I had two days in the studio this week. Coaching with Madame on Tuesday, and a single with The Icon on Wednesday. The single was the second half of a make-up lesson for when The Icon was out of town, competing at the Grand Nationals in Florida.
We started Tuesday’s coaching by giving Madame a quick overview; we’ve got The City’s Challenge coming up fast (December 19th) and so The Icon suggested we get back into the “swing” of things and work on rhythm.
If I had to rank my rhythm dances, I’d say Bolero, Mambo and Samba are my strongest. Rumba is starting to edge up, with ChaCha and Swing bringing up the rear (figuratively and literally speaking … sorry, sometimes I just can’t help myself).
I also do Merengue and Hustle, on (very) rare occasions using them as “filler” when I compete, and Bachata, West Coast Swing and Salsa come in handy for clubbing and socials.
The Icon believes in offering his students every opportunity to better their dancing by bringing in some of the most amazing coaches ever. Personally, I’ve worked with Bonnie Diaz, Ed Simon, Peggy Heeney, Marianne Nicole, Tony Meredith and Amy Block (does picking up Jose Decamps from the train station count?).
For the last year, I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with Meryem Pearson, or, as I address her, Madame.
We clicked from the beginning and I have an amazing rapport with her. She’s warm, funny, and so very good at what she does. We work on both Rhythm and Smooth. She doesn’t teach you steps; she helps you understand how to use your body. Her knowledge and wisdom take my breath away. She talks about how you must understand the value of your movement, the quicks and the slows; how each step must have clarity, a start and a finish, how the body never stops moving, always filling out both the space and the music.
And she doesn’t take any bullshit.
Me: “I’m afraid (to do that turn, get my feet tangled, fall over, fill in the blank)”
Madame: “What’s to be afraid of?”
Me: “I can’t ”
Madame “You just did”
Me: “I look totally stupid” or, “that looks so bad”
Madame: “There’s nothing you can do to look bad”
So, after “what shall we work on” is decided (Bolero and Mambo), we move on to “Let’s warm up with Rumba (of course). Now I’ve made it clear just what a bear this dance is for me. It really spotlights my overall rhythm issues: getting on the foot, not letting my weight fully drop into my hip (clarity), moving into the next step before fully finishing the one I’m on (value), not feeling the lead, and so on and so forth.
The music starts, I move into dance position and it only takes two steps to realize Something is Different. For the first time ever, I felt I HAD IT … a little choppy, yes, but strong, secure. OMG …
And the “WOW” I got from Madame? Holy cow … followed by “that’s the best I’ve seen you do so far” ???
I still can’t wrap my mind around it. Think I should actually take this in the light of maybe, Just Maybe, I might have what it takes ?!?!?!?!
OK, so then on to some serious work.
I think I have a pretty good handle on my Bolero, and The Icon and I run through our routine. Not too shabby, but nothing gets by Madame’s eye.
A few “little” things need tweaking; again, the common thread(s) across my dancing as a whole stand out; not giving full value to the step I’m on, leading myself into the next pattern, a little iffy with the choreography, TIMING and COUNTING – you get the picture. But those simple little tweaks make all the difference in the world. And that’s the thing …. Just those teeny tiny little changes can turn the most basic steps into something absolutely breathtaking.
And before you know it, the session is almost over. A few minutes on Mambo, then the next student walks in, and we’re done for now.
Yesterday was the single, and The Icon was all set and ready to do a quick review of our coaching session when I start flapping my book at him.
In addition to prepping for the December comp, I’m doing my Silver Pin check-out. I’ve got all the new syllabus figures with the exception of Figure 6 in Waltz – Hesitation A and B.
I won’t bore you with the details, but I do wish I had a video of me trying to understand that freaking pattern.
Whaa ?? HUH ???? …. This goes where while that does what? Wait !!! Where are you going?
What comes first? I’m supposed to be starting BDC (backing diagonal center)? BDW (backing diagonal wall)? What’s the end? WHERE’s the end? All during which The Icon was having a field day needling me.
(Special Note to MY Gremlins & Demons: if you
need any tutoring in needling, just get in touch with The Icon).
YES, I DO KNOW WHERE and WHAT BDC IS, THANK YOU …..
Well, that was yesterday. Thinking about it now, I can’t help but crack up. It really was a total comedy routine and funny as hell. A friend of mine describes these moments as “brain farts” ….. très à propos.
So that’s it for this week. Unless, of course, I decide to do the Dance of the Month Group tomorrow night. It’s Bolero. And the name of the game is Making It Better.
One … Step … At … A … Time ….