Friday February 13, 2009 - Today Monica invited me to join her in watching an advanced partnering class at SAB taught by Jock Soto. Above: Jock's famous partnership with Wendy Whelan. Monica writes about the afternoon here.
There was a large crowd of spectators (including my friends Bob and Jim); the young dancers were decked out in special Valentine's Day accessories: on this one day they are allowed to enhance their normal classroom attire.
How fortunate SAB are to have Jock Soto there sharing his knowledge - gleaned from experience - with the up-coming generation of dancers. He gives what seem to me to be very tough combinations and the dancers try their damnedest to do what he wants. Not everything goes smoothly but Jock is extremely patient and he has developed a lovely way of giving corrections: humorous and cajoling. He will imitate bad habits he sees in the dancers and get them to laugh at their own foibles. He will step in, taking one of the girls to show exactly what he wants.
Jock uses imagery to get the desired effect ("...as if you are presenting her with a diamond ring.") and the boys try hard to grasp it. In a day and age when courtly manners and the idea of gallantry seem like relics of another time, the style has to be imparted without any context in daily life. Of course Jock's demonstrating was so...beautiful - there is no other word for the poetry he can convey with a simple shaping of the hand or the way he holds the girl.
The boys worked hard for two hours, first with one set of girls and then with another. Between the two classes the students had fun showing off their multiple pirouettes, extensions and jumps. Some of the dancers especially caught my eye for various reasons; to be sure there are some very intriguing dance personalities in the making.
The atmosphere was relaxed and of course made me regret that I didn't realize fifty years ago that dancing is what I should have been doing. How envious I feel of these young people, both of their talent and of the opportunity they have to pursue their dream and to be instructed along the way by the likes of Jock Soto. I hope they realize how fortunate they are.