Last night, Daniel and I got a special treat: we got to take a master class from Tony Dovolani of Dancing With the Stars fame. He was in Atlanta rehearsing with his DWTS season 18 partner NeNe Leakes (Real Housewives of Atlanta) at Academy Ballroom and decided to offer a class. Being star-struck goofballs and avid DWTS fans, we said yes to the class as soon as we heard about it! Tony is very nice and approachable, very funny, and an excellent teacher. He focused on Latin/Rhythm technique and styling with an emphasis on balance and using energy. Instead of breaking the technique down into small, detailed elements (foot pressure, knee bend, body position, etc.) he had us do figure 8s with our hips and then use our arms and bodies to style the movement in different ways: light/heavy, free/bound, wringing in/wringing out, and impact/impulse. The idea is that if you think about how your body would react naturally to a certain idea or situation, the styling will happen naturally rather than having to be forced and looking artificial or uncomfortable. He did give us a couple of fundamental corrections having to do with weight placement: he says he doesn’t dance Latin on the balls of his feet (as dancers are typically taught) but uses the whole foot depending on where the weight is placed. It makes sense if you consider that, for instance, your weight naturally goes toward the outside of the midfoot if you isolate your hip to the side. He also pointed out that women tend to stick our bums out too much and that doing so actually limits the range of hip motion and tweaks your back. If you point your tailbone down, ballerina-style, and use your abs to move your hips, it becomes easier and looks better from the side/back. This correction was a revelation to me: I am bad about sticking my bum out and I have noticed in the past that my figure 8 doesn’t quite work all the way around–I can feel my back “sticking” as I go through the middle of the 8. Lo and behold, as soon as I tucked my pelvis in and made my obliques do more of the work, that figure 8 was like buttah. I still need to practice the motion a million times but, as Tony pointed out, I can do that while I’m brushing my teeth.
It was a great experience and definitely worth making the trip. And of course we took pictures: