High Horse

_20180915_155903.JPG

Okay, I was naughty a few weeks ago and went and purchased another pair of Jason Samuels Smith tap shoes by Bloch, this time in black. I have to say they’re now retailing about Β£30 more expensive than when I bought my white ones, but I managed to track this pair down for the original price from a dancewear shop in Edinburgh πŸ™‚ I’ve also just sold an old pair of Bloch Sync tap shoes (as well as a few other things) on Ebay.

I haven’t worn my new Jasons to a class yet, but the beauty of the Jasons is that they are very quick to wear in and I’m thinking I’ll bring these ones out either next half-term or in January. As with other shoes, it’s probably good to have at least 2 pairs of tap shoes on rotation.

On Wednesday evening I went along to week 2 of advanced beginners and intermediate rhythm tap. Both classes were amazing again, and by the end of it my toes were really sore! In the intermediate class (level 3) we had to pair up to work on a double flap exercise (f-f-lap), so I partnered with ‘L’. Talking later on, it turns out she did all the tap dance grades when she was a child and basically tapped for 10 years, stopping when she went to University. Telling her I only started learning in 2014/15, she was amazed at my progress! But then I said I want to learn to do pullbacks, but just haven’t managed it yet.

She said she can do wings and pullbacks all day, but finds the closework we do in rhythm tap (e.g. crawls and other co-ordination beasts!) difficult. This led us onto discussing the differences between **SHOW** tap and rhythm tap. I guess you could say that one focuses on appearance and the other focuses on the sounds. I wonder if I’d struggle with syllabus tap, having only learnt the rhythm style. Interesting, huh?

In level 3 we are using the song (Get off Your) High Horse Lady by Oasis. Although we had the opportunity to film level 2 (but not level 3), I have also written down what I can remember of both routines, so hopefully I won’t get the two mixed up!

_20180921_154848.JPG

On the train home I ate a Goji Goodness raw flapjack and drank a load of water. Unfortunately I forgot to grab a banana to have as well. I got home around 9.45pm and had tiny bit of food that I’d prepared the night before and a swig of Green Smoothie.

After a shower, I ran through my super-quick routine to roll out the muscles in my feet and legs, then I went to bed around 11pm. On Thursdays I have agreed to start work at 9.30am so that I can have a lie in and recover (except this Thursday there was a signal failure on the tube, so after going all round the houses, I didn’t get to my desk until 10am). It’s a long day and I’m still not sure it’s sustainable for the long term, but I’ll enjoy it for now…until our teacher creates a level 3 class at around 5pm on a Thursday…PLEEEEEASE

Do you struggle to remember more than one dance routine?

What are your go-to post-exercise recovery snacks?

Summer Tap Dance Intensive 2018

_20180801_134634.JPG

On Monday I attended day 1 of the Summer Tap Dance Intensive for improver/intermediate level at Covent Garden’s City Lit. Term ended a few weeks ago at my usual rhythm tap class, and although it doesn’t seem like that long until September 12th, it’s enough time to get a little rusty. I’m a big fan of tap intensives and dance summer schools for the fact that they are a chance to learn new steps, pick up extra tips, try something a bit more challenging than you’re used to, and to experience a different style of teaching.

The 3-day intensive was intended to develop “tap technique, posture and musicality as well as incorporating some performance based exercises”. I was excited because it would be covering time steps, which I haven’t spent much time on, turning steps, and tap dance history, which I’m reading loads about at the moment.

After some trouble with cancelled trains, I managed to get there in plenty of time as I was intending to arrive about an hour early anyway. I had a handful of vegetable gyoza at ItsuΒ and then made my way to the college. I made sure to down a bottle of water before going into the studio because I know that I sweat half my body weight every time I dance, so I wanted to make sure I was properly hydrated!

There were about 12 of us in the class, a mixture of ages and abilities. The tutor (BB) asked what shoes I was wearing, and it turned out he was wearing the black version of my Jason Samuels Smiths (J-Sams)! I can testify to them being a very sturdy and supportive shoe. Quite a few of the class were part of BB’s regular classes, but I actually recognised one retired lady from the daytime class at Morley – caught up with her briefly, which was nice!MOV_0788_000158.jpg

We ran through some warm up steps, and then went over the basics, particularly shuffles and then 3-beat shuffles (or open and closed thirds). Then we went straight into learning the longest routine I’ve ever done in tap, which included pick-ups, riffs, shuffles, turns, slides, paddles, cramp rolls, Suzy Q’s (need to practice these more!), pull-backs (ditto), and a time step. Because I’d told the tutor that I’d been learning tap for almost 3 years, I think he assumed I would know how to do pull-backs, and the time-step we were using, but I guess because I’m learning non-syllabus rhythm tap, and classes are 45 minutes as opposed to an hour and a half, I’ve not spent so much time on those things. Anyway, I blagged my way through! (My Suzy Q was OK heading right, but not so good to the left…until the last run-through :-/ )

Because the class was 2 hours long, we had plenty of time to go over and over the steps and do drills and things which you never normally have time to do in class. I really enjoyed this! The tutor was really passionate and knowledgeable about tap dance, and talked about some of the dancers of the past that he was inspired by, including Jimmy Slyde and Chuck Green.

We got to film the tutor doing the entire routine slightly slowed down at the end, which would make practising at home for the next day easier. However…

Dancing for 2 hours straight wiped me out and I woke up the next day with a headache and feeling really under the weather, so I ended up missing the other 2 days – gutted! :((( Yep, overdid it again. But, the one day I did attend was brilliant, fun and really challenging, and I can have a go at what I learnt in my garage studio at the weekend.

 

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 πŸ™‚
  • 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…πŸ˜” 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 AmericaΒ 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).Β 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 πŸ™‚ 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…

Guest Teacher

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 πŸ™‚

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!