I'm not going to apologize for not posting in awhile. I can't decide if there are two reasons I haven't posted or if they're the same reason, but it's been because my life is pretty repetitive these days so there's not a lot to say about it, and because I'm so busy living it there's not much time to write about it.
The overwhelming majority of my time (I can't even say "free time") is spent in competition practice. After Rutgers Ruth and I decided to make a big push to break into silver, particularly with our smooth (American style ballroom). There are six main tactics we use when getting ready for competitions:
4) Private lessons
5) Practice (focused on the private lesson material)
6) Extra practice
All the hard work paid off in our dancing. I watch videos of us dancing now and videos from last year and it looks much better. Is it where I want it to be? No, but it's improving. As I frequently say, "I don't need to be perfect, just better than yesterday." Every day.
We've done three competitions since the beginning of October, Princeton, Cornell, and DCDI. Results have been pretty positive, though not as strong as we'd hoped. Wynd was wonderful and not only attended Princeton (and watched us on livestream for DCDI) but videoed us there as well. Videos of the other comps were not a priority; given how close they were I figured the dancing would not be markedly different, though the UPenn team got a few videos of us at DCDI.
Princeton Bronze American Smooth
Princeton Bronze International Standard
Princeton Bronze American Rhythm
Princeton Bronze International Latin
DCDI Bronze American Smooth: Waltz
DCDI Bronze American Smooth: Tango
DCDI Bronze American Smooth: Viennese Waltz
DCDI Silver American Rhythm: Swing
DCDI Silver American Rhythm: Mambo
We didn't do as well as I'd hoped but we did about as well as I'd expected. We made finals in three of our smooth dances (waltz, tango, and foxtrot), which was the style we'd put most of our efforts in, as well as being my favorite style. We placed last in each of those finals (8th, 7th, and 6th respectively) but getting there was a huge accomplishment, especially since it was the first time Ruth and I had ever gotten to finals in smooth.
Rhythm was weird; we were eliminated in the first round in rumba, swing, and mambo. The last was truly surprising as our first time at a contested event in mambo we'd made the finals (DCDI 2010) and 7th overall. That said, when I saw the video later I had to agree with Wynd's assessment that our timing was off. Swing, normally our strongest of the rhythm dances, was a surprise but we saw areas to clean up in the video so we could come back stronger. Cha cha, however, we made it to the finals 5th place overall. Oddly enough, we danced the syllabus bolero - meaning open to all couples regardless of level - and placed 2nd overall, despite being the only bronze couple on the floor (oh, and 1st and 3rd place were gold).
Standard we got quarter-finals in waltz, semis in tango, and made finals and 5th place overall in foxtrot, but nothing in quickstep. Was a little surprised we did better in tango than waltz, as tango's one of our weaker dances, and was annoyed that we continued to suck at quickstep, but overall it was pretty satisfying. Latin we got semi-finals in all our dances, which I was very proud of given that Latin is my worst style.
Generally we were pretty happy with our results and very happy with our dancing, but wanted another shot. I'd been planning on competing at Cornell the next weekend with Lauren, and persuaded Ruth to come along so we could get another shot at those dances.
Earlier this year it had looked like Ruth would be moving to North Carolina for a job, and so I agreed to temporarily partner Lauren, another UPenn dancer, whose partner was abroad for the semester, in Latin and rhythm. When the job didn't happen, I not only wound up with two partners, but Lauren was adamant about dancing silver, and so we come to Cornell. I actually ended up only dancing with Ruth in bronze, as Lauren got sick and was unable to dance. That said, Ruth and I got the best results we'd ever gotten.
Waltz: 3rd place
Foxtrot: 1st place
Cha Cha: 2nd place
Rumba: 3rd place
Swing: 5th place
Overall: 2nd place
Waltz: 5th place
Semi-finals in rumba, and jive, quarter-finals in cha cha and samba.
This was easily the best results we'd ever gotten and were a very positive indication, especially with last week's results, that we were ready for silver. Even the low scores tended to come from one specific judge who has never graded us well (we have numerous rounds where every judge except him marks us for call backs, and in smooth foxtrot nearly every judge marked us first place while he marked us last) indicating that our flaws are somewhat subjective. In addition, we got our first ever call back for quickstep. One more comp in bronze, we said, then move up.
DC Dancesport Inferno
I was thrilled with how we danced this comp, but the results were largely disappointing. On the plus side, Ruth and I reached finals in smooth Viennese waltz, a dance we'd always come in dead last before, and placed 7th in a field of over 56 couples. Most exciting to me, we danced in the west coast swing fun dance - an event open to all couples regardless of level - and beat out every one of them to get 1st place! This was Ruth's time competing west coast and we kicked ass, beating much higher level dancers. Woo!
On the downside, smooth we only got semi-finals in foxtrot and quarter-finals in waltz and tango, something we're still not sure how to reconcile with Cornell and Princeton. Standard we got our second call back ever in quickstep but still only got quarter-finals in waltz and tango, and eighth-finals in foxtrot and quickstep. Again, not sure how to reconcile that with the previous comps.
Things with Lauren went much better than I expected. In rhythm we reached semi-finals in cha cha/rumba multi-dance and swing/mambo multi-dance. Latin we got nothing in cha cha/rumba but eighth-finals in samba/jive. Not bad for my first time competing silver. Ruth had a TBA parter and had no Latin results or with rhythm cha cha/rumba but got to the finals in swing/mambo with 5th palce overall. It validated the idea that we're ready for silver in rhythm and we're talking about moving up for our next comp.
Well, more practice, obviously. We're tentatively planning to try silver in smooth and rhythm at our next comp, though we're debating what competition that will be and when. We've started choreographing new routines, and we're just gonna keep plugging away.