Dances: Waltz, Viennese Waltz
Jeff and I met up for practice three times this week, but in the end we only danced about 10 minutes on Tuesday and a little more than that Wednesday because we spent a lot of the time brainstorming about our showcase dance, counting out beats, listening to the song over and over, and tossing around ideas about how we could choreograph it. We're planning to do a show primary composed of Smooth Viennese Waltz, so we'll be taking our best dance and developing it a bit by adding some of those fun and flamboyant figures from American style, which we're much less familiar with, but which make for a much more impressive show. The problem is, because we're not as experienced in this style, it's going to be a bit of a challenge to pull it all together in time and have it look polished. Still, we're going to give it a valiant effort.
One thing that became obvious pretty quickly is that Jeff and I translate music into imagery quite differently. Raised on hefty diet of fairy tales, literature, fine art, and music, songs like this always conjure up romantic imagery and sometimes exaggerated flourishes in my mind that to Jeff seem overly sentimental and melodramatic. I wanted one of the partners to stand alone in the room with the lights dim as the other approached slower from another entrance as the music began. He wanted us both to start point blank in the middle of the floor. I wanted the cello and the piano of the duet each to represent the man and woman, so that as one instrument came in, so would the partner. Jeff insisted that nobody would get that. I tried to explain that sometimes the imagery you have as an artist, especially as a musician or dancer, is not always the same as what the audience will get, but at least it gives you as the performer a direction as to how to express an emotion. It helps me tremendously though, and the same was true for me with playing music.
For example, some images I would commonly associate with the ballroom dances would include the kind of melancholy and nostalgic couple of lovers in waltz, happy to be together, but at the same time with a lingering sadness from the realization that they cannot be together forever. In tango, the romance plays out in my head as the girl who hates or wants to hate him, but despite herself finds herself irrisitibley drawn to him. Every once in a while her deeper emotions escape her disinterested front with sudden bursts of passion, while the man tries to wrest her into his arms and affections by a displays of dominance and a bit of aggression and then ignoring her by turns. Foxtrot is an elegant, sophisticated, and wealthy couple at a jazz club of some kind, showing off, looking suave and generally just enjoying themselves and the relaxing atmosphere. The lady is probably wearing feathers and smoking a cigarette in a long cigarette holder. The gentleman definitely smokes cigars and probably drinks port. Viennese is the young debutante on her sixteenth birthday, dancing with the young man she's crushing on at her first big ball. Quickstep is the county fair: a roller coaster, ferris wheel, cotton candy, screams of excitement, and as Jeff likes to call it, "a dog and pony show." Of course, I don't always think about these things and the story changes depending on the song and sometimes my mood, but that's the general idea.
Anyways, back to our choreography. We worked out a sort of compromise for the intro, but I think we'll be fine tuning it quite a bit more, and yes, I've got some new ideas that have a feeling will be outside of Jeff's comfort zone in the drama department. But I do love line figures so much! This is going to be a good exercise for us to work through and be able to put our different ideas together to make a cohesive finished product with which we are both happy.
Wednesday we worked on waltz to give ourselves a break from thinking about the show. I really wanted to work on the outside spin turn, because although Jeff thinks there's nothing wrong, I distinctly felt like we were fighting each other coming out of the turn, and that I couldn't for the life of me get my feet together on that second step as it had been hammered in to me that I must do. Since Simeon was there, we took the cop out method and just asked him to look at us and tell us what was wrong. Sure enough, something about the direction of the feet was screwy given the chasse we had going into the figure, and fixing that on Jeff's end made all the difference in the world for me. The turn was smooth and light, and I could maintain a consistent frame and connection throughout. It's funny how much of a difference the preceding figure can make, because when we tried it on it's own, the figure was rarely a problem, but preceded by the chasse, it felt dreadful. Though we didn't dance a lot, I'd say we had a successful practice since we figured out an issue that's been bothering me in our waltz for a long time. We ended practice with the Beegie Adair "Moon River" waltz. Our control is really not bad! We're so much more together when we dance than a year ago, so much so, that Jeff can usually stop on a dime and I stay right there, and we can usually maintain our balance. It's proved a bit lifesaving on the social floor, and I can imagine will be invaluable once we get out there on the competitive floor as well.