Posts Tagged ‘ECBF’

A stolen weekend…

All that has gone on in my life since September has been intensity and stress. Good stress, but stress none-the-less.  This weekend I stole my weekend, and life back and it was wonderful.

Friday began very very early, with work, and then it was home to pack and get ready for my weekend. But first, a surprising phone call where it seems that the distraction may not be as gone as I thought.  No major changes but not disappearing as I first thought.  That’s fine and I am going to take him at his word — that he has been really busy.  I didn’t specifically state that I was assuming that ‘he’s just not that into me’ because that seemed to show a lack of self-confidence etc.  That being said, my guard is back up and I am still going to move forward with my own plans and as for the future? Who knows.  I am going to take all that one day at a time.  For now, I’m happy I was honest about certain things in the conversation (without flipping out) and we’ll see what the future brings. Or doesn’t.

After that conversation, I did the mad scramble (and didn’t forget a thing!) to get out the door and head to Seattle for this year’s Emerald City Blues Festival.  We made it to the dance in record time (not stopping) and it was an amazing night! Both nights of dancing, in fact, were fantastic. The energy is amazing, there were people from all over ready and excited about dancing. What’s an even better treat is the number that are excited about dancing with ME! I love dancing in Seattle or other cities because for the most part the people there don’t have the lazy arrogant attitude that dancers here have — I can easily ask people to dance, but so do the leads. I know they want to dance with me, I know they’re excited to see me and dance with me.  It was WONDERFUL! At one point I could see a lead I know walking up to me to dance with me, and a second lead got between us to ask me to dance.  At this one moment I had two leads  both with outstretched arms trying to dance with me.  A much needed ego boost! I made sure to do the polite thing and I danced with the guy who got in between my friend and I. The reason? I didn’t know him. I made sure to find my friend ASAP too.

The second night was more of the same. I felt beautiful.  I even wore a new dress I’d not yet had the guts to wear, and I looked great!  There were many amazing dances and I’ve developed a new dance crush. I love those, those mutual connections with someone that lead to amazing dances. I don’t know how many times we danced but it was a lot.

This year I didn’t do the classes. I’d wanted to, but was hesitating after the gong show classes at ABP earlier this year (those classes were a  big mistake, even if the event was great!). To be honest, given how disenchanted I’ve been with dancing in Vancouver and how stressed school’s had me, the fact that I had a relaxing weekend and dances that gave me the excited spark back, means I made the right choices.

So what did I do with my free daytime? I ran. And ran. And ran. It was my longest solo training run — I’ve always had a running community around to run with. But not this time. I did manage to get part of the marathon route done (I’m running the Seattle Marathon at the end of the month). It went well, and was a good run, except that I fell. Yup, banged up knee and twisted my ankle and everything. I need to replace my running tights, now.   Fortunately it was only a mild ankle twist, and with a bit of care I was able to dance.  So for runners out there: Seattle has horrible sidewalks for the most part (99.9% of the run I had my head down watching for dangerous spots. The 0.1% was when I was looking at a garbage can and throwing something away — I missed the hole that was there), so take care while running. Otherwise it was a great city and a great run. The runners I met while I was out remind me of what I love about Vancouver running and showed me that I could find a community like the one I have here should I decide to leave Vancouver once school’s done.

Sunday was a day for sleeping and doing some studying. Not nearly enough, and I know I’ll spend my Nov 11th catching up, but I needed the break. I feel relaxed and refreshed and ready to face whatever this next week has for me. For now though, it’s time I sleep so that I can face work, then home for a bit, then clinical until late late late.


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Dance Classes at ECBF

I took notes in my classes this weekend and I wanted to summarize them here — so that I can find them again, and so that I don’t have to try to sort out my notes in the future…

Fast Blues

  • STRETCH — into the floor but can still lengthening the body, dynamic. Hitting the ends
  • RELAX — all parts
  • FEELING THE FLOOR — down and into it. Picture a floor 2 inches below the actual floor
  • MOVEMENTS: Shake and Bake, Slow Drag, ‘applejack style’

Delta Blues

  • resisting/stretch
  • movement with your centre but improvising with the feet (not necessarily on the ‘correct’ foot but still having your centre following the lead).
  • A comment that I got when asked for feedback: More “In” connection through the chest rather than the ‘out connection’ that is my default. Worked on this a lot this weekend, and when I did, I realized that it’s so much nicer than the out. As long as the lead allows the connection through the chest and doesn’t keep it in ‘default lindy closed’
  • Tempo and energy and mood ar different things and listening to each part could make you respond differently. LISTEN to the lyrics, the tempo and energy could be up but the lyrics/mood could be sad/grieving. It all plays a role in responding to the music

Spins And Turns

  • Spin Techniques and practicing
  • Down to stabilize
  • Build momentum and compression
  • Both sides
  • Two handed ‘angled turn’


  • Posture
  • 1&a 2a
  • Movement and weight transfers where does the momentum come from –> from the sending leg
  • hip action up back to neutral and down in front
  • Contra movement
  • All dances have a base in african movement, with african hip motion and rhythm action
  • No hop steps all action from the driving leg
  • Body initiated, drive through sending leg and receive

Advanced Improvisation

By putting yourself in a “box” you can experience methods of improvisation and creativity to expand your dance. This was easily the class where I had the most fun:

The boxes we played with were:

  1. Your normal is an 11, dance at a 2.
  2. Dance at different levels
  3. Rotation — all dancing is rotation
  4. In open only
  5. Front to back at all times, no face to face closed
  6. Stretching and hitting the ends with different parts of your body
  7. Dynamic Range — changing the range of the dance. Not always at 2 or 11 but varying it based on what the music said.

Steven and Virginie

These classes were taped for their DVD so I can buy the DVD to see the class again:

  • Waltz steps in blues
  • swaying in movement and flexibility
  • more african movements
  • turn with over rotation and routine

The short of it is I want to take some African dance classes…

These notes are brief, but the classes were fast and intense and pushed me to my limits. It was exactly what I needed. I literally used up every ounce of energy in those classes. They were fantastic.

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Emerald City Blues Festival

It was an epic weekend. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately in terms of my personal life. This weekend at the Emerald City Blues Festival was exactly what I needed.  A fairly blasé weekend would have been almost stressful and distracting, I needed intensity, I needed busy-ness and distraction.  Unfortunately, I was hoping (but not expecting) that someone I was getting to know would be there. But, he wasn’t.  And that’s okay. I realize, thanks to some other things going on, that he’s not a long term potential.   But I still needed distraction from what I’m processing right now, here.

This particular trip the intensity and distraction came in the form of dancing. I quite literally danced myself to exhaustion. Friday we arrived at the dance, and had some fun dances, it was a great beginning to the weekend. We danced until maybe 3am, so that we’d get some decent sleep as we had auditions the next morning.


Most of my Vancouver friends are annoyed with the audition process.  I can understand why, in many ways. Two instructors taught a class and the rest were evaluating small groups of dancers. Rather than big groups, we were split into small groups based on our last name.  I was in a group with quite a number of fantastic leads. We were to take the class and the other instructors evaluated each of us. My group’s evaluators were Damon Stone and Heidi Fite.  In my level placement, I put ‘Level 2’ which was described as follows:

Level II –  This level focuses on dynamic range. You should already be familiar with different styles of blues dance, and be able to adapt them to different styles of music. You can expect to learn challenging vocabulary at a faster pace as well as variations and body shaping within that vocabulary. You can also expect to have your fundamental movement refined and clarified. If your body is your instrument then you will be learning to play with the tone and dynamics you choose across a variety of syncopations.

I find it hard to know where my level is at. I don’t know what to think of myself in terms of my dancing. I know leads enjoy dancing with me, but I have really don’t know where to place myself.  Anyhow, I was in a group of dancers with a couple of friends and mostly dancers I didn’t know.  I was really lucky in that I was with a number of dancers of a wide range abilities.  I threw myself into dancing and I decided that I was going to have fun, work on my dancing this weekend and not take it personally regardless of what level I was placed at.   I decided that if I was placed at Level I:

Level I – This level focuses on fundamentals, and is not appropriate for people with no prior social dance experience. Social dance experience is required. You can expect to learn a range of vocabulary for broad application to your social dancing. If your body is your instrument then you will be learning to use every key at a variety of tempos. See burnblue.org for group lessons in Seattle or for private instruction use theContact Us link for a list of local teachers. This level does not require auditions.

My friends and I talked about having fun regardless. I threw myself into dancing and tried to have as much fun as I could with every lead. Some were better than others, and we had leads of all abilities. I didn’t want to stress about being evaluated so I focused on relaxing and having fun.  Some leads were pulled out pretty early and placed in Level III. I realized that my group was lead heavy but I also thought ‘oh well’… But I did see Topher and Damon chat, gesture in my direction and then Damon came up to me and made a small correction. Deep down I was a little disappointed in myself thinking “if he needs to correct something so small what level would they put me in”. But I think it was a test to see how I respond to correction, and to see if I made the correction and maintained it. Which I did. I also accepted the correction happily and thanked him.

In the end… I was placed in Level III… the advanced level. This is the description:

Level III – This level is by audition or recommendation only. Your body is your instrument. As you choose, you can elicit a wide variety of responses from your audience. You can expect to learn complex vocabularies at an accelerated pace with a focus on subtleties of expression.

I realize there are a lot of fantastic follows from Vancouver, and one in particular who was there and would have been fine at Level III, and I realize that there are follows who definitely would have been Level III who didn’t take classes or go to the weekend. But it was pretty cool to be the only Vancouver Follow in the auditions to be in Level III. In fact, there were only 4 Vancouver dancers in our level, my friend A (a lead), and two instructors.  It was a great ego and confidence boost.


Wow. They were intense, I was pushed, worked hard and learned a lot. I didn’t have a single second for distractions…

Okay, it’s late, I’ll have to update the dance classes comments, the dancing comments, the comments about shoes, challenges from last night and thoughts of tonight later.

For now though I really must sleep.

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