Saturday, October 27, 2012

Just a little busy, but not quite.

It's been a while since I had a free Saturday to myself. I miss having full weekends just lounging around in my room.

In my last post, I had mentioned taking the Le Bran class. I went back the following Friday, with JB in tow, as she wanted to try it out as well. I'm glad she enjoyed it, and I do hope she comes back to attend more classes.

After Le Bran, I had a little breather, changed my sweaty top, and started my one-on-one class with Julius. We did a review of 4 of the 5 Latin ballroom dances used in competition (rumba, chachacha, samba, and jive), then spent the rest of the hour focusing on my footwork and hip movements in chachacha. I have lousy footwork, especially when doing the New York and the time step, plus I haven't developed the high hip, as my hips automatically drop all throughout a dance.

I know it's wrong to compare, but I noticed the similarities and differences between my 2 teachers. They're both perfectionists when it comes to technique, but they have their own ways of being strict with me. And both of them even text me, telling me to keep practicing.

Anyway. In other news...

Last Saturday, our clique is now one more bachelor down. Aris married Karla in Tagaytay, and a bunch of us trekked all the way to the venue, no matter how misleading the maps provided were, hahaha. I lost my voice all week due to cough, but I had enough vocal rest to get me through that day, as I was tasked to do the first Liturgical reading, along with Iam (responsorial psalms) and Ramon (second reading).

What amused me at that wedding was that the world keeps getting smaller and smaller. I already knew that Chinie is one of Karla's first cousins, but I saw more familiar faces. I saw Isabel, a classmate from my first couple of terms in CSB, plus Jayar, a fellow technical theater major.

Hilarious reception, as Seph (as best man) and Josh (as one of the groomsmen) had to give a speech. Knowing Aris' history in our clique, they had to tiptoe around certain stories, but with their wit, they pulled off their speeches real well. The only thing that we regret seeing that evening was watching Aris dance the jive that I've taught him, Karla and Tito Fred. Hahaha! Some things just cannot be unseen. But I'm glad Karla and Tito Fred's part of the dance was done well.

I was supposed to attend Le Bran and take another one-on-one class this past Wednesday, but because I still had an uncontrollable cough that went along with my lousy voice, I couldn't go. I didn't want to risk coughing all over the place.

I did come back yesterday, Friday. And because Opa wanted to learn a little bit of ballroom for the play that she's doing, I got her, with her sister Hannah (Joanne?) in tow, to attend Le Bran. I sure hope they enjoyed it, and I also do hope they also come back. When Bran had approached us after the class, I introduced them and he said that he had noticed that they seem to already have certain dance backgrounds already, moreso with Opa's sister (ballet).

They stuck around the dance studio while I had my one-on-one lesson with Julius. We just focused on the chachacha that day, still working on my crazy footwork. I think part of the reason why I can't get certain things right because I grew up with feet mostly turned in, hence my lousy turnout and bad footwork for the New York. Plus there was too much to take in in such a small amount of time. I have to consider where I put my weight, how to push the floor with my feet, how my hips move, where my feet and upper body goes, and of course, the fact that I have to respond to my dance partner's push and pulls on my hands and arms. During a couple of times, Bran even walked over to us and assisted Julius, and there were some things that were a lot clearer to me. And of course, he also reminded me of the never-ending lesson of learning and unlearning. I learned something new that day about terminology, plus how the lock step was done correctly.

I remember posting a little realization on Twitter yesterday, about why Ian kept telling me over and over again about keeping my heels down when doing the rumba walk. It's still very essential when doing the chachacha, because that's what I needed to work on for the New York, as well as for the time step.

After the class, Julius had mentioned the syllabus competition next month, and told me that I should try to join, even just for the solo event. Eep, I don't think I'm prepared for that, so I told him that maybe I'll just watch. He then said that he'll just see how I'll turn out before then.

I still miss Ian, though. I miss his classes despite the fact that it's open instead of syllabus. I miss the fun factor when I attend his classes, plus we get to talk and somehow bond afterwards. I guess that's why I can't wait for November. I really hope that he really follows through with the workshop that he mentioned. In the meantime, I'll just take more classes at Dancing Queen until I go back to training under him.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Voiceless, but that's no excuse to practice.

So I lost my voice again. This sucks. And I have to go back to work tomorrow, plus I'm getting back in shape before my teacher takes me under his wing again next month. So I'm going to be mute when I take another dance class tomorrow.

When I was at the nationals last Saturday, Julius invited me to join a class at this dance studio in Makati Cinema Square. I was curious, but not quite yet. Then Ian told me (as a comment on one my photos of the nationals on Facebook) that we start my workshop with him this November, and possibly with Simon, the partner that he found for me. Well, that's what he said.

Of course, I didn't want to just sit around idly waiting for that. I needed to practice so I won't get rusty. And because there wasn't a ballroom class at Big Shift this season, I decided to ask Julius about that class that he mentioned. It was actually a dance fitness workout class held everyday, so I clocked out early from work yesterday to check it out.

Dancing Queen studio was still closed (like the rest of the shops) when I had arrived at MCS, so I waited until 10am, when Julius and his co-worker, Brando (who was the one conducting the class), arrived.

I got introduced to Brando and Val (the nice lady who gave me a flyer and a form to fill out), and then class immediately started, with me only having enough time to quickly strap on my shoes.

The dance fitness workout is called Le Bran, and like Zumba, it's focuses on fitness, weight loss, toning, and all that jazz. The only difference is that it's actually designed from the Latin ballroom dances. And yes, you probably guessed it, the one who designed it was Brando himself. During the class, I was back to dancing the rumba, the chachacha, the samba, the jive, and even some salsa. Super fun!

After the class, I got to talk to Brando, Val and Julius about the Le Bran sessions plus the other ballroom dance classes, and I couldn't believe my ears when they said that I've got the potential. They had noticed I knew most of the 5 Latin competition dances (I haven't been taught the paso doble), and they had assessed that I can easily catch up with the Bronze bar level class next month if I take special classes now with Julius. Wow, a syllabus class. I never experienced a syllabus class because I'm the only regular student at Big Shift while the rest just come and go, so Ian just teaches an open class.

I'm coming back tomorrow for Le Bran and a class with Julius. And if the price is right, I might keep this up along with Ian's workshop to prep myself up for my first competition ever.

In other news, due to a cough, I lost my voice again. This is the third time this year. I don't really mind, really, but it means clocking in less hours at the office, when I need to be earning more to pay for classes. Plus I'm doing the first reading in the mass of Aris and Karla's wedding. What a lousy time to lose my voice.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dance to stand out, and some musings while watching a competition.

Last month, I got to watch A Chorus Line (the 1985 film) for the first time.

Of course, we all know the story of the play. Chorus dance auditions. Precision, moving as one. Then there's Cassie, a dancer in need of a job, but she was told that she was too good to be in the chorus. When she was allowed to audition along with the rest, she couldn't blend in at first.

That's when I started thinking about it. I took all those theater workshops, and I was just content to just be cavorting in the chorus. Did I really want that?

Then I started watching dancesport competitions. Last Saturday was the second competition that I got to watch. You had to dance your ass off in order to be seen. No blending in with the rest of the dancers. You just have to keep showing off what you can do best.

So yeah, I went to watch the 16th DSCPI National Championships at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium last Saturday. I was glad the venue was closer this time, so it's easier to go there. I went by my lonesome, but I didn't really mind. At least I get to sit anywhere I want if and when I need to transfer, and don't have to drag anyone along with me.

The first part of competition was the Standards, so I didn't have to rush in the morning, because I wanted to see all of the Latin events. But of course, it was still a delight to watch the Standards because of its elegance and beautiful dresses. But I still don't get why anyone would choose a color like neon orange, neon pink, neon green, or even florescent yellow? Aside from the fact that you really will stand out in those, I mean.

Another thought that came to mind that day was that I actually enjoyed my anonymity. Like in the local theater scene, practically everyone knew everyone else. In that venue, I felt like an alien in another world. Every time someone would pass by, even in our area for spectators, someone would wave and say hi to a whole bunch of people. And there was me. Someone who sat next to me did ask who I was watching. I mentioned the name of my teacher, and he instantly knew who I was talking about. Of course, he did assume right away that Ian and Bon were actually twins, and I just had to laugh.

Then there's also the fact that you have to compete with your friends. I wonder what that felt like, considering that you both want that pretty trophy, or at least rank the highest that you can possibly can.

Pushing that last thought aside, it amused me how supportive everyone can be. By the time the Latin part of the event rolled around, a lot of people started cheering for the participants, shouting out their numbers all throughout the events.

For this competition, they added a Latin Wheelchair event, which totally amazed me.

Even in those wheelchairs, those dancers rocked the floor! There was even one couple where the guy in the wheelchair managed to somehow wheel over his partner while she was on the floor during one dance (was it the jive?). Everyone went crazy and cheered when they saw it. Too bad I didn't get to take a video of it.

Ian and Ate Helen placed 2nd in one of their 2 events (Special Event 2F C: 3-dance). The couple that came in first had a plus-sized girl that I had actually been watching since the midyear ranking. I admired her because even though she was plus-sized, she danced as fiercely as the rest of the skinny girls, and she made the champion title. And who said that just because you're skinny and pretty, you can have them all?

In the other event that they were in (Special Event 2A: 5-dance), Ian and Ate Helen placed 4th, while Bon and his partner Beth came in 2nd.

This is only the second time that I watched a dancesport competition live, and I always leave it inspired. It made me feel a little more excited when the time would come that it would be my turn to compete.

I found Ian, Ate Helen and Bon outside the stadium after the whole event, so I said hello and congratulated them. Ian then told me that he already found a partner for me, and that I resume classes with him soon to prep up for next year's first quarter ranking and competition. My golly, he really wants me out there by next year. So yeah, after brief exchanges on Facebook after I had posted photos and videos of Saturday's event, I start next month. I have 2 weeks to get back in top shape before I go back under Ian's wing. Let's do this!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm finally on Blogger.

So yeah, after years of using different blogging platforms, I've finally resorted to the ever popular Blogger. I'm still going to be cross-posting my entries from LiveJournal and Tabulas, though. But now that Multiply's blogging feature will soon be gone in about a couple of months, and they can only import blog entries to Blogger and Tumblr, I figured, hey, I'll just get a Blogger account because I still do have other entries on Multiply that weren't cross-posted on LJ and Tabulas due to my certain privacy settings.

So, yeah, there. Hi, I'm finally on Blogger.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

An encounter with the pole.

"The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise," Jacob (Ryan Gosling) had said in the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love.

He had no idea how hard pole dancing was.

During a cast party of 9 Works Theatricals' Rent about a couple of years ago, I won a free hour of pole dancing lessons in the raffle. I never got to avail of it, so it eventually expired. I never even tried to contact Polecats about it. Even though I do have a little curiosity about pole dancing, I guess it didn't quite spark my interest that much.

I do follow the Polecats' sites on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and just recently I started following their blog as well. I guess it was under the influence of knowing that I have a friend who's a Polecat (Kris), but that was it. Kris is a friend I met through a couple of musical theater workshops at least a decade ago, and after that, we sort of drifted apart.

So anyway, after reading all those posts on their blog site, I started becoming a little more curious, and decided to check out one class to see what it's like. I didn't really have any expectations though, as I have no dance background whatsoever, unless you include my 5 months of ballroom dancing classes.

Yesterday was that day. I was told there was a 1pm beginners class, and also a 2pm class that afternoon (I didn't want to wake up early for the 10am class). I was planning to take the 1pm class, but I didn't exactly calculate the Saturday traffic and commute to Ortigas, plus I had to walk to the place just so I know how to get there without relying on cabs.

I arrived at the Polecats studio while the 1pm class was still going on. There was just one student, one of the teachers (I think it was Kayleen), plus another girl who was somewhat assisting her. I signed up for the next class and filled out a form, then I just sat there watching the last few minutes of the 1pm class. A few girls started trickling in for the next class, and when I saw a couple of girls filling out forms as well, I was relieved that I wouldn't be the only first-timer.

One of the girls approached the rest of us, introducing herself as a blogger who would be documenting her experience, asking if we would mind if photos of us in class would be taken. Of course we wouldn't, though in the back of my mind, I wondered if I would look like the total fool in the photos who didn't know what she was doing with her pole. I got around to talking to her after that. She introduced herself (Joanne) and her boyfriend (eep, forgot his name, sorry), and I told them that I was also a blogger, and asked if I could also link her blog and photos to mine. So yes, I'll be linking it at the end of this blog once she posts them.

Our teacher was Sheng, whom I recognized as Monang, the comical maid in Magsimula Ka. After starting the class with warmups, she asked us first-timers to take the first row of poles right in front of her, while the rest took the others. Eep.

Sheng first taught us some basic spins. The fireman spin. Then there was an "extended fireman," (with one leg stretched out), but when I searched it on YouTube, it was called the martini spin. Plus another spin where you end up on your knees. I forgot what it was called, but on YouTube, it's named the showgirl spin.

I was having fun doing the spins because I easily caught on. I thought it was going to be as easy as those, until Sheng started to teach us a basic climb while she had the other students climb their own poles all the way to the top. At this part of the class, I can only hang on to the pole for a couple of seconds, and then I could feel myself slipping. I watched Joanne in envy, as she easily managed this than I could. While I was still trying to work on it, we had to learn how to do the dreamgirl plus another trick. Once again, I could only stay on the pole halfway through, then slip back down again. I could feel my right calf bruising already. Damn, I realized I had no upper body strength at all.

We ended the class with a little dance with our poles, and I liked that part because we didn't have to do any more climbing, haha. A little choreo, ending with a basic spin, then we had to cool down in one corner of the studio because AJ's men's pole class had to begin. I felt that my arms had turned to jelly after class, and Joanne and I were joking about it as we exchanged blog links.

Even with my jelly-like arms, I managed to make it to yesterday's evening show of Atlantis Productions' Nine at RCBC. It's one awesome show that I was glad I didn't miss. Plus it was an opportunity to see Carlo and Micah again. Dyown was supposed to watch too, but she had to bail at the last minute because her shift at work ended later than she had expected.

So I didn't really conquer the pole. I don't think I'm cut out for pole dancing, because I'm more comfortable staying on the floor with ballroom dancing, hahaha. Plus I rely on muscle memory and lots of practice to get the hang of things, and I don't have my own pole to do it. But I still felt accomplished because I eventually got off my bum to try it out once for curiosity's sake. It's not as easy as others may think, as it requires a lot of power and strength to execute all those tricks and stunts. Thank you so much, Polecats, for this opportunity.

Here's Joanne's blog entry about Polecats. She also posted photos of herself during our class. If you see that teeny splash of bright blue shorts behind her, that's me. Thank goodness I'm not visible so as not to make a fool of myself, hahaha.