Dead Weight, Lightweight, and Boxing, Bullfighting Ballroom Dancers

“Dead weight. Dead weight. Dead weeiighttt,” Pasha kept moaning while shaking his head all throughout my lesson last week. Ugh. Could I feel fatter? I guess when we do this far-more-complicated-than-it-looks lift / dip / spin thingy that I stole from my favorite Latin diva, Karina Smirnoff, I’m supposed to hold myself up by pushing my pelvis as far into Pasha’s groin as possible. Otherwise, I’m “Dead Weighttt” ie: too much for him to hold up. It just feels weird and, like, violative of boundaries dare I say, since I’m crushing my bony crotch as far as possible into his. I guess real dancers get over the boundary thing fast. But I still don’t completely understand when guys tell me to hold myself up. I know I have to strengthen my body during a lift and hold my position as much as I can, so I’m not dragging him down, but how much can you hold yourself up while suspended in mid air? And what about during a dip when you’re supposed to be “dipping” at least part of your body downward?

Then, while choreographing a rag doll into our routine (I couldn’t find a good link to this, but it’s the trick all the dancers are doing in the party scene at the beginning of “Dirty Dancing” that so seduces Jennifer Grey), Luis kept telling me to put my body weight completely into his hands so he could control me, and the trick, better. I kept trying but I couldn’t seem to do what he wanted, and he kept saying he knew I wasn’t as lightweight as I felt and that I must not be trusting him with my whole weight. Ugh! I totally don’t get it — am I too heavy and not working hard enough to hold my own, or am I not heavy enough indicating distrust?? Are all male partners just different or am I nuts??!

Anyway, speaking of Luis, tomorrow night, he and Anya will be teaching the salsa lesson at Midsummer Night Swing! Be there!

And, this weekend is the super mad fun Manhattan Dancesport Championships at the Marriott in Brooklyn Heights. This is the most prestigious dancesport competition in the mid-Atlantic region and all of the top U.S. couples compete at it (so, look for Andrei Gavriline and Elena Kruyschkova in Latin, and Jonathan Wilkins and Katusha Demidova in Standard). The event begins Thursday with pro/am competitions (when students compete with their teachers), and continues through Sunday evening. Saturday and Sunday nights will be the most fun to watch since they are the professional comps. Saturday is pro Latin (dancers compete in: cha cha, samba, rhumba, paso doble, and jive), and will be followed by an exhibition by the lovely and amazing Sharon Savoy (who, with her old partner, David Savoy, has performed at the Olympics and was a driving force behind making Dancesport an official Olympic sport). Sunday night are the comps in pro American Rhythm (American-style cha cha and rhumba, bolero, swing, and mambo) and Standard (waltz, foxtrot, viennese waltz, tango, and quickstep), and is to be followed by a cabaret show choreographed by Las Vegas choreographer Wendy Johnson, who I’m told really knows how to create a spectacle. These competitions are all a lot of fun and this is one of the best: the crowd can get so raucous rooting for their favorites, the dance floor can start to resemble a boxing match (except the ‘boxers’ are wearing beautiful ballgowns and lovely smiles:)). I will be excited to see the Latin because, ever since Blackpool, I can’t seem to get the paso doble music out of my mind — it’s so dramatic! And you don’t exactly hear it often on the radio… This comp is a perfect way for people to be introduced to the world of Dancesport. It’s a bit pricey — evening tkts are $50, but it’s worth it because the fun lasts for at least six hours (far longer than a Broadway show!) and it’s for a good cause — the dancers’ awards; and ballroom dancers don’t make a lot of money, so they need those prizes…

Lastly, watching Julio Thursday night at the ABT was unforgetable. He will be missed,to make a massive understatement. My pictures are up. I was in the nosebleed section but you can still see the basic action. Enjoy!

Comments are closed