11 June 2008

BodyJam Training Journals: Day 1

(Part 2 of a 4 part series)

The night before, I bought a tin of Tuna Mayonnaise and Gardenia bread in the sad delusion that I would enjoy eating it without any butter or hot beverage. I didn’t. The girls had a better breakfast at the nearby 24 hour mamak stall.

The studio was still empty at 7.30am and we just sat around waiting for the others to come in. The other two Penangites were already there waiting, and soon other trainees came in. I was surprised at the number of guys taking the module. It’s no secret BodyJam classes are mostly attended by girls, so I was glad to know the boys actually outnumber the girls in this training.

Arnold Warren, our trainer all the way from Manila, started the show at 8.30am and got everyone together. He introduced his teaching partner, Fetty from Jakarta, and soon things were rolling! In the interest of those who haven’t attended any module trainings before, I’m keeping things general because I wouldn’t want to spoil the magic for you.

We had an ice-breaking session, BodyJam stylez, and by the time 23 of us introduced ourselves it was just nice for the Master Class. Meanwhile, in the background, Master Trainer Kylie Gates observed our trainers in action. Like she said earlier, Arnold and Fetty are probably as nervous as we were!

The Master Class was the first time I got to do the release in full. And even though I didn’t have prior experience doing release 45, I’m so glad I’m not training on 44, which was a boring release with only a few moves overall. Although people doing 45 for the first time might think it’s more of the same old house taps, the more you do it the more you’ll like it. There’s quite a layer of complexity in some of the moves and even now I still find new things to learn (and that’s saying a lot since I did the release about 6 times in 3 days). On the other hand, I already felt blah with 44 after two classes.

So here’s a review of BodyJam 45 for those who haven’t seen it yet. The warmup is hot, hot, hot! I was expecting more of a Bollywood feel in the isolations but it was still pretty uplifting. The Work warmup combo wasn’t as fun as, say, New Day from 44, but it serves as a preview to moves in upcoming tracks so I understood the reasoning.

The Roppongi Line Dance is absolute madness! It’s a simple and quick track, so make sure you get your moves and orientation down pat coz’ once you start going around 4 corners you won’t be stopping! First timers might also get a little confused because instructors will follow member’s direction sometimes. But as long as you always start from your right leg, you’ll feel as if you’re partying in a Japanese night club, 4am in the morning!

Feedback serves as a mini-recovery (trust me, take it). It’s cool, smooth, and groovy. Once you get the rhythm down pat just lose yourself to Janet J. Also, if you like to perform on the dance floor, start thinking of your own unique 4 count arm combo. You’ll get the chance to use it towards the end.

Contemporary Rock will completely blow your preconceptions about what can happen in BodyJam. If you thought the Contemporary Rock from release 42 was a bit simple and dull, prepared to be amazed! The moves fit with the music like a perfectly manicured hand to a silk glove. The butterfly turn is not as tricky as it looks and sounds, but the easy option is safer for most people. Before I went for training I was pretty nerve-wrecked at the idea of having to butterfly turn, but after trying it out myself, I found it quite simple! Just make sure you have enough space around you or you’ll probably kick someone in the ribs.

The recovery brings the temperature down a bit, and the moves are pretty groovy too. It’s quite easy to feel relaxed to the track but you gotta pay attention to what the instructor is saying. Many times you’ll find yourself doing the wrong thing because there are minor variations to the same move and you keep switching between them. You’ll go from a clap to a knee & clap to a knee only and back to no knee with a clap. Confused? So was I, so just pay attention to the instructor!

When I first read the sizzler and it said the second block was called Global Electro, I heaved a sigh of relief. We’ve been doing House for four releases now, and the Old Skool House in 44 was just so boring – a rehashing of old moves into a new routine. I was looking forward to a more dance-y feel in Global Electro, so imagine my shock and disappointment when we started doing House Taps again. Oh no, more single-single-doubles? Say it ain’t so!

By the end of the block though, I changed my mind. The music and moves are very good – way better than 44. And as I continued learning the release over the weekend it kept getting better! This is something I couldn’t say about the second half of 43 and 44. So give the House Taps a chance and you might find something more complex underneath the moves.

Finally we grooved down to a very funky Disco style track. There are many places for your inner diva to shine, so make sure you get your acting faces ready straight from the first move. This is probably the most complex groove down track ever. After all, how many groove down have had double turns? The quick leg switch in the stretch will also trip many people up. In fact, I’m still trying to get it! But overall, it’ll bring you to the end with a relaxed feel.

That was the end of the easy part though. After a quick break we got started on learning the 5 Key Elements. At 1pm, Arnold gave us a 30 minute lunch break and I quickly went to get my lunch. Lunch consisted of a protein mix combined with a health drink mix, an energy bar, and two biscuits. By the time I finished “lunch” (if you could call it that), it was almost time and I had to rush back up.

Imagine my surprise when Dance School started right at 1.30pm, barely any time for my lunch to digest! Thus began the most grueling part of the day – 4 hours of going through every single move of the new release. We would take some infinite amount of time to get the technique right, and lo and behold, we have to do the whole thing again with music. Rinse and repeat for all the tracks. We were totally exhausted by 5.30pm, and we haven’t had time to start drilling on our assigned tracks yet!

Earlier, I already saw my name written next to Livin’ a Lie, the recovery track. I was quite happy because recovery is quite possibly the easiest track of the whole release to teach (after Feedback). But then I got a bit worried when I found out it was assigned by Arnold himself. If it was random number picking, I could leave it to Lady Luck. But since it’s assigned by the trainer things could get difficult for me. Obviously in the interest of fairness if someone was doing a hard track today he or she would get an easier track the next day. And since the final evaluation that determines our outcome happened on the last day, it logically means that I’ll need to present a harder track! This impending sense of doom cast a dim cloud throughout the day. While I know I wouldn’t have trouble presenting the recovery track, I kept wondering what my second track would be. So that night I took a look at some of the harder tracks, as a mental preparation in case I was assigned any of them.

But first, let’s digress. As the first day ended, Melisha came up to me and said she wants to move out to The Summit Hotel. She’s not used to our blah room at all, preferring something more comfortable and clean. Unfortunately I already paid for our 3 nights stay so she offered to reimburse her share but I only accepted RM50 for the first night. She did ask us to join her but Summit Hotel is an overpriced taxi ride away so Pauline and I still stuck to our blah room.

For dinner Jackson picked us up and took us to Sunway Pyramid to have, arguably, the most delicious fast food burger – Wendy’s! This was the first branch to open in Malaysia and I totally enjoyed every bite of the two juicy, succulent, beef patties in the burger. At RM15 for the medium set meal, it was definitely cheaper than having a burger in Chili’s or TGIF. Definitely recommended, and recovered my strength for the night.

I had a nice time catching up with Jackson but soon it was time to go back to our blah room. I felt absolutely pooped but I stayed up long enough to go through my track and several others. Lights went off around midnight and we tried to get as much sleep as we could.

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