Ballroom Adventure, Part I

My Russian ballroom adventure has begun!

Through a connection with my Standard coach in the U.S., I’ve gotten in touch with Andrey Bushik, who is a Latin Blackpool finalist and president of the Saint Petersburg Dance Union. And I am very grateful for that connection! Andrey has been so nice and helpful in taking on this helpless American and helping her get her bearings.

He organized a competition here in the city this weekend, which I went to watch. While the event was small, I felt right at home. Even in a completely different country, some things don’t change! There was the Andrey-led chant of “CHA CHA CHA…CHA CHA CHA…” before the competition started, to get everyone in the spirit (and on-beat), the judges with great shoes, and about as much Russian as you hear at a ballroom competition in the States.

(I wasn’t able to take very good, or very many, pictures, because my camera chose this very convenient time to die.)

It was quite amusing to hear almost equally little kids yelling at this adorable couple from the sidelines during their Latin rounds, “Raz, dva, tri, chetirye! Raz, dva, tri, chetirye!”– the  Russian version of “1, 2, 3, 4…1, 2, 3, 4…”— to try to get them on the music! That rumba timing is darn tricky.

You have to admire these little ones. Probably five years old and they take to the dance floor, alone, to dance eight different dances, with impressive coordination, poise, and (mostly) on time. I was cracking up watching this boy during their jive…I thought he would break his feet, he was kicking with such fervor. That kind of determination is what it takes, though. I’m sure they’ll be amazing in just a few year’s time.

Look at that frame!

It was great to be back in Ballroom Land. I realized just how much I miss dancing (and competing). I need to find my way back onto that beautiful parquet floor!

I have gotten to strap on my dancing shoes, though! Tonight I had my first set of lessons here! Andrey and I worked on rumba, cha cha, and the beginnings of samba. As with any new coach, these first lessons were mostly going over basics with Andrey’s approach and specific focuses, with a lot of focus on connection and foot placement, which is apparently Andrey’s “thing” (every judge/coach has one…). It was a relief just to dance and to have things to work on and think about. Taking notes on the metro after…also a familiar feeling.

So far, no luck on the partner search. I had one try-out here, which went ok, but wasn’t  really a good match. Basically the situation as Andrey explain it is, most adult dancers here who would be willing to do 10-dance (Latin and Standard) are either better than me, or have a lot of money and dance socially at “luxury schools.”
This is the post that I have up on a partner search site. So far, no one likes me.  I’m going to work on putting up more on different sites. It’s kind of like online dating, except you get judged harder.

So for now, the plan is to find a convenient place to practice after work, continue taking as many solo lessons as I can afford, and keep up the search for a partner. That’s about all I can do!

As my very wise and wonderful coach Lydia told me before I came here, the important thing is to find a coach that you connect with–not necessarily a big name– and get into the dance community. And there certainly is a wide and enthusiastic dance community here in St. Petersburg. So now I need to find my way into it!


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