May 15th, 2010


American Star Ball

A few weeks ago, Gene (the smooth coach for UPenn. Someone I'd worked with previously way back at Arthur Murray and a teacher who's opinion is extremely important to me) asked Ruth and me to dance at American Star Ball, a local competition over in New Jersey. Unfortunately, Ruth was to be away on vacation during the event and Wynd had a prior commitment, so when I made a comment on Facebook and my friend Monika appeared open to competing, I jumped a the chance to dance with her.

With only two-and-a-half weeks to go we began practicing like nuts. Back when I had a week to get Tory ready for Clover I swore I'd never do another last-minute entry again, so what do I know? I will say that it is incredibly helpful having my core routines and being used to teaching them several times. Due to the competition schedule, Monika and I only had to enter four dances, only three of which were routine-based, so we made good progress on choreography and spent most time working on connection with one another and presentation.

Today was the competition. We got an uncontested First Place in each of our entries. Uncontested rounds always make me nervous; on the one hand, you know you can't fail, but on the other hand if you do fail, it's that much more embarrassing.. Uncontested rounds occur when you're the only entry in your event. In our case, due to the fact ASB is mostly a pro-am event and most amateurs there were higher level than we were and our comparatively younger age, we were in an entirely separate division. The thing is, judges will sometimes award an uncontested couple second-place or even third-place if they don't feel they were dancing up to the expected level. It happens rarely but it does happen - it has to in order for uncontested First Place to mean anything.

At any rate, we got First. Individual analyses follow.

Waltz Single Dance: One of the best times I've ever danced this routine. Good movement across the floor and very nice shaping, particularly on our open positions. Head stayed up the whole time. Slight navigation difficulties in one corner.

Tango Single Dance: Much better than rehearsal but still with room for improvement. Reverse turns have gotten much sharper and I had good head turn, but timing on all other steps is still a major issue. Great job on tango floorcraft and hold. Head needs to stay up more on promenade open.

Foxtrot Single Dance: Our weakest dance of the day, IMHO. Nice movement but adaptations to the larger floor left Monika confused, something I blame on my leading and inadequately preparing her for such on-the-fly-changes. Too much rise and fall on the grapevine. Promenade pivots, however, came out perfectly.

Viennese Waltz Single Dance: One of the best Vienneses I've ever had. Fantastic movement and flight, especially compared to the couples in other divisions on the floor with us. Very little rise and fall. Beautiful transitions from reverses to natural and we nailed the dog-bone shape around the floor. Openings very well-timed with the music. Only problem: apparently we were slightly rushing the music.

Tango/Foxtrot Multi-Dance: Tango a bit awkward this time. The timing issues became much more prevalent, less quick/quick/slow and more quick/quick/qui-waaaaaaiittt. I thought foxtrot went better this time, with clearer lead-follow but I'm told that the first one looked more controlled.

Waltz/Viennese Multi-Dance: Just like the first time for waltz, except no navigation issues. Given how well that first time went, I can't complain about this at all. Viennese went even better, eliminating all the timing issues. Possibly the best Viennese I've ever done.

And that was the day. I'm pretty thrilled!

In other news, the Dererk-Nicole foxtrot on Dancing With the Stars this week is some of the best choreography Derek's ever done, possibly his very best. If I can find a YouTube clip I'll put it up as Dance of the Day.