Dances: Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep
Last night after our arms and back workout, Jeff picked a new comp for us to dance to, and we went into it cold. It was a challenge because there were essentially no breaks between the dances, but in the video they had also been cut short, so I don't think we finished any of routines, mercifully. I felt that we held up better today in terms of stamina though.
Then we got to work on our focused dance of the evening, tango this time. I can't remember at this point whether what we worked on specifically was what was on the practice program, but Jeff commented after our round, and I agreed, that our tango long-side, while now doable, still looks like we're struggling to make it...like someone watching would wonder if we were going to survive, even though we almost always do now. That's not a good look. In particular, the reverse outside swivel of doom has never been a good figure for us. Now before I go into our practice, since Jeff talked about the "worm in the box," I must add that when he first made that comment and then demonstrated the guy's wriggling for me...I said..."No, you look like a spider." To which Jeff acknowledged, "Fine, whatever, spider-in-a-blender....worm-in-a-box, it still looks awful." So we now have two creative names for that awkward looking figure, and I like to call it "spider in a blender" now. In fact, we've generated some rather creative names for many of the ballroom figures. Most of them are due to Jeff's lack of syllabus book knowledge comparatively speaking (granted, I'm the nerd of the partnership in that regard), so he's been obliged to come up with ways of communicating about what we're dancing. Here's a sampling:
- Worm-in-a-box or spider-in-a-blender
- The Big Fish
- Youtube special
- My own tendency to add "of doom" or "of death" to the name of any particularly frustrating figure.
Anyways, we practiced the reverse-outside-swivel of doom. Now I've been used to dancing this in one motion, so that my step outside partner is also my swivel step...so I kind of transfer the weight and swivel almost all at once. But for practice, Jeff was stopping after the step but before the swivel, which threw me off for a few iterations, because I kept swiveling automatically. After a lot of rather painful run throughs, it starting coming together a bit more. It's still an awful section though, and we didn't make a whole lot of progress as quickly as we would have liked, but it's kind of to be expected. At the end of practice, Jeff was talking about all of the sections of our dances where he feels me tense up or rush, and he brought up a certain hit that comes in tango after our natural twist turn where we end up in rocks. Apparently I hit too soon, before he leads it. I always had felt that I had to extend sharply at the same moment I transferred the weight onto my forward foot in order not to end up off time in my movement, but I tried a couple of times just stepping and then waiting for Jeff to lead the shape. I could feel that it was a more "shah-shing" type movement, rather than a simple "hit!", and then it made more sense too me. I'm going to keep this in mind going forward and try to be more patient there. I also found that when I waited for Jeff, his lead really brought my shape more right...so that I ended up whipping my head right, which actually looks pretty cool, though quite different from how I was doing it before.
At the end of our round, Jeff was complaining that something about our frame is causing his wrist to hurt really badly, even after a short round, and that I keep getting heavy...but not in waltz. Oddly enough, when I demonstrated what I do when I'm told I'm getting heavy on the guy's arm (lift my left side forward and up and slight rotated towards him leaving my shoulder down and back), he said it felt worse. He also commented that we seem tense up top, and are so concerned with keeping our lower connection that we get locked up and tight, and it stresses the frame. I agree. But now I am wondering if the fact that we are maintaining a lower connection than before is going to necessitate a bit of adjustment to our frame up top. With the lower connection, I find my upper back extending much more, just naturally to counterbalance the shift in weight and the new lower center point, and I think that Jeff isn't necessarily giving me anymore space up there than before, but keeps trying to pull me in so that we have the same upper body connection as before. I wonder if that's really necessary...perhaps if he relaxes his arm a bit and doesn't worry about keeping me as close it would ease things a bit; I don't know though. We'll have to experiment. I do know that when I watch many of the top pros, their lower connection means that often their upper bodies aren't connected, and the lead usually gives the lady quite a bit of room to extend out...it's her job to fill that space. Anyways, it's something we'll need to figure out.