OKAY, my first ever pair of customised tap shoes arrived all the way from Madrid last week!They’re handmade by Arte FyL (who specialise in Flamenco shoes) and I ordered them from through Tap Dance UK back in January, after looking through all the available colour swatches and designs on the website. I also had a ‘digital shoe fitting’ one Friday morning on Zoom with Tap Dance UK, where they got me to draw around my feet and read out the measurements, so they could place the order. (They get a special discount with Arte FyL).
I went for the Astaire style Oxford shoe in dark blue leather with aubergine patent and laces. They weren’t cheap, but I put some Christmas money towards them, plus I’m not paying extortionate train fares while I’m working from home. (I noticed a slight imperfection on them when they arrived, so I actually got 10% back). I’m not going to wear them for a full class straight away because I feel they need breaking in a bit. What I will do is wear them to mess around in and for practise and just see how they go. They don’t have the ankle cushioning that my Jason Samuels Smiths have, so I may need to stick some cushioning in the back so I don’t end up with blisters!
Virtual rhythm tap class got off to a good start last week. Even though there are only two of us enrolled on the online daytime course, the course is NOT cancelled (yay!) so we can carry on. It would be a different if we were physically hogging a studio. The alternative would have been to switch to Wednesday evenings again, but I like tapping at lunchtime 🙂
I was supposed to be starting ukulele ensemble class last Friday evening, and I logged onto MS Teams at 6pm…and nothing happened. There was no meeting taking place, so I emailed and phoned the college, and finally, today I’ve been told that there weren’t enough students enrolled, so it’s cancelled. Boo! Waiting for my refund.
I also got an email earlier this month to say that our beachfront hot-tub break in the South-West is also cancelled, which is no surprise with the current lockdown situation in the UK. We really love a late January/early February break (plus it’s cheaper, being outside of peak holiday season), but it is not to be this time. But I’m thankful that we got to go away in the Summer.
I have enrolled on Tap Dance Festival UK’s online festival in February! I wasn’t actually intending to do this, but then I saw that Robin Passmore will be teaching drills, and I jumped straight onto the registration page (unfortunately missing the early bird registration by a few weeks)! New Jersey-based dancer and studio owner Robin was on the faculty at the very first Tap Dance Festival UK event I attended in Manchester in 2018, and I definitely enjoyed her class the most because she concentrates on drills and precision, which is evident in her extremely clean and accurate tap sounds. Some people find drills boring, but I absolutely LOVE THEM. After all, that’s how you get better.
This Friday I’m having a digital fitting with Tap Dance UK for some Artefyl Zapatos tap shoes from Spain – my first ever pair of customised tap shoes! I had enquired about Miller and Ben tap shoes through a UK based distributor, but there’s been a massive delay in communication between them and New York, so on their advice I cancelled the order, and then the Artefyl opportunity popped up. Hopefully shipping from Spain will be much less complicated!
I’m so excited – this weekend I ordered a portable tap practice board! I actually had two expensive purchase options in mind, some new Bloch tap shoes by Chloe & Maud Arnold of the Syncopated Ladies (I was fortunate enough to take part in an Afro Funk workshop taught by Maud last year) or a tap board, which are about the same price. Then I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I already have some pretty good tap shoes (Bloch Tap Sync plus the Jason Samuels Smiths in white), but my real frustration has been not being able to practice at home in my tap shoes because I will ruin the floor (I also have a neighbour below, but he works unsociable hours so thankfully is never home in the evenings). I will let you know how I get on with it when it arrives.
On another note, I am going to start going to gentle yoga on a Friday evening at my local leisure centre. I actually used to go to that class with my SO a few years ago, but we got out of the habit. He runs for an athletics club and has recently started doing pole vault. I dance, but don’t do nearly enough stretching at the moment. We were chatting about it last night and then you wouldn’t believe it…while walking around town this afternoon, we bumped into the teacher! A sign?! So we sorted out our free drop-in loyalty cards and booked in.
I’m really looking forward to it. That particular class had mainly older members, so it was way more relaxed than the one I tried at London South Bank University, which was like an hour’s push-up class :$ It will be a nice way to unwind at the end of the week and hopefully will help with a bit of the stress I’ve been under.
How do you cross train or stay flexible? Do you find yoga or Pilates helpful?
I always seem to burn myself out, so today I made the decision to focus on one thing this Autumn and stick with Rhythm Tap classes. I am working in Human Resources in London 4 days a week (1.4 hr commute door-to-door), I run my own small craft business from home, which I concentrate on on Fridays (sometimes this leeches into Saturday or Sunday), I have recently started doing some HR qualifications, self-study, which I have 18 months to complete, and then I am trying to fit in 2 dance classes a week!
I went to Rhythm Tap on this sweltering Wednesday evening and I enjoyed it so much! As I said I would, I spoke to my teacher afterwards about my dilemma of level 2 being too late for getting home at a decent hour mid-week, and asked if it was worth continuing with the daytime level 1 class for practice, to which she replied ‘definitely’ and that with that one being a much smaller class, she can adapt to my ability and give me more challenging things to do (which she does)!
I also went to the second of 5 Floor Barre summer classes last night at City Lit and I found it pretty tough going, as though I’d never done any exercise or dance in my life; as though I was completely core-less! A girl behind me summed it up perfectly “It’s too much after a day at work. I’m so shattered”.LOL. Then I remembered how shattered I was last term doing Wednesday night and Thursday lunchtime classes, so that kind of sealed it for me. I feel kind of sad not to be returning to the Barre in September, but it gives me a chance to perhaps do my Ballet DVDs (not the same, I know) and have recovery time in-between.
Another thing, I recently subscribed to Pointe Magazine and then this week the distributor contacted me to say the magazine has ceased print! Boo! I think they will continue digitally, but I don’t have an iPad. So, I got £30 back in my bank account! At least I can continue to read all their articles online, as well as Dance and Dance Spirit.
Anyway, the positive of these two refunds is that I have the money to purchase those AMAZING Jason Samuels Smith White Tap Shoes that I have been drooling over for months! I actually tried them on in the Bloch Covent Garden shop while I was waiting to go to my Floor Barre class, and oh wow they are so comfy! (I also saw my Interior Design idol Kelly Hoppen walking by with her team!) Anyway…the shoes were a perfect fit, so I ordered them this afternoon!