More Advanced Latin

11 Oct 2019 - Richard Horridge

2019-10-11 Fri 16:36


Jive performed by Jevgenijs Suvorovs and Tiina Bazokina, Latvia (photo © Ailura CC-BY-SA-3.0)


Cha-Cha-Cha performed by Charles-Guillaume Schmitt and Elena Salikhova, France (photo © Ailura CC-BY-SA-3.0)

A week after my previous post we had Melissa back teaching us Novice and Higher Latin. It's been a while since I'd seen Melissa (not since before Stars, in fact) and it was good to catch up.

Earlier in the day I had a constructive private lesson with her where we went through some Latin fundamentals that I need to work on. I'm pleased to say that, overall, I'm in a much better place with Latin than I was this time last year - in fact it's almost unbelievable how much improvement I've made.

We focused on keeping the toes always pointed outwards and leading with the inside of the feet - these are things that I did know but wasn't being as aware of as I should have been! Additionally, we looked at my arm movements (as many of you will know, I always struggled with these!), and looked at more ways of making an impact such as moving them in front of me or over my head.

Private lessons concluded, it was time for Novice class and we worked on the Jive, with the beginning with a new routine! I was lucky to be able to dance with lots of excellent dancers who had many years of experience.

Starting with Toe Heel Swivels we then moved across and to the side onto lead's L foot and commenced a bar of kicks. This then led to a set of Stalking Walks involving 4 forward steps, then an interesting step involving rolling up the body over a count of 4. After this, we chassé twice to end facing the other way and do 3 Mooches.

The routine was fun and I didn't have any trouble leading it (except when I forgot the steps, of course!). Overall it was a fun section to learn and I was able to focus on the technique of what I was doing as well as the steps.

To finish this class we did some Jive Stamina training, which isn't everyone's cup of tea. We had to cross the entire floor by repeating four step-points (basically similar to Botafogo's) in one bar, followed by eight kicks (four on each side) in the second bar. It was a gruelling test of fitness but an important one - Jive is a very energetic dance!

In Higher class we learned a new Cha routine, intended to be danced alongside the partner. Beginning slightly behind and to the left of the follower, we step back on the R to begin and, while replacing weight on the L, Rondé the R foot around to transfer weight (4), then transfer weight L foot on the left (&) and then step to the right with R foot (1).

Next is a slow Cuban Break, danced as 2 3 4 1, followed by a single quick Cuban Break and then a full spin to the right (almost 1 1/2 turns!). From here we shuffled forwards in a split-weight position, rolling the shoulders (&-2 then &-4). Turning around with weight on L foot and R foot forward (1) we were then ready to do 2 Forward Walks followed by a single Forward Lock, followed by 3 Forward Locks next to our partner.

The routine ended with bringing our R leg forward in checked position, then Rondé the R leg round behind and taking 2 steps forward to finish with a Body Roll - rolling the entire body up and back starting with the head.

Overall, this class went surprisingly well for me and I was able to keep up. I'm hoping to be able to attend both Higher Ballroom and Higher Latin classes throughout the year and intend to push myself as much as possible!

It is partnering next Tuesday and I'm hoping to be able to partner someone who is keen to do this sport for the same reasons as me - to improve as athletes and performers and enjoy every step of the way. Fingers are crossed!

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