This week will be the inaugural congress of the LA Hustle Movement founded and led by Shay Dixon. There will be performances, competitions, master classes and social dance parties throughout the weekend from Sept. 27th-29th. People from all over the country are gathering to celebrate Hustle partner dancing. There will also be salsa and west coast swing dance genres integrated into the weekend program.
I am in SoCal at the moment prepping all of my students and amateurs competing with me in the Pro-Am (Professional-Ametuer) division of the competitive event. All of my students competing here are female and thus most all wear high heels when they dance. I’ve been social dancing with my heels with my students ever since I started this project and blog. Although I have taken my high-heeled journey to the professional stage and competition floor since, I have yet to do it with my students. I have decided this event will be the first event I will compete in my high heels with my students in a Pro-Am event.
As I began with each of my students, we worked first in flat shoes together to warm-up and then together in high heels. We experience the same journey together and have an equal exchange in our approach to the teaching/learning process. I have to say it is very challenging to teach all day in heels. Performing and dancing is one thing — you get on the floor and do your number for about 3-6mins and get off and rest — but teaching you are standing for hours! It’s much more taxing on the body. I honestly had to take a break and switch from high heels to flats to give my feet (and rest of my body) a break to make it through the day. It definitely struck a great feeling of empathy for women, both teachers and students, who teach and learn partner dancing in heels for hours in a day. No one should force or required anyone to do such a thing! It should be only by choice. Should you choose to wear high heels to teach, ice those feet when you get home! I did...
My students recognized that when both of us are in high heels they can’t rely on me as a support as much because my platform of stability is thin and tenuous just as theirs. This means they have to find a new strength within their own bodies to support themselves more when dancing with me as their partner. It is teaching them a greater sense of self reliance in their dancing rather the the reliance of the other to support them. Through this enhanced self-connection, the connection with their partner is lighter and softer and both of us can enjoy the experience and sensations that high heels encourage without throwing off the other person’s sense of balance. Is this not how partner dancing should be in the first place? I personally am finding that as a teacher, placing myself in the same shoes as my students (literally and metaphorically) helps our connection as teacher and student deepen. If their in flats I’m in flats; if their in heels, I’m in heels. We are both equal.
Here is a testimony from one on my students, Robin Mock, who will be competing with me in the Pro-Am division this weekend about her experience with me practicing with her in high heels:
Make sure to purchase tickets to the LA Hustle Congress this weekend September 27th-29th!! All the info. you need you can find here: http://lahustlecongress.com/