Dances: Nightclub 2-step, Waltz, Tango, Viennese, Foxtrot, Quickstep
After the workout last night, we were joined by a couple of friends, Ed and Cecilia, who decided to come out on a sort of field trip and check out our practice location and routine since they have been loyal followers of this blog (thank you guys!) and also dance and compete themselves. That's one of the things I love about dancing in this community; a lot of the dancers really help each other out and share ideas about what does and doesn't work, and it really feels like a communal effort as we pursue this beautiful artistic endeavor that we all love so much.
We warmed up with the usual nightclub 2-step, though we might have felt a little put on the spot by the fact that Ed whipped out a video camera for it. It went pretty well, though. Then it was on to our round, which also was one of our best to date, and I believe Ed was taping that as well. Their enthusiasm for what we were doing gave us a little morale boost, and our practice ended up being a pretty good one for a Thursday. Our focus was the curved feathers in our foxtrot; we have them in three places, and there are various awkward things about each of them that we wanted to work out. Now at random points throughout practice, and throughout all of our practices this week, in fact, Jeff has been pointedly looking at the clock and announcing "It's pho time!"...rather like when Winnie the Pooh announces that it's 11 o'clock. Generally on Thursday nights, sometimes Jeff and I and whoever happens to be practicing will go out after practice for that delicious hot Vietamese beef broth and noodles, so perfect for a cold and rainy day when you're tired and hungry after practice. On those nights though, we do have to wrap up practice a bit early because of when the pho place closes, so announcing "pho time" has become Jeff's way of saying that he wants to be done with practice. Sometimes it's pho time even before we start, so then I know it's going to be tough night.
Luckily, last night we had real pho time, but only after we had danced a little lead and follow quickstep. We don't generally do lead and follow quickstep, and Jeff started it out as a country western 2-step, just be contrary, I guess. Why that very simple dance is so confusing to both us, I still don't understand, but it just is.
Back to the curved feathers though. The issue is trying to figure out how much to rotate the body and how much to shape. In some places we were shaping to the point of breaking, and in others maybe not enough. I also found that I need to be extra careful to take tiny steps at the end of the curved feather, and really work on the rotation in the sternum/torso as Jeff moves around me, because I am close to stationary in that figure while he has to get around me. If I'm rotating my body in place, it will make it easier for him to get around.
I guess curved feathers feel very different for a lead than for a follow, because to me it feels like a feather step that gets "checked" or stopped, like the lead was doing a feather but decided to change his mind about the direction of travel halfway through. I actually really love the step, especially going into a weave. Jeff, on the other hand, doesn't see it that way. In his perspective, it's almost as painful as a closed impetus, and nothing like a feather step. The one in our routine that Jeff hates the most, in fact, is one of my favorite parts, where we have a change of direction into a curved feather into a weave; I just love the feeling of the shapes and rotation in that combination, but Jeff says it takes way too much energy to feel good. At least we both have a mutual hatred for the zig-zag and at this point I believe we both enjoy the reverse wave.
For those who enjoy seeing what I'm talking about visually, you'll see a curved feather between 1:11-1:14 in this video: