admit I’ve never heard of. Pretty impressive for the first four competitions.

Aaaaand since I’m a total Anna Kovalova stalker, I’m going to be closely watching this partnership to see its development.

What do you think??


Disney 2015 and Kyiv Open: Slavik & Karina back together!

Hi dancers! Happy December!

It’s been a long time, huh? It’s very sad. But there’s no dancing on TV and I’m still having to take a break from dancing, which is depressing. But I’ll most likely do a lesson next week! The downside is Matt will probably kill me because I haven’t been practicing *hides*

Anyway, this will just be a quick post to update you on the goings-on in dancesport.

So, the Paris Worlds happened last week, AKA WDC AL Disney 2015. I don’t even know which is its actual name. I saw footage all over Instagram, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I found it. On the up side, Marius Mutin’s YouTube has links to tons of videos from the event. I won’t list all the results, just some “highlights”.

Pro Latin was, shockingly, won by Riccardo and Yulia.

Riccardo & Yulia, Disney 2015

Isn’t Yulia’s dress so pretty? You can see their final round cha cha and jive are on Marius Mutin’s YouTube, as well as their showdance paso and jive. Yulia is more stunning every time I see her and I absolutely adore her smile! I love Riccardo and Yulia together because I never see couples having fun on the floor when they’re competing at this level. They’re one of the only ones. Emmanuel and Liana are probably the only other.

Maurizio and Andra placed second. Here’s their final rumba and then their samba showdance!

Also, I don’t know why this excites me so much, but Nino Langella and Anna Melnikova made the final and placed 6th! Here’s their final samba.

Pro Ballroom was won by English couple Andrea Ghigiarelli and Sara Andracchio. Second place was taken by American couple Marat Gimaev and Alina Basyuk.

There were no American couples in the Amateur Ballroom final, sadly.

Tal Livshitz and Ilana Keselman were the highest-placing US couple in the Amateur Latin at 4th – you can see their final jive here. Following them were Denys Drozdyuk and Antonina Skobina – here’s their samba. Austin Joson and Nino Dzneladze placed 7th. I highly suggest you watch this video of their rumba. Poetry in motion. They not only made the final in the rumba, but placed 5th! I’m looking forward to seeing more from this couple.

Also, the Cup Amateur Latin was won by American couple Tagyr Mansurov & Alexandra Kondrashova. I’ll be completely honest, I have no idea what that means.

Anyway, the real reason you’re here, I’m sure, is to check out the reunion of Slavik Kryklyvyy and Karina Smirnoff at the Kyiv Open last week! I guess they taught. Isn’t this a great picture?

Slavik & Karina (c) al_pavlova Instagram

I won’t bore you anymore – here’s the materials!

Their cha cha. I know Karina isn’t super tall and is actually pretty average height, but I’ll be spending my entire life trying to make my legs look like hers. They look super long and her leg action is just something else. I can’t even find the words to describe it.

Their rumba. Just gorgeous.

The brilliant paso showdance. Amazing.

I know it’ll never happen given all the things that are going on with them, but a large part of me wishes they’d do a competition or two nowadays. Just to see what would happen!

What do you think?