Lesson 9: Posture (again). And American Style at Blackpool!

Happy Tuesday, ballroom dancers!

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! I ate a lot. Since Manhattan Dancesport is in just over a month, I’ve been trying to cut back on snacking so much. That kind of got shot this weekend, but now I’m back on it!

Well, I have a lesson tonight, and I’m trying to get a few more things done around here in the meantime before I get ready to go.

So in my last lesson, I thought we were just going to do run-throughs. Which did happen. Except I somehow ended up with three pages of notes on three dances. Mostly on cha cha, I think. Matt’s noticed that when I dance cha cha and rumba, they almost look identical. That’s led us to focusing on the counts in those two dances.

However, I am having a lot of trouble remembering what happens when. Now I understand why kids are so on the 2/3 count all the time.

Then we did samba. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I’ve always been told samba is “my dance”. I’m trying to make it dirtier, because every time I hear certain samba beats (especially in a reggaeton song, for instance), I remember that samba is ugly and what makes it look good is the positioning of the feet.

Except then what? Matt hits me with “POSTURE!” When I responded with a very confused expression, he told me to do rumba walks. I took barely two steps before he yelled “NOT ENOUGH, YOUR POSTURE’S FLAT! Come back here.”

So he illustrated. Now I’m having to pull my shoulder blades together in ways I haven’t done since I was pole dancing all the time. Kind of like Karina here.

Karina Smirnoff

I didn’t think I was doing it right until Matt said “it should feel like your arms are always behind you”. Even then, I still thought I was wrong. “My back automatically overarches,” I told him. “That’s normal. When you watch the ladies dance, you know you always see them dancing the back and silhouetting.”

Actually, when I did a class at Dance With Me with the crown prince of ballroom dance, Mark Ballas, he said the same thing. He said it’s great to be super animated in the face, but it’s extremely important to really dance your back, because when your back is to the judges, obviously they won’t be able to see your face. I think he actually said you can use your back to emote.

I should try to check on that.

So real quick, let’s talk about American style results at Blackpool!

American Smooth Results, Blackpool 2017

1. Nick Cheremukhin & Viktoriya
2. Travis & Jaimee Tuft
3. Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Seliverstova
4. Kyle & Allie Spinder
5. Genya Malko & Anna Shahbazyan
6. Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lynnsay Ray

I know it’s really nothing new, but I’m pretty happy with this result because Travis and Jaimee Tuft are hands-down my favorite Smooth couple.

American Rhythm Results, Blackpool 2017

1. Andre & Natalie Paramonov
2. Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin
3. Dmytro Gurkov & Snow Urbin
4. Aaron & Iryna DeSoto
5. Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti
6. Shandor Shtefil & Alexandra Barsukova

I’m not as emotionally invested as when Emmanuel and Liana were around, but I’m cool with these results, too. I really like Dmitry and Olena and Aaron and Iryna. But I have to wonder why Nazar and Irina, Shane and Shannon Jensen, and Vard Margaryan weren’t there.

Also, the Professional Rising Star Latin is worth mentioning. Pasha and Daniella won it again (!!) and Alexey and Vlada Karaulov (now dancing for Canada) came in runners-up. Nikita Malakhov and Nadezda Vlasova placed sixth (AMAZING), and Sasha Altukhov and Cheyenne Murillo came in 7th. Oh, and Vitaliy Proskurin & Natalia Barantseva rounded out the top 12.

It’s all so exciting! Nikita was a friend and I remember when I first met him at the Dance With Me’s first ever interstudio comp, back when they only had SoHo, New Jersey, and Long Island. I thought he was so charismatic and talented! And look at him now! Pasha and Daniella were also always one of my favorite couples, since I first saw them as ten dancers at Manhattan Dancesport in 2011 (when they placed third in both styles!). I knew they’d kick butt whenever they turned pro, and I’m so glad it’s working out for them!

Well, dancers, I’ll get back to you. Gotta get ready for Matt now! So excited!

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Lesson 19: Center collecting and Nino and Anna!

Hey again, dancers! Happy Friday!

Twice in a week! Miraculous, eh?

I had a my first lesson in eons (it felt like that, at least) with Teach on Wednesday. I didn’t write right away because I went away for a couple of days. I barely got back home an hour ago. There was barely any traffic coming from Boston to New York – this Friday’s small miracle.

This lesson wasn’t really a big deal, I feel like, even though I learned something extremely important. And – YAY! – I saw the fruits of my labor in this lesson. I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing my spirals and also grounding myself. Teach said my core was definitely stronger and he also said my spirals were better! I was really excited when I stopped falling out of them and even more excited when he noticed the difference.

So he decided to introduce to me the whole…well, Maksim Chmerkovskiy calls it “the engine of dance”. The Chmerkovskiy minor (Val) calls it “collecting your center”.

Look, I’ll be completely honest. Teach told me to keep things forward. I keep thinking about it and I have no idea what he said or how he illustrated it or what I did to follow his instructions correctly, but a lot in my dancing was corrected in this. There was now way more fluidity and power in my movements. And – my favorite part – every time I caught a glimpse of my feet, THEY LOOKED LIKE LIANA’S. My arch was high and gorgeous.

I thought I had gotten cocky and was just imagining it until Teach brought it up. I was thrilled.

That’s really all. I’m excited to work on this!

Couple more things. I planned on, as I gathered dance experience, writing posts about tips and DIY for, I guess you could say, ballroom on a budget. I haven’t done anything but my lessons at this point, but I did find this link on Dance Comp Review on how to make your own rhinestone bangles! Click the image below for the article.

DIY Ballroom Jewelry: Rhinestone Bangles - DanceCompReview

DIY Ballroom Jewelry: Rhinestone Bangles – DanceCompReview

Absolutely love that web site. Almost every day, they post funny little videos on Instagram, things like “Ballroom dancer in heels vs. non ballroom dancer in heels” or “Ballroom dancers during the day vs. in the evening”.

For my last subject here, remember how excited we all were about Nino Langella and Anna Melnikova’s partnership? Well, the first full video of their show has surfaced from Ballroom Dance Tube’s Youtube Channel! They performed two weeks ago at the World Promotions South American Open in Argentina. Of course, the two look absolutely gorgeous together. My only qualm here is the slow, sad song just made me want to sleep. But I can’t wait to see more from them.

OK, I know I said that was the last thing, but I found this as the last upload on Ballroom Dance Tube’s Youtube channel and it was such a tasty little morsel I couldn’t not share it! Eugene Katsevman and Shirley Ballas dancing rumba at the Killick Klassick dance camp!

I swear, she defies all the laws of nature. I remember forever ago Derek posted a video on his Instagram of himself dancing salsa with Shirley and the sharpness in her turns (he – typical – was doing tons of arm wraps) was absolutely incredible. Her heyday was 20+ years ago (depending on what you consider her peak) and she hasn’t lost a step.