Notes from Last Week

  • Fab rhythm tap class last Wednesday, although at one point I thought I was going to pass out I was sweating so much! We finished our high energy jazzy routine 🙂
  • I told my teacher about the three day tap intensive I’ll be attending at the end of the month (while trying not to come across as teacher’s pet!)
  • I had a really positive week at work!
  • I started reading ‘Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers’, for real this time.

This week I am looking forward to the SHIM SHAM WORKSHOP!!!

How’s your week going?

Sky Garden

Today has been really good fun!

I organised a team trip to the Sky Garden, which is just up the road and over the river from our office. I have to say the views of the city were spectacular. And we had a lovely time bonding over a latte and cake.

This evening my Rhythm Tap class restarted and for once I didn’t feel nervous. Maybe because of Sunday’s Cats workshop, or maybe because just before heading to Tap a guy who I think had a learning difficulty was asking my opinion about doing acting just for fun rather than for being paid (I think people had been telling him he couldn’t or shouldn’t). So I told him to go for it and that I do dancing just for fun. The arts are for all. I hope he gives it a go!

Tap class was good. I caught up with R while we were waiting and filled her in on Cats. She’s finding that she wants to do a bit more tap but doesn’t want to jump all the way to the intermediate class. So I suggested getting in on some one-off workshops, rather than committing to anything too advanced perhaps.

The class was great. There were some of the usual crowd and some new people too, so there was a nice big circle for our warm-up, but it didn’t seem as full. Maybe the class limit has been reduced.

We learnt a few combinations, one of which I’d learnt before, thankfully! Then we moved onto our routine which is quite challenging, shall we say. Whenever we have to cross our feet, I get confused – but I got the hang of that bit. It was the shuffle-ball-change with extra heels and stuff that got me. I just made sure my feet landed together at the end at the right time!

As I was leaving my teacher called me back to ask me about trying level 3. I had said in May that I’d like to try a class as a one off. Tonight she said “September?” I did say yes hesitantly, but do you know what? If it was on a Thursday or Tuesday and earlier, I would go for it. It is purely a timing issue for me, which then throws up the question of continuing with level 2 and getting bored (not sure that’s going to happen just yet) or going elsewhere…😔 At least there are options in London. Might be different if I was searching out in the sticks.

Anyway, in the meantime I could do with practicing the routine in the garage at the weekend, especially the complicated bit!

End of Term

Hope you’re having a good week? Recovered from the Royal Wedding yet? I wasn’t even going to watch it and now I’m obsessed with them LOL

On Wednesday evening I went to the last Rhythm Tap class of the term at Morley College. I’ve included a photo of the college in its mid-renovation state so you can see what I’ve been going on about. Our studio is basically in the basement below the area to the left of all that scaffolding, which means we can’t really open the windows as it’s a building site!

I got there about 10 minutes before the class and the actor couple were there, along with R, chatting about the cost of getting into certain arts exhibitions in London. Then another girl came and sat and started chatting. I think she’s almost as obsessed as I am with everything tap! We had all seen the BBC4 documentary Tap in America at the weekend, so we were gushing about that and all the history and key figures and stuff before we went into the class. We all agreed that it makes us want to do more! As a self-appointed Tap Evangelist, I told them all about the London Tap Dance Intensive coming up at the end of July and how it’s a great opportunity to use what you’ve learnt so far, pick up other things and have a taster of quicker stuff.

The class was really good. We had another go at the drop-shuffle-ball-change exercise where instead of executing the shuffle in front of you, it comes around you as you travel forward, in a D shape (makes me think of a ronde de jambe a terre). I found this really difficult when I first learnt it some months ago and I spent a lot of time practising at home in the kitchen. Well, the piano guy (who played for us one time last term) said he felt so embarrassed that he couldn’t do it last time that he spent a lot of time practising and his improvement was noted!

Our Lionel Richie routine was still amazing! I think this is another of my favourites along with Cornflake Girl, I’m Only Human, and When my Baby Smiles at Me (which I sadly missed too many weeks of), which mean absolutely NOTHING to you! Sorry, I can’t post the class videos – they’re not to be shared on social media.

The routine is slow with sudden quick accents, there is travel, direction changes, a leap, flaps, pressed rolls (realised this week that’s what they are called!), crawls and a great section of heel scuffs, back brushes, toe jabs. It’s all in there! Despite me saying it’s not that complicated, it is actually very challenging, but finally I felt I could just go for it without having to think of what is coming next.

In the Summer our teacher will be running another Shim Sham class and an Improvisation and Choreography workshop. I’ve actually drawn up a timetable for July & August to help me decide what to do and what to miss this year – not decided yet!

What are your dance (or other) plans for the summer?

 

Hit it!

This week was the penultimate Rhythm Tap class of the 6 week block. I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone! It was one of those weeks where I was quite tired and it would have been easy to just jump on the tube and head home, but I sucked it up, had a protein-packed salad and a sugary drink and got myself over there!

We were back to the usual crowd this week and we continued learning our Easy routine (I think a few people had exams and other things going on last week when we had a guest teacher). Although I hadn’t really practiced the routine since week 2, it’s not massively complicated and is fairly slow. But… that means that you have to nail every sound at the right moment! Not always easy.

At the weekend I actually got myself down to my little garage dance studio at the end of the garden! Armed with phone and Bluetooth speaker so I could play music, I spent about an hour doing tap drills – shuffles in all directions, paddles, pick-ups, cramp rolls, crawls, riffs, and I even managed to do wings for the first time ever! I also spent a good amount of time stretching afterwards 🙂 Following this I think I saw some improvements in hitting the sounds in the Wednesday class. My left foot is the one that tends to miss the floor every now and then, so I’m trying to even both sides up by spending more time on drilling my left foot. It all helps!

At the end of Wednesday’s class, our teacher encouraged people to speak to her about level and trying level 3 (if it had been suggested)… so I did, as she mentioned it to me months ago. Well, I told her that I’d like to try it, but that it’s just a bit too late for getting home in the middle of the week. So she told me to book the next block of level 2 (done weeks ago!) and to drop in on a level 3 class one week.

We’ll see…

Babs

Had a great class tonight with our stand-in guest tap teacher Babette from Base Dance Studios in Vauxhall (after the original guest teacher had double-booked)! Apart from a few people I know, it seemed to be a completely different set of people! Weird. Maybe some took advantage of the bank holiday and gorgeous weather and took the entire week off. Or you do get that thing where people skip the one where the usual teacher is away.

We did a warm up in a circle to get our feet and ankles ready to some jazz by the legend that is Miles Davis. We were asked what tap steps we know, but I think because it wasn’t most of the usual crowd, it probably came across like we didn’t know much! Argh, we’re level 2! For example, we were asked if we had done a 5 beat paddle and everyone seemed to say no, while I was saying yes. However, I realised later that some had only been learning tap for 3 months (which confused me as to why they are doing level 2…anyway…).

Also, I’ve learnt all sorts of extras at the various tap festivals I’ve been to (plus I’m generally obsessed!), so I probably knew some of the steps Babette mentioned from those occasions (5+ beat riffs and paddles, and slides I learnt at Brighton tap Festival). We are quite a varied class!

We did some travelling exercises consisting of shuffles and flaps and then we learnt 2 cool routines that we did as a round (i.e. half did routine 1 while half did routine 2)! Although we all forgot the beginning of the first routine.

Level 3 keeps popping up in conversation, and I’d love to see what it’s like, but as a regular class, it’s way too late to get home on a school night. I struggle to get up on Thursday mornings as it is! I also think there’s an air of mystery hanging over level 3 where everyone is dying to get there before they’re ready. I know, we all get impatient to be able to do the crazy stuff.

BUT I think, if you’re not practising your steps outside of class, forget it. If you can get into a routine of regular practice, then it’ll happen! It’s like learning to drive a car. Eventually your lessons will get you there, but practising every day will get you there sooner. I know I need to practice more; I have no excuse now with the space we set up in the garage 🙂

On a side note, our trip to see 42nd Street at the weekend was amazing!! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I saw it with a friend last summer. This time my SO and I took my mum for her birthday, and it was soooo gooood! I think I enjoyed it even more the second time!

Trying a Class for the First Time?

Maybe you’re thinking of trying a dance class for the first time but are feeling a bit nervous. Maybe you’ve never danced before and this is your year for trying something new? Well, I’ve been going to dance classes for several years now, but it’s still scary to turn up at something new where you don’t know anyone, or you’re unsure of your abilities. A friend told me recently that she and her SO want to learn Salsa dance. They went along, got to the door and then chickened out and went home again. I’ve done the same thing myself before, so I’ve put together some tips for getting yourself through the studio door:

Find a class specifically for adults

Mixed age classes are great if you’re feeling confident and already have dance experience, but a class for adults will be understanding of how adults learn and adapt, and you’re less likely to feel daunted. Adult learning colleges are excellent at this! They also tend to run in terms, so there are regular points in the year where there are lots of new people, like you, starting at the same time.

I tried a few classes in the past which were advertised as being for ‘adults’, but in reality the age was 16+ and the class was clearly aimed at the younger ones. I felt like a giant with extra-long limbs who couldn’t do what they were doing and exited asap.

Contact the teacher beforehand

It’s a good idea to contact the teacher or school to find out more about the class, including the level. They will answer any questions you may have, they might even recommend a different class, level or school, or give you a free trial. Linked to that:

Find out if there’s a dress code

Some classes have a dress code, but many adult classes are relaxed, as long as you’re wearing appropriate footwear. It’s best to find out what to wear so you don’t splash out on expensive leotards unnecessarily. I wear leggings and layered vests for tap, ballet and jazz. I did start ballet in leotard and ballet skirt, but my adult college class had a relaxed dress code; the only thing was to remove jewellery. (I remember once a guy came in dripping in heavy silver necklaces and rings. The teacher asked him to remove them. Said guy walked out!!)

Get there early

I don’t mean an hour early, but get there so you’re not rushing and stressed before going in. Give yourself time to use the facilities, find the studio or room, stretch, fill up your water bottle etc.

Smile and say hi

Whenever I go to a new class I make sure to acknowledge other people, smile and say hi. It goes a long way. People tend to reciprocate and you often find it a nicer atmosphere. It also helps to make other newbies feel welcome and contributes to forming relationships with your classmates. There will always be people who are stand-offish or cliquey, but on the whole it makes a friendlier class that you can look forward to.

Take a friend with you

Persuade a friend, colleague or family member to go with you as moral support!

Any other tips to add?

What have your experiences been when trying a dance class for the first time?

I’m going to an Interior Design one day course in London on Friday… I will be applying some of these tips! 😬

Check It Out

I never made it to my tap class last night because I was feeling a bit on the fatigued side and decided to head home and rest, instead of overdoing it and ending up unable to surface for a busy work day in the morning (or passing out in the studio). Sometimes you’ve just got to give in and rest.

As is tradition now, today I had a little practice of a pickup exercise we’ve been doing. Check it out LOL

 

 

I also booked tickets to see The Tap Pack at Sadlers Wells’ Peacock Theatre in Holborn next Thursday evening! I had kind of written it off due to going to 42nd Street this coming Saturday (oh by the way, turns out my brother used to teach the lead actress!) and wanting to calm it down a bit, but I got an email from Sadlers Wells featuring a clip of the show and the tickets are discounted for certain evenings… Cannot wait!

Courtesy of Peacock Theatre

Next Wednesday we have a guest teacher at our tap class so that should be fun!