Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rotating Madly and Making it Look Good

Part: Follow
Dances: Night club 2-step, Viennese Waltz, Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Salsa, Cha-cha, Hustle
Hovers: Lost count! Probably about 4-5.

Friday night; that means we're tired and have social dancing after practice. Fortunately, I had thought of this when preparing our practice plan; I picked something basic that we both kind of enjoy even though it needs work and that is relatively simple to practice. That would be Viennese Waltz, focused on flekerls. After our intro night club 2-step, we got to work. I had noted that we should work on the transitions in, out, and between the flekerls, as those are consistent problems for us. I'd been having difficulty realizing that we were in the flekerls before it was too late, and then getting the memo too late on the exits and usually crashing into Jeff's leg. It's tough, because the rotation in the fleckrel is the same direction as the basic step that follows or precedes it; the subtlety come in in gauging the difference in the amount of rotation. I did discover, however, that if I realize I'm off at the beginning (get the memo too late), I can just keep taking baby steps crossing in front, even though it will be a little awkward of course, and then I'll always be ready for the contra-check and can get back on after that. We did have some little triumphs in this practice though; Jeff figured out how to lead the exit, and after he started doing whatever it was I found that I wasn't crashing at all and the exits were feeling very smooth. He said that it had something to do with stopping or slowing down the rotation. In any case, it definitely worked! Yay! The exits have always been the worst part for me until now. As for the entries, it's getting better. The one thing I think we'll still need to work hard on is the contra-check, as I think we're still crossing in front of each other too much because of the rotation. I need to be more left and less crossed.

Practice was short but effective, and marked the end of a full five day work week of practices, and all pretty good ones at that. I am quite happy with how we did this week. Although our practices were perhaps shorter, they were more focused and we feel like we accomplished something. I'm definitely going to go ahead with practice plans for this coming week.

Next came Friday night social dancing. I thought we danced very well. My focus there was to relax, not strain my neck, and, as I was dancing, think about nothing but keeping my left side, hip, and leg connected to my partner. That was it, at least for standard. Jeff mentioned a few posts back that he feels like I shape a lot more and go a bit crazy with my extension when we're social dancing versus when we practice. I was thinking about this last night, and I think that part of why I do this is because of the way we have to move on tight social floors. I really wasn't nervous at all last night, but I found myself shaping more than maybe I would in practice in waltz and foxtrot for example, yet it seemed to be something that just happened because of some of the exaggerated movements Jeff has to lead do to the interesting floor crafting situations: sudden turns, over-rotated figures, etc. I use my head weight and body weight to help me bank into sharp turns, and complete exaggerated rotations, not really consciously, but because if I don't we'll pull apart or I feel like I'm being dragged around. I have to respond to power with my own momentum or else it feels bumpy for me. Then there's the fact that music does something to me in that if I'm not being self-conscious about what I'm doing, movements just waltz or foxtrot, something with the head and extension perhaps, in salsa or cha-cha, something with the hips or arms, maybe. Apparently this happens when I play the piano arms, head, and upper body react or become involved in interesting ways, though I've been told that this isn't a bad thing. Jeff thinks it's conscious on my part, but in many cases it's not. It just happens, but the problem is that sometimes (or maybe often) it's a reaction to the music or the vision of the dance in my head and not to him.

Sometimes though, we're in tune with each other, and it works out beautifully. There was a waltz last night that had a lot of strange variations in speed that Jeff did a good job of matching, and, I am happy to say, we moved as a unit through those variations smoothly and gracefully. So I think we're making progress. My job as a follow has been to continue to work at tuning myself to my partner versus the music, my mental image, or anything else. This is going to be my focus for a long time. As a very introspective person, this may be harder for me than others at first, but I know that with lots of practice and mental retraining, it will happen.

Oh, and I mustn't forget to add that we had one sequence of fleckrels in Viennese during the social dance that went so smoothly, the entry, the contra-check, the exit...except that we almost creamed another couple on the exit, so sadly we had to stop short. Probably our best set of fleckrels to date.

Since I was talking about slowed down waltz, I just have to share this gorgeous video that I recently found. It is a slowed down video of former world champion Mirko and his current partner Edita (former amateur champion) dancing a waltz demonstration. Seeing their movement in slow motion, their footwork, everything in such detail is a such an inspiration as well as a wonderful resource.

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