Followlogie, Part Deux

My flight to Quebec was uneventful, but passing through customs was a different story. The night before I left, I checked the details on a few of the websites and from what I understood, I only needed a copy of my contract and I’d be fine. That wasn’t the case, apparently.

I had the contract, but because it wasn’t on letterhead, it didn’t look official. The custom’s lady didn’t want to let me through and was very annoyed by me. She didn’t know what lindy hop was and couldn’t understand why I was in Quebec; obviously I was trying to take work from Canadians! After some bickering and the declaration of “I don’t think we are going to let you in”, she had to double check with her superior on whether or not I could pass. He, a sweet old man, asked me a few question (which took all of 120 seconds) and then said “Oh, she’s fine. She’s not taking away jobs from Canadians. She is basically giving a seminar. No one else can do what she is being paid to do.” OMG, what a star! That man totally made my day. In my head I was thinking “IN YOUR FACE!!!” to the lady, but said nothing. I gloated to myself once I completely cleared customs.

Fast Forward.

I finally get where I need to go, am picked up, I swing by the house, change, grab some food, and get ready to teach. My first class was a charleston class (see previous entry) and it went super well. I was so pleased with myself. What was most amusing for me was that I was trying to speak in French, but mostly Spanish was coming out, and occasionally German. I’ll be totally honest, I have NO idea how people keep multiple languages separate in their heads; what a skill! (There are photos of the class that look awesome floating around somewhere, and if I find them, I’ll provide a link.)

After class, the dance started and I had some awesome dances. I danced most of the night and was the only instructor from the weekend out on the floor (small victory moment for me!). I was super sweaty and gross by the end, but man, did I have a good time!!!

Saturday was a great day as well. I taught my class on details, did a private, had an awesome lunch, and then Mickey and I walked around the city. It was rather gray outside, but it didn’t stop us from window shopping!  We wandered into the Crock’s Shop, Aldo (which was having a sale), a pastry store (but didn’t get anything), and then a Ren-Fair store. It had clothing from the middle ages, swords, quills, trinkets, fairies, potions, and more. It was quite the experience. We then hustled back to the classes to eat dinner and then prepared to go home.

Tonight was the big dress-up night, so I got all dolled up in a vintage dress I bought about 10 years ago. Here I am in the dress with Nina. There were some great performances that night and some fun social dancing. For late night, I changed out of my gown and got into some clothes I could dance in. I had some more great dances that night and probably got in bed around 3am.

Sunday was my big day, but I got to sleep in because I didn’t have the first class. Yeah! I started my day teaching a technique class which was packed. I couldn’t believe how many people were there! Lots of great questions were asked and lots of good swivels were done. I had a cute guy named Martin teaching with me (he was my Demo Boy) and he did an awesome job of following me. He could pull in on one, on two and on three every time I asked. Shout out time: He ROCKED! The leads also asked a lot of great questions too. I feel like I got them to think about the options they have, or could have. Any class that gets students thinking about what and why they are doing what they are is a success for me.

The choreography class ended up being a lecture. I walked the students through, step by step, how Kevin and I choreograph, from picking a song, to putting on the final touches of a piece. I thought it was a good class. I haven’t taught it before so I didn’t have a flawless flow, but I still think it went along nicely.

The last class of the day was a class on power moves. I had a bunch of ideas, but only got through 2 of them. The biggest challenge was teaching people to do kick-steps down a line while keeping their rhythm. We added arms on top of that, but mostly it was the legs that proved to be a problem. But everybody looked great in the end. 🙂

That night there was no dance, but there was a dinner for the instructors who stayed around. It was really cool to get to hang out afterward, chat about the weekend, drink a beer, and eat some awesome food. They have a really great thing going in Quebec, and Dominique and Vero did an awesome job getting the weekend together. The students asked great questions and were soaking up the information. Yeah!!!

My flight home took ALL day. I got up around 830am, and didn’t get home until about 8pm that night. That sucks, but that’s what I get for not looking at my ticket more closely.

The exciting thing a bout my flight was that I had a bag-check issue. I almost never check my luggage. I don’t have time for it to get lost or miss a connection, and frankly I just don’t need that much stuff (laundry can be done, after all). Well, the plane from Quebec to Toronto was rather small, and my suitcase wasn’t going to fit in the over head, so I gate checked it, assuming it’d be there at the gate when I arrived. I was wrong. I got off the plane, checked with the stewardess, and she said it’d be there at baggage claim. So I headed towards baggage claim, but for where my connection was going to be. Mistake. My bag went to normal baggage claim, but because I had walked through the special glass doors leading to “American territory”, I couldn’t leave to get my bag. After waiting for my bag at the wrong conveyor belt, and some chatting with the guy at the help desk, he went downstairs to get my luggage. How sweet. Those Canadian – they sure are swell!

All in all, the weekend was awesome on a personal and professional level.

If you have pictures, please link them here, or send them to me. Cheers!!

Followlogie 2008

This was a very special weekend for me, perhaps more than most.

Back at CSC, Dominique and I chatted about her putting on an all-girls weekend in Quebec and wanted to know if I was interested in teaching there. I was stoked to be asked. I also found out that I would be headlining alongside of Nina Gilkenson and Annie Trudeau, both of which are exceptionally talented dancers/teachers.

A little while later I needed to come up with class titles. I am very comfortable teaching solo classes, so I figured a charleston class and jazz movement class would be a piece of cake, but I still needed 3 more ideas. I thought teaching a class on choreography would be cool; I didn’t know whether or not I’d have anything profound to say, but I’d at least share how I go about choreographing. Something that was inspiring me at the time were Power Moves. Mostly I feel like the guys dominate in this field, so I liked the idea of working towards something that girls could do….more of a challenge for me, really. Finally, I needed to do something that would be a partnered class, and what do I know how to teach best at that point (partnered)? Connection!! I figured more technique never hurt anyone.

The official class titles and material:

1.20’s Charleston – a routine to ” Putting on the Ritz” by the Pasadena Roof Orchestra. This was a very girly routine that I picture the girls wearing top hats, tux jackets, and something gold underneath. Oh, and let’s not forget the legs!! This was choreographed as a leggy routine!
2. Focus on the Details – this was a jazz class where I taught [what I consider] “proper” jazz technique and some variations. We covered boogie forwards, suzie q’s, and shorty george. We focused on arm positioning, knees, direction of the feet, and heels.
3.  “Things I wish I knew 5 years ago” – partner technique class. There were soooooo many ideas that I had, but in the end I decided to go with bring the girl in on count 1 vs. 2 vs. 3. There were soooo many students in the class that it was a little difficult to teach, but the students were such troopers about the size and the chaos of learning…..it was great. The leads had to work on how to change their body in order to delay the lead, and I asked the follows to keep their swivel going instead of dropping it on 1 or 2 (what I mean is that follows will often swivel on count 1 and then walk in on count 2). Finally, I told the follows that I wanted them to swivel under their bodies instead of letting their feet get out in front of them.
4. Choreography 101 – picking a song, mapping it out so you know how many 8 counts, where the phrases are, musical instruments playing, time codes, etc. Some key points: don’t start on the first music beat, I prefer shorter songs than longer songs, learn to edit music, if you have aerials, figure out how long they take and what kind of entrance you need and choreograph around it. We unfortunately didn’t get to the dancing, so it was more lecture….but people held in there.
5. Power Moves – we did brushes that looked like corkscrews, but they had African-inspired arms. We also worked on turning and kicking down a line and adding in some fierce arms. This was my smallest class.

So now to back it up a bit. A week before I left for Quebec I was down in Argentina testing out my charleston material and I found out the routine took at least 2 hours to teach. Not only that, but in that 2 hours I didn’t even finish the routine. The attention to detail that I wanted the students to pay attention to was a bit higher than I normally require, but for me, the greatness of the routine is in the details. The day before I left for Quebec (which was about 15 hours after I got home) I finally accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to teach the whole routine. Perhaps someday though!

Before leaving Argentina I had a tiny moment of panic. “OMG, what if I don’t have any material?” I thought to myself. Well, I already had class titles and I knew what I was going to do for them, so that was me being silly. “OMG, what if I draw a blank and have nothing to teach?” I furthered. The truth is that I would have to make something up on the spot, and over the years I have being proficient at “pulling things out of my ass” (pardon the phrase) and would just deal with it. “GAAAAAHHH, what if they don’t think I am funny?” I questioned. Well, I have had a record of going to foreign countries and having all my jokes bomb (ehhem….Ukraine), but Quebec wasn’t that far away from the States and many of the students were sure to speak English….and I knew some French which due to that lack of my ability to conjugate and some caveman like phrases I was bound to get a laugh or two. “EEEK, what if I taught things that everyone already knew?” See freak-out number 2.  So all of the things that freaked me out I actually had under control. Thank god!!

So after my little brain-fart, I realized how freaking cool it was to be invited to do something like this. There really have only been a hand-full of ladies that have been invited to teach at an all-girls weekend, and I was going to secure my name on that list. Whoopie!! I am very honored that I was invited to teach, especially the part of getting to headline next to Nina and Annie. OMG, how freaking cool!!!

By the end of the weekend I was very proud of myself. Not only had I taught all of my classes, but I felt like I rocked them. I had a blast teaching in my pseudo-French and was stoked that so many people came to my class. I don’t know if anyone really knew who I was before I showed up, but they do now. But more to the point, I did it. I did this on my own. This is an accomplishment that I can give solely to myself. I have had help preparing for this moment for the last 2 years or so, but I had the opportunity to step up to the plate and prove that I am a great teacher on my own, and I did it. Toot Toot!!! Pat on the back!! I am so proud of myself!!!

Moving along.

To be continued….