2011 Season

Hey Dancers!

I hope that you’ve all been having a fantastic break and that you are rested up and excited for a fantastic spring semester of dancing! We’ve got a lot planned for you so get ready.

Most importantly we are hosting the 10th Annual Terrier Dancesport Competition on Sunday, February 13th in Metcalf Ballroom so get ready!

Additionally we are, of course, continuing our biweekly lessons with Helle and Amanda/Mark this semester so dust off your shoes and get ready to learn lots of new material to get us ready for a great new semester of competitions. Notably this semester we’ll be attending Harvard Invitational and the MIT Open Ballroom Competition in April; both of these are big two day competitions and are a lot of fun and have some fierce competition so we’ve got a lot of preparing to do for April!

Also this semester we are continuing open practices on Saturdays at FitRec and continuing the competition practice sessions in FitRec on Fridays. Keep an ear open also, Harrison and Haley are planning on trying to get some gym-going sessions together with the team to help work on strength and endurance to keep you going during those long competitions.

Finally, there are a lot of changes being made to this site as we transition over from the old one. Keep an eye out for updates and useful information!

So enjoy the end of vacation and get ready for some great dancing to kick off the new semester!

Lesson Summary 11/18

Hey Dancers! Sorry for such the long span of time without summaries (and the delay in posting this one). I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving and that you didn't forget too much over the short break!

Beginner Lesson

The beginner lesson was American Tango. Most of this lesson was a review of steps and some notes on tango technique. For steps we first reviewed the basic and corte as well as promenade. Then we introduced a new step, the fan from promenade.

Some Notes on Promenade:

  • When closing the lady to you make sure that you don’t pull her in front of you, just rotate and close feet to make her close to you.
  • Also, make sure that when you turn into promenade only your head and hips turn slightly, you should not be turning with your arms.

Intermediate Lesson

During the intermediate lesson we focused on waltz in general and went over some important things to focus on when improving your dancing and for competitions.


Working on timing should be your number one priority. If you need any help hearing music or counting just ask us for some help, we're happy to assist! Being on time is one of the main things judges pick up on during a competition so its very important to master this skill!


Your frame should be your number two priority when preparing for a competition. Some pointers from lessons:

  • Stay active in your frame you don't want to end up looking lazy or bored!
  • Ladies, when looking to the left make sure that your head is not limply to the left, keep upright.
    • Also, keep tone in your right arm -- make sure that it never gets pushed behind you!
  • We also talked about frame in promenade:
    • Make sure that your head and hips both move a little bit to make the promenade but not your arms and not too much movement.

Advanced Lesson

In the advanced lesson we worked on American Viennese Waltz. We reviewed natural and reverse turns as well as the inside and outside spin. Also, we worked on a routine.


  • Reverse turn
  • Cross body lead
  • Underarm turn to opening out (overturned to line of dance)
  • Traveling hand to hand
  • Spin out
  • Underarm turn into develope
  • Choice of Steps:
    • Turn into shadow/airplane for open right turns
      • (airplane starts in 9 counts of run around)
      • if in shadow do three forward runs into lady’s three step free spin

Thursday’s Lessons (10/21)

Hey everyone! I hope that you've all had a great weekend and are looking forward to lessons this week! I wanted to put up a summary of the Standard/Smooth lessons from last Thursday (October 21) just in case you're wondering what all the pointers we went through during the lesson.

Beginner Lesson:

Our beginner lesson on Thursday was American Tango. During this lesson we worked on a sequence fo a few steps: basic walks, basic walks turing, corte, promenade. Also, we started introducing the open reverse turn.

For the basic walks (turning or straight) there are a few things to remember:

  • Men, make sure that you take strong heel steps on both the first and second steps. Make sure that you aren't cheating on the second step.
  • Women, make sure that you move your legs out of the way so that the men can take big steps forward.

For the corte there are a few important things to consider to make this step look nice.

  • Men need to make sure that they do not drop their right side when shaping for the corte. Turn out the left food and step diagonally backward onto food. The shape happens through the hips, not by forcing it.
  • Ladies need to step straight forward and keep their bodies parallel to their partners. Make sure that you keep your eyes up, keeping your gaze up and left towards the ceiling behind you, not down. Also, make sure that you are not collapsing your left side.

Finally, there are a lot of things to remember about promenade.

  • Make sure that the toe is pointed in the direction that you wand to travel in. It is not turned out. Just put a little pressure on the inside ball of your foot and keep your knee angled in towards your partner.
  • Men, make sure that your second step is not make too big because the lady needs to be able to rotate around back to closed position.
  • Also work on not breaking frame when turing to promenade. This is one of the most important things! Break that habit early!
  • To help with above, men make sure that you aren't rotating your frame to turn into promenade: the turn comes from the hips. Also, ladies, don't break at the shoulders to turn, leave your upper body still and just turn your head to the right.

Intermediate Lesson:

For the intermediate lesson, we worked on quickstep and very important basic technique points for making your quickstep easier to dance and look much nicer.

For the beginning of the lesson we worked on progressing basic turns. Make sure that your steps are traveling diagonally center and diagonal wall on the first and fourth steps. Also, it is important that you don't over rotate these to line of dance.

Additionally, make sure that you are focusing on the correct footwork (taking heel steps on the first steps of each figure and toe/heel on the last step of the figure (when moving forward).

Also for lock steps, some pointers:

  • Ladies, make sure that your hips are facing the guy, don't rotate them off to the side, this makes it very hard for you to be led and keeping your hips straight forward will make this step much better.
  • Also, during this step you should feel like you are dancing more sideways and then slightly back (not mostly/completely backwards and slightly side) -- This should be the opposite for the men.

Additionally, we did a little drill to practice moving together through the basic turns and lock steps.

  • Stand in practice hold -- make sure that hips are remaining towards each other.
  • Practice taking side steps and outside partner steps without turing hips away from each other
  • For steps in outside partner, make sure that you are stepping diagonally backward and not rotating hips.

Finally, we finished up working on the spin turn. For this step it is important that they guys end up backing line of dance before turing into the spin. Then they should step back, turning in the back foot (left) and turn on the toe then drop the heel down at the end of the turn prior to stepping on next step. Additionally, for the ladies, it is very important to make sure that you keep your head to the left and to power forward on the first step, you are the one generating the power for this turn! Also, make sure that you brush your feet together between steps 2 and 3.

Advanced Lesson:

During the advanced lesson we worked on American Foxtrot. We reviewed alignments during the open left (reverse) turn starting diagonal center and ending diagonal wall. Also the alignments of the open right turn - diagonal wall to diagonal center. Additionally, we worked on the transition into promenade. When opening into promenade from diagonal right, the promenade should travel towards diagonal wall (or possibly diagonal center) but never down the line of dance. Additionally we worked on specifics of the underarm turn and the underarm turn into the grapevine (with down, down, up, down footwork).

I hope that these summaries help some people! As always, feel free to ask anyone if you have any questions.

Keep practicing!
Bag Lady xx

Latin Workshops at Helle’s Studio

Hey again everyone! I just wanted to pass along the flyer that Helle showed us all on Tuesday about the workshops and rounds that she's going to be having at her studio in Cambridge this coming weekend.

Latin Masters Workshops

Harvard Beginners Competition

Sorry for another late blog post about a competition. Sunday, October 17th was Harvard's fall competition, Harvard Beginners. This competition was pretty exciting from the standpoint that we did not have to leave at 5 AM to get there in time. Unfortunately for all of us this will not happen again until next year, this is the only competition that doesn't start at 7 AM.

Despite the competition not starting until late we all met up in the atrium of stuviII for some quality bonding/hair&makeup doing time.

Getting hair done pre-competition

Getting hair done pre-competition

And then we all migrated over to Harvard on the bus, and after some slight confusion about where were were getting off the bus we managed to get there. And from there the hair-doing continued. Sometimes I feel like dance competitions going by in a whirl of sparkles, hair, and makeup.

More hair-doing ensued once getting to Harvard.

More hair-doing ensued once getting to Harvard.

Of course this is not true. Once all the hair and makeup was done we enjoyed some great dancing. Special congratulations to Fahmil and Kristie for coming in seventh place in the Bronze International Cha/Rumba!

Fahmil and Leo do and Intense Tango

Fahmil and Leo do and Intense Tango

Now we all have some time to work on our technique can routines because our next competition is not until Brown University's competition on November 14th. So keep working hard everyone!! Make sure you keep on coming to Saturday practices and to our Winner Wednesdays/Finalist Fridays to work more individually on your routines and technique!

So! Start working hard because we're all going to be AMAZING at Brown Competition this year and in the meantime get psyched for Montage! on the 7th.
- Bag Lady xx