Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Worst and Best Promenades in the World

Part: Follow
Dances: Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Rumba, Cha-cha
Hovers: 2

Today, Jeff and I had our first lesson in about a month, since before we started this blog, in fact! Jeff made me pick which dances to work on, and I decided that we should see if our slow practice and exercises in foxtrot and waltz had really paid off. As usual though, we only got to foxtrot. I think we made it down the first long side before we got stopped to work on our apparently dreadful promenade. According to the Robot, since everything else looked relatively good, the promenade really stuck out because it was there our frame was breaking and the connection was somewhat lost. This was due to a failure on both of our parts to keep our sides lifted and forward towards each other, in my case the right and in Jeff's the left. After trying out a few different things, Jeff apparently did something so right that we heard Simeon's voice behind us, "Woah....that was the best promenade I've ever seen!!!" Taken a little aback, we had to asked what the qualification was; I mean, seriously, you've seen Marcus and Karen Hilton dance, what are you talking about? He meant the best he's seen Jeff dance it, but we had a good laugh over it because it was such a contrary reaction to the one he had initially.

That was pretty much all we worked on, as well as straightening out the movement into promenade, and then we added a little shaping going into the reverse wave that looks and feels pretty nice when we get it right. We did it once during the social dance where Jeff did the shaping backwards, and that felt rather odd and made us giggle and lose our foxtrot cool, but I know it's going to be beautiful when we get it consistent. I'm a huge fan of a reverse wave into back feather combination, but since I don't think it's allowed until open I think we'll just have to make do with our simple reverse wave into closed impetus with the nice shaping. Although he never brought it up in the lesson, I had to ask our dear Robot afterwards whether he noticed a change in how smooth our foxtrot was, and whether he noticed the timing issues he had complained about before. He said it was much better, and that he really didn't notice that it was a problem this time. Yay! Hopefully our practice has been working...Jeff says there is no doubt it's better and I can't but agree that it most certainly feels better.

Today during our lesson and in general dancing I was thinking a lot more specifically about keeping my hips forward and under me and trying to follow the direction more with the lower body, to leave my upper body free to read shape only, because so often I get sucked into trying to feel what he's doing with my frame, which can be misleading if there's some funky shape going on. This also means I'm less likely to rush too, because if my leg is tracking with his I'd better not be going faster or quicker than he. I think this is perhaps part of why our Viennese feels so good to me (to both of us, actually), because in that dance I have a much lower connection and don't really rely on the frame for anything but assisting the rotation and matching his shape; my legs just go with his and we take turns driving and being on the inside of the turns and providing the torque; in that particular dance the "he goes...she goes" dynamic seems to flow pretty well for us.

Oh, we also had a moment of vindication when Jeff asked Simeon whether we are allowed to rise a little on the lock-step of the six quick run. He said yes! We've been fighting that figure for a while because I could have sworn there is at least some rise there, but Jeff said someone of some authority on the subject had beaten it into his head 'till he couldn't stand anymore that NO RISE IS ALLOWED! No more frustrating practice where we are both trying to dance a technique that makes no sense...we tested it out with the rise tonight and rejoiced at the new found grace and ease it gave us on this figure. We still don't get the zig-zag, however, but at least I confirmed that I am indeed to slip into wrong side position and can keep my head left there. It works much better than it used to anyways.

After our lesson was the Sunday night social dance. We had some good dances, in general I'd say our ability to deal with floor crafting situations continues to get better; Jeff with being able to mix things up on the fly and me being able to follow them. There were a few times where near collisions caused me to get out of sync and I randomly tried to dance a waltz figure in foxtrot, but otherwise I would say it's feeling pretty good. Tango especially is hugely improved from when we started, and much more relaxed but also sharper. Less serious dances included a congo line our group started during the merengue (which we have a tendency to unofficially boycott, normally) with Jeff at the head and Shaoshu leading some kind of mereguesque synchronized hip sway and tap. Good times.

I'm looking forward to some good practices this week so that we can churn out some more world record promenades for Simeon's future edification.


  1. Extended reverse wave is gold on the IDTA and DVIDA syllabi, so I think you should be able to do it at NDCA and some collegiate comps (the USA Dance comp rulebook allows only the ISTD syllabus for International events).

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