Hey everyone! So today I had my first “official” ballroom lesson with Natasha. The class I had two days ago was a half hour free trial, so I could dip my foot into the vast ocean of ballroom dance. Today was when the real deal started.
Before starting the lesson, Natasha introduced me to her professional partner, Arkadiy, who was also giving a private lesson at the time. Natasha and Arkadiy are world renown latin dancers, which is pretty awesome.
For the next 45 minutes, Natasha taught me the basics of rumba, also known as the slow, romantic, sensual dance. Rumba has the fundamental elements prevalent in all latin dances, which is why I learned this dance first.
Initially, I was a bit disappointed that we were doing rumba, because I had really been hoping that I could learn more upbeat party dances, like samba, cha-cha or jive. When I watch rumba videos on youtube, I always think that this dance is so simple. Boy was I mistaken. There are so many technicalities that go into this dance: the smooth, flowing hip movements, the latin style footwork, the arms, the balancing of body weight. While gymnastics does help me pick up choreography very quickly, it became apparent today that gymnastics also works to my disadvantage, as there were many bad habits that needed breaking. For instance, I have a tendency to stand with my back slightly arched, because of gymnastics. Natasha told me that in ballroom, you don’t want an arched back. Rather, your entire spine has to be straight- neither arched nor hunched. As for my footwork, my ballet training has taught me to always step with a turned out foot. In latin dances, you don’t want this.
Natasha then introduced me to my first ballroom dance partner: a chair! The chair, whom I nicknamed Mr. Chair, is a great partner because with him, I don’t have to worry about balancing body weight and all the other stuff that sucks about dealing with another person 😉 The majority of the class consisted of me and Mr. Chair doing the rumba footwork across the waxed hard-wood floor. It’s funny because the majority of rumba is walking, but you have to walk in a smooth, elegant, graceful way with the proper hip movements. Then there’s the added difficulty of keeping up with the music. Each dance has its own distinct counting sequence, and your movements have to match these sequences. Thankfully, my background in piano and flute made this much easier.
All in all, my first ballroom lesson went very well. I have a lot of practicing to do, because I’m practically learning a new language right now- the language of ballroom dance. Natasha said that with my body, there are no limits whatsoever as to what I can do. I just have to learn the language.
My next lesson with Natasha will be on Saturday, I believe. Meanwhile, I will practice daily all of the homework Natasha has assigned me, and hopefully I can compete soon!
Until next time,