Saturday, July 30, 2011

Collapsible Frame...1930s Style

Part: Follow
Dances: Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Salsa, Night-Club 2
Hovers: 0

Friday turned out to be a lesson day, this time with Kora. After squeezing in a workout I arrived for our lesson, ready to take on the foxtrot. I'm sure it's a recognized phenomenon for most dancers that you can go into a lesson thinking you're doing alright with a particular figure or dance, only to find out how terrible it actually is in so many ways, and then you start trying it the new way and it feels ever so much worse. Well, when that happens to one of our dances Jeff says that it's been "broken," and since Kora recently "broke" our Viennese Waltz, we decided we should risk breaking our foxtrot, even though we feel it is our best dance. Sure enough, I think she broke our foxtrot...unless we just decide to forget about that lesson every once in a while.

This was an odd lesson; it pretty much consisted of Kora harping on Jeff for not holding in his center and for creating connection by arching his back, and also physically driving the point home with a wooden beam she found lying around. I was happy not to be Jeff in that lesson. I also have a ten
dency to arch my lower back, so I tried to work on that too. When she got us into a good position, it was pretty crazy how the low and tight the connection is; I guess it will take some getting used to. I think in general I might usually be too far in front of his body, more in my hips and torso than in the upper part, since I'm usually pretty good (often to a fault) at staying left. After Kora explained anatomically where we're supposed to connect I realized that I might be a little off in general.

Apparently our feather-step goes in a weird direction, so we worked a little on straightening that out, both of us being guilty in this one. Kora also attacked Jeff's footwork in our bounce fallaway, and it seemed not to be an easy fix because when Jeff had been doing was either close or he thought he was doing what she was saying. The one bright spot in all of this was that Kora said that our feather step looked really good...and while one figure in any other dance wouldn't be as much to get excited about, the feather step is everything in foxtrot. Maybe it was our slow practice!

After the lesson our whole group headed out to Danceworks for the Friday night social dance. It was busier than last time and the floor was crowded, but the dances we did dance were fun and went pretty well, except that I'm terrible at salsa and totally fake it in West Coast swing, not always that convincingly. Lots of floor crafting and 1930's style frame happened. I think Jeff always had it, but now I think together we've developed a more collapsible frame. Note that I say "collapsible," not "collapsed." I'm less lost when it goes away now that Jeff is leading more from his center versus arms and I'm following through the body connection rather than the frame. As a competitively training standard dancer you focus so much on getting the frame perfect that it's hard not to feel lost without it.

One particular point I've been paying attention to that has helped me so much with both balance and following is being aware of where my left leg is in relation to my partner's. When I'm dancing with Jeff now, I find that I'm generally pretty safe if my left leg stays connected to his...I'm less likely to rush because I can feel when the weight transfers are happening, and I'm less likely to overshoot him on outside partner figures or lose my balance because my feet get left behind me, and finally, it gives me a good sense of direction. Again, I feel like this is kind of an obvious observation, but it's something that has been helping me a lot in these social dance crazy floor crafting situations. I also think that as often as I've heard that you're supposed to have that sternum down to mid-thigh connection, it's actually not at all easy to do unless you're very comfortable in your position and movement with your partner. If you aren't, it's a lot more treacherous because it makes banging knees and other things that much more of a risk. In general, a more open and sloppier frame and connection can feel a lot more comfortable, especially for the lead, I think, but it makes the lead a lot harder to pick up from the follow's end. Like Jeff mentioned in a recent post, I think it's true that I tend to tense up when the lead get's sloppy and the frame's because I feel uncertainty in the lead and therefore have to start guessing what he's doing because he isn't being obvious about it. What I've come to believe is that a lot social dance follows feel like great follows in many cases because they've become expert guessers...they've danced enough to be able to guess right just about every time, even when the lead is questionable to non-existent. In some cases, she may even guess wrong, but do it so well that the lead thinks, "Did I just lead that? Sweet!" *pats self on back* I can see this fooling the lead into thinking he did a great job leading a particular step. Not always! As much as I wish I had that kind of following skill at times, I think that right now the kind of training we're doing will make me a better follow and Jeff a better lead in the end, because it will force me to wait until certain signals are given to me before dancing anything, and Jeff will learn that certain things are required from him in order for me to execute a certain figure.

Lesson learned for the night; always eat enough before going social dancing. Having a quick snack for dinner earlier in the evening did not keep my blood sugar at an acceptable level, and I had to keep hitting up the sugary punch and pretzels that night to keep from wilting from all of that dancing. Quick sugar fixes don't last long enough though.

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