May 20, 2014

#80: The Making of 'Walk Like an Egyptian': A Champion WCS Routine

The First Anatomy Lesson into the 
World of Champion WCS Routines
You move that starting position even one half square?... And you change everything. -Making of Walk Like an Egyptian

Let's get serious. Be honest. Up front.

Everybody in WCS wants to be a Champion.

A Champion WCS dancer. That's the goal. That's the dream. That's the victory that everyone desires. And we all know it isn't done by winning a competition. No way. One win in one division, let it be Classic, Strictly, or J&J's doesn't mean jack, does it?

No. To be a Champion you have to do something different. Be something different. Master something different. That's partly why being a WCS Champion dancer is such a desired goal... because the label is elusive... hard to get... almost impossible to find.

But today I'm breaking the rules. Today I'm lifting the curtain a bit. I'm letting you in on some things we Champions do. I don't care how much money you pay them today - you will not get them to teach you these invaluable lessons. A lot of them have forgotten how to teach them - it's just in their blood.

Others hold onto them, claiming them as personal achievements. And still others have let them go completely, until they come in contact with another Champion WCS dancer. But no matter what, we all have them. We all inherited them from the ones before. We all do them - these rare, powerful, practically magical, tools of the trade that we use.

You will not have heard of any of them. I can promise you. Want proof? Let me tell you something.

My partner Josh? His family literally gave him an entire year off between high school and college to do one thing: conquer & master West Coast Swing. He already had a few levels under his belt. But that was just the starting point. They were aiming to take him nuclear. Champion style. They bought the most beautiful and pimped-out van I have ever seen, leather pleated and seated from bumper to bumper and proceeded to drive him everywhere...

...He took from everyone. He took all of their intensives. Got every certification possible. From California to Texas, from Skippy to Mario, to Mary Ann to Kyle Redd... they gave him a blank check to buy lessons with every single Champion dancer on the planet. He studied and he studied. He competed and he competed.

He listened, he learned and he did everything he was supposed to. He thought. That is, until he met me.

That's when he found out that, frankly, he didn't know anything. Well, that's not true. He was an amazing All-Star dancer. Danced Abstract just fine. The girls loved him, the guys joked with him and he was happy... sort of. He hadn't done a routine yet. And he wasn't moving up any higher... but he didn't know why. He figured it was just a matter of time.

I'll never forget the first day I met him. We were both judging at Monterey Swingfest. Now I was just coming out of owning a studio for five years. I stayed in touch with the Deep Water people during that time (um... who wasn't at my wedding?), and stuck to judging and private lessons at events. But I'd finished with my competing - and I'd missed Josh's rise up the ranks.

So when I shook his hand and welcomed him on stage that one year at Swingfest (as is done in true WCS tradition), he took it upon himself to... and I have no idea why... tell me his hopes, dreams and goals right there on the spot. They were playing a social song that had originated with a routine done by Jordan and Tatiana.

"That's it..." he pointed at the floor and the air, "That's it right there! I want to do a routine that results in this: the song being played socially."

"Wow," I thought, "I wonder if he has any idea how to actually get there?" Because he said it so confidently, so purposefully... it was clear he really believed it was possible.

But I already knew such things were no longer possible. I already knew about The Ten, the pacts, the deals, the black-balling, the drugs... I knew it all and Josh? Josh had no idea how to even shake someone's hand yet, in true WCS tradition.

But neither of us ever spoke again. Not until we (shockingly) became partners. That is one helluva story. I'll have to share it with you one day. But I knew, from Day 1, that I was going to have to start Josh off with a sort of "Champion Bootcamp." Some of it was dance, but most of it was politics.

What you do, how you do it, who to shake hands with, how to shake hands with them, jokes he could no longer make in his classes, and the women he should always, always ask to dance and even how to turn a dancer down when he was already dancing with someone else.

"Find me again and maybe I'll be free," was his current phrase. Ummm... NO.

Hell, I even had to teach him the basics of floor craft. Champions in the front row, only in order of rank. Who you move out of the way for, where you move back on the floor for who, and how and what.

It was intense. And then there was the dancing. We had to go over push breaks all over again...

But it worked. 

By entering into a partnership with me, Josh was unwittingly given the keys to the Secret Door - the special door into the world of Champions. And everything changed. He even got that routine song dream he mentioned on our first hello! He certainly earned it.

Now I'm giving you the key. Being a Champion isn't easy. It's a hell of a lot harder than anything you've ever learned, done or even thought of in WCS. I dare you. I challenge you. I push you - see if you can do what Josh did. Live up to it.

How? Start here. The very first (I'm going to get in trouble for telling you a lot of this) unbridled look into the making of a Champion WCS routine. I dare you. And... you are welcome. Now GO!


I do believe it's some of the best work I've ever done. Keep watching the video on this one too, by the way - I have a lot of video included this time to help teach you exactly and precisely. Don't forget your notepad, paper and pen!

Katherine Krok freakin' Eastvold. Baby!

From Weekly Note #80: The Making of 'Walk Like an Egyptian': A Champion WCS Routine (Talk About Choreography...). Released December 2013. Revised and updated.