Monday, December 21, 2009

The Last Dances with RT.... Farewell to a True Professional

Sorry the blogging has been quiet since last week, but I do have some exciting news! Shortly after my last post, I received a call from RT. RT was calling to let me know that he had an exciting new opportunity to expand and grow in his professional dancing! See, for the last couple of months RT had been auditioning with a new partner, a lovely gal who is very strong in her own right in dance and was looking for a professional partner. I was lucky enough to see one of these practices early on, and I was excited because they seem very well suited for each other. I had been very excited to hear more on this possible partnership for him, the hope was that she would be coming to the area to work and be based here in Chicago.

I am very pleased to tell you that the auditions paid off, and they will now be dance partners! This is something I have wanted to see for my pro for a long time! There is another bit to the news though... In order for this partnership to work, and for RT to be able to grow in his professional career the way he's always wanted, he is going to move to be with her in a brand new studio in Minnesota, NOT here in Illinois as a lot of us had hoped. More surprising still, was that his last day with the studio we've always danced at would be Friday. That's not much time to prepare a proper farewell, let me tell you!

Upon receiving the initial news, I was in a bit of shock... unfortunately I was probably not as warm and excited for RT as he was hoping, but then I always go into a bit of an emotional shut down when I receive big news. I assured him that I was happy for him and that it was going to take a second for the news to sink in. Shortly after the news had sunk in, and I was able to regain composure, I remembered about the one lesson I had saved for a rainy day... I immediately called KIT to have it scheduled. There was NO WAY RT was gonna get out of the studio with out one more lesson with me!

That Lesson was Wednesday, I had thought about trying to schedule the lesson to be on Friday...trying to be the last lesson he would teach on that dance floor...but it didn't seem fitting. A Wednesday lesson was better, we started dancing on a Wednesday 3.5 years ago... it was only fitting that we end on that day of the week as well.

I walked in for my lesson, I had Holiday baked goods for the whole studio...and Holiday cards for RT and Largo, all of which I set out and changed into my practice skirt, new ballroom shoes, and a t-shirt of my own design. My mission was to have this lesson be fun, and a little memerable... I had heard of other students crying, and while I did cry a LOT for how much I would miss RT, I was determined to not be one of the students he sent off in tears, he didn't need that.. he needed his students to be happy for his decision... and I was gonna be just that! RT picked me up for my lesson, and thankfully... I didn't feel like crying! :-) RT wanted, perhaps needed, this to be a happy occasion...and so I'm glad I was able to oblige.

"Hi Kat, let's go." RT said as he picked me up and pulled me to the dance floor.

"Hi, I want to do every dance you've ever taught me all in this lesson!" I replied.

"Ok, then that's the plan," he listened to the music playing "lets start with your favorite." We took up frame to Waltz.

Most of the smooth dances were spent talking or what have you, we chatted about this blog, about my future plans for it, about whether or not I'd be staying at the studio. It was kinda nice to just dance and chat... two of my favorite things to do with RT.

Each time at the music machine was my turn for questions, what's his plan for teaching, what's his plan for competing, and anything else I could think of asking about regarding his move and future.

We roared through all the dances he's ever taught me... see, what most people don't realize or remember is that for the VAST majority of my 3.5 years of dancing... probably at least 2 solid years if you put the time together... it was just me and RT... I didn't have another pro as the Fred Astaire teaching method suggests... it just never worked out that way until Largo hit the scene just over a year ago. So RT has actually been the one to teach me the foundations in ALL the dances. It was a busy lesson!!!

Here is what I call the fast forward version.... cuz while we did them all, Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Cha Cha, Rumba, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Hustle, Bolero, SALSA... (not in that order) there were really only a few that are worth noting.

Cha Cha - started out as a normal Cha, then suddenly I was being lead through my routine... which I think neither of us were on point enough to remember, but it was fun that we tried.

Rumba - We did two, one where some finer points were brought up for my wrist (I bend it or "break it" at in opportune times, so I'm working on keeping it straight) and the second was quite connected almost really good.

West Coast Swing - Again, the dance I do about 4 times a year... I was asked if I do a particular step, I said I'd only done it if he'd lead me through it. He asked if I danced it with Largo ever, I told him no, and probably wouldn't for a while, because RT has a particular lead that I quite enjoy for that dance...and no one I've tried to dance it with yet quite measures up. RT said he was flattered. :-)

East Coast Swing - Only notable because we almost made it through without it, and RT suggested dancing it at the party (Friday), where I responded that our LAST and FINAL dance had to be a Salsa. I was met with RT trying to tell me that he knows Friday won't be the last time we ever dance. Which I found adorable, but only time will tell.

Bolero- This was actually at RT's request... I don't consider Bolero a dance I know, I've just been lucky enough to follow it a few times, but hey if he wanted to Bolero with me... I'm not gonna say no. What ended up happening was kind of a mix of Bolero and International Rumba... and it probably looked a little messy because I don't know either very well...BUT... this had to be one of the most connected dances I've ever danced with him! Oh YAY! That's exactly what I wanted out of this lesson... at least one or two moments of DANCING!!! We danced the whole song, and while I made a few mistakes, was able to recover and it was GOOD. I'm pretty sure he was on the same page as me with the connection and performance side of things... I could have danced that Bolero forever.

Salsa - We did three, all pretty good, and exactly what Salsa is supposed to be... fun flirty and all that... the first, unfortunately I stepped squarely on his toe with my heel...something I've NEVER done before! (I had wanted RT to remember me, but not for that!!!) Thankfully he ended up being ok... One Salsa was pretty connected, I think it was the one after the Bolero, which is nice... I was put through and failed again on the "Miami Special" I will now have the words "You have more time than you think" running through my head should I ever do that move again. Also, RT lead me into a few steps he considers his "trademark" when out dancing. Very nice, he'd never actually lead me in at least one of them before.

After the lesson, KIT came over to take a few quick snaps of us. I was proud of myself for not showing too much emotion other than being happy for RT. I hugged him, told him I'd see him on Friday, and got to my car... and cried the whole way home. (I'm such a wuss!)

Between Wednesday and Friday I prepared the picture from our last lesson in a frame, wrote a nice card and letter expressing my pride and gratitude, and presented it to RT before Friday. I figured Friday was going to be an emotional day, and I didn't want to get caught up in it. RT knows I am happy for him and proud of him and I didn't need to make a big public display about it.

Friday came around and there was the studio party... RT was dancing with EVERYONE... it was the last party of the year too, so that made the party special in it's own right. I was completely Zen the whole night, didn't cry during the party...didn't cry during the Cha Cha or Hustle that I got in with my pro (although the lingering thought of why we didn't Salsa remains). Actually the Cha Cha had it's moments of both being rough and being connected... so that wasn't too bad. The Hustle was at the end of the party and it was just a Hustle between two people that have danced together a while. KIT had put together a photo album for RT filled with pictures of all the various parties and events, it was very sweet. I was given the opportunity to see it and I am so honored that she thought to put a page with pics of he and I... simply labeled "RT."

Once the party was over, I calmly waited for most to have their emotional goodbyes... I still didn't want to cry... I wanted to be the one student he didn't send away in tears..that could express nothing but happiness for his new adventure, because that is honestly what I was feeling. I asked him for one last hug, and told him I wanted to hear good things in the future... then just kind of misted up for a second, and my feet took me off in a non-sensical direction. Well, that wasn't exactly what I wanted...but I said what I needed, I made sure to acknowledge that Friday was the end.

Then when wishing KIT a Happy Holiday a moment later... we both started totally crying. Sadly RT did see that, I was hoping to make it through without him ever having seen me cry... better in the last seconds then any other time at all.

So, I would like you as my readers to join me in wishing RT all the best as he ventures forth on this new journey of professional dancing in Minnesota. I for one am nothing but proud and happy to have worked with him for so long.. and he knows it. I'll see him on the competition floor with his new partner in the future... and I'll be sure to keep you updated on how he's doing when I do.

One Chapter has ended, and now.. it's time to find out how this new Chapter begins....

To RT:
I have nothing but fond memories of the journey we've shared, and pride and hope for your bright future! Thank you for teaching me to dance, supporting me in weight loss, and inspiring me to be a better person.

You said it best last week "It's all about the dancing," we'll both continue on our paths I'm sure, and hope that they cross again in the future.

Happy Dancing!

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