Saturday, April 21, 2012


"When you stroke to the left," Dance Coach says, "You look up and to the left. When you stroke to the right, up and to the right."

I'd asked to learn some subtleties of partnering in this lesson, and so I assume what I think is the right look. Smile, look in the right direction. Pretty much it. Wrong.

"No." Sad sigh, "Not that expression. Have ice dancer expression." He takes the ice dancer stance, erect upper body, eyes looking off into the upper distance, a smile of pleasure on his face. He even makes his eyes glisten with delight.

He drops into his usual frowny face. "You see?"

I do my best. I can at least look in the right direction. I think I get the smile right. The glistening eyes--not happening.

"Now, your hip is here," he moves me around like a side of beef until I'm in the right position. "Hips touching, but not touching. You understand? Your right hand on my right hand. Keep your left arm strong." If I have it right, my left hip, the one that is touching but not touching his right hip, is slightly ahead of his. We are now ready to stroke in Killian hold.

"One, two, three." Dance Coach counts and we stroke to the left.

I look to the right.

"What is this?! Stroke left, Look right!"

I get the giggles. "I'm sorry, I spend so much time on public, it's a reflex to look for traffic for the next stroke."

Dance Coach grins. "No public here." We're on an almost empty freestyle session.  So we do it again, and I pretty much get it right.

"When I went to Lake Placid," I said, "I learned I'm supposed to sort of lean back in my partner's arm."

"Sort of true, but not really lean back. Stand up straight, arch your back. You'll lean into the man's arm if you do that." Again the pose. "Skate like an ice dancer."

We work on partnering in swingrolls next. There's a subtle shift of the lady from slightly ahead  of the gentleman's hip, to slightly behind the hip during the swingrolls. I can only think of one thing at a time and now I'm thinking of three: the 'look', the skating, the 'hip thing'. Still at the end of a few go rounds, I get it right....except maybe for the expression.

Finally, we start to practice Canasta Tango. Dance Coach is messing with the music player and Hernando's Hideaway starts to play. I sing the lyrics, and after the first line I'm joined by Starlight, one of his other adult students (pre-gold) who's on session.

I know a dark and secret place; A place where no one knows your face; A glass of wine, a swift embrace; It's called--Hernando's Hideaway.Ole'

Starlight and I each fling an arm up in the air like ice dancing flamenco artists. then start to laugh.

I expected Dance Coach to be like this:
Oh, girls, behave
And instead it's like this:

This dance has words?!!!!
"This dance has words?" Dance Coach excitedly asks.

Between Starlight and myself, we tell him it's from a Broadway musical from the 1950's called "The Pajama Game."  He dives into his smartphone and pulls up the same youTube video I posted here. "Okey," he says as the video begins to play, "We skate to this."

The beat is faster than the instrumental version he has on his CD. Surprisingly, I skate faster and better--except where I start listening to the words and forget what foot I'm supposed to be on.  I recover and we finish the dance, complete with presentation glide.

Dance Coach is russian style giddy with delight. In other words, he's faintly smiling. "I will get a copy and see if you can test to this."

I guess I better start working on my head turns and my glistening with delight eyes!


  1. Oh you found a frown-y cat!
    There is soooo much to partnering. How is tracking coming along for you?

  2. He hasn't mentioned it yet. That's the in the waltz right? I get a lot of positioning directives, so it may be he's talking about tracking, but just doesn't use the word.

    1. I think you track in all the dances. It has something to do with where the lady stands in relation to the man, as they move together.

      I don't know anything about it- I just remember one of my coaches got comments about it when he took the Dutch Waltz. He is an elite pairs skater, and kept trying to push the lady in front of him (where she goes in pairs). The tracking is different for dance- they go side by side.

      I'd bet at the lower level dances, with a strong dance coach, it is more subliminal. When you are in waltz hold it will become more important.

  3. "Dance Coach is russian style giddy with delight. In other words, he's faintly smiling." Hahaha, that's awesome.