Pumping Iron

_20190319_131518.JPGToday I finally made myself go to the gym at lunchtime – YAY!

I’ve been wanting to do some strength work for several months now, due to my left knee being a bit achy and creaky during this past year of doing rhythm tap classes. I suspect it is to do with weak muscles around the knee, so I had given Pilates classes a go, but found the time constraints too much to fit it into a lunchtime. Oh, and the teacher was scary and always late!

Solution: buy a PAYG gym pass and do a 25 minute workout and stretch session at the university gym across the road.

I am choosing Tuesdays as gym day so that I have a rest day in between that and Thursday’s tap class. Hopefully I can turn this into a weekly habit and not give up when I don’t feel like it.

The gym was nice and quiet today, so no waiting for free machines – bonus! I started with a 10 minute aerobic warm-up on the cross trainer using a varied terrain, followed by a selection of weight machines, including the leg-press. I finished up with a ten minute seated and standing stretch session on the mat.

I am also massaging both knees every evening with my personally handmade sports massage oil, which contains peppermint, cypress and lemongrass essential oils.

Let’s see if I notice any difference this Thursday…

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*My inspiration is a lady in her late early 80s (you wouldn’t believe it though!) who comes into my office once a week to help with some admin and she gyms and swims 5 times a week!*

Blah blah blah

Newsflash: I did NOT attend Move It 2019 on Friday, even though I had tickets!

I’ve been going to this huge dance exhibition in London every year since the mid 2000s, but I ended up being unwell last week, plus I had 2 days of a 4-day Essential Oils course over the weekend, so I decided to stay local.

The essential oils course was good on the whole (lots of lovely scents!), but because it was only a group of 4 students, 2 of the ladies who came together ended up dominating the sessions, interrupting with endless questions, many of which weren’t particularly relevant to the whole group, which led to the tutor replying almost every time with a 20 minute explanation.

To top it off, I was told at the end of the second day in front of the others that I am ‘the quiet one of the group’ and need to express myself more…So with that I was made to feel extremely self-conscious and like there’s something wrong with me.

Well hear this: THIS IS ME!

I’m not an extrovert, but I’m not completely introverted either. I believe the term is ambivert (somewhere between the two). I make conversation easily with people, I’ll strike up conversations on the train platform and I express myself through dance and the written word, but I am also drained by too much people interaction (Christmas anyone?).

This is me!

I grew up with two older brothers who dominated the conversation at the dinner table. My mum also talks a lot! Being the youngest, no one was asking my opinion. My default became to listen and observe.

I am not an outward processor, I take a bit longer to absorb and process the information being taught and any questions I have tend to come to me later after I’ve had time to think. (Actually I did ask relevant questions and took part in all aspects, but I didn’t want to interrupt the tutor mid-flow because I was trying to listen and understand). My personality suits my job in dealing with people sensitively and they know I’m not going to blab what they’ve told me to everyone in earshot.

Something I’ve come to realise is that:

  1. Many people cannot stand silence
  2. Those who tend to call you quiet do so because you’re not saying anything…to trigger them to talk endlessly about themselves.

What I would have preferred is a set time for questions at the end of each day instead of the constant tangents throughout the day that were not reined in by the tutor.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve learned what I wanted to know about using essential oils safely in my soap biz side gig, so I’m calling it a day and getting back to focusing on rhythm tap, writing and completing my ongoing human resources studies!

Have you ever felt like people are criticising your personality? Have you been told you’re too quiet? Too loud? Aggressive? Passive? Passive-aggressive?! Please do comment below.

Tea and Creativity

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According to recent reports drinking tea focuses the mind and increases creativity.* Well I LOVE TEA, but my tea of choice is herbal and fruit-based, rather than ordinary tea. So I was very excited to receive my latest order of exotic loose leaf teas from Tugboat in Cornwall yesterday!

This year I have decided to stop procrastinating and making lists and start DOING.  Next month I have the first two days of a 4 day course in Essential Oils for Non-Therapists course. I’ve been thinking a lot about winding up my soap and skincare side-gig, but I thought I’d get some further training to improve my knowledge of essential oils and their benefits and properties, and see where I am after that.

Another thing I am hoping to do is to work on my public reading nerves. I’ve accessed an online course on Udemy on reading the Bible aloud, so that I can actually do Bible readings at church without feeling like my throat is closing up and people are staring up my nose. I’m asked to read a lot, but I usually decline. (For some reason, I can do dramatic dialogue readings fine, I guess because I’m acting).

I’ll also be attending a one day workshop on Copywriting in July. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I got my degree in English Literature. While I was at University I tried to get as much writing experience as possible by doing regular music reviews and articles for various student publications. I was also writing my own novel in my spare time (nope, not finished…yet!). But then after that, life happened and that ambition was parked as I navigated the job market.

Well, now I am in that place of having been in my current job with a well-known charity for 8 years. Being a bit fed up of it and keeping an eye on what else is out there, I am coming back to my original ambitions and doing something about it! Copywriting is a really useful skill to have, whether it be for writing articles for this blog, my soap biz website, a new job in web content writing (hmmm?), church publicity, having another stab at freelance writing, it will be well worth it.

After all, why sit there pining when you can do something about it?

Dance News:

  • Rhythm Tap classes restart this week!
  • I’ve been informed that photos and videos of our Adult classes at Tap Dance Festival UK 2019 will be released shortly!
  • I’ve had my tickets through for MOVE IT 2019!

Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter my 42nd Street giveaway competition! Closes at Midnight (GMT) on Monday 4th March. 

*https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/16/suffering-writers-block-simple-cup-tea-gets-creative-juices/

Big Giveaway!

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I’ve never done this before, but I have decided to run a little giveaway competition! I saw 42nd Street twice while it was on in London recently and absolutely LOVED IT and then I recently watched the 1933 movie to see the original story and compare the two.

“The story follows the lives and careers of numerous individuals involved with a big-budget Broadway musical. The director, Julian Marsh (played by Warner Baxter), is desperate for success, having lost his fortune when the stock market crashed. When the star (played by Dorothy Brock) suffers an injured ankle, ingenue Peggy Sawyer (played by Ruby Keeler) is chosen to take the musical’s lead role and becomes a breakout success.” (Britannica.com)

For your chance to win a DVD copy of the original 42nd Street movie (1933), starring Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers and Dick Powell, follow this blog (if you’re not already following) and then post a comment below telling me what you love about dance!

T&Cs: Only open to people in UK & Europe on this occasion (sorry international friends!). The competition will close at midnight (GMT) Monday 4th March, and I will pick the person with the best answer. I’ll then ask the winner to email me their name and an address for the purpose of sending the prize.

GDPR notice: I will ask for your name and address only for the purpose of posting your prize. Once the prize has been sent I will delete your personal information. Your information will not be shared with any third parties. I’m really hot on this data protection stuff.

Competition closed

Festival Fever

I’ve just returned from Manchester where I attended the amazing Tap Dance Festival UK 2019!

I travelled up on Friday afternoon so I could be there for the 9.30am start on Saturday. This year they had a separate ‘Adult’ level, which made it a lot more approachable for those of us aged 30 plus!

After registration I went to the canteen to wait for the first session and bumped into someone from my Thursday lunchtime rhythm tap class! We didn’t know either one of us were going to the festival, and she had left the class straight away on Thursday, so she didn’t hear me mention I was going. Phew, someone to have lunch with!

We started with an energetic aerobic full body warm-up before being led to our studio for the day. The day ran as follows:

Rudimentals with Liz Carroll (New Jersey Tap Ensemble)

Liz got us learning a Steve Condos combination, which uses a basic crawl (heel, toe, heel, toe), but adds in the heel (or toe) on the other foot, in between each). It got very mind-bending, but it was fun to try and do it! Then she taught us some of Buster Brown’s trademark dance Laura. Loved it!

Musicality & choreography with Sarah Reich (Sourtaps)

Everyone was excited about headliner Sarah Reich’s class! Hailing from Los Angeles, she has performed with the Syncopated Ladies, Postmodern Jukebox, Jason Samuels Smith; she founded her own company Tap Music Project and has just released a tap jazz album called New Change, which I now own. It’s amazing!

In her class we worked on rhythm turns, the basis of which is a cramp roll (toe-toe-heel-heel). We worked on a basic turn and then a travelling one. I managed to get through the class without getting dizzy for once! (My spotting technique for turns is rusty LOL). Then we learned a short routine that included two turns. SO GOOD! I love her style and emphasis on musicality. She is the second tapper I’ve heard say “learn to play drums”… I’m still thinking about it!

Classic repertory with Tony Waag (American Tap Dance Foundation)

Tony Waag is the founder of the ATDF, based in New York, along with the legendary Brenda Bufalino and the late Honi Coles – wow! His class was really good fun! We worked on a short routine that got us working out left and right, and there were a couple of complicated combos, but he emphasised not thinking about it, which is definitely the tip of the week!

Lunch, Intro to faculty & Q&A

We sat in the theatre space to eat lunch and listened to each faculty member introduce themselves and give a bit of their background and then answer our questions. Needless to say, this session overran massively, so the advertised ‘Open Space’ was moved to the end of the day!

A big part of the discussion was (not very technical) British syllabus tap versus (extremely technical) American rhythm tap. We were fortunate to have Alison Forrester on the panel who is a dance examiner and syllabus writer who shed some light on this. Many of the Brits on the panel said they passed all their tap syllabus exams and thought they were accomplished… Until they went to a tap class in the US, and realised they didn’t know anything. Amazing. So they all retrained in the US. And then brought it back to the UK! (Of course syllabus tap has its place in a formalised standard of progression).

Tap Attack (Jo & Kai Scanlan)

In this class Jo asked us what we wanted to work on, and we went with cross-phrasing! We did a slightly complicated exercise that she does with all her students and it got us tapping across the phrase of music as well as on the beat. Then we had a go at pickups/pullbacks travelling forwards and backwards – something to work on! I always enjoy Jo’s classes.

After Tap Attack I met my SO outside to make sure we got on the road to do the journey home.

It was such an amazing day, and if I could have, I would have done the entire 3 days, or maybe add on the evening show, social and tap jam for a bit extra.

It was so great to learn new steps and techniques from some of the masters, who themselves learned from the American greats, many of whom are no longer alive (Gregory Hines, Honi Coles, Jimmy Slyde etc).

It’s funny, I felt so jaded after my class on Thursday (tiredness etc) and was considering taking a 5 week or 1 term break, but the festival has filled me with fresh enthusiasm and a renewed desire to learn more and get better!

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Quick Bio: John W. Bubbles

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Photograph by Carl Van Vechten

Who: John W. Bubbles (born John William Sublett)

Born: 19th February 1902 in Louisville, Kentucky

Died: 18th May 1986 in Baldwin Hills, California

Known as: The Father of Rhythm Tap!

Partnered with: Ford L. “Buck” Washington and performed as ‘Buck & Bubbles’ on the Vaudeville circuit. Buck & Bubbles were the first black artists to perform at the Radio City Music Hall.

Big break: Ziegfeld Follies (1931)

Hollywood Movies: Varsity Show (1937), Cabin in the Sky (1943), A Song is Born (1948), Atlantic City (1944)

Tap Dance Style: percussive heel drops, complicated syncopation, jazz music style improvisation with traditional techniques

Invented: Rhythm Tap and the Cramp Roll (Ball-R, Ball-L, Heel-R, Heel-L done very quickly)

Notable Students: Fred Astaire

Recognition: Received the Life Achievement Award from the American Guild of Variety Artists in 1980, and was inducted into the Tap Hall of Fame in 2002

Catchphrase: “Shoot the liquor to me, John Boy”

Noteworthy quotes about him:

“Before Bubbles, tap was danced primarily on the toes, in the 2/4 feel of early jazz music”

“[There is] no tap dancer today who has not been influenced by Bubbles’s inventions”

“[He] revolutionised tap by cutting the tempo…and extending rhythmic patterns beyond the usual eight bars of music” (Margaret Morrison)

“He could get an extra thud whenever he wanted it” (Honi Coles)

“…a new style of tap dancing…he brought his heel beat into tap dancin’…” (The Nicholas Brothers)

References:

 

Winter Festival

Oooweee! I am VERY excited to be heading to Tap Dance Festival UK 2019 in Manchester in two weeks’ time! Although it lasts an entire weekend, complete with Friday night showcase and Saturday night tap jam, I’m only doing the Saturday classes. After checking the website nearly every week since I booked, the schedule has finally come through:

tap fest uk 2019

Last year I attended for the first time and had a half day pass, which included 3 amazing classes in the morning. This year’s schedule looks great, and I’m especially looking forward to the Musicality and Choreography class with Sarah Reich, an amazing tap dancer from the US, plus the Tap Attack workshop with the award-winning Jo & Kai Scanlan – I really enjoyed their class last year!

Last year I booked Beginner Level (0-5 years’ experience), but this time I have booked the ‘Adult’ stream, just because the Beginner to Advanced levels are aimed more at teenagers in their teaching style. I probably won’t stay for the Musical Theatre Tap at 15:30 just because we could do with getting on the road for the 3.5 hour drive get home, and I am actually attending her Theatre Tap class at the MOVE IT dance exhibition in March! I will let you know how it all goes. WHOOP!