Oh yeah, it was an all girls lesson today. I really appreciate a lesson like this. Nothing beats dancing with a man, but in the same vein, nothing can top a woman teaching you how to be feminine on the floor. Acting like a woman is easy enough in my daily existence, but the definitions of woman in normal life and on the dance floor can be quite different. Why, I almost feel like I have to be a fem fatale when I dance Latin. “Hey, feast your eyes on me, boys! Look at how sexy I am!” Can you say mild discomfort? Do not take my groan too seriously, though. Acting like a tigress is all part of learning how to dance because I certainly do not want to look ugly on the floor.
Olga and I focused solely on Rumba today. I am quite happy with this because it is one of my dances for Team Match, and I had not worked on it yet. There was not much dancing done because we worked exclusively on technique. Specifically, we worked on the basic box step, a basic under-arm turn, rumba walks, second-position breaks or cucarachas, and the banquera opening. For the sake of my retention, I am going to go through what I remember for each.
There is not much to be said here because this is the very first step anyone learns in Rumba. Olga said my Cuban Motion, or hip action, was mostly good. She did, however, tell me that I needed to settle into my hip and turn it out completely when I stepped back. My upper half still has to be facing my partner as I do this.
Man, you’d be surprised how much technique goes into a supposedly simple turn. Most of the turns I’ve run into in Latin are outside turns that begin on the left foot. Here is the new information: as I begin to turn on my left, I have to brush my ankles and feet together. The right foot eventually goes in front of the left foot in this way. Then, I complete the turn with a small pivot. Make sure the toes are open and your ankles are touching as you finish. Turning in this way also allows the lady to show off her ankle. Showing off the ankle is also very important, as Milana pointed out during a Rumba group class last Saturday. Her teacher told her to use her ankles to flirt with the man.
Ah, the pain-inducer! It is pretty crucial though because walking in so specific a fashion applies to the other Latin dances as well. The thing I need to bear in mind is to brush my thighs, legs, ankles and feet. Yes, in that order. This is best achieved if you step forward with your knee leading. Lead with your knee as long as you can, then step and put weight on your foot. These walks have almost always been present in my solo practice sessions.
Second-Position Breaks (Cucarachas)
This step involves stepping straight to the side and rotating your hips in a figure eight pattern while opening the ankle of the non-standing leg. I always wondered why this step was sometimes called the cucarachas, which is Spanish for “cockroach”. Then, “Dancing with the Stars”, in a rare moment of interesting elucidation, gave me the answer: pretend like you are stepping on cockroaches as you go from side to side. It actually kind of does look like the dancer is stepping on a bug.
This one is hard to describe. The most prominent, aesthetic feature is when the man pulls the lady towards him after she has completed a short walk in a circle. This step is great for practicing those pesky Rumba walks. Ahem, this is also where the woman can break out her sexiness, and where I start to laugh nervously. I learned a new way to style my arm as he pulls me in. As he pulls me forward, my left hand goes to my right shoulder. It isn’t holding on, just resting. Then, as I walk forward it glides across my upper chest near my neck with my wrist off my chest. That way my hand is not flat and boring.
Well, that about wraps up my last post for July. August promises to be a busy month. I will be starting classes and living in the dormitory. Dance-wise, August will also feature a Bronze progressive Paso Doble class. Exciting!