Patty and I got back from the Tampa Bay Line Dance classic Sunday afternoon (I've posted a few photos and videos).
It was a wonderful weekend, with tons of line dancing and socializing. We were able to check in early and unpack, then headed downstairs. Registration wasn't open and the dance floors were not down, so we stationed ourselves in the lobby to act as unofficial greeters. There was a steady stream of fellow dancers and instructors from The Villages, and many friends from elsewhere in Florida and around the world.
While we were "on duty" I noticed a lone young woman who seemed familiar, but I couldn't place her. Finally it dawned on me that I was looking at Rhoda Lai, who has choreographed local favorite dances Twinkle and Shining In The Night, and who I've seen in videos countless times as I've taught myself or practiced her dances. I introduced myself and we chatted a little. If any of you read the recent article in the local paper about the event, you saw my quote about how accessible the "famous" instructors are to the rest of us. My lobby conversation with Rhoda was a perfect example.
Not only is she a talented choreographer and a champion competitive dancer, Rhoda is a gifted teacher who made all of our classes fun learning experiences. The last workshop I took from her this morning was her 80-count, 2-wall dance called Love Bachata. It was at the end of the long weekend of learning and the first class at 9:00 in the morning (we'd only had three hours of sleep). But all of the students were smiling as she broke the dance into manageable "chunks" and added championship-level styling as well. It doesn't get much better than that.
Other new staff instructors this year were Shaz Walton from England and Fred Whitehouse from Ireland. Fred is enthusiastic and friendly and his accent (who knew the Irish say "youse?") is charming. Unfortunately, Shaz had to cancel at the last minute due to a medical emergency. I don't know the details, but all of us wish her well.
One of the dances she was scheduled to teach was Azonto, her bouncy phrased dance to the track by Fuse. Word got around that I had taught it, and Jennifer Cameron, the event director, asked if I would step in to teach the workshop. I agreed, thinking that the class wouldn't be so very different from teaching in one of the big ballrooms here at home (thanks Betty and Cheryl for giving me that experience!).
Then Jennifer said, "And you'll do the demo tonight as well, right?"
Uh-oh. That's another story--demonstrating another choreographer's dance in front of the entire ballroom full of professional staff instructors, directors, and eager students who PAID to take workshops. How would they feel about a last-minute substitution by an unknown.
I'd already agreed so I gritted my teeth and smiled and said "sure" in my most confident voice.
I took the step she offered and headed upstairs to my room to practice and psych myself up. Then I had an inspiration, and ran downstairs to track down Rhoda. She didn't know the dance (and had never heard the music). But she agreed to help me and quickly learned the steps, which I taught her in an empty space in the hall. So with her by my side (and knowing that everyone would be looking at HER), I was able to get through the entire 30 seconds of demo without disgracing myself. Whew!
Then when it came time to do the teach the next morning, I imagined that I was in front of my own students here in The Villages, and felt comfortable enough to get through unscathed--almost. At one point I lapsed into doing my beginner version of the dance, but Patty raised her hand and asked, "Are there sambas in there somewhere?"
Why yes, Patty, there are! That put me back on track, and I think it went pretty well. After the teach, one woman came up to tell me that she hadn't intended to take the class, but changed her mind because I had made the demo so much fun.
Woo hoo! Fun is what it's all about, right? Sometimes we (I'm inluding myself) can get so focused on the steps and being "right" that we forget that we're supposed to enjoy it, too.
From Lisa's home page