Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back to Basics

Part: Follow
Dances: Cha-cha, Waltz, Tango, Viennese, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Nightclub 2-step
Hovers: 1

Last night I was woefully late for practice due to my participation in a much longer than anticipated but beautiful Requiem Mass for the feast of All Souls at my church in Seattle, and Jeff was heroically patient about it. Next time, I'll know to revise my schedule. It was a full night, since I also got a really good workout in just after work as well. Jeff also had worked out hard on the usual leg day self-torture.

After dancing a not-so-energetic cha-cha warm up while one of our Latin dancer friends was practicing, we danced our round. This round was definitely the longest we'd ever done, with virtually no breaks between dances. It was hard! We almost died at the end of the quickstep, but I think it's a good sign that we made it through. We'll need to practice our endings for our dances though, because we just kind of broke apart at the end of each one and walked away from each other trying to recover our breathe, which is not the most graceful way to finish. One thing at a time though.

For practice, we worked on the most basic figures in foxtrot, but also the most challenging, it seems: the basic feather and three step. It was about rotation, control, and figuring out where our weight was at any given time. I think we both have a tendency to be back-weighted; Jeff sometimes feels me pulling him forward, and I've always felt that his weight is farther back than most other guys I've danced with. I'd so much rather it be there than too far forward though, because at least we normally tend to counter-balance each other pretty well. What we sacrifice is a lack of control. We also focused on the same issues in the extended reverse wave, which, as Jeff "discovered" recently, is the reverse of the feather three combination. It's definitely much more difficult, but we felt that this was a very productive practice as it helped us get more in touch with some of the fundamentals of how we're moving as a couple and how well we are driving and over our feet and balanced, and other essential things that we sometimes don't remember to focus on because of other more pressing problems in the routines. Maybe we should try something similar on a regular basis for all of our dances.

Jeff mentioned a couple of times that he feels me pulling him along to some extent, and that he thought I was falling into my steps. I'm pretty sure I wasn't falling though because I had quite a bit of floor pressure and felt like I had control of my heels landing (and not until they were together, either), and he did stop mid-step several times to test it, and I didn't fall and stopped with him, so perhaps it was the backweightedness that he was feeling.

This led me to think, and to wonder it would be fair to say that to a certain extent a good and powerful follow will provide most of her own movement, as long as the direction and amount of energy to go with are clearly communicated to her. From the lead's perspective, he might feel that, rather than pushing her around, he's driving her the directions and shape to the movement. On the social floor, I think Jeff and most leads rather like a somewhat lazy follow, who essentially relies on the lead to provide everything, not only direction, power, and shape, but also her movement, rotation, and extension (if she can even have any). While it's comfortable for the guy to know that she can't do anything without seems to me that kind of relationship is less of a partnership of give and take and less likely to result in clean, efficient, and powerful dancing. Yes, it is a constant struggle to find that harmony and balance where the two are performing equally and with power, but in their respective roles, but I think that is something you will rarely find on the social floor, and something that is not going to feel totally comfortable for quite some time. Granted, I'm not the most docile follow you ever saw...not by choice, but because I have a lot of energy of my own that takes practice to channel. But I think that at some point we'll see that, while I'm probably never going to be the social follow Jeff can drag around the floor and essentially throw and dump into various figures, I will be able to provide an energy, power, and control in movement that a less independent follow would likely never have. I say will since I am still only on the journey there.

Practice last night concluded with a nightclub 2-step. As we were dancing, a young guy came into the room and was watching us dance for quite some time. He left, but then as we were leaving the room he approached me and said he recognized me from one of the other studios in the area. It turns out it was one I've never been to so I must look like someone else, but we ended up talking with him about dancing at the gym, and the style we dance, and found out that he used to teach at a local studio at one point. He kept telling us to 'fess up and tell him where we taught, for some reason he wouldn't believe at first that we aren't instructors! In any case, it looks like we may have a new practice buddy. That room is becoming a virtual dance studio!

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