New Rule, New Game Plan

National Dance Council of America’s (NDCA) Old Rule:

“Partners must start in a closed or open facing hold. No entrances are allowed in Closed American Smooth …

“Closed Silver – Single or double hand hold in facing and shadow positions may not comprise more than 50% of a routine. Routine must be comprised of at least 50% Closed Position.”

The New Rule, in play as of July 1st, 2018:

“For ALL Closed American Style Smooth Bronze and Silver levels all couples must start in the traditional Ballroom closed hold, including the lady’s left hand being placed on the man’s right shoulder, and the first four bars they dance must be in this hold. Double hand hold and other alternative hand holds do not count towards this requirement. For all Closed Bronze and Silver levels, 12 complete bars (including the required 4 bars to commence) of the first minute of music must be danced in the traditional closed hold as already defined.”

Why the new rule?

Consensus of opinion is that dancers will always push boundaries in order to gain a perceived advantage … there is nothing wrong with that; but when a dancer feels like they need to break the boundaries by exceeding the closed work restrictions in order to win a Closed Bronze or Silver competition, then the rules as they currently stand need greater clarity in order to level the playing field and make it a fairer contest.

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So now, seeing as we’re bringing smooth back into the mix after a 2 year hiatus (we did get our feet wet back in February at NYDF), The Icon has decided that it would be a good idea to limit ourselves to closed division for the next couple of comps.

His reasoning is that even though that means we’d have to restructure our existing routines to comply with the New Rule (well, not so much restructuring, just moving parts around a bit), getting back to basics would be invaluable — in other words, focusing on meticulous syllabus figures coupled with flawless technique.

Yeah. Right.

I’ll be the first to admit that open choreography has allowed me to fall into some pretty bad habits, as well as get away with all sorts of murder. I’ve forgotten what I have to bring to the table as a working partner in a closed relationship. My dancing has been more along the lines of a soloist than team player. I know my part, The Icon does his part, and somehow when we do meander our way back to any kind of closed work, the heat is just about over and it’s on to the next.

Well anyway, with focus on basics and execution thereof in mind, the last couple of lessons have been total immersion in Waltz and FoxTrot. And believe me when I tell you that I walk out of that studio with eyes rolled back in my head, mouth open and drool just running down my chin.

Frame and Connection






Shaping / CBMP

Our Waltz and FoxTrot have different opening gambits, but the meat and potatoes of the routines are pretty much the same:


Open Right Turn

Tipple Chasse


Shadow Twinkles


Promenade Chasse to Heel Turn to Weave

Oversway Throwaway

Double Handed Swivels to Heel Turn to Twinkle ….. and probably this will be the new home for the opening choreography.

So far, The Icon has been hammering me with the five points of connection:

Lady’s right hand and gent’s left hand;

Lady’s left wing bone fits into gent’s right hand;

Lady’s left elbow rests on top of gent’s right elbow;

Lady’s left wrist rests lightly on gent’s upper left arm; and last but not least, Lady’s left side is plastered to gent’s right side.

I’m constantly dancing out of The Icon’s hold. And without that strong frame, connection is lost and I can’t follow his lead. I find it ironic (and frustrating) that I’ve finally managed to 85% of the time maintain frame and connection in rhythm, but am having such difficulty in smooth.

And I will not even get into the basic forward and backward running steps exercise he’s given me to build my timing, feet (heel, ball-toe, toe, toe-heel)  and arms/body shaping (CBMP) for FoxTrot.

Actually, just reviewing to this point has pretty much fried my mental circuits, so we’ll continue this next week.

Hopefully by then, things will have started to gel … just like with all those other “impossible” things I never thought I’d be able to grasp.

See you then!

I know, I know ….

Funny how some things just gradually manifest in your life, and one day you wake up and realize that you no longer feel the way you used to about certain situations.

A good example of this would be my attitude towards dancing Rhythm. I fought that concept tooth and nail, doing anything and everything I could to keep it on the back burner. Then Fate stepped in and during the two years The Icon was unable to dance Smooth, I had to make a decision. I could find another instructor, quit dancing, or bite the bullet and stick it out.

I went with sticking it out. And all of you out there have walked that road with me, through the angst and agony of the initial stages of my whining and groaning about how I wasn’t a Rhythm dancer, how I didn’t look the part, I was awful in every way.

And here I am, 2-1/2 years later, not only dancing open silver, but placing well, making callbacks to the finals, and actually holding my own in the Championship and Scholarship events. Somewhere along the line I’ve gotten to be a stronger, more aggressive dancer. I’m beginning to see myself in a totally different light and it shows in how I look and feel when I step out onto the floor.

One of the judges in my first round of dances in this last competition (Manhattan Dance Championships), was my coach, Madame. As The Icon and I walked off the floor, she caught my eye and gave me a nod. I held it together until we got back to our table, trying not to cry and ruin my gorgeous make-up – a simple nod, yes. But it meant the world to me. Because she was telling me that I had done good and how proud she was of me. Drop the mike.

OK, that being said, I had planned on segueing into a couple of other topics, one of which is causing me angst, but I find myself struggling with how I want to present same without going into a 20-page post. So I’ll leave you all here for now, but with a little preview of what’s to come:

I’d like to start bringing in detailed thumbnails of the material I cover in my weekly lessons (working on getting the weight over the foot; hip-lift technique; making each and every step clear and identifiable; sinking into the hip; turnout of the feet, spotting) … as well as opening the floor to opinions on and discussion of the new NDCA amended rule regarding what you can and can’t do in the closed divisions.

Oh, and BTW, yes the big Empire Dance Championships were just last week and no, for the first time in my dance history I DID NOT compete. Not by choice, but by necessity. That necessity being a new car. [sigh] It’s hard when real life gets in the way of one’s addiction,  isn’t it ??