Dances: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Night Club 2-step
Poor quickstep is getting left out this week. In any case, Monday we decided we ought to review our lesson material, so that is what we did.
The focus in waltz was the promenade, making ample use of the mirrors (I'm so thankful we have such a conducive practice space), and stopping to check alignments at the usual problem areas. If we can't feel it, at least we can see when it is out of alignment, so Jeff especially is calling himself on it every time that elbow drops.
For some reason this week I've been having a lot of neck and upper back pain, tightness too. It's actually to the point that it really hurts to put pressure with a finger on certain parts of my neck and shoulders. Because of this, I'm trying to work on keeping my spine aligned and to support my neck from the shoulder blades, rather than trying to use my neck muscles to do the work. I don't do it consciously, but I think I actually use my neck more than I should. I think that perhaps some of the weights have been adding to the strain as well since I can feel those muscles seizing up when I do some of the exercises. I do think I should go back to the visualization I came up with some time ago that helped me a lot then, when I imaged a curve like the curve on a wooden bow pressed up against my legs, back, and neck, so that visually from behind they would form that perfect curve. When I first started dancing I visualized the curve as being internal, so that the body was evenly distributed on either side, but that caused my head to go too far back...now, this way, it's a visual line that I'm going for and not an internal one. It helped my head position a lot at the time, and I think I need to get back to that, as it caused me to straighten out the back of my neck a lot.
In tango we worked on the same issue, fundamentally, and also Jeff has adjusted his arm position, which makes it so much more comfortable for me. We also reviewed the contra check, and spent a bit of time doing them, stopping, checking alignment and balance. One exercise I like for contra-checks is one we did during this practice; Jeff puts me in the contra-check, double checks to make sure everything is lined up right, and then he drops frame and leaves me where I am. If I'm on balance and in a good position, I should hold, and I generally do pretty well...until Jeff gets naughty and can't resist giving me a push to see if I'll topple. Not fair! I think it's better though; it definitely feels different, and doesn't look half bad in the mirror. Now I just need to work on that stretch...I know I could do more if I could just get more flexible! I'm working on it; I have a contra-check simulation stretch I do almost every day before working out, so we'll see if it pays off.
Just for fun, here is a sweet tango routine that ends with a contra-check. Victor then leaves his partner Anastasia in that contra-check position, exactly like Jeff and I have been doing in our practices, and of course she stays, solid, perfectly on balance and beautifully shaped. The contra-check is at 3:20 near the end, but the whole video is of course worth watching. Victor is a good man, however, and doesn't try to knock his partner over afterwards, unlike some people... Enjoy!