A trip down memory lane

Dancing is such a subjective endeavour that it is sometimes (most of the time) really hard to measure how far you’ve come. Just when I think I’ve got my balanced sorted, Rumba walking with split weight and ease, I struggle to spin, spiral or even just stand. And this got me to thinking how you gauge whether or not you have improved. Naturally there are other people’s comments of ‘Wow! Your dancing has really improved’, but, like most people I am extremely self-critical and I want hard evidence. To find this involves a trip down memory lane.

This is simply mortifying. It involves digging out old videos, hidden way in the back cupboard where hopefully cockroaches have nested and eaten their way through the tape. These tapes are full of cringe worthy arm styling, choreography and outfits documented on film that will hopefully never see the light of day again. I’m not saying that all my routines and dance floor endeavours are shockingly bad there are some that I am incredibly proud of. So in an attempt to feel better about all of my dancing journey I’m going to share some of the good, the bad and the truly ugly dance floor experiences with you (in writing, unfortunately due to cockroach infestation there is no video footage to upload).

The Good

There are actually a number of favourite routines, which, when I watch them I can say that I’m actually pleasantly surprised. Not surprisingly that are all in my later years of dancing:

  • Samba 2006. This was the first routine I did with my most recently previous dancing teacher. Loved the routine, especially the Spiderman move at the end and I still wear the costume. It was the first routine I’d done where most of the choreography was open solo. The only disappointing thing was that my suggestion of wearing matching PE uniforms to work in with the whistle theme in the music was rejected.
  • Cha Cha Cha’s – all most all of them 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 (arguably these were all actually Cha Cha’s not Cha Cha Cha’s – dialogue for another blog). Okay, I have a Cha fetish.
  • Foxtrot 2007. This was to Sweet’s Song from the Buffy Musical episode. Yep, this was the beginning of geek chic as we oozed cool feathering around the floor. (Warning – memories may appear cooler than reality)
  • Waltz 2005 and 2006. This was so pretty it needed to be reprised. We basically did my very lazy teacher’s Level 1 Dance Sport routine. Choreographically nothing special but I learnt a lot.
  • Viennese Waltz 2010. This was to the theme music of Harry Potter; what is there not to love? It came complete with Hedwig inspired arm styling and purple dress with silver glitter stars
  • Rumba 2010. The music selection for this was awesome, if I do say so myself. But the really fantastic part was it was choreographed by my now dance teacher for myself and my previous dance teacher. It was the first time I had ever done a routine that really challenged me to perform and emote. Still one of my favourites.

The Bad

I would like to say almost all the others but that is not accurate. Here are some highlights

  • Quickstep – I can’t remember the date as I’ve tried to wipe it from my mind. It involved me skipping around the floor, slightly out of time, wearing a dress that I really wasn’t comfortable in but wore on a friend’s very bad, but at the time respected, advise.
  • Bolero circa 2004. I liked the routine and the music. No longer a fan of the dance (Bolero is not a little jacket or a piece of music, it is also a weird hybrid dance of Rumba, Tango and Waltz). The thing that has scarred me most about this is that I actually had my dress on back to front and there is a certain move that when executed you can see straight down my décolletage, safe to say my modesty was not intact.

The Ugly

I feel very ashamed about this, but here goes

  • Quickstep/Tap formation 2000. This was my first foray on to the dance floor and held so much promise that in no way delivered. Promised an exciting combination of Quickstep and Tap the routine resulted in us doing Tap springs for most of the 2 minutes and 30 seconds wearing electric blue circle skirts with white shirts and lace collars. I’m pleased to report the synthetic nature of the material meant that it burnt really well (I kid you not).
  • My first Cha Cha Cha of 2001. The music was ‘It’s Raining Men’, I wore a black dress that was ripped off me to reveal a pink eye-lash number (hot pink tinsel, remnants of which can still be found amongst my belongings) and I then proceeded to skip my way through the piece in some weird Cha Cha Cha and Swing style amalgamation. This was the first tape that the cockroaches were encouraged to eat.

I’m sure at some point the bad and the ugly will be comical enough to invest in getting the tapes restored and having another look. But for now I’m actually quite happy to remember the good and plan my next up and coming showcase – I’m seeing a 1970’s inspired Samba in a lime green lycra body suit with pink diamantés and black Cher wig, and that’s just what my teacher’s wearing.

For more bad dancing check out Kath and Kel on Australia’s Dancing with the Stars.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTSL7-vMqu0

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A Great Love Affair

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The first time I ever walked into a ballroom dancing studio it would be safe to say I was scared. This wasn’t because I was nervous, I was scared by the fact I was greeted by an over animated 6ft4 man wearing a Daffy Duck tie who was so excited to see us it looked like he was about to pee his pants. Little did I realise this would be the first of many scary experiences; out there outfits, interesting choreography and women that look like drag queens. It was also the beginning of a great love affair, not with the Daffy Duck tie wearing dancing teacher, but with dancing and pretty much everything dancing related.

As with any affair there has been laughter, tears, tantrums, frustration and triumph. Like any relationship there have been times when I’ve wanted to scream it’s not me it’s you and stomp in dramatic Paso Doble style from the ballroom. But there is always something that draws me back in, whether it be pride, stupidity or love. There are countless numbers of things that I love about dancing; the costumes, the movement, the music and of course the opportunities to harrass my dancing teachers (I have, over time, developed a specialized form of styling that may involve subtly flipping the bird).

I am the first to admit that there are drawbacks to my dancing addiction, the biggest one being the god awful smell emitting from my shoe bag – an odour I’m sure could be harnessed by the military for a new form of biochemical warfare. There are others as well: countless hours hanging around studios, being forced out of my comfort zone, the intimidation felt watching more highly skilled dances whizz around the floor. But despite any drawbacks, in the end dancing has always gotten me through.

These days I’m a little less scared walking into the studio, I’m still greeted by overly enthusiastic dance teachers, not as tall, but thankfully with slightly better fashion sense. So, as I started a new chapter of dancing in a new studio I have also decided to chronicle the highs, lows and sometime ridiculousness of my dancing experiences. And to help me share the experience I’ve chosen some of my favourite songs, quotes and dance stuff.

Favourite dance quote: Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room – Kurt Vonnegut (Author of Slaughterhouse Five)

Favourite dance music: Raise your Glass, Pink. This just makes me want to dance, cha cha cha, interpretive or drunk with a raised glass.

Favourite other dance blog: Against the Line of Dance http://againstlineofdance.wordpress.com/  Apart from the fabulous name (wish I had thought of it) it is a little sarcastic which is great even if a little brutal at times.

For more things dance check out the links to everything dance in the menu.