Dance Dance Dancing Machine

Did you know that Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” is in waltz time? Or that you can lindy-hop to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance”? I’ve learned this and a lot more in what has definitely become The Semester of Dance.

I am currently enrolled in Ballroom Dance I, and I LOVE IT!!! I took ballroom dancing one high-school summer with a few of my girl friends, but I have learned so much more in the few weeks I’ve been in Ballroom I. We started with the classic waltz and learned the basic moves including:

The Basic-walking in a square in six beats-there’s a reason they call it the basic

The Left Box Turn-My favorite because it’s a smooth circle that just feels fun

The Hesitation-This is what you do when you need to catch your breath and you can even add in a nice under-arm turn

Flip-Flops-This one is definitely more work for the females as we flip from one side of the male to the other while moving down the floor and a few other moves.

Thinking we were pretty awesome, our class was definitely put in our place with the introduction of the Viennese Waltz.  Twice as fast as the waltz, technically this is the rhythm set in “Breakaway” or Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You.” We were doing ok in double time until the introduction of the turn. Remember the game when you were little where you would face someone holding hands and then spin around as fast as you could go—that’s what our instructor showed us to illustrate the Viennese spin. Day one included a lot of bumped toes and dizziness, but by day two my partner and I made a complete loop around the gym in the spin—there was still a lot of dizziness.

Our last day with the Viennese waltz we learned the “meet and greet” which is a series of six moves strung together so that the couple flips from being back to back, to facing each other, to spinning, back to back to back, and then finally sliding into a hesitation. Crazy big thanks to my partner while I was learning this, who patiently took me through the pattern over and over as I repeatedly failed to step with the right foot. Thanks to him we finally got it down and can now easily glide across the floor with Clarkson in the background. Another great waltz song….“Can I Have This Dance” from High School Musical 3 (which I totally saw in theaters-go ahead and judge, I loved it!). You can check out the YouTube video of their dance to get a sense of the waltz, although we don’t really jump around or stand on walls like Troy and Gabriella do.

And all that’s just what I’ve learned from Ballroom Dancing in the first few weeks. This week I’ve also started attending Lindy Hop 101 at the Williamsburg Community Center. Three friends and I are signed up for six weeks of classes, and I’m already having fun after week one.

The first hour we learned basic dance position for the Lindy Hop and the leads (much different than the waltz). We rotated partners every few minutes, and it was quite enjoyable to meet a lot of community members I would otherwise never see. After learning our basics, our instructor invited the upper level students back onto the floor and put on the music.

As we partnered up with the experienced dancers, I offered “I only know how to go in a circle” which one of my partners decided meant I should just spin and spin for the entire dance—fine with me. I felt bad keeping the upper-level students from busting out their crazy moves while they were dancing with me, but they were all really nice about it and even showed me a few tricks (like a cool sideways lean) that I’ll have the head start on when we learn them in class. And yes, you can lindy-hop to “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga, although the rhythm scared most of us new dancers to the edges. Later we had the “Doll Dance” –a dance version of musical chairs that had me spinning and running around the floor laughing. There was a lot of laughing and self-embarrassing going on which was
so fun!

Enough details of my dancing life? Sorry, I am just excited about my new dancing skills. I’ll stop writing now and practice my spins…

Categories: Academics, Student Blogs

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