So with me being back for Christmas I had a lesson with pro who I haven't had a lesson in months with. It was really beneficial as he fixed issues with my frame and positioning of follow which hopefully will help in the future. I also was taught some cool moves for samba and how to make my basic technique better and competition ready
More dancing than I'm used to this week, and the quality has gotten better, resulting in a lot of muscle fatigue. Pro and I managed to hit all four smooth dances in the last four sets of lessons, which doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, but for us, it is. (Two very detailed oriented people who don't mind repeating a small bit until we're happy with how I'm doing it.) Lots to work on while he is gone, but he did an excellent job of identifying some very specific elements and setting up exercises to help with some of them.
got my open bolero and cha cha choreo'd! Started learning bolero, and it was super fun. much more flow and i didn't feel like my body was fighting every step, like it was in my old one. i get a new mambo later this week, and i cannot bloody wait to learn them all. Rumba and swing will be redone in early 2017. LOVE IT.
My AP and I went to dinner last night after our lesson, and we both had the exact same sentiment: "After 10+ years of dancing, we thought we knew something about swing and sway... according to our instructor, evidently not."
Excellent VW tonight--probably the best the left and right turns have ever felt. Even better, I know how I produced it and I will be (at least should be) able to replicate it. Mind you, that quality was only there when that was absolutely all we did, but it's a start and it felt wonderful.
I've been doing rounds every lesson with Smooth New Guy, and I'm definitely getting better. My achievement tonight was that my dancing was not nearly as good as it had been, oh, 5 minutes earlier and I did not tank. Great dancing would have been even better, but nice to know I can get through it when it's not my best. It does happen every so often.
Really great guest coach group class last Friday - the overarching theme for both Ballroom and Latin was that controlling your own bodyweight's transfer is the foundation for all the other nonsense (hip/body action, swing/sway, shaping, etc.).
Also got me really excited to start working on ballroom with my Latin partner next year. We'll be starting with baby bronze steps because neither of us is any good yet and may never compete it, but it'll be cool to deepen my understanding and bring that knowledge to Latin.
And now, time to start the three day exercise my coach gave everyone on his team to start forming dance goals for next year!
I'm in the 3rd week of Pro being gone and lessons just with the New Guys--who aren't so new any more, but I'm not changing what I call them now. We're having a blast. Well, I am--I hope they are as well, but I admit that I can be a pain at times.
The coolest part is that as they get more and more experience with the Fred Astaire Syllabus, they change the steps slightly. I get into trouble when there is an element that I have been working on by myself in practices, then I try to implement what I've been practicing, but oops, they're leading something slightly different. When I turn off everything else and just concentrate on following well, it all goes sooooo much better. Sometimes it's subtle differences in what they are emphasizing, or where they are placing me relative to them. I can practically feel new brain synapses forming.
learned the new mambo last night... super fun. works with the music so much more than my old one. funniest moment? when i totally crashed out of my pot stirrer spin. I've been doing two spins in that for years now, and he added a third, and my body was WAY CONFUSED. i love it though...i really want my rumba and swing to redone now, sigh. the patience, i need to have it.
hoooweee...closed smooth for 'level passing' after about 7 months of not doing those patterns. not my best performance, but not a total disaster, thankfully. was all stiff because i was unsure of the patterns, lol.
Lots of good info in lesson yesterday, but also one alarming realization - my natural standing posture is messed up and it creates issues (in the form of tight, sometimes painful back muscles) with latin practice. Including an annoyingly tweaked one yesterday. Gonna take some time and focus to get those muscles to stretch out into a more upright posture in my everyday life so it carries over into dance (and probably also a reduction in weights on my weightlifting to retrain movement there with a truly straight back). Whee!
CAVEAT: I'm a little bummed about this realization, but in the grand scheme of things I'm grateful I found out now and not through an injury that knocks me out of commission for weeks -> months.
Showcase rumba is going well. It is challenging but interesting choreo. I still have a LOOONNNGGG way to go to master it and make it look good, but I am excited about this routine. Which is funny, because Rumba is not one of my all-time favorite dances - I don't mind it or dislike it per se, esp in a social setting, but it's not up there with some of the other dances that I truly love (cha cha, samba, v waltz, to name a few).
OTOH, I think I"m going to cut my losses and scrap the tango routine I've been working on with the other instructor. He and I have been wrangling with choreo for 2 months on this and it's not coming together or clicking. What is "done" so far looks like a sequence from a beginner group class (now that I've seen it on video) and looking back, the whole thing has been a train wreck. I think I'm just going to leave it at that for now and see where this goes, which should just be back to the cha cha and working towards a different upcoming event.
Mind-blowing lesson with Smooth New Guy on Friday. I have been working on some basics of foot work, understanding partner positions better, etc. with both New Guys the last week or so. It has helped, but we knew I needed more. On the other hand, we're also concentrating on doing rounds every lesson and working on rough spots from that. Not enough time for everything!! Well, I got one of those "should have been a class but I was the only one there" lessons on Friday. SNG and I both jumped on it as a chance to work more on technique in more detail. He really enjoyed getting to teach it to me and I really enjoyed learning it. It was terrific.
About a year and a half ago, I had the privilege of a coaching with @Larinda McRaven. Somewhere in there I acknowledged being a little weak (that's an understatement) on knowing exactly where the leader is or what s/he is doing at certain points. Her comment: You might want to work on that. I hear that in my head fairly frequently when I finally come to understand exactly what the leader is doing and how it meshes with what I'm doing. I had one those moments Friday. There's one step in an element that occurs frequently that has always felt off to me, pretty much as long as I've been doing silver. Turns out it's because I have been shortening a step, leading to all sorts of ugliness, because I didn't think I had room for more. SNG demo'ed for me that while I didn't have room at the moment the step begins, he is moving out of my way with a heel turn/pull/don't ask me. I have vague recollections of Pro explaining this eons ago, but one can only say so many things during the course of a lesson and it hadn't come up again. I cannot tell you how much of difference the technique work and that correction/explanation made. I was very tired on Friday and SNG is going to repeat most of it on our next lesson, but honestly, that's par for the course even when I'm awake.
Have found something special in my dancing over the last couple of lessons - it feels like I'm floating/flying.
On Saturday, the conversation went something like:
Pro: What did you change?
Me: Honestly? I did less.
Pro: It worked. Could you feel the difference?
Me: Yes. It feels really easy. We were at the other end of the floor before I knew what was happening.
Pro: We've never danced like that before. It was really good. Next level. Do it again.
Then I got a few e-mails later that day/the next day, telling me good job (which has never happened before) and sending me a video or two with "the shape we need to produce - watch x part."
Had my next-to-last lesson before my next comp this weekend. It was a miserable lesson that left me feeling terrible about my dancing. Not in any sense that my instructor is to blame for, to be very clear. Hope I got that out of my system!
learned my new cha cha last night; i had the structure from the video, but it's always different to put it into practice. A few parts that need more work than the others (and caused much unintended hilarity), but it went well. Looking forward to bolero next week. and if anyone is at the Snow Ball comp this weekend, let me know! I am going to watch the pros on Fri and Sat.
This week: Back to working on the showcase tango. We're dancing it four weeks from now, and at the moment, AP is in a very difficult work situation and isn't going to have much if any time to practice. So we have to substitute quality for quantity, which means we need to nail it in our lessons.
A big point of emphasis for our instructor during our Monday lesson was: "The two of you have an interactive partnership when you social dance. You need to have that same relationship when you do this routine." I had two lessons over Christmas holiday with a different am partner, while my regular partner was out of town. One of the things I came to realize during those lessons was that, in a lot of places, I was not letting her finish her movements; I was trying to initiate the next thing before she had completed her response to the previous thing. So we did some things where I really exaggerated making sure that she had completed her movement before I did anything else.
I made an effort to apply that same thing yesterday. In one place where we have a double reverse, we were both rushing and in effect breaking the partnership. This one starts with her going forward and me backward; I take her momentum through the first half of the turn, and then she takes me through the second half. It is suppose to end in a contra check, which we seldom got to without being off balance.
So the instructor pointed out to me that I haven't been letting her complete her half of the turn; I've been trying to crank her around, and then forcing the start of the contra check. He pointed out to her that at the start, she was going right through the lead, which caused us to become separated connection-wise. So we both had to make it a point to let each other finish our parts. Now she comes in, I initiate the turn, and then I don't have to do much; she pretty much carries it the rest of the way through, and I just let her turn me. Man, is that a lot easier. And now we're on balance for the contra check, because we've actually finished the reverse at that point.
The big lesson here was "feedback". Feel what your partner does and respond to it. I have to let her finish her motions. She has to not charge ahead of the initiation.
At this point, I asked if we could slow down the music a bit. It's a short piece, so we have plenty of latitude to make it longer. We didn't slow it down that much, just from 128 bpm to 124. But, put together with what we worked on, it made a world of difference. There's room in the music now. There are going to continue to be some places where we will need to remind each other, but it's getting better.
Follow-up lesson with Smooth New Guy and Pro is back! Had my first lessons with him today. He felt real improvement from three weeks ago was able to help it get better still. In particular, he took some of what I had working on with SNG and helped me make it more consistent, which make be very, very, very happy. We only touched on VW (and didn't get to waltz at all, but he said the VW basics were the best I had ever done.