May 1, 2015

So you think you can dance?

The Madrid dance class on stageThis last week has been filled with lots of dancing.  I never really considered myself much of a dancer before coming here.  The only real dancing that I’d ever done was in the various theatrical productions I’ve been in over the years.

As most of you probably know, this semester I took Latin Rhythms and Dance and I’m very glad that I did.  I always have been a musician at heart and it had always seemed sort of silly to me to simply dance to music when you could be making it – especially when the song has lyrics.

In the very beginning of the semester, I was distracted a little by the music, as in “whoa, that’s a really cool horn part,” or I would really like a bass line and decide to figure out the chord progression so I can mimic it later.  I still like music very much, but as the semester rolled on, I got used to just moving with the music, having fun, and using the music as a tool rather than as the main focus.

Scott Paulis with Paulina, his tango partner

Paulina, my tango partner.

So back to my week.  We’ll start with last Thursday.  Susi (my dance teacher) said she would take us out to the Latin Dance club again.  She met us at a bar near her house, but decided that she was too tired and told us to go without her.  She works as a physical therapist on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so I don’t really blame her.

Only five other people from my dance class ended up coming to Azucar (the name of the club).  Our group included three guys from Lafayette and three girls from SLU who happened to be our dance partners in class. That was really convenient because it gave us an opportunity to practice together a little bit.  Alex and Tori, who are from Lafayette but are not in our dance class, came too.

I had a great time the first time I went to the club in the beginning of the semester, but I had much more fun this time.  Dancing is, as are most things, much more fun the better you get at it.  While I am by no means an expert salsa dancer, I know much more now than I did at the beginning of the semester.  I didn’t have to think as hard about what I was doing and I have many more moves in my vocabulary.  I also danced with mostly the same person all night.  Because we’d danced together so many times before, it was much easier for me to communicate to her what I was doing than it would have been if I’d been dancing with someone I wasn’t as comfortable with (leading is hard).

Scot Paulis with Cece, his salsa partner.

Cece, my salsa partner.

On Tuesday, instead of having our normal class, we had a dress rehearsal on the stage that lasted from 2:00 until around 6:30.  The change in surroundings did seem to make things a little harder, but by our final run through, I had done both dances that I was in without any mistakes.

The performance was on Wednesday evening.  We all got there at 3:30 and ran through it once before the actual show.  Besides the very crowded back stage area, I had a lot of fun and didn’t make any mistakes in the performance.  I danced tango and salsa.  Most people danced in only one number, but as we were short boys, I ended up dancing in two.

My class performance started with a rap battle between Snow White and Elsa that included all of the girls in the class.  Snow White wins, in case you were wondering.  After the rap battle, the seven dwarves marched out to dance tango (while our partners changed quickly).  After tango, Snow White tells Bashful that he’s her favorite and asks if he will still love her tomorrow, and this leads into the bachata section.  After bachata came salsa.  Salsa ended with a Cuban wheel which included everyone in the class.  You move in a circle (surprising, I know) and move on to the next partner after each move.  It’s a lot of fun!

In short, I had a great time not only in this performance but in the classes all semester as well.  I’m even thinking of joining the salsa club when I get back to Lafayette.  I will miss Susi, who was a great teacher and a fun person, as well as all of the new people that I’ve met.  Because dance was my only non-engineering class, most of the non-Lafayette students that I’ve met here have been the people in my dance class.  They’re all wonderful people and I just wish I could bring them (and Susi) back to Lafayette with me.

Happy May Day! Feel free to listen to my old children’s chorus singing the May Day Carol to celebrate:

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