Things to Work on After BluesShout 2011

Really great dancers from BluesShout 2011

Big dance events, especially big competition dance events have drama all their own, and while BluesShout 2011 at times seemed to be a whirlwind exercise of mental fortitude, I came out of BluesShout with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to actually learn how to dance. The following blog post are some of my notes after this great event.

What Am I Doing Here???

So the biggest single accomplishment I have ever done in my relatively short blues career is making to the spotlight finals. Now to call it a “career” is a bit of a stretch since a career implies I am actually in the “black” in regards to this activity. It’s really more like a very expensive obsession (see previous year’s worth of blog posts) that I can’t seem to wrap my head around. Anyways, so I made it to the finals for the *champion* jack and jills! OMGoose!!!

So flashback to the dance competition. I am about to dance to an audience full of blues fanatics from around the country and I look over to the right and guess who it is? None other than the Chris and Campbell Dance Factory whom I just took a private lesson a few weeks prior to the event. Now to my left is my hero and filipino icon John Joven and slightly behind him is Tim from Los Angeles who taught me (without even him knowing it) various blues aesthetics through some boot leg videos of a workshop he did for my friends in Vancouver. To top it all off, in front of me are some very intimidating judges with some even more intimidating clipboards.

So besides the obvious disbelief that I’m competing with some of my dance teachers and awesome DANCERS FROM YOUTUBE, there is this uneasy feeling in my gut that I’m going to be exposed as a fraud from Canada. Doesn’t seem like fun does it? Well, to be honest it was a blast!!! Except I royally SUCKED assmar in that competition. Barghhh.

Back to the Drawing Board

My absolute favourite aspect of dance is the constant need for re-invention and continual improvement. Besides keeping me off the streets, knowing that there is always something new to learn really gels with my personality even though I’m perpetually in the following dance mental cycle:

I suck -> I’m not bad -> I’m bad-ass! -> !@#$ I suck

For some people, I can imagine this being very demoralizing and hard to take. I would say that half of my dance life is in the “i really suck” frame of mind. However, I think dancers are masochist by nature so thats why we keep doing it.

So on the way home from Boston on my flight, I wrote a couple of notes of things that I can start working on immediately to improve my blues dancing. Note, this probably won’t make any sense to 99% of people but hey, it’s my blog right? 😉

1. Basics, Stretching, Compression, Posture, Tension – otherwise known as blues dancing. !@#$.

2. Return to being a Youtube Student – take the time every month to sit down and just watch some great clips of blues dancing and learn what people are doing. This is pretty much how I learned dancing to begin with in general but the past year I have been spending less and less time on youtube for dance related stuff. Obviously there can never be enough time for watching dance clips on youtube so I don’t know what I have been thinking here.

3. Less organizing, more practicing! – nuff said.

4. Fast blues!? – Why is this so hard!?? Time to really dedicate some time to actually dancing to fast blues instead of making a b-line straight for the washroom or bar.

5. Relaxing my arms and shoulders – I noticed this more this event than any other event I have ever been to. Before my private lesson with Chris and Campbell, I didn’t even notice that I was doing it. My theory is that the tension of my arms and shoulders is a by-product if dancing in blues scenes that are still fairly inexperienced in dance partnering mechanics. In order to protect my limbs from being snapped off, I establish this base through my core to my arms just in case my follow and I started tipping over to one side too suddenly, hence a lot of tension in shoulders and my arms. Another theory I have is I subconsciencely flex my guns, you know, for effect.

6. Leading moves all the way through – I don’t since I’m a pretty lazy dancer. Easy concept but a lot harder on execution. Also, to work on not being lazy…

7. Ask more teachers to dance! – Face my fear!

8. Less solo dancing and more solo blues dancing. – Aarghh.

9. Slow down on movements – I don’t know how I can honestly do this without some sort of spiritual journey or something. Maybe take up yoga?

10. Lose weight, look good on Youtube – p90x baby!

The Flip Trend?

A final observation. So I noticed a really encouraging trend during the past two BluesShouts. Last year Dextor Santos pretty much won all the competitions with his Facebook fan page sexy trend moves and this year John Joven murdered the rest with his Google+ circles of awesomeness.

What’s the common denominator? They are both flips! Hurray!

According to my BluesShout math, next year is definitely is my year then unless of course another filipino starts blues dancing. But as you’ve probably heard before though, “there can be only one.” I imagine it would look a little something like this.

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