Dances: Nightclub 2-step, Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep
After a chest and shoulders workout, we warmed up for Tuesday's practice with a nightclub 2-step. The week was still young and I wasn't exhausted from doing a cardio workout, so I was feeling a bit fresher than I often do later in the week. I don't know if that had something to with it for me, but our dancing clicked a lot better on Tuesday than it did Monday. We warmed up with a nightclub 2-step, and then danced our now de rigueur round. It actually went much better than most of our rounds thus far; all of our dances were quite passable, the main breakdowns being as we started to get tired as we came around for the second iteration of each routine to finish out the songs. There weren't any real breakdowns though, just some bumpiness and questionable balance as we rounded out each song. The endurance part of it is improving, I believe. Our foxtrot and strangely enough, our quickstep, actually felt quite good. We're funny; going into the quickstep at the end of the round we must both be thinking the same thing, "I'm exhausted, quickstep is the last dance I want to do right now, but we are not going to be the couple who dies at quickstep and I must look happy," because Jeff usually kind of smiles, starts bouncing a little bit to the music, generally acts the though the dances before this were just kind of a warm up to get things moving...I kind of step right up into frame quickly and lightly, as though I'm really excited for this one, jiggle my shoulders a little in anticipation, do a quick happy smile and head turn to the right as we do our prep step, and off we go! It's something I've noticed that we both sort of do naturally since we started dancing these rounds to the competition videos, and in the end it will be a valuable part of the performance when we eventually compete ourselves.
The dance in question for the night was quickstep. Jeff groaned. I already had when I typed up the practice program, so I understood. It was the rumba cross again, but this time our practice went quite well. We went through it slow a few times and focused on making sure we were collected and balanced between the figures, and in the end we felt really together on them, especially in the hips and legs. The shaping is still a challenge, but it felt much better after we worked on it, and I think having that extra stability in the lower body connection gave us a more stable base for the shaping.
We ended with some lead and follow foxtrot. That also went pretty well, but Jeff burned out fast because he said being creative is much more taxing; the routines are getting to be second nature and therefore less work for him while lead and follow takes some serious attention on his part. I think in that regard we're getting quite close, if not already there, to where we want to be for competition in terms of using our routine but incorporating changes where necessary. When we started, Jeff could really only comfortably do our routines as they were with few changes, or just do random stuff and make things up like he was used to doing socially. Now, he can dance our routine...but mix up different parts of it, add other things, and come back to it, but in generally I feel that there's that stable framework of the routine that we can always get back to even if we leave it. I'm also less locked in to our routines as a follow; I'm getting much better at going with the flow and responding to changes of plans or just different amalgamations as they happen.
We had a bit of a discussion on Monday about the trust issue for lead and follow in partnerships that I forgot to mention in that post. Jeff's theory seems to be that if a follow doesn't follow, it always means she's not trusting the lead. I begged to differ, because, while that is one possibility, it also takes a certain amount of physical skill and coordination to be able to react perfectly to a lead's direction, given that the directions are given perfectly. It doesn't have to mean there's a lack of trust. In fact, a "dead" follow could totally trust that her partner will do everything right and everything for her, but look terrible dancing and not feel so light to the lead either, because he has to do all of the work and just drag and push her around. I assured Jeff that I trust his lead absolutely; sometimes my muscle memory interferes with things on occasion, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is in control, knows what he's doing, and I should let him do the driving. I can't say that for all, or even very few leads. I reminded him too that this trust has to go both ways; he's got to trust that if he leads something, as his follow, I'm going go there if he communicated it clearly, and that he doesn't have to tip me off balance or dump me into it to make me go (as he sometimes has to with follows on the social floor). If he tells me to do it, I will do it, and he's got to trust that I will stay with him. Jeff surprised me a little (in a good way) by affirming that he does trust me as his follow absolutely...though it has occasionally come back to bite him when I do something unexpected. I could say the same. But in general, that level of trust in the partnership gives a certain stability, confidence, and uninhibited quality to our dancing that I think is an an invaluable part of what is making this whole thing work for us. Back to that William Pino Blackpool Congress video we watched...he said that trust was one of the most critical components of the chemistry in a partnership. I think he's absolutely right.