Extremely Embarrassing Dance Moment!

Baryshnikov and Kudo in Sinatra Suites I

B and K in Sinatra Suites II

I took these crappy pictures from my miniscule-screen, bad-reception TV, which is why they’re so difficult to see, but they’re basically of this step — way more difficult than it looks — from the DVD of Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suites. My teacher and I were trying to put something similar into our foxtrot routine. Basically, the guy (in the above case, Baryshnikov) kneels, while the lady (Elaine Kudo) stands facing away from him, then lifts her back left leg in arabesque, and he helps her first to turn herself around toward him, them to propel herself up and over his body, first straddling his shoulder, then doing splits across his back, traveling all the way around him, and landing on her front leg near his right shoulder. Hard to describe, which is why I tried to take the pics. It always amazes me how some of the most difficult-looking shoulder-level or even overhead lifts are actually easier than some of the more simple-looking things. I mean, that may just be from my female amateur perspective: some of the things that are easiest for me may be the hardest for the man. But, I never thought until I tried this one that it would be difficult. It’s hard because you have to make yourself as light as possible so he can kind of glide you along around him, and you also have to help push yourself around without your hands, but using your stomach, thigh, and butt muscles. Well, I kept getting stuck on his shoulder; somehow my crotch would get stuck on his collar bone — very weird sensation– and I couldn’t move myself along any further.

So, he decided to try to help me by using his hands a bit more aggressively. He placed one on the bottom of my left thigh (the front leg). But as I was nearing his shoulder, he moved his hand up a bit and, sorry to be a bit crass, but about three fingers shot straight into my crotch. Kind of FAR too! I mean, he felt EVERYTHING. And I had some serious tugging down to do to my leotard and tights afterward! When I looked at him, he had this shocked expression on his face. “Um, okay, that was a little … intimate … sorry about that,” he laughed nervously. I’m such a goof, I just giggled; didn’t know what else to do. And then once I started laughing, he started too, and then I really couldn’t stop. Thankfully it was near the end of the lesson!

Weird thing is, it seemed that everyone else in the studio knew exactly what happened. There are these adorable little kids who are about to go on the junior Latin competition circuit who take lessons with one of the coaches there and they were on the floor practicing at the time, with their parents looking on. When I looked over at them, they were both staring right at me, with very curious faces. Their poor parents looked bewildered. “Ugh, sorry, it’s not my fault,” I felt like saying to them.

I know these things probably happen often with professionals. And, I’m high-waisted (long legs, short torso), so whenever I get lifted by the waist, the guy inevitably gets a handful of breast. I’m used to that now. But this was a new one. I guess another thing I’ll get used to as well. Partner dancing is very interesting!

Quenia Ribeiro

Anyway, in celebration of Carnaval, which I couldn’t go to this year, I watched my Quenia Ribeiro Samba DVD repeatedly. How come it looks so much easier on the tape???!!! Ugh. Anyway, I have the basic steps just about memorized now. I just have to try them out … ooh, so afraid I’m just going to just be nauseated when I see myself in front of the mirror though…

Oh, also, I was one of the winners of Root Magazine’s essay contest on your most memorable dance moment, for my story of struggling through my first Samba class! Thank you so much, Root! There were five winners in all, which the magazine is publishing throughout the next month. The above link takes you to the first one — a sweet discovery about romantic attraction through Salsa dancing. I’ll post when mine’s up.

Also, Natalia has posted the next dance blog carnival, whose topic is “Looking With a Dancer’s Eye.” Should be fun!


  1. Congratulations on being one of the winners of Root Magazine essay contest.

  2. Hi Tonya.

    I just posted your story….



  4. Oh my gosh, Tonya; I spit out my tea that was so funny!!

  5. I am sure I would not be laughing quite so hard if it happened to me… but I literally laughed out loud.

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