A week ago, I surprised my wife with ballroom dance lessons. We had a private instructor and covered the basics for 4 dances in roughly an hour. We did some rumba, waltz, foxtrot and salsa. We had such a great time that we signed up for a group of private lessons. Last night, we had our first private lesson.
My wife got some dancing shoes and I tried some on, but decided to pass for now. They kept insisting I was supposed to wear a shoe that was sized 2 numbers smaller than my American sizing. Not to be a poor sport, I tried them on, but they were WAY too tight. My toes were hitting the tips and the soles didn’t cover the base of my foot. However, it was interesting to note the bottom of the shoes were lined with suede! I would’ve never guess, but I guess that’s how you get the gliding motion.
We started the session off with a little rumba. He asked us to get in our frames and he proceeded to adjust our posture. For me, chin parallel to the ground, and shoulders facing square. Right hand fully on the partner’s shoulder blade. Left hand out and open.
We did a couple counts of the basic box step to loosen up. He then showed us how to incorporate a turn. For the male part, the turn is initiated by guiding my partner under the left arm (with my right hand) as I step back. Slight force with the guiding right hand, keep the left hand loose so the partner can turn. The left hand can either be held with hand flat, hand as a circle, or hand as a point.
The turn is harder to do than it looks. It’s such a basic stance but we have to work on keeping enough distance between us so we don’t bump into each other and keeping rhythm. A couple of times, he would even start talking to us and asking about our day to see if we’d lose rhythm.. such a tricky guy! 😉
Next, we did some Cha Cha:
The hard thing about the Cha Cha is to do the Rock Steps directly forward and directly back, not angled. Also, when doing the CHA-CHA-CHA, MOVE SIDEWAYS! I did some Cha Cha before, but the Cha-Cha-ing was done in place, not moving sideways.
After we did the basic steps for a bit, he showed us how to do the “Side Flairs”, which basically looks like dancers stepping “in” to each other, but then turning to the side and flaring the outer arm. Quite a fun move 😉
Begin the setup for the flair by holding the both of the partner’s hands at midsection height, directly in front. CHA-CHA-CHA, then flair to the sides. The instructor emphasized the stepping into the flair should be initiated by the waist, not the hands.
We then covered some technical details about stepping and turning. For me, he said to slide/glide the steps instead of lifting and stepping. I then commented on how it was like bagua mud walking step and my wife just rolled her eyes and smirk while the instructor gave me a slightly puzzled look 🙂
By the end of class, we really worked up a sweat. It was great fun and we’re looking forward to our next session.
My homework items:
- Keep the frame. Some tension in right hand, left hand loose. Shoulder’s square, chin parallel to the ground
- Glide steps. Don’t lift the feet too high off the ground. Glide them.
- Replacing Steps. One foot replaces the other foot.
- Lead with the hips in the rock step and flair steps, not with the arms
- Commit the step. When stepping forward, REALLY step forward and shift the weight into the front leg before executing the side step
Hmm.. a lot of the homework items seem quite similar to taiji principles… 🙂