Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sacramento Dance Venues Part Three: The Ballroom of Sacramento

I will start this post with a reminder that I am an instructor at The Ballroom of Sacramento, lest a reader think I'm trying to hide anything!

The Ballroom of Sacramento at 6009 Folsom Blvd. is one of the oldest ballroom dancing studios in the Sacramento area--they opened in 1996 and a lot of studios have come and gone in that time. It is a very large studio and probably one of the largest in the state, if not the country. The main floor alone is 3,750 square feet--bigger than a competition floor, which makes it a great place to practice. There is tons of seating around it. In addition, there is a smaller, but still very large floor upstairs, plus four more smaller teaching rooms, a couple of which are big enough for group classes. As a result, the studio offers two or three group classes PER HOUR, three hours per night, Monday through Thursday. The full schedule is posted on the website.

The owner/manager is Linda Infante, the celebrated DJ, who makes everyone feel welcome. Many great friendships and marriages, including my own, came about because of The Ballroom. The atmosphere is very friendly, supportive, and encouraging to all.

There is country dancing (including swing, line dancing, couples dances, and partner dances like waltz and two step) with lessons on Friday and a ballroom dance with lessons on Saturday. You can find classes or private lessons here for almost any type of partner dance, including ballroom, country, lindy, west coast swing, and tango. There are classes and teachers who specialize in competition or social dancing, and all levels of students from the very beginner with "two left feet" to the open level competitor. People drop in to take a few lessons for their wedding or to start a lifelong hobby.

The latter is one of the things I love about The Ballroom of Sacramento. There IS something for everyone, but they do it all well. Because each teacher has his or her own specialty, they're good at what they do, and the classes are fun and inviting. Heck, I'm an instructor and from time to time you'll see me in someone else's class just because I enjoy taking them, and I always learn something.

The Friday and Saturday night dances are always fun, with good music that is all danceable, free snacks, and lots of people in attendance. There are mixers to make sure you get out on the floor and maybe meet someone new. I've had some nice surprises in those mixers!

Maybe I'm biased, but I honestly feel The Ballroom of Sacramento is a great place to dance, for lessons and social dancing. Visit their website for more info and schedules. New to dance or have never taken a private lesson? Check out the Introductory Special: just $79 for two private lessons and two passes to a Friday or Saturday night dance. A $126 value! Valid for a limited time only, for beginning dancers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dance class review: Tango Technique with Michelle Gorre

For the past few months, I have been attending Michelle Gorre's Tango Technique class, so I thought I'd share my thoughts. Bear in mind, I am a dance instructor myself and always have my critic's hat on when I attend another teacher's class, plus I'm picky and straightforward and tend not to give praise unless it's truly deserved. Those of you who have taken my classes know I tend to be a pretty straight shooter in that regard!

First, an overview of the class: Michelle runs this almost like an aerobics or Jazzercise type class. She starts with warm ups, then we do individual exercises, each designed to carry over directly into the dance--tondus (or maybe it's spelled tendu--pointing the foot with a straight leg), extensions (taking a step larger than your typically comfortable stride, but in a technically correct manner), turns, collection and balance exercises, ochos, and other things I don't know the name of.

After the warm-up we usually move on to things that require a lot of thought, balance, and coordination, and then end with fun rhythmic exercises that are still challenging, but require a little less thought and control. Sometimes we do partnering exercise to get some practical application for things we've been working on, work on lead and follow skills, etc. We then do a cool-down, and she puts on music to let us dance a couple of songs and put what we just worked on to the test...or just let loose a little.

My thoughts: I find this a VERY beneficial class, not only for my Tango, but for my other dances as well, especially since I've gotten out of the habit of practicing the past couple of years. It has strengthened my core and improved my balance. Certain things, like how I use  my feet, are becoming automatic, so I can concentrate on other things (like following). I like the balance of the different exercises, how Michelle explains why we do things the way we do, and rewords her explanations or adjusts the exercises if we're not getting it. She demands excellence of us, which I love, and praises us when it's deserved. Oh, and she's fun, with a positive energy. My style of teacher.

The class is currently held on Tuesdays at 6:30 at the Sierra 2 Center, Studio 1, on 24th Street and 4th Avenue in Sacramento. The price is $12 for a drop-in or $40 for the month. I wish she could do it a little cheaper, but she has to pay rent and make something for herself, so don't hold that against her. Join her facebook group to stay on top of any changes!