High Horse

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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 £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 🙂 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!

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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?

New Term

Last night was the start of the new term of Rhythm Tap at Morley College. I was really excited about it, but with the usual nervous butterfly stomach just beforehand!

I am enrolled on level 2 (advanced beginners) but for the first week back I decided I was finally going to also try out level 3 (intermediates) straight afterwards. I didn’t tell my teacher this beforehand, just incase I ended up shattered at the end of level 2 and couldn’t do any more LOL. So:

Level 2 

Level 2 was a BIG class. The warm-up circle took up the whole studio! But this always happens at the start of term, and apparently the class was sold out again. The acting couple were there and a few other regulars, but no R or K this time – boo! We worked on a toe-tip, heel-dig exercise, which would form part of our routine. At the end of the class there was some homework! We were asked to note down the music we are using for the routine so that we can go away and listen to it to get into the rhythm. I tend to download the tracks We’re using Come by Jain. The other task was to think of a question you would like to answer or something you would like to learn by the end of the 6 weeks to either share with her, or keep for yourself.

I went up to my teacher at the end and she asked “are you staying?”, and I said YAASSSSS!

Level 3

Level 3 which lasts an hour, rather than 45 minutes, was a lot smaller, a much better size. I chatted to the Swing dance girl who it turns out also sings in a band! She told me to come down to Soho on Sunday and check them out. I meet so many creative people!

The warm up was a call-and-response exercise, which is something I LOVE doing. I remember when I went from level 1 to level 2 that I found the transition to the speed of warm-up the first challenge, but I didn’t have that this time. It helps that I have been going to intermediate level workshops and intensives when I can.

We learnt the double-flap (f-f-lap), which creates 3 sounds, as opposed to a flap which creates 2 (f-lap). Quite hard to be accurate at first, but I was told to keep my head forward and not look down! Helped.

We also learnt a new timestep – yes! I don’t know many, so it was great to learn another one. I think that’s 6 on my list now…not that I remember 2 of them – doh! We were paired up to check in on each other and make sure we weren’t missing something. That was cool. I paired up with a lady who said she did grades years ago, but hasn’t done anything for years and doesn’t practice. We got there in the end!

Our next exercise was a tap turn, which our teacher stole from US Hoofer Derrick Grant who she took a World Dance class with at the Brighton Tap Festival. I was gutted to miss it this year, but I was on holiday, and this summer I decided not to over-do it and burn myself out. Technically, I could have gone on the way home from a week in Devon, but seriously! Toe-toe-heel-heel-toe-toe, travelling along the studio while turning 360 degrees-ish. The music was amazing and it was so much fun and we all ended up dizzy!

Our routine was amazing. I picked the beginning quickly, but then we spent a while on the next bit and then I forgot the beginning LOL. I know it starts with flaps.

Anyway, at the end when I was changing my shoes my teacher said I should definitely change over to level 3, but I had to say I really enjoyed it…but it’s just too late on a school night with my commute. Knowing I would be staying on that evening and getting home around 10pm, I told work I would be in later just so I could have a lie-in and catch the 8.30am train, as opposed to the 7.13am. I could probably manage it for a couple of weeks, but it’s not sustainable long-term as I’d be burning the candle at both ends.

I said out of the side of my mouth “do an earlier level 3 class. Do one on a Thursday.” A few others said they have a lot of hanging around to do before the class starts and so on. Anyway, it depends on funding and our teacher is looking at what she can do. A difficult one. I LOVED IT.

Anyway, thanks for reading my essay!

 

Today’s Workout

This rainy afternoon I finally got out into my garage/dance studio and did a bit of tap! ☔ I played music from my phone through the Bluetooth speaker and had a go at some drills, including flaps and lots of shuffles, especially on the left hand side which seems to miss the floor a LOT when I use my tap board. I dunno, it’s a bit slippery and I guess being confined to a square compared to using a whole studio makes it difficult. Still, it was good!

Next I did some ankle strengthening using a balance board. It’s really hard to keep it even and centred, which makes it ideal for working those ankles!

Next I did some 5kg weights, lifting them above my head, out front, behind, to the sides, and then some squats. I followed this up with crunches – it has been a while!

I finished up my sweatfest with some stretching. Maybe I’m motivated because I’ve now got 2 weeks off work 🙂

My (eclectic) Playlist:

  • My Same – Adele
  • California Soul – Marlena Shaw
  • Get Off – Foxy
  • Hanky Panky – Madonna
  • Cornflake Girl – Tori Amos
  • Candy Shop – Andrew Bird
  • These Days – Take That
  • Changing – Sigma feat. Paloma Faith
  • Forget – Lianne La Havas
  • When My Baby – Bing Crosby

Summer Tap Dance Intensive 2018

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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 Itsu 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.

 

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!

Jellicle Cats

Yesterday afternoon I went to the second Cats the Musical Workshop at Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden, organised by OMG So Stagey and led by Cameron Ball aka Macavity.

It was a hot and humid day in the Capital, but having seen the note that we’d be in a larger studio than last time, I was hopeful of some sort of air conditioning.

I got there and after paying the £2 day fee (as I’m not a member) I was buzzed in to climb to the top floor (puff, pant) where I found studio 79 and had time to change footwear and stretch.

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Claws ready

I was a tiny bit nervous beforehand, but not like last time when I’d never attended a class at Pineapple before. A girl asked me if I knew anyone, I said no and neither did she! Quite a few people had come along in pairs or small groups. I had forwarded the details to a couple of dance friends who had expressed interest, but they didn’t go for it in the end.

We started with an aerobic warm-up, followed by some stretches to limber up. Then we did as per the previous Cats Workshop and did some actions to get into the character of a cat (intense staring, movement on all fours, holding our hands like paws, awareness of whiskers, ears, tail etc).

Next we moved onto the choreography for the opening scene of the musical, which is the Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats section. Having seen the musical several times and having studied the DVD, I am familiar with the movements, but obviously in a workshop you are learning what they actually are, rather than what you think they are.

We were put into 8 different groups. I went with another girl, and then she ended putting her hand up to be brave enough to go on her own, so I ended up on my own too! ARGHHH. Okay, it was a bit scary, but it ended up being absolutely fine. The groups were numbered 1-8 and then each group (or individual in my case) had to come on stage in a particular way of your choosing. We also had to come up with another movement for another point in the song (you’ll get the idea if you watch it on Youtube).

In the end we learnt all the choreography for the song, albeit a slightly abridged version, performed the entire thing twice through (once being filmed) and it was SO MUCH FUN!!! I particularly enjoyed the acting aspect of it, which I hadn’t really anticipated. There was more acting in this workshop than in the Jellicle Ball workshop as we were introducing ourselves and playing up to the audience.

When I got home I watched the scene from the DVD (and some other performances, including one in French on a TV show), ate piri piri chicken wings, rice, corn and salad, had a shower, stretched and made good use of my foam roller. Not feeling too bad today! In fact, I’m still slightly hyper!!

Here is the video of our class on Facebook…Don’t laugh at me :))))

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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?