Thursday, 20 December 2007

I've Been Tango'd

Maybe you've been watching Strictly Come Dancing this season?
Maybe you saw it last week with the contestants tackling the Argentine Tango?
Well, that's me, that is!
Okay, not exactly me but I have for the last three months, been applying myself to learning the art that is Argentine Tango.
I'd done a couple of taster Tango classes at 12th Night Congresses etc but it had never really captured my imagination. The closest I got to feeling inspired was watching Bill Newby and Ruth Gellar dance a demonstration at last January's 12th Night and to be fair, I was gobsmacked. So dramatic. So elegant. So I would NEVER be able to do that. I kinf of thought that one day I might start learning but never really got around to fitting it into my already busy life.
Then at the Latin XCes Bradford All Dayer in September things took a turn for the unexpected. I was there for the day in my capacity as salsa teacher, and dipping into classes where they were short of leaders, before teaching Dips with Trisha later in the afternoon. Bill and Ruth were there, running Tango taster classes but frankly I had no interest at all. Having done taster classes before with another teacher (Pedro) I'd decided that yeah, maybe I'd take it up properly one day, but really didn't want to do any more tasters. However, having successfully managed to avoid Bill and Ruth's first class, I was dragged kicking and screaming into their second by one of my own salsa students (turncoat!) and to my surprise, really, REALLY enjoyed it. Bill and Ruth are so far ahead of Pedro in teaching ability and inspiration and before I knew what I was doing, I was going through some Tango motions and even feeling a little dramatic and elegant myself. Flippin' eck, I thought, if Bill can get me doing this in just an hour, imagine what he could get me doing in an hour every week....

So that was it. Bill is based in Sheffield, which coincidentally is where I'm based with my day job, so it's not too inconvenient to pop along on a Tuesday evening after Fat Club (see a previous post). So pop along I have, every week for the last two and half months, subject to other, salsa earning commitments. I'm still only just beginning my journey but it's a really interesting one, replete with paralells to the salsa journey I started five years ago. Because I've already trodden the path, so to speak, I've a head start not only in the lead/follow dynamic, but also in an awareness of where I am in terms of my level and understanding of the dance. I stumble around the dance floor during drills and partnerwork, relishing the moment and watching others who are more comfortable than me. I can still remember occasions in my early salsa life where I'd look at other people that seemed so comfortable in the dance and wonder when I'd be like that, and now it's the same with Tango, only more so because I'm more aware of the journey itself.

I can still remember the first time in salsa when I actually felt like I was dancing. In fact there were two times that really spring to mind, one in class (probably about my fourth class), three weeks in and one after class when I was just starting to find my feet with freestyle salsa, about two months later.

On Tuesday of this week, I felt the same way. After weeks of drilling and practice, I actually danced Tango this week. Really danced. Nothing fancy, you understand, mostly walking and sidesteps with a few ochos thrown in for good measure, but I was dancing nevertheless. The thing that really came through and made it for me was the connection with my partner throughout the dance. We'd just been doing some ocho work together and Bill stuck some music on and left us to it for a track. Liz snaked her arm around my neck and leaned in close. Much closer that I was used to, but suddenly, the closeness made sense of all the "Lead with the shoulders, not the arms" that Bill has been repeating over the last few weeks. I'm not saying there were no mistakes, but for that track, Liz and I danced, for the large part of it, as one. It was beautiful, and was a taste, I believe, of so much more yet to come.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Eat The Elephant

Did you ever have something you knew you should do but for one reason or another just didn't get started? And then, later, when you knew you still, really should to it, it was bigger now and scarier? And later still, it's grown into this REALLY BIG THING that's so massive you just don't know what to do with it, it's so gigantically huge?
If this doesn't strike a chord then you're probably one of those folk that just do stuff when they're supposed to. I'm not. Well, sometimes I'm not, but sometimes things get away from me.
Planning lessons, doing tax returns, filing business accounts, decorating the house, and updating my blog are all things that have seemed to grow out of all proportion.
I see it's over two months since I last updated my blog, and as I've mentioned before, it's my intention to keep it much more up to date than this. Especially as so much has happened, salsa wise and life wise since my last entry.But then because so much has happened, it's like - where do I start?
I've actually written at least three blog entries, but never got around to posting them, and then re-reading them, they seemed out of date, and not worth posting. So like I say - where to start?

There's an old adage; The longest journey starts with a single step.
there's another one; If you need to eat an elephant, then do it one bite at a time.
So this is my step. My first bite, in an attempt to eat this elephant (white elephant?) that my blog seems to have become. None of which yet really tells you, the reader, anything at all.

Well... In a nutshell, since I last wrote, Trisha and I are expecting again. currently about 15 weeks and due towards the end of May 2008. We are absolutely thrilled, though Trisha has been suffering with sickness and nausea that no amount of ginger beer seems to be able to fix. Don't know yet whether it's a boy or a girl but we'll probably find out if we can. We did with Luca and were glad to know. Because we knew he was a boy, we were able to give him a name and relate to him better whilst he was still in the womb. What can I say - it works for us. I'm sometimes quietly amused when people suggest that you shouldn't find out in advance because then it'll be a surprise. I reckon it's not going to be that much of a surprise as the options are somewhat limited. I mean, it's either going to be a boy or a girl. It's not going to be an elephant. That really would be a surprise. And not just for us either.

Not long after we found we were expecting we were off to teach at Salsa Headway at Pontins Pakefield for a weekend. Trisha and I have always been in awe of the Pontins events and even though this was a smaller, low key affair, aimed mainly at beginners and improvers, we felt honoured to be invited to teach there. My mum and dad came along too to babysit with Luca whilst we were teaching, and during the parties. This was great as my mum and dad live about 150 miles away from us in Wales so they don't get to see Luca (or us) as often as we'd like. Watching him getting to know them a little (and vice versa) was lovely. Luca seemed to pick up on the fact that my dad was struggling a bit health wise and seemed to be a little more gentle around him. Maybe we were imagining it, but I like to think not. Teaching-wise, the weekend went really well - we got excellent feedback from both dancers and organisers so we were really chuffed.

A month later saw me jetting off to Guernsey for a weekend, this time by myself, to teach at a weekender there organised by Heidi Almonte. This turned out to be completely manic, partly because I got about 9 hours sleep over the course of three days, and partly because I ended up teaching 5 hours privates into 24 hours, alongside my group class schedule, which was already stretched due to another teacher's ill health. You know what - I loved it! I was really pleased to get more brilliant feedback (it's all gone straight to my head, of course) and I've already been invited back for a weekend in March next year so I'm really looking forward to that.

And now it's nearly Christmas! I suppose I'd better do some shopping...

There. That wasn't so bad, was it. I didn't get into quite the detail I might have liked but it'll do to be going on with. I really, really will endeavour to update more frequently. Honest I will.
And remember - if you read this - drop me a line and let me know - just so I know I'm not alone...
Until next time, Deej