It’s been quite a while since I wrote a post about dancing … in fact the last one was when I posted a 2018 Year in review with little updates on various things be it blogging, dancing or my career. So, I thought it was about time to run through and bring you up to speed on everything that’s happened since then! When I look back at my post A Letter to my younger dancing self which I wrote over three years ago now, things have changed so much!
I have to look at this post pre-lockdown, pre-self isolation, pre-Covid-19 … that’s where my dance journey has gone on hold … the point where for the first week of a 12 week isolation meant I cried at the thought of not dancing … I know in the grand scheme of things, not dancing for three months is nothing … people are loosing their lives, their loved ones and many more are sick … however I allowed myself some time to be selfish and on a personal level, yes, not dancing did upset me and of course not as much as not seeing my family and friends, just to clarify!
So, pre lockdown, how did dancing look? Well, I still dance with DanceRite, on a Tuesday evening for class and a Saturday for my private lessons. 2019 was my final year at Gold level, my final year dancing a strict syllabus in my medal tests and competitions. Alongside that however, I started dancing a new circuit called Pro-Am. Pro-Am is essentially a Professional and Amateur dancing together so I dance with my Teacher. It has long been a popular competitive arena in America and it’s gradually becoming increasingly seen in the UK. I jumped at the chance to try one of these competitions and the first opportunity was being held at the Blackpool Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom! I LOVE dancing there! It’s certainly a special place!
The event itself it set up different to what I’m used to…the categories, the entries, the heats, the results and so on. You can dance in the Pro-Am event, upto Gold Syllabus steps or Variation or the Teacher-Student event with the same upto Gold or Variation options. I danced in a few events, the Teacher Student Under 40’s Ballroom up to Gold and the Teacher Student Under 40’s Latin up to Gold which meant that for those two events, I had to dance two dances from three that had been practised. What I did like about the way this event worked is that the results weren’t read out whilst we stood at the edge of the floor in anticipation of numbers being read out … instead they were posted on a board within about five minutes of being on the floor! In Ballroom I was super chuffed as I was recalled twice and made the final!
I also danced in the Pro-Am Latin Under 40’s Variation section. That was pretty scary as it was a straight final of only 4 couples … dancing 3 of all 5 known latin dances! I had Samba, Paso and Jive … by Jive I was half dead! Haha! I clearly recall Fredric yelling ‘Come on Rachel!!!’ trying to get me to speed up and not be so heavy!! The other thing I liked about the set up or should I say follow up from these events (from which can I say, the trophies are pretty special too!) … was the fact you can log on to a site and see all of the individual results by each judge in each dance. So it is good to see exactly how many judges placed you in whatever position. For example at another event I was recalled in Ballroom to the final and could see that although I placed 6th … I could see that in some dances, I’d been marked 4th by some Judges so that’s quite good to see!
I then went on to dance at the Oxford Town Hall, a beautiful event in which I won the Pro-Am up to Gold … ok I was against one other person but I was placed 1st in all three dances by all Judges so I’ll take that! Haha! Three dances in a row is no mean feat! I also danced in the Teacher-Student category dancing variation … I will admit I was pretty scared to be attempting hops, skips and jumps!!! I made the final in that one too! Loved it!
Following that I danced at the BIC in Bournemouth … another lovely venue. I had been quite poorly in the lead up to that event so probably shouldn’t have done it but I really wanted to! I didn’t have the greatest experience thanks to how I felt so I’m hoping next time will be better!
So that’s Pro-Am! As for my regional competitions, as I mentioned, it was my final year at Gold and on the whole I was dancing much better according to my Teacher … who realistically regardless of the results, knows whether or not I am developing! I did win a few of the competitions during that year which I was pleased about of course! Blackpool Grand Finals unfortunately weren’t to be that year due to a number of reasons we were as a school unable to attend. I also completed my Gold exams … completion of the syllabus medal criteria! Social Dance Test to Gold … that’s a lot of dancing!
Dancing at the Pro-Am events has stood me in good stead for the start of my next adventure which is Gold Star … where syllabus isn’t quite left behind but it is massively built upon with variation steps and choreography … I’m not gonna lie … some of it is pretty scary to learn but it’s also a lot of fun – once I get the hang of it of course!
I even performed a Variation Waltz at the Christmas party which was so much fun, a beautiful track to dance to and even included a little lift at the start!
Moving into 2020 I was determined that I wanted to take an additional exam before embarking on my Gold Star journey. A memorial award dedicated to a very influencial person in the dance world called Josephine Bradley. This award required me to dance 8 dances – 4 ballroom and 4 latin … luckily I was able to complete this literally a few weeks before lockdown so I have no idea when the results will be in!!
If you’ve made it this far down the post, Thank you and well done haha!
I don’t know at what point I will be able to return to dancing … even if lockdown is lifted in the coming weeks, I’m only 4 weeks into the 12 weeks self-isolation.
For now, I’ll keep revisiting my dance videos from competitions and from practice sessions, looking through photos and seeing my development … and also dancing via Zoom on a Friday night with the Dance family!
Wherever you are, stay safe and well …
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