Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rain, rain, go away.

Part: Follow
Dances: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep
Hovers: Many!

I am going to do kind of a catch up post since our practices have been rather scattered lately, and I haven't been keeping up with recording each one individually. In general, the past few weeks we've practiced formally about twice a week, mostly because our coaches were out of town competing in Blackpool and Jeff was teaching more help cover while they were gone. In honor of Blackpool (the world's most prestigious dance competition), I'm going to post a photo from this year's competition to illustrate each dance. I do love how most of the time you can tell which dance they are performing just from a snapshot. The character is so clear, even if some of the figures are the same.

Victor & Anastasia

We've worked a bit on waltz, but most of our practice has been on our "trouble-dances" tango and quickstep, which I think is a good thing. I am going to review each dance anyways since I am missing a lot of practices here. Our focus on waltz has mostly been control; making sure we can stop together when needed, stay on our toes for long enough, and come down without clunking. An over all observation I would make though is that I think we need to work more on collecting. We get very good movement and power down the floor, but we kind of rush through those collection points where you poise and ground everything and level off before going into the next figure. I think we kind of run everything together, so it means our balance is less predictable. I also at times find myself slipping into toe leads at the beginning of some figures because we haven't finished descending from the previous one, which is a huge no no. Something still feels very wrong to me about the outside spin too. Jeff likes it and thinks we're dancing it fine, but I feel like I pull way over to his right side to do it and it feels like we lose each other too much. My guess is that I need to isolate my lower body a lot more so that my upper body stays more connected while my hips do their thing. I saw in a video of the former champions dancing a slow motion waltz that Edita goes way outside Mirko on an outside spin of some kind, and because of the way they do the shaping, it works just fine and they get a lot of power out of that. I want to work on this more next time.

Arunas & Katusha

Overall, our tango is too polite. We've been thinking about making it sharper and working on that, and I think we're doing better. My downfall here is speed. My head isn't fast enough, my feet aren't fast enough, and I have a tendency to slide and swivel my feet uncertainly which is just bad in tango. Jeff's right arm keeps going back too, so we end up with me riding on his hip: the infamous barnacle. Also, something continues to bother me about the frame, though I think it's better than it was because Jeff has been conscious of putting his hand a bit lower on my back so I could get my left arm properly wrapped around and positioned. It's definitely a different feeling from the other dances. Lately I think we've improved most in keeping it grounded and sharper in the feet. The frame is still wonky, but at least we are stepping out confidently, even if without perfect form up top. Oh, and a final self-critique. We both need to get those hips underneath the body. We both like to leave them behind because it seems easier, but it throws the whole balance off. And then we had that awkward moment where Jeff thought he'd demonstrate what keeping the hips forward meant to him. Only it wasn't awkward because that kind of thing happens all the time, because he's Jeff.

Then we have Viennese Waltz. We don't really practice it, we just dance it at parties, and usually add in a few abysmal fleckrels. I have to say though, it feels pretty light and smooth, and I never feel like I'm fighting or straining when dancing it with Jeff. We fly around the floor and all I think about is swinging my  frame forward and pushing from the standing leg, holding back and letting him go through, then swinging again, and so on. The only thing that really gives me trouble is my neck sometimes if I haven't stretched sufficiently or if I've had some bad dances earlier on. Once it seizes up I'm done for. I usually try to think about supporting my neck with my right hip, which seems perhaps a bit far fetched, but works to help me  use other muscles than my neck muscles to keep it straight and in line with everything else.

Simeon Stoynov and Kora Stoynova

Foxtrot is still my favorite dance. I commented to Jeff at one of the recent dance party foxtrot mixers that it really threw me when we danced one lap around the floor as part of the mixer, because with every other lead we danced by stepping on the beat of the music (or no where near it), but with him we moved on the beat and stepped on the off beat or half beat, as we'd practiced so many times. It's just an odd feeling switch to make, but something about the way that works with the music is just really neat to feel. Instead of marching along in time, you're gliding in ripples down the floor, riding the waves of the rhythm that carries you along. For practice though, we've mostly been working on CBM (Contra-Body-Movement). Maybe because my torso is long and I've got a good amount of space between where my ribs end and my hips begin, for some reason I don't have too much trouble twisting my upper body, though isolating the ribs from the shoulder line is still a challenge. The CBM is a bit harder for Jeff as he is more broad in the chested and shoulders and tends to stay in a pretty straight line. Of course, the biggest challenge is dancing it together, because we've got to have the same amount, at the same time, in the right position with each other. It's one of those techniques though that makes impossible steps possible and hitherto almost painfully difficult steps seem like a breeze. It's a game changer for sure. Apparently Jeff has been working on it a lot with his students, since it is one of those simple corrections that makes such a difference in the feel of the dancing.

Edgars Gasjuns & Lesya Sinitsa

Quickstep is the problem child of this project. I think we're more comfortable with the routine at this point, but the speed is still an issue. Jeff still thinks we're lagging. I actually don't worry much about how fast or slow we are these days because I'm always really focused on what he's doing and whether I'm matching it well or not, so sometimes I don't notice if he's off or not. Our big bad short side at the end with all the quick open reverses and the double reverse is better though, but I will admit to getting a bit carried away on the hesitation that follows it. Especially when we're social dancing and really going for it to get out of the way for other couples on the floor, sometimes I have so much torque going into it that I do a pretty crazy backbend. I wonder how silly it looks. It's super fun though, and Jeff probably can't stand it. Oh, and I still hate rumba crosses.

On the side, we still dance nightclub 2-step at social dances as well as bolero. Apparently people really like our bolero even though we don't really know it. One woman at the dance told me last Saturday that she almost cried it was so beautiful; which is quite a compliment, if surprising. We had danced to the Eva Cassidy cover of "Fields of Gold." I really love that song, and that version of it specifically. It's so nostalgic and fits the mood of bolero so well. I think bolero is sadder than rumba; more nostalgic I guess, wishful, and passionate in kind of an intimate way. I have a tendency to fall on the slow steps because they are so long and require really good balance, which I don't have much of, plus, I really like shaping the figures and letting my head dip or my shoulders and upper body shape with the rotations of the steps. But that's okay; I'll keep working on it. I guess the general effect is good, because people always seem to really like it when we dance it.

So now we are planning out a couple of show dances for Aria Ballroom's upcoming showcase in August.  I may not publicize which dances we are doing because we may want that to be a surprise; I'll see what the Jeff-partner thinks. But for now, our plan is for something that will be a change of pace from what we've done so far, so it should be quite interesting. Putting together the choreography should be a good challenge for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment