Technical Tips: Floor craft for Ballroom Dancing

Show etiquette, awareness, and confidence whilst dancing amongst others.

Here we draw a little focus on the all import art of floor craft and give some top tips for dancing with freedom on those busy ballroom dance floors.

Dance like a champion and navigate like a sea-faring captain

Part of the challenge of the very popular social dances and even some of the really busy competitions, lies with the skilful art of floor craft; that developed awareness to find your space on the dance floor, never to come into contact or intimidate another couple, and to continue the quality of your dancing using the freedom of the floor. In general the larger challenge lies with the standard ballroom dances than the Latin dances, although take a look at this little extract and Franco Formica’s and Sergey Surkov’s infamous floor craft ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhW8tTjae0k, around 1m29s). We’ll focus on floor craft in ballroom here although similar principals apply to the Latin dances.

Don’t just learn inflexible routines

From the outset it is clear if you have an inflexible group of figures in a set routine which you cannot freely deviate from, it is going to be difficult for you; you’ll need some good fortune to get around a busy floor in this way without interruption (We should probably clarify that in our quest for great floor craft, that excludes elbowing your way through the crowd!). If you have a carefully crafted routine, with it you should have the ability to adapt to different floors and other dancers. All of the top dancers have beautifully prepared choreography, but all of them have the equal ability to improvise freely and effortlessly should they need to. If your routine is set like concrete then, to start with, maybe break your routine into distinct groups of figures and if you find yourself unable to dance one group, develop the ability to switch to another group instead. More generally though, try to build in some of the floor craft skills within this routine, some of which we’ll touch on now.

Ensure the two bodies are working together

A good starting point for improving floor craft is to ensure that leader-follower relationship is a finely tuned duet, singing in perfect harmony. From the outset try to feel the bodyweights are dancing well with each other; be aware of togetherness from the moment you take the hold (See our blog discussing the hold). Maybe just stand in hold and take a walk together, ‘switch on’ to each other. What you need to achieve, is that confident feeling that if the leader deviates from a routine with sufficient clarity, you, as a couple, have the correct dancing relationship to stay together and maintain your best qualities. Ask yourself if you have sufficient togetherness, or if that is something you could develop further as you practice. The togetherness between the two of you will often determine how confidently you can dance on a busy dance floor.

Increase your dance vocabulary

Vocabulary, or your knowledge of a range of steps, within each dance will also ease your pathway to dance floor prowess. Eventually you will need to be confident with several figures turning right, left and so on. Up to a point, a developed vocabulary in the dances gives more options with what, therefore where, to dance next; its one thing seeing a space but if you haven’t any means of dancing into it, it won’t help! For social dancing, learn a few of the checking actions as they are useful – try a Chair, Contra Check, Back Check, Checked Naturals and Reverses. Equally, have a good grasp of travelling figures with stronger movement for when you have space to progress.

Know how to work your directions and angles

Finally, let’s consider some of the alignments within figures and see where we can find some floor craft improvements. Be aware of alignments within turning figures. Quite often for those figures where there is an alignment facing diagonally centre, starting leader’s left foot forward, the first step turns too much and deviates off that alignment; the Reverse Turn in Waltz, for example. It’s quite common to start turning too early whereby the figure dances to centre, rather than diagonally centre; the progression around the dance floor grinds to a halt. Test your turns to see if they really are dancing where they should be.

Don’t Spin Turn on a postage stamp, get it moving

The final top-tip for ‘direction corrections’ concerns the wonderful Spin Turn in a corner. The corners are frequently popular where the line of dance coincides and changes. Ensure the figure moves across and away from the corner. Often the Spin Turn is danced on the spot, too much under-turned for the corner, then the couple ends up reversing for a step or two against the old line of dance straight into those heading into the corner next. Don’t worry; there’s no need to fit reverse parking sensors just yet. All you have to do is spin across the corner. If you imagine a diagonal line running out of the corner, just ensure you dance into the corner on one side of that line, and then take your Spin Turn across the corner to dance out on the other side of the line.

When you next hit a busy dance floor, enjoy the challenge of dancing freely amongst the other couples. Show some etiquette, super awareness, and confidence whilst dancing amongst others. Enjoy improving your togetherness if you find your spontaneous side starts to take over but keep a check on those naughty directions.

Happy dancing!

Dance Partnership Relations!

How to survive dance partnerships

We’ve previously written about partnering in the ballroom and Latin American dances, but here we’ll just digress a little more from the physical advisories, to the emotional and social ones. Before you send us for a sanity check (yet another one), bear with it because your inter-partner relationship is, in our opinion, equally important as all of the technical knowledge flooding into the body. Whilst by no means marriage guidance councillors, between us we have seen enough close and distant dance relationships to help share some common themes. It can limit enjoyment, and learning progression and like most other aspects, there are technical tips to ease things along when trouble brews.

 

Help increase, not decrease, each other’s enjoyment & motivation

Perhaps the number one thing to realise and remember is that your partner, like you, is almost certainly doing their best, and it is never their intention to make mistakes or make the dancing more difficult than it should be. This sounds obvious, but sometimes in our quest for the latest regional dancing championship title (!) we can get frustrated and start seeking every possible improvement outside of ourselves to focus on. Try to avoid the overly-critical approach with your partner and learn to value the positives in what they dance more. You can successfully motivate each other to aspire for better quality, but only with a positive approach will that process become enjoyable and fulfilling for the both of you. If you regularly give feedback to your partner on their dancing and there is a defensive or distance-seeking response (not necessarily verbal by the way), then there needs to be a change of approach in the way you interact with each other. In cases of the blame-game, perhaps try apologising for your part in the problem even though you may feel only partly to blame. Fix that approach first before you spend more time on physical improvement and you will improve more positively together. If you cannot fix that, just agree to never, ever feedback negatively on the other’s dancing.

 

What if you find yourself feeling defensive?

If you feel in yourself that you become defensive and wish to distance yourself from your partner’s intentions of ‘constructive feedback’, then also you could try a change of approach. This might take some experimenting with but aim to listen without responding or reacting in the first instance. Try to understand what your partner is saying and listen openly to it, initially without reply. Calmly think about the meaning of what they are saying and try to take the positive from that in order to rationalise the important dancing bits.

Positivity breeds positivity; try aiming to give some positive feedback to your partner every time you practice.

Positivity breeds positivity; try aiming to give some positive feedback to your partner every time you practice. Maybe you especially enjoyed or had a great feeling from one or two aspects of the dancing during your practice, in which case you should share that with your partner and be encouraging, without being patronising. It is worthwhile understanding which aspects your partner might be focused on and developing; perhaps something they’ve been finding especially challenging has just come together for the first time – celebration time! If the roles were reversed, you would be grateful for some appreciation and healthy respect for what each other is going through to improve your dancing together.

 

There is a limit…

Now, if things have blown up and it all gets a bit rude and demeaning or perhaps even worse than that, stop the dance conversation calmly but firmly, perhaps suggesting that you are ready to listen only when spoken to calmly and reasonably. In working together and compromising, that doesn’t mean compromising your whole sense of values and worth. Regrettably we have known rare cases where we’ve had to encourage one half of the partnership to stand up to unreasonable behaviour from the other half, obviously as well as foster a better sense of cooperation from the offensive half! In general, we are incredibly lucky with lovely couples for our teaching, but in one isolated case we’ve even known a couple be asked to converse more acceptably or leave. We’ve so rarely known it get to that point, but for any dancers and teachers out there who ever come across dance relationships that cross the line, be aware of that and don’t feel in any way it has to be acceptable just for the sake of harmony; it is not ok.

 

Finally, we go back to the usual heart of our technical discussions, about the physical aspect of the dance. Try to clearly feel what you are dancing and enjoy those actions, gaining some positive feedback for yourself as you dance. Don’t approach that heel turn with fear in your heart, try to approach it with opportunity for feeling something special in your dancing. If that fast spin in the jive has been a cause of stress and tension, aim to use some burst of positive energy before you dance it to ease you through. Starting to get a clear feel for each of the action that might otherwise be a bit foggy, should help you achieve a more positive state, and in turn that more positive feel is proven to help you through the fog. Doubtless that will rub off on your much-loved partner too.

 

Whilst by no means an encyclopaedia of the emotional side to partnering, maybe we’ve touched on some of the key issues enough to make you think about possible improvements with your partner and we hope that helps translate to your dancing too.

Happy partnering!

Another amazing Ball!

Autumn Ball – Bath

It was great to see so many enjoying the ball on Saturday. We’d been working hard to ensure the feel of the venue and preparations created a good atmosphere, but it makes it so worthwhile seeing everyone enjoying themselves.

Normally when you hire an enormous venue, like the fabulous Pavilion in Bath, it looks a little different by day than when you see it at the ball. A huge amount of preparation goes into bringing an enjoyable atmosphere to the venue and we’ve invested so much time and money into what you see here.

 

Before & After

From This…                                                            to This…

 

Our wonderful live band “Quickstep” seem to be getting used to us and had added yet more variety to their great line up of modern and classic dance music.

Quickstep

Quickstep kept us dancing all night to some fabulous music

The players did say to us how much they’d enjoyed playing for such good dancing again and are already looking forward to May!

AJ, Chloe, & Joanna

AJ, Chloe, & Joanna

This time our cabaret was danced by AJ & Chloe, Britain’s very own youth champions and a lovely couple too. Our big venue is an intimidating place to perform but we thought AJ & Chloe danced a great show and it was terrific to have the chance to interact with them for a while.

AJ & Chloe

AJ & Chloe danced superbly under that famous mirror ball.

At 18 and 19 years old, you might just have seen the future worlds champions in the making.

Of course, AJ & Chloe didn’t dance the whole night long like the rest of us! It was great to see so many enjoying their dancing – that is what all those lessons are for after all.

Giant Party Dance

Giant Party Dance

Some even looked full of beans at midnight, so well done to everyone for making it such a wonderful atmosphere.

Speaking of world champions, our next big Ball is during the Bath Weekender, on 30th May 2015. Once again we have pulled a rabbit from the hat and managed to arrange a very, very special cabaret by the world professional Latin champions, Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis. Michael & Joanna will have just danced the previous evening to defend their 7 Blackpool titles and attempt a record 8th title. This will be a unique occasion so make a note in the diary, tickets will be on sale in January.

If you would like more information, click here http://www.vivaladance.co.uk/bathballroomweekend.

Technical Tips : Timing is not just for the feet

Tech Tips : Timing is not just for the feet

In our latest blog post, we look beyond the basic timing of some of the ballroom and Latin American dances and explore timings for different parts of the body to allow the dance to develop.

One of the differences we can see between the beginner dancer and the experienced dancer is a greater use of timing. As a dancer’s capability increases, so does the ability to isolate different parts of the body. This can offer an enhanced movement, the addition of style and interpretation within a figure, and an improved feel for the body weights through leading and following.

For example, learning the Rumba for the first time, the beginner dancer might just place the feet and body at exactly the same instant. The result can make the dance appear slightly staccato, particularly as the full value of a ‘slow’ is not danced. We’ll start to explore some different timing and appreciate some differences.

Start with your feet together, weight over one foot (choose your favourite!). Deliberately move your body to the side at the same time as your foot, as far as you can without cheating too much, ending with your feet apart. Of course, this is impossible to do unless you fall into the moving foot, or if you’ve shifted some of your weight in the opposite direction to help counterbalance.

Now set your feet a relaxed distance apart with your body weight fully over one foot, the other foot being held free to the side. By that, we mean your centre of gravity is now over one foot.

Keeping the balls of your feet in place slowly transfer your centre of gravity until it arrives fully over the ball of your other foot. Play with the speed of the weight transfer from one foot to the other and explore a combination of fast and slow between the feet. Feel the body mid-way between the feet:

Between The Feet

Between The Feet

Try the same exercise with one foot forwards in front of the other. Feel the body moving from one foot to the other and play with the resistance in the ankles, legs and core to change the way the body moves between the feet.

In that situation, relative to the floor, you have two stationary feet (allowing the free stretch and movement within) and a moving centre that shifts from one foot to the other; clearly our foot timing and body timing are different.

Clearly the feet and centre are not the only points that can move freely of each other. It is the coordination of a number of these points – how they relate, their timings, and resistances – that builds a toolkit for a more bodily expressive dancer. If we keep this in mind, we’ll look briefly at some particular examples.

First let’s take a look at the wonderful, smooth Slow Foxtrot. We consider just the first step of the Feather Step for both leader and follower. We’ve all heard teachers saying about feeling the body weight being between the feet; between the heel of the front foot and the ball of the back foot. For the follower that means the back foot has advanced in the direction of travel both further, and therefore faster (in this instance) than our body. The same can be said for the leader:

In fact if you want to arrive truly midway between your feet then the moving foot must travel twice as quickly as the body in order to cover twice the distance and there will be a time when your feet are stationary but the body is moving (that was the exercise that we motivated earlier on). So once we move on from the early days of Slow Foxtrot learning, we realise we must time the body, not the feet. This doesn’t have to bring with it a rush for the Paracetamol though. The great news is that if you time the body correctly the feet will kindly look after themselves!

If you really want a bit of fun during coffee and try this Hip-hop Happy Feet isolation exercise

Finally let’s just look briefly at a different part of our body and explore some timing changes there. Consider a Spot Turn in Rumba with an awareness of both the direction of where you look, and where your centre points to. As we all know, a high degree of independent movement exists here – you can look behind you without turning your body for example.

Try dancing the Spot Turn three different ways with the relative timings between centre direction and face direction. First dance the head turn at exactly the same time as the body turn. Next try advancing the head turn before the body is turned. Finally, turn the body first, following with the head. Explore which you normally dance and feel the differences of each body part timing through the spine as we twist. In actual practice you need to have this freedom of expression and between you and your partner each version offers a different feel.

When you next head for a practice, keep in mind to explore the timing of the parts of the body and be aware of what timing you would like to dance. Take some time of your own to be even more aware of the feet, the knees the hips, ribcage, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, heads and feel how those places are moved, when they move and how they interact. Don’t go crazy, as too much thinking can leave you frozen solid; instead aim to feel the actions you dance and how you bring the musicality through your body.

Happy Dancing!

Technical Tips : Ballroom & Latin Dancing Holds

Ballroom & Latin Dancing Holds

In this post, we look at some of the differences between the ballroom and Latin American normal holds, and remind ourselves of a few of the key ingredients for a good frame before we even start moving the picture around the dance floor. We look at various aspects from the fingers, arms, elbows, bodies, stretch, and, if you have any capacity for more, how to increase awareness of some of those areas through practice and exercises.

A stylish, smart ballroom hold can be something we take for granted as our pursuit for mastering the latest steps becomes our reason to be. Let’s take a few minutes first just to remind ourselves of some properties of the hold as we prepare to hit the dance floor.

The Ballroom Hold

For our ballroom hold, first we ensure our weight is carried forwards, not backwards, as we prepare to take the hold. Followers, have a look at the side view of your wonderful leader and check that the torso is vertical, not sloping backwards in an effort to gain volume and shape. If your leader looks like they’re doing the limbo (sometimes they really are!), then just reach for their favourite tipple and balance it on top of their head for a while (Try Bill Irvine’s Tea Cup trick https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVYDXfSbiN4 ).

We stand slightly offset from our centres to allow the right front of our bodies, from our hipline to mid-torso, overlap with each other. We normally teach our beginner dancers to use a greater overlap, then encourage reducing the overlap as their dancing progresses; stand too much to each other’s right side from the outset and you’ll often end up completely side-by-side in the classic ‘hip-toss’ position!

Ballroom Hold

Keep the arms held with tone.

Vertical Stretch

For both roles, we should feel a strong vertical stretch; something very distinct from a rise! A little exercise used to illustrate this is to find a willing partner to place their hand firmly on your head. Now stand up straight and with your heels on the ground feel that you are pushing up against their hand as they push slightly harder down on your head. Gradually release the hand but maintain that stretched feel; walk around, rise then release your weight, but maintain that vertical stretch as you move. Now ask yourself if you normally dance your ballroom and Latin with a good stretch or not.

Arms : a few reminders

A few reminders about the arms next, starting with a good stretch across the elbows as we form a frame. Hold the arms with tone, gently sloping from the shoulder line, but without undue physicality.

Try and sense this tone stops in the wrist area. For example, the leader’s right wrist makes a vertical connection to the follower and the leader’s right hand will then follow the follower’s back. Take a look at our position here which is not our fully developed hold, but slightly more relaxed.

For the joined hand, ensure that the follower’s fingers aren’t squeezed to death by the leader’s left hand but rolled elegantly over the top of the leader’s v-shaped fingers of the left hand.

Ballroom Hold

The joined hands of the ballroom hold

Also check the raised hand is mid-way between leader and follower as it can be frequently seen preferring to edge behind the follower!

Let the body dance!

With the close proximity of each other in ballroom dancing, it is quite often the leader’s right hand which is given the fatal opportunity of guiding the follower into the latest figures gleaned from the re-run of Strictly. As all good leader’s know however, it is the leader’s body that should be doing the work allowing the right hand to have a much less stressful time, gently following the follower’s back.

The Latin Dancing Hold

In social dances we quite often see Latin dances approached with a hold too similar to a ballroom hold with the elbows alongside the body. One of the biggest changes we see from ballroom to Latin is the increased distance between leader and follower to allow for freer movement. In order to achieve this, we must release the arms more forward than our ballroom hold. Imagine you hold a small hula-hoop between the two of you and be aware of maintaining your own dance spaces as you dance, only invading the other’s space by way of ‘dance invitation’.

Latin Hold

The Latin Hold from one side

Latin Hold

The Latin Hold from the other side

Keep this hold relaxed, free, but with tone and be very aware of returning to a good, smart-looking normal Latin hold after changing holds for other choreography.

Changing Holds

It is good to be very distinct with the different holds and have an awareness of your own dancing space and how that relates to each other for all of the variations you dance. Ensure with the changing holds you have a very free and quick change between the various hand positions and connections. Without moving, try switching your holds and hand positions very freely from one to another, making the transitions clean and precise. Quite often it isn’t the next figure which gives complications, but what happens in between which helps bring clarity. Maintain the vertical stretch we exercised for our ballroom hold too.

Give the hold some priority

The development of hold or frame should be seen as an area which develops like any other aspect of dancing. With the tendency to focus on learning the steps and latest choreography trends, some of these common qualities, and others we haven’t had time to mention here, can easily get overlooked. A few minutes spent on them can bring great rewards and we’ll be discussing other ways to bring even more quality into your dancing in a future post.

Ballroom Dance Classes in Bath

Ballroom Dance Classes Bath

Just to bring you right up to date with Viva La Dance’s ballroom classes in Bath. These are held every Monday night (except Bank Holidays) in the amazing Assembly Rooms period ballrooms in central Bath. These are well established classes that have grown in recent years and support a range of class levels.

What do we teach?

We have a full programme on a Monday night which starts with a beginner session at 7pm and covers basic steps in Waltz, Quickstep, Cha Cha Cha and Jive as well as a few simple variations in each (but not all in the same week we hasten to add!). It is best to join the beginners towards the start of a new course, typically September, January and after Easter.

Novice Ballroom Dancing

From 8pm we run our second level called ‘novice’. This is for those who have completed the beginner course so have some knowledge of the basics at least in Waltz, Quickstep, Cha Cha Cha and Jive. The novice class will help develop these dances and give introductions to others such as Rumba, Samba, Tango and the wonderful Slow Foxtrot. As well as learning the steps, there is increasing help in developing technique necessary to become a really good dancer.

Improvers Ballroom Dancing

From 9pm we offer an hour’s class aimed at improver dancers; those who know the basics in the ballroom and Latin styles and look to develop their dancing further. We teach more developed variations in each of the dancers which are designed to improve dancer’s skillsets and enable a good understanding of the dances to freestyle whenever the occasion arises! We have dancers attend these classes from significant distances away, looking to pick up what tips they can to make the dancing great.

The evening then opens out to general dancing and practice, supervised by our teachers, from 10.00pm until 10.30pm, or earlier if everyone has flat batteries by then!

When to join?

Several have been enquiring when it is best to join these classes. For the beginner courses, as these are taught in a progressive way, it is best to join at the start of a new courses. New courses start frequently but sometimes do fill up so please let us know in advance if you plan to come along.

For those who dance already, it’s always best to let us know in advance if you plan to attend. Either give us a call, or e-mail us and we’d be happy to advise on the best class for you and welcome you into the class.

The Bath classes are, in our opinion, a great way to learn some of these famous dances in a relaxed and fun way, whilst picking up some of those top tips along the way. The venue is unbeatable as well; the setting is probably one of the finest in the UK, if not the world, for this type of activity.

We hope you think about giving it a go in the near future. Don’t worry if you feel you won’t be able to dance from the outset, lessons are there to help you learn and no-one is born dancing, it’s all things that are learnt. The great thing about learning to dance though is the fun you can have along the way. Just laugh at those naughty feet if they’re not doing what you want and in no time at all you’ll be a diamond on the dance floor.

Viva La Dance!

Neil & Ekaterina win on their Professional Blackpool debut!

A dream start

NeilKatyaJoannaWebJust a little note from us for those who came to that wonderful Spring Ball in May and were lucky enough to see the amazing cabaret of Neil Jones & Ekaterina Sokolova.

Well, we have some good news! Last night Neil & Katya entered their first ever Professional Latin competition at Blackpool (what a place to start!) and became the Professional Latin Rising Star Champions for 2013!!!

An incredible achievement in a year that certainly they will never forget. We all wish them a huge congratulations and look forward to seeing them sometime again in the future.

What a ball!

Big Spring Ball & Workshops Day in Bath : Review & Notes

As most dancers in and around the Southwest were seemingly aware, on Saturday 4th May 2013 there was our big Ballroom & Latin event in the wonderful Bath Pavilion. We worked hard to put together a day of interesting, useful, & highly topical workshops, with a big dance for everyone to enjoy in the evening under the enormous roof in this great city-centre venue.

We’ve been inundated, and slightly overwhelmed, by so many lovely comments, e-mails and great feedback from the whole day; it’s great to know all that hard work was worth it with so many dancers having such a great time. We’d like to thank all of you for taking the time to send us a message, and for those already asking, rest assured plans were already underway for our next big events.

The workshops

For the morning workshops, James & Joanna showed us two matched groups for Quickstep and Waltz. The Quickstep group featured in the first class of the day themed around developing connection; achieving and maintaining that all important togetherness in the ballroom dances. They gave the following group:

  • Hover to promenade position (Slow, Quick, Quick)
  • Single Side lock (Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow)
  • Quick Open Reverse (Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick)
  • Backward Half of the “Basic” (Progressive Chasse, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow)

Then they highlighted the key places where they often feel connection can easily be lost, emphasising what to be aware of in order to keep the togetherness through the more tricky aspects of the group. Everyone wrestled very well with the group and what James & Joanna had to say, and there was much practice on the floor after the class finished.

The second class developed the use of shape in a similar group in the Waltz with some famous props from our childhood which soon brought everyone into laughter.

  • Hover to promenade position (1, 2, 3)
  • Double Side lock (1, 2 &, 3 &)
  • First three steps of an Open Reverse (1, 2, 3)
  • …stepping backward then sideways holding promenade position (1, 2, 3)
  • Changing the sway into an oversway (1, 2, 3)
  • Changing the shape again and transferring the weight to a Right Lunge (1, 2)
  • Recovering to a slip pivot (3 &)

Again, the group was well received with so much enthusiasm after the class. The development of shape is not easy but James & Joanna made it seem as easy as Hula-hooping.

The afternoon Latin American workshops were given by none other than current World Amateur Latin American Champions, Neil Jones & Ekaterina Sokolova who represent the UK all over the world. These two are a lovely young couple and gave their time so generously in the afternoon, carried away by the clear enthusiasm for what they had to say.

They spoke about what is important for them in a good basic action, centering their own body weight clearly before moving in a new or continued direction. Neil & Katya clearly worked to ensure the group understood their topic and gave their time freely to couples in the group with some great fun and a bit of humour along the way.

Their second workshop focused on connection and they explained how something as basic breathing, and synchronizing their breathing places together was their number one priority. This was a wonderful opportunity to come and interact with the World Champions and it was wonderful to take a break from what can be the endless stream of new steps, to come back to basics and quality throughout the day. A great day which really gave some extra excitement for the evening…

And so to the Ball!

Bath Ball

Wonderful atmosphere at the Bath Spring ball

We don’t want to say too much about the evening, leaving you mainly to your own great memories, but what a wonderful atmosphere. It was very positive to see such a range of dancers taking part in the ball in the great setting of the enormous Bath Pavilion. We were treated to the live music of Tony & The Sapphires, a dance band we’ve been working closely with, who continue to seem to strengthen and produce great music for dancing. Now largely run by the experienced hands of Antonio Socci, this band have really come on in leaps and bounds and are surely becoming one of the best dance bands out there now. It was a great set from them once they took flight on Saturday.

After the interest in Neil & Katya’s workshops during the day, it was with added excitement that their cabaret unfolded in front of the big crowd later in the evening. Such humble quality in their dancing, captivating but never over the top, and drawing such a warm response from everyone. They seemed to be dancing better than ever, even with the odd choreographic surprise (yes, by the way, that Rumba was improvised on the spot!). We just hope we’ll be able to bring them back to Bath again some time in the future as it’s an increasingly international world for them now, such is their following and talent.

Joanna Neil Katya

World Amateur Latin Dance Champions, Neil & Katya, with Joanna

 

So what next? Our next ball is on Saturday 26th October, our Masked Ball, and once again hosted at Bath Pavilion, featuring the amazing ten dance cabaret of Glenn Boyce & Kayleigh Andrews. Our Spring Ball 2014 will be on Saturday 10th May and feature none other than the World Professional Ballroom Champions Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova!!! Don’t miss these, add it to the diary now.

All of the latest information is now available on the Viva La Dance web-page here, and tickets are also available at our classes or other events if you plan to attend those.

Thank you for making it such a special day and we look forward to seeing you all again soon!

James & Joanna

Argentine Tango in Bath – a match made in heaven

Argentine Tango in Bath

James Joanna Bath

James & Joanna, professional dancers based in Bath, UK

Many years ago, Bath was alive with the masses attending Balls and social events in the beautiful period buildings in central Bath.

With the influence of international arts and cultures, Bath’s world heritage is evolving and currently features a world heritage status dance; the enigmatic Argentine Tango.

With Midnight Tango about to appear at the wonderful Theatre Royal in Bath, we explain why this is a poignant and befitting visit for our World Heritage city.

Bath’s Midnight Tango magnificence

It might not happen at midnight, but several night’s of the week Bath’s cultural quarters embrace the passion of the Argentine Tango. Complete beginners, curious for the experience of a lifetime in the arms of a loved one, take to the floor under the careful gaze of experienced teachers, about to work their magical introduction to the intimate world of the Argentine Tango. It’s more than first appears – behind every twist and turn there are nuances and a controlled, yet liberatingly shared experience. The same could be said for the wonderful city which is Bath, with it’s entanglement of history, quality and surely a romance to which most soon feel the effects.

The Tango Trance

Experienced Tango dancers stroll in, braced for their evening of magical enchantment, men keen to impress and ladies eager to indulge. The absorbing dance transports you to places otherwise beyond reach. It takes a consuming concentration which conveniently allows all the hustle and bustle of the day, all those niggles and pressures, to disappear somewhere unknown for a while as the artists set about creating the dance.

Tango dancers know the patience they must have to learn and develop their dance, bringing with it a quality that never stops growing – Bath wasn’t built in a day and neither is that magical Tango dancer. It takes many years to understand and develop the quality of movement seen in experienced Tango dancers. It’s great to experience those first few lessons of something new but then Tango is something to be nurtured, committed to and developed – the returns it gives are something beyond a casual night out together.

Gainsborough would have loved the Tango

Those who have helped nurture and develop Bath, with its World Heritage status have had similar experience with evolving the quality and growth of the city over time. Bath is a city steeped in history (whether you look back to Mesoliths, steam-loving Romans, the early Bath Chronicles or even to Sally Lunn’s Buns!) proudly displaying some of it’s delights to the touristic masses, but happily hiding some of the best cultural gems for it’s wonderful residents. It evokes an innate curiosity like the passion of the midnight Tango couple without any care but for what they are about to embrace.

So, Theatre Royal, we salute you and thank you for bringing not just a wonderful dance show to your stage but for bringing to Bath its dancing alter ego; the Argentine Tango, world heritage dance being embraced by a world heritage city.

Big Spring Ball & Workshops Day : World Champions in Bath

Big Spring Ball & Workshops Day : World Champions in Bath

As followers of the Viva La Dance website, or dancers in our dance classes might already know, Saturday 4th May 2013 will see a big event for Ballroom & Latin dancers in the Southwest. We’ve worked very hard to put together a day of interesting, useful, & highly topical workshops, with a big dance for everyone to enjoy in the evening under the enormous roof of Bath’s Pavilion.

Saturday 4th May 2013

Not only that, but the Latin American workshops will be given by none other than two time and current World Latin American Champions, Neil Jones & Ekaterina Sokolova who represent the UK all over the world (see this short Youtube clip of them dancing Samba on the stairs at the January UK Internationals!).

World Latin Dance Champions ready to treat us all!

These two are a lovely young couple and if past experience is anything to go by they will be bringing with them not only their enormous experience and success, but some great fun and a bit of humour along the way.

This is a great opportunity to come and interact with the World Champions, and to take some useful teaching from them to improve your dancing. Make the most of it as they’re unlikely to be in Bath again in the near future!

James & Joanna will be putting us through our paces too!

The morning’s Ballroom workshops will be delivered by Bath’s very own teachers, James & Joanna Whitehead ISTD IDTA, from Viva La Dance, who have just been invited to lecture for the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance’ famous summer congress once again. The Ballroom workshops will focus on two very topical themes of Connection and Shape & Style, important ingredients for developing a better feel and look to the dance.

..and then the Big Spring Ball brings Bath dancing to life

After spending the day fine-tuning your dancing skills and picking up the latest style and refinements, you can put it all to good use and have fun at the big Spring Ball, a formal dance night with live music, cash bar, and, wait for it….., the fabulous cabaret of the World Champions up close. Dust off the formal evening wear (black tie or evening dresses), apply a little glamour and some dances shoes, then you’re off to the ball. This is the perfect way to finish the day. We’ll mostly be playing a wonderful mix of Ballroom & Latin American music, with a few of the famous sequence styles and maybe the odd surprise thrown in for good measure.

All of the information and on-line booking is now available on the Viva La Dance web-page here, and tickets are also available at our classes or other events if you plan to attend those.

We can’t wait for the big May day and hope you are free to make the most of it all too!