2nd Annual Collegiate Rendezvous Weekend and Chevy Chase Ballroom (CCB)

I want to combine these next two events into one post because they’re both swing related.  The 2nd Annual Collegiate Rendezvous Weekend was April 8-10, which I did a pre-post on a while back.  I could only attend the Saturday workshops and GE dance that night, but they were well worth it.  I mean, hello, Ben Ricard and Yuval Hod in the same studio?  It’s gotta be!

Jenny, Dylan, and I skipped the aerial workshops and studied for a bit in Subway.  We started with Yuval’s swing technique at 12 noon, where we were taken back to the basics.  This helped improve my frame and ability to follow, so props to Yuval for creating his trick.  I would tell, but what would be the point of taking his workshop? ;)

The second workshop focused on swing outs.  Ben taught the guys some footwork while Yuval taught the girls an alternate to the swivel.  Throughout the workshops, Ben and Yuval would demonstrate what the partners would look like, both trading off the lead and follow roles every now and then, showing their ability to take control but also knowing when to compliment the partner.  I really enjoyed Yuval’s teaching style – he’s funny, informative, and picks out specific things to work on which really helps the individual improve.  After we got the gist we partnered up and practiced the swing outs together, which was a lot harder than I anticipated.  I had to worry about getting the steps right, working on my bounce, and making sure I wasn’t too tense.  Yuval told us that the point of this lesson was to teach the guys to wait for us ladies to swivel on the whips, and for us to learn some new fancy footwork.  In the end, it’s really a personal option but we had fun in the process.

We learned a neat little dip in our third lesson.  When Yuval first showed it to us, I thought he was joking.  The way he just grabbed his partner by the neck, shouted “Hi-yah!” and pushed her backwards sort of threw me off haha.  This dip is really about the illusion of it looking grand, but as long as the footwork and distance between the partners is right, everything else should fall into place.  My partner had the tendency to move when he wasn’t supposed to, so Yuval planted a stool next to him, telling him that he must stay where the stool is, otherwise we would have to start the sequence all over again.  It helped!

The last workshop of the day was the Charleston.  Here, Ben took more of the instructor role while Yuval hung out in the back.  This workshop proved how tiring swing can be and how much endurance swing dancers need when performing a routine.  My feet hurt after simply bouncing for 10 minutes.  For most of this workshop we did various footwork in a circle and learned a move that “breakdancers stole from swing.”  Then we learned some partnering Charleston steps, which wrapped up the lesson in a fun and relaxing way.  By the time we were finished (6PM), we were all beat, but there was a still the GE dance with Roomful of Blues later that night.  Jenny and I dragged ourselves to the JC for food, returned to our dorms to change, and went back out to GE for another four hours of dancing.

It took a while getting adjusted to the music, but I had some good dances to start off the night.  Ashlee, Bryan, Jenny, and I participated in the Jack and Jill contest, which having looked at the way I dance, I can tell there are soo many things I have to work on.  Here’s the all skate:

Glen Echo Park 4/9/11 | Jack and Jill All Skate | Video Credit: Ashlee Duncan

Bryan and Jenny became the champions of the night!  Congratulations!  From watching this video 100 times, I found out I need to work on my bounce and let loose on my swing outs.  Somehow, I can do that easily in blues, but I guess I get nervous about getting the steps right in swing so I tense up.  That reminds me, I had a really good blues dance with one lead and I still remember being super happy and relaxed throughout it.

This Monday, I went to Chevy Chase Ballroom (CCB) for the first time since last spring; it definitely brought back some memories of when I first started swing dancing.  I like the intimacy of this venue – it’s similar to the GE Ballroom Annex, only brighter.  The big mirrors give me a huge advantage of peaking at myself so I can work on things while I’m dancing.  In the middle of the night, I realized that I haven’t been bouncing on my rock step, so I started working on this for the next few dances.  I think this was one of the biggest reasons I looked so stiff, because afterwards I noticed that I looked much more in rhythm with the music.

Afterwards, we went to Booeymonger, a deli-like restaurant with massive sandwiches and crispy potato wedges on their regular menu.  I ordered the Gatsby Arrow, a sandwich with roast beef, brie cheese, spinach, and avocado served on French bread.  Maryam had the Californian which was a classic chicken salad served on a kaiser roll, and we split a side of potato wedges.  It was the perfect treat after another great night of dancing.  Let’s see if I can fit another night of blues before I head back home!

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