What You Waiting for?

_20180308_162106.JPGHad my tap class this lunchtime, and all the way there I was wondering if I’d be paired up to practice with the theatre lady. Silly, right? She’s a nice lady, but as I was saying the other day, her style of tap is very different to how we’re learning and I got a bit lost when she was showing me her version of the timestep two weeks ago.

Speaking of getting lost, in this block of classes we’re dancing to George Ezra’s What you Waiting For. Unfortunately I had to miss last week’s class due to the Beast from the East (i.e. the snow) so I had missed a week of routine. However, some of the other students were saying they had to miss last week and couldn’t remember anything from the week before. I remembered the first section and then tried to pick up the next bit. It’s really not that complicated, but I couldn’t for the life of me do it. I knew what to do, but when the music came on, nah. Too quick, brain wouldn’t keep up! (R scuff-L heel-R spank-spring onto R toe & L-toe, then repeat on the left).

I have been focussing recently on not worrying  about getting things wrong, even repeatedly. I love learning and realise I am a bit achievement-driven as a person, so I’ve been trying to calm that down a bit lately and just ‘be’. Today was one of those days of getting it wrong repeatedly, perhaps more pronounced because I was in the front row and conscious our teacher could see me! I just went with it, and it was a good thing. Thankfully we got to film our teacher doing the routine a bit slower so we can practice at home (or the supermarket LOL).

Prior to working on our routine, we did some other fun things:

Six-beat Riff – like the 5, but with an(other) extra heel. We then did it double time to music! It was quite hard to stay on the beat of the music, but it helps to keep the movement smaller. It should look like you’re just out for a stroll!

Paddle & Roll – So as opposed to doing a regular paddle (heel dig-pickup-ball-heel down & repeat other side) we began with a heel drop, say on the left, and to change to the other foot after the paddle, we did R heel-L heel-R heel in an almost rocking motion). I like!

Elevation – we did a very energetic step (L drop-R side shuffle-L pickup-Land on R-change-change, repeat on other side). Was absolutely SWEATING!

Lots of good stuff to take away this week, and I must watch the video and practice loads where I can 🙂

Hope it’s been a good (dance) week for you! What will you be working on this weekend? Or are you just going to chill out and ‘be’?

Tap Dance Festival UK Winter Intensive 2018

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Wow, what a weekend! Now that I’m back from Manchester and have had 12 hours’ sleep I can tell you all about my experience of the 2nd ever Tap Festival UK Winter Intensive.

Friday

My SO and I drove up to Salford (Greater Manchester) on Friday, reaching our accommodation in the afternoon. After a rest and a bite to eat, we went to the Festival venue Pendleton College for the Professional Showcase at 7pm. We were all made to wait in the small canteen area until the start, but in the meantime there was a presentation to the amazing Jo Scanlan of Tap Attack and a short tap performance by her very talented son.

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Next, we were shown through to the Eccleston Theatre where the Apartment 33 ‘Where Dreams Are Made’ Professional Show was taking place. Written and presented by Maud Arnold, and choreographed by her sister Chloe, the show featured some of the weekend’s faculty members, and shared the story of how tap dancers were able to relocate to Chloe and Maud’s actual Apartment 33 in New York to be able to “pursue their tap dance goals and dreams”. The score included Alicia Keys, John Legend, Beyonce and Rihanna, among others, and the dance was a fantastic blend of tap, crump, contemporary and more. My favourite performance was pocket-rocket Robin Passmore tapping furiously to Destiny’s Child’s Survivor. So good! The Syncopated Ladies’ routine to Beyonce’s Formation was also a big crowd pleaser. Unfortunately, I had someone’s huge hair in my eyeline, but I managed to move a seat along so that I could actually see the performers’ feet!

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After the show was a Q&A with the panel of Suzanne Clandon (founder of Tap Dance Festival UK), Maud Arnold (Syncopated Ladies), Robin Passmore, Vikas Arun, Linsey O’Neal, Josh Nixon. There were some good questions from the audience such as “did you ever feel like giving up?” and lots of advice on pursuing your dreams in the performing arts. You have to be a go-getter!

Saturday

Saturday morning my SO dropped me back at Pendleton College and went off to run and then go and see friends near Stockport. I went in with my dance bag, a bit apprehensive because last night seemed to be all teenagers, which made me wonder if there would be ANY ADULTS in the classes on Saturday. I went into the ‘holding area’ as per last night and found some adults (phew!). There turned out to be quite a few there for classes thankfully! I had received an email in the week to say that the classes were geared towards teens, so adults were welcome to attend the ‘Teachers’ Studio’ classes free of charge. I thought I might do that for the final class of the morning, but I didn’t in the end!

Before going to any classes, we were in the sports hall for the AFRO FUNK warm up with Maud. Ok, it was only about 20 minutes long, and I heard someone say “I’ve got a stitch!” Yep. That’s Afro Funk! It’s kind of dance hall style winding and grinding and body isolations. Lots of fun, a real laugh, but OH BOY does it wear you out.

After this we were shown by the respective people where to go for our class levels. I was in the Beginners/Advanced Beginners (0-3 years experience), and we had a very nice studio with mirrors.

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10.00-10.55 Tap Attack (Jo Scanlan)

This was a really fun class where we did some warm up exercises at the mirror and across the floor (including travelling on one leg – wow that burns) and then learnt a short routine. I was breaking in my Jason Samuels Smith tap shoes, and they were fab! That was actually my second time learning with the Guinness World Record holder Jo – the first time was at MOVE IT 2017 in London.

11.00-11.55 Technique (Robin Passmore)

A proper tap drills class with a proper drill sergeant! Some people find drills tiresome, but I love it. As was explained to us, that is how you get better and cleaner. Watching Robin on stage the night before, she stood out as someone who was really on it and exceptionally precise, so I was looking forward to learning from her. Her demonstrations were amazing and we were just standing there with our mouths open! We worked on crawls, shuffles in all directions, paddles, riffs, pick-ups, pull-backs AND I had my first ever go at wings! Very exciting. Couldn’t get the sound, but at least I know what I should be doing. Now go home and practice!

12.00-12.55 Choreography (Vikas Arun)

Vikas explained at the beginning that we were going to find the class too difficult. Um, what? But then he said that there was no point him flying all the way from the US and us paying for a class that was too easy. Very true. We were there to be challenged! He also said please ask questions or say if you don’t get something, otherwise he’ll move on.

Now, I thought it was going to be a class where you were encouraged to come up with a bit of your own choreography (have to say I wasn’t especially up for that on a Saturday morning, and was considering beforehand running along to the Teacher’s Studio with Jo Scanlan), but we were actually learning choreography.

We learnt a really cool routine, and I think it moved a little faster than I’m used to, but he threw in useful tips about weight placement and height, which helped me with one particularly tricky step which you’ll see below (toe-heel-f-lap, toe-heel-f-lap). He also said, as had been said throughout the morning that it is better to try and get that one thing right than to just do it fast but get it wrong. Some other sound bites I picked up were ‘don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t do it wrong‘ and ‘learn the drums’. I actually decided to either learn drums or learn to tap, and I went with tap. I should do both!

Here’s what we learnt (slower version first followed by with the music):

 

It was such an amazing day and I’m so glad I went! It was scary to go on my own, but it was fantastic and got me out of my comfort zone…again!

If you have the chance to go to any sort of dance festival or intensive, go for it!

The Mind Boggles 

Tonight we were back to Rhythm Tap level 1 and 2 classes! As usual it felt a bit alien after a week’s break, but I got back into the swing of things pretty quickly. I find it’s best to just calm down and enjoy it… Especially the 1930s jazzzzz…

Both classes were quite large as is usually the case, but it didn’t feel like a hindrance this time as people spaced out quite well. It was great to see faces who had returned, including R and K!

One highlight of the week was learning the six beat riff, yes, SIX beats! It was very exciting! The other was a new time step that I feel I recognise maybe from watching tap dance in the past.

I have to say I found the routines quite challenging, and a few of us agreed about this at the end and decided that our teacher does it to gauge what students are capable of. A couple of people had just done their first double class (ie the addition of level 2) and were reassured when I (apparently a veteran!) said I found the routines really hard this time. And when they spoke to our teacher before that, I heard her say she is going to challenge us and not give us things we can already do! It’s true – that’s how you get better.

Tap Thursday

I am so annoyed that I had bail out and go home early last night instead of going to my final Wednesday evening Tap 1&2 classes. Basically, I was kept awake most of the night by a neighbour and was like the walking dead most of the day, just surviving a day at work on Lattes. But, I am also glad I listened to my body (and hollow dead eyes) and went home, had homemade Goan prawn & egg curry with rice, broccoli and kale, stretched, showered and rested so that I could drag myself into London today and go to my lunchtime level 2 class.

A colleague of mine was talking non-stop and I ended up being pushed for time, so I literally got to the college with about 5 minutes to spare and was puffing and panting and quite warm from power-walking and sunshine, with no time to stretch or really cool down. Then my teacher came out of the studio and said “it’s really hot in there”. Oh great!

Yes friends, it was like a sauna. Someone even called it ‘Bikram Tap’…

We did some co-ordination and pick-up exercises, which are always good to get your teeth into, got some posture correction and noticed the shift in weight placement which is always good, and then we spent the last 15 minutes on our Rag n’ Bone Man routine, which I’m loving. For some reason I can remember every step; usually I struggle to remember anything!

It is quite hard to do really even shuffles when you’ve been enjoying the swingbeat. On a positive note, I am no longer clawing my toes when I do pick-ups!

Next week is the last Thursday lunchtime class before Easter. Then we’re back the week of the 24th April. I haven’t booked onto Thursday lunchtime next term, even though I prefer it. It’s a bit of a squeeze to fit everything in during the lunch hour, so I’ll stick to Wednesday after the hols.

I also have the week of Easter Monday off work. Yay!

Progress

At lunchtime today I went to my Rhythm Tap class and my teacher said I should definitely go up to level 2, which takes place after work on a Wednesday. I was previously a little apprehensive. Not because it will be more challenging, but because of the travel situation. They have closed Lambeth North Tube station until FEBRUARY 2017! Waterloo is walking distance, which seems like no biggie, but it is actually the busiest station ever, and when I tried the journey in July, it was convoluted and busy. Anyway, checking TFL’s website, I found that it is actually quicker to catch a bus back to Elephant and Castle and then do my usual journey home from work, or I can even bus it over the river to Westminster and catch the Jubilee Line to Baker Street and then Bakerloo it to Marylebone. Easy peasy!

So, the long and short of it is that I have booked onto Rhythm Tap 1&2 on a Wednesday night from November! (Level 1 for a warm up, level 2 for a challenge). Should be fun!

I have also just purchased a couple of books on Tap dance which I will share more about later…