I was so sad over ABT season ending, I felt like I needed to pull myself out of my depression. And what better way to do that than by … taking a dance class! I returned to my very first studio, Paul Pellicoro’s DanceSport, where I began three and a half years ago with group classes before I’d transferred to Dance Times Square and started privates with Pasha. It all seems like such a long time ago now, but remarkably, I recognized so many faces — so many of my old friends were still there and I was reunited with four of them in a one-hour period! Passion for ballroom is something that just stays with you forever.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that prepared with my dance bag. I forgot to pack a pair of beige tights, so had to look like a bit of an ass with mismatched shoes.
I wanted to ease myself slowly back into it — it’s been six months since my last lesson at DTS — so I decided on a bronze (lowest-level) Cha Cha — always my easiest dance.
Ugh, not anymore! I remembered all the steps but forgot how hard it is to maintain proper technique when the teacher plays the music at full speed! Warm-up went well-ish, but when the actual partner dancing began, I was tripping all over myself in no time. Plus, I forgot how hard it is to dance, to function really, in those blasted high-heeled, open-toed shoes. I’m always sliding forward in them, leaving my heel unstable. I guess it helps if you normally wear similar street shoes, like high-heeled sandals, but I don’t.
Happily, whenever I felt or saw myself in the mirror reverting to a nasty habit — like rising up on my toes during the middle cha cha cha instead of staying grounded with my heel on the floor, or falling backward during an underarm turn because I forget to have my body weight forward — I’d hear Pasha’s voice (“no leaning back, Tonya”), or feel his hand lightly but firmly pushing down on my head (which he used to do to keep me from rising on the cha cha chas). So, even though bad habits die hard, the words of great teachers don’t 😀
So I made a lot of mistakes. But, eh, I’ll get back into it.
Interestingly, I met an old friend from my Swing team, Mark, in the lobby. He was heading to a Hustle class and asked me what I’d signed up for. When I told him the International Cha Cha, he told me he thought the teacher, Werner Figar (who is new since I was last at the studio), was a member of the modern dance group, Elisa Monte Dance. He told me he recognized his name from a recent New York Times article, which I looked up when I got home and is here. The guy in the picture does look like Werner (who was very good — both as a Latin dancer and teacher), but his name isn’t on the company’s website. It’s just so odd to me that someone dances both Latin Ballroom and Modern professionally. They are such different kinds of dance and usually a person isn’t good at both. But very cool if he is! I’ll have to ask him next class…
DanceSport has relocated since I was last there — used to be at Columbus Circle and is now on 34th Street right near the Empire State Building. Their new space is way the heck bigger than the last — really floored me.
So many rooms!
And here’s the new huge lobby, which even has a little cafe off to the side. Paul, the owner, taught Al Pacino to dance for “Scent of a Woman,” so that poster stays up always.