Friday, August 26, 2011

Putting Good Mileage on the New Shoes

Part: Follow
Dances: Waltz, Tango, Viennese, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Night Club 2-Step
Hovers: 2

Last night included both a good workout and a productive practice. I'm getting better with the arm and back weights, for sure, since I've been increasing weight and finding it easier every time, so I guess that's a good sign. I'm still close the "rule of halves" however, because Jeff continues to get a lot stronger too and as a consequence keeps pulling more weight...pun definitely not intended.

We began practice with waltz. Jeff had acquired a number of new songs by Secret Garden, and most of them happen to be waltzes, so we wanted to give a few of them a whirl. Our waltz is fast becoming one of our best, if not our best dance. We're so much more controlled with it, and when we practiced to a slow metronome the other day we found that we hadn't really lost it either and could maintain it pretty well even at those slow speeds. Once I get my head fixed for good and Jeff permanently straightens out all promenades, we'll be in very good shape. I still think our contra-check needs help; it doesn't rotate enough and dips a little too much, maybe.

Slow practice was vetoed for the night; instead we ran through all of the routines with music, only we only got about half way through quickstep. The rumba crosses killed us, and I think our slow practice actually made us too relaxed on the tipsies, as we came out pretty behind. Tango was pretty good, aside from a few hiccups where we got really out of sync and lost connection once. Probably the parts to work on now are the contra-check and the back open promenade; I guess our checking movements aren't the best, but the fallaway bits are smooth these days.

For a change, foxtrot didn't feel so hot last night. We weren't entirely together, and I think I was a bit ahead of Jeff, though I attribute some of this too the fact that our connection wasn't very good; I had a harder time feeling the nuances of timing in the lowering and drives since our connection was so high. I also slipped waaayyy outside partner a couple of times, and that makes it really hard for Jeff to lead or me to follow when I get stuck behind him like that. One section that I think feels particularly nice right now though, is our two hover feathers followed by reverse wave; it's very...undulating. That is the word I want. In my opinion, that's the adjective you want to aim for in a good foxtrot; rippling, waving, like water in a brook or small stream.

We also danced a tiny bit of Viennese, and apparently my hover-like tendencies evidenced themselves again. Jeff thinks I'm doing whatever it is on purpose, but my theory is that I'm becoming too floppy with my back when we get into that heavy swing and rotation and so my head and back just whip around and get heavy on Jeff's frame. When we tried once more, I focused on keeping my back and entire frame steady in relation to his frame, turning my entire body to match his underneath my head (so not thinking about moving my head at all, really). That seemed to help. I think this problem is going to involve psychological tricks on my part to get the technique right.

Practice involved a lot of just plain dancing last night, and I think that was a good thing. It's good that we have some practices more heavy on the mental and technical side of the dancing, and others that give us a lot of physical practice. Both aspects are extremely important.

One thing I forgot to mention is that my new pair of Ray Rose shoes came in the other day, so before last night I sprayed my current competition pair of Ray Rose's with Scotch Guard as a protectant, covered the heels thoroughly with two layers of black suede, and inserted brand new red cedar shoe trees (Jeff's idea, and a good one at that). I couldn't believe the difference these shoes make for my balance and control; I'd say it's comparable to getting new tires on a car. Click on my profile and you'll see the shoes I now get to wear for practice. It was high time! My old Supadance shoes had become slick-soled, ridden with holes and tears in the satin, had a broken down shank and sole, and were a strange shade of bronzy dark brown from my attempt at dying them black. Now I have a brand shiny new pair of satin Ray Rose's set aside for competition and possibly showcase type events, and the ones I already had are now converted into my practice shoes.

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