Saturday, June 23, 2012

After the first week of the second season.

In the elevator after one class this past week, Adam had asked me if I had been dancing [ballroom] long. I had admitted that I really can't dance to save my life, and I had only started dancing this summer.

While we were hanging out outside the studio before class, Bernard had told Adam that when he first attended our ballroom class, he noticed how stiff my curacha was (considering it was only my 3rd day, and it was his first). But I had managed to improve as the days progressed.

This week's the first week of Big Shift's second season, and straight on, from our very first day of class, Ian started me on certain advanced techniques, plus focused on correcting my basics (I sometimes still have a poor turnout, I do shortcuts when I do the rumba walk, and my hips still won't cooperate). Each class this week offered a different challenge, like learning a new rhythm, learning how to connect with a partner, new advanced steps to learn and how to put all of them together. Sometimes I come to the studio a little early for stretching and warm-ups, with Ian just there observing and correcting me if needed.

Classes this season are only 3 days a week, unlike last season's 6 days a week. Plus the ballroom schedule in the early afternoon had been moved an hour. Still a good schedule for me for 2 days of the week, then I just have to take the evening class on Fridays.

After class yesterday evening, Ian introduced me to Arknee (I guess he forgot that we were already introduced the day they got together). I was just expecting to leave the venue with them then we go our separate ways, but then Ian invited me to have dinner with them. We ended up at Wendy's, and just stayed there for a while, talking. It was so amusing watching Ian so kilig. It also amused and (I don't know why) kinda embarrassed me at how he raved to Arknee about me being his loyal and keen student this entire summer (heck, I never missed a day of class). He also mentioned a little earlier that he'll be prepping Arknee up as well, so he can be my dance partner. Oh my, oh my. So I guess the search for my partner has ended.

We still kept on talking during the walk to the intersection. I don't know why, but Ian still kept raving, at how he'd grown to love me as his student at Big Shift (favorite? Hahaha), and how we've grown pretty close by now. I have to say, Ian's become a pretty cool friend outside Big Shift. I'm really grateful that he's decided to take me under his wing now that I've focused on this.

Speaking of focusing on ballroom, yes, I made a big leap. A drastic change. I was supposed to be involved in 2 projects under TP this season. I backed out of both of them to focus on ballroom dancing. Some people said it was fine, as this is a rare opportunity. So of course, I had to go for it. And hardly anyone knows this, but I actually started learning ballroom dancing before I got into theater. My best friends and I were in a dance and movement club back in seventh grade, and we were already ballroom dancing before Rosa had talked me into auditioning for the school musical production. When I got fell in love with theater, I stayed. Ballroom dancing, though, was still a fascination for me, which was why I attended that session in Pasinaya 4 years ago.

And well, here I am. And we'll see how this goes.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Free sampling class week.

This week, Big Shift offered another round of free sampling classes to introduce their new season. It was just like last April's sampling classes, but at least this time I don't have to feel so awkward because I already know the people.

I ended up attending both of Ian's sampling classes, and even invited some people to join me. Unfortunately, either the people already made plans during those times (heck, it was at 8 in the evening), or ballroom dancing really isn't their thing. But surprise, surprise, Howie joined me during the first ballroom sampling class on Thursday night. At first, I thought almost no one would be interested to attend ballroom. But wonder of wonders, while Howie and I were still hanging out outside the satellite studio (where the class were being held that day), there were a bunch of girls who signed up for the class, plus this pretty Chinese girl (I forgot her name) who once attended one of our evening classes. She could barely speak a word of English, but thank goodness her friend was there to translate.

We covered the rumba that night, and there were times that Ian singled me out as an example, but my big mistake that night was not warming up before class, because my left leg was cramping like crazy. I managed to survive the class with a bad left leg, but lesson learned. I was glad Howie actually enjoyed the class, regardless that he was the only one there who had to learn the guy's steps for the sliding doors, and had to dance with half the girls in the room when Ian made everyone review the basic rumba plus alemana turns.

Once everyone started leaving after the class, Ian took a couple of minutes to check on my own technique, because my sliding door was kind of messed up that night. Then he took me aside and told me that Ate Helen was offering me her gift certificates, as she will be using the class package that her son Adrian had won during the actual dance showdown last Sunday. Oh my oh my, super thank you, Ate Helen. You helped me save a bundle for another package.

Howie, Ian and I left the mall at the same time. Once Howie bid his goodbyes, I hung out with Ian for a few minutes more while he smoked. He mentioned this one photo I posted on Facebook of the two of us, and he noticed Carmie's comment, about hoping to see me compete someday. "Hindi malayo na mangyari yun, na mag-compete ka," he said. Oh my. It's like what Pasinaya 2008 all over again.

I went back to Big Shift on Friday to attend Ian's second sampling class, which had an earlier time slot of 6:30. I arrived way too early, a little past 5, because Ian wanted to teach me some advanced techniques before class started, and he wanted me dressed and warmed up before then. I was about to sit on the couch outside the main studio when a familiar face inside caught my eye. It was Roan! She had just signed up for a couple of the sampling classes for that day, and didn't want to tell me until she was sure she could make it. She signed up for the 5pm pole dancing and the 6:30pm intermediate jazz. We managed to quickly chat up a storm while I changed into my skirt and shoes before her pole dancing class started.

I had already finished warming up by the time Ian had arrived. We moved to the space outside the satellite studio and I had to do this rumba segment that he had taught us before. Rumba fan to hockey stick to overturn, ball change, curacha. He had to clean my entire technique, from hip movement to my messy footwork. My goodness, I was sweating it out already and class hasn't even officially started.

When class did start, only one guy was there with us. He looked like he did have a dancer's physique, and he moved like one, but like me when I started out, he had a poor turnout. I still have a lousy turnout myself, but I guess I'm still trying to get used to it. Anyway, we covered the basic cha cha cha that evening, and about 3 or 4 more girls joined the class, including the interpreter of the pretty Chinese girl from the night before.

Once again, I had notes. As I had already been put into the advanced level, I'm now required to do more hip movement. And make smaller steps (20% less, hahaha). Those two notes actually go hand in hand in a way, I've learned.

Oh, Ian finally gave me Ate Helen's gift certificates that night. Again, thank you so much!

After changing out of my sweaty clothes, I managed to strike up a quick chat with Howie, Fran (yes, Howie managed to talk Fran into attending the intermediate jazz sampling class) and Roan at the bigger main studio while waiting for Ian to gather his stuff. As it turned out, the intermediate jazz teacher didn't arrive, so they were given gift certificates for a free session instead. They still stuck around to attend the 8pm contemporary jazz class.

Left the venue again with Ian, and walked together to the corner of Buendia and Makati Avenue together. He told me that I could come in to class early so he can focus on my technique for half an hour before we actually start the hour-long class. I actually like that idea, because an hour is pretty short for what he's been teaching. My goodness, he really wants me to keep this going. "Gusto ko maloka sila sayo sa susunod na recital," he had said. When I had said that I missed Abby, he even said that I'm the next Abby. Ahahaha, if only I could do half of what Abby can already do, I could have the same amount of confidence.

I can't wait for classes to start again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

On my first dance recital.

Last night was Big Shift's Pump Up DecaDANCE Showdown Party, which somewhat served as the recital for all students of the classes under Big Shift. Prior to the event, I was nervous as hell, as this was my very first dance recital.

I remember that I couldn't dance to save my life. In a musical theater workshop 5 years ago, we were taught basic movement from ballet and jazz, but that was it. Safe to say that from one or two of those sessions were basic movements that helped me stand out when the PDTA president had noticed me at a one-hour ballroom class, but I still couldn't dance if my life depended on it. But despite that, I still wanted to learn how to dance ballroom.

Ian had started choreo of our cha cha cha last Monday, to the song "Kiss" (the Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones version). It took me ages to get the choreography right, which included one class that only had me, plus an evening class with Abby that very same day. There was a little light scolding here and there during our Saturday rehearsal, because I realized that I had depended on the mirror and my peripheral vision to look at the others when I get lost, instead of relying on muscle memory and memory itself.

Anyway, so after a week of rehearsing, last night was the big day. I was still nervous but I didn't want to show it, as Abby had been pretty vocal about it already. Plus Ian had decided to pair me up with his younger brother Bonbon, who never came to rehearsal except on the day itself. When the brothers had arrived, it was high time to rehearse. As there was no other place to rehearse, we ended up staying in front of the closed CCF venue that faced the escalators. Eventually, because Bonbon had only learned the choreography that day, Ian had decided to pair up with me and let Bonbon dance with Ate Helen. I breathed a huge sigh of relief once I found out.

We rehearsed it a couple more times inside the actual venue, just like the day before, just so Bonbon would know the blocking and how big the space would be later. Then it was back to where we were rehearsing so we can get ready. Ian had said that he would provide me with my costume. When Bonbon handed it to me, oh my. It was bedazzled so it was pretty heavy, it had a low back, and an uber short skirt. I stared at it for a long while before I told Bonbon that it might be too short. He said it was alright, and I did have the legs for it. Coming from him, I think I'll take his word for it. Oh, and by the way, the dress is actually his, as he sometimes dances as a girl.

Ian had also offered to do my makeup, as he does Ate Helen's as well, but after doing one eye, he had let Janel (Abby's personal makeup artist) finish up. He also let me borrow some falsies, as the other 2 girls were wearing falsies as well. I have to say, he did a pretty good job.

We kept reviewing the steps, especially for my sake and Bonbon's (well, mostly for me, haha). As Bonbon is the better dancer (as Ian had admitted), he did help a bit with some of the technique. When I tried rehearsing the dance proper with Bernard, his energy was pretty contagious so I just had to project, to Ian's delight (because I hardly smiled when we rehearse the dance). I realized I really had to give all the energy I've got.

Abby was still vocal about her nervousness by the time the program started and we were already inside the venue, so I still clammed up. We (Abby, Ate Helen and I) hung around inside the small recording space behind the tech booth for a while as Bonbon gave us a little more tips on technique regarding sharp movements. Ian said that he didn't really have to motivate me anymore because I already knew how to do that on my own. I shared my performance motto from years ago, "If all else fails, project!" Hahahaha.

By the time it was our turn to dance, I've forgotten whether I was still nervous or not. But Abby was right. Once you hear the music, all you can do is just dance your heart out. Which I did. It actually felt good despite the fact that usually I don't like it when people watch me. But because of the confidence that I finally know the choreo by heart, I was on a high. Never mind that Ian tripped on the hem of his pants sometime before our highlights. I know that we still pulled off a good performance.

The rest of the night flew by. We got to watch the other performances as well. When we watched the beginners' hip hop performance, it was so adorable that Zhana and Adrian were front and center. Those two could really jam, as they didn't just have the moves, they also had the attitude. Ian and Ate Helen also had this nice rumba exhibition. Bernard had 2 other performances for jazz funk and some of the Hotlegs.

The event wasn't really hyped up that much, but I have to say that because I loved how I did that night, it was all good. Not bad for my first ever dance recital. I was a beginner when I first started the classes in April, then I kept coming to class 6 days a week. And I ended up dancing with my teacher, 2 advanced students (who have already been competing for years), another professional ballroom dancer, and a jazz funk teacher. All have had prior dance training while I had zero. I can't wait for the second season classes to start.

To my teacher Ian, thank you for everything you've taught, and for the patience. You already know how much I'm grateful. To my classmates Abby, Ate Helen, plus Olivia, Tita Lucy and Zhana, I had fun dancing with you. Thanks as well to Bernard for the optimism and extra help when we danced together in class twice a week. Thanks as well to Bonbon for the extra last minute pointers, plus for letting me wear one of your costumes. And of course, to Big Shift for opening up this awesome opportunity, I can't thank everyone enough.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One more day before I dance in public for the first time.

I had never been really confident about dancing. I know I look awkward when I dance. But whenever I see ballroom dancing, it always makes the dancers look so beautiful, especially when they do the standards. As for Latin ballroom, it looks even more beautiful. Which is why I chose it instead of the usual jazz and hip hop classes.

Ian started choreography for our recital (well, the recital is actually a sort of dance showdown event, but we still call it a recital anyway) last Monday, and it took me quite a while to get the hang of it, but hey, I can still do it. Abby, Ate Helen and I will be paired off with Bernard, Ian and Ian's brother, respectively for the routine, and I'm somehow nervous as heck. I still have my weaknesses, as I easily get lost when I start dancing with a partner, and my fear of falling during one part of the routine. Hopefully I will get over that by today, just in time for tomorrow's performance.

So tomorrow will be my first time to dance in front of an audience. And after tomorrow, an opportunity to keep doing this had opened, and I sure hope it will open up to more good things to come.

Oh yeah, if you want to come to the event, details are below.

What: Big Shift DANKA Pump Up DecaDANCE Showdown Party
Where: Big Shift Studios, 3rd level, A. Venue Mall, Makati Avenue, Makati City
When: Sunday, June 10, 6pm onwards
Tickets: P500 per person (inclusive of 2 drinks, 2 Big Shift DANKA gift certificates, and 1 raffle stub), additional P300 for the buffet dinner