Tin Man Dancing

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Last night we started on the open routines.  The goal was to get through the smooth dances but we only got to Tango and Waltz and we didn’t finish Waltz.  Lots of rust to be sanded off in both of the them (did you catch the connection to the title?)  I figure they will eventually come together but it gives me a bit of concern that Showcase is so close and the routines aren’t where they need to be.

This is one of the problems of doing Pro/Am.  In the open routines, there is a lot more choreography so some of the beginnings aren’t really lead/follow.  Also, the steps deviate from the syllabus so it would be a lot to lead someone new through them.  Which means I can only do them with Kid T and primarily on lessons.  Yes, I can work through pieces on my own but some things aren’t the same when you try to lead without a follow.  There are parties and I could be dancing some of these at parties which I try from time to time.  But parties aren’t the greatest.  First of all, it isn’t fair for me to monopolize Kid T because she has other students and instructors have to spread themselves around.  Secondly, you’ve got all levels on the floor and that means weaving in and out of various clusters of dancers.  Yes, that would be good practice but when I don’t have the routine down solid, it is very hard to be thinking about the routine and trying to deal with floorcraft issues.  And, I know I’ll have to do that at Showcase but they generally manage to put most of the upper level dancers in the same heats so it is less of a jumbled mass of bodies.

I know we’ve done these routines at the last Showcase and did some of them at the Big Dance Event last summer but we put them aside to work on the routines and other things and they aren’t fully committed to memory so there is a lot of polish (or maybe oil) needed to round them back into shape.

It could be that the open routines are still relatively shiny and new while the closed have been around for years, but I do really prefer the open routines.  There is nothing wrong with the closed routines.  In associate Silver, the steps are a little more complex and, because they are from the syllabus, they are sort of designed to fit together.  Still, it is kind of like connect the dots.  You get a nice picture in the end but there isn’t a lot of a challenge since your path is mapped out for you.  The open routines have much more freedom and something about that appeals to me.  They are certainly more of a challenge (as you know as you’ve followed my complaints about the process of learning them) but it just makes it that much better when you actually do one on the floor.   I’d say it feels more like real dancing but that sounds kind of silly.  Maybe, to go back to my previous analogy, it is more like free hand drawing.  Tougher to do but fewer rules and you can choose to add extra things since you aren’t limited by just connecting the dots.  Not sure if that captures it but that’s the best I’ve got.

But I guess we just continue to plug away and hope that things loosen up and the rust falls away before Showcase.

Also went to group class last night.  It was Tango.  They really needed three levels last night but they don’t have enough instructors so it was left to two.  The absolute beginners were in one and the rest of us were in the other.   It was about a 50/50 mix of advanced dancers and relative newcomers so the step was a real challenge for the newcomers.  I remember those days well and it can be totally frustrating to be tossed into a group that is far above your current talent level.  The instructor is limited in how much personal attention you get and one guy was just totally lost.  To give him credit, he kept going.

It is actually really good for those of us who lead because what better way to practice than on a newcomer who really doesn’t understand the step.  I’m not so sure if experienced followers get much out of a group class if they have to dance with an inexperienced lead.

And it also shows the little things that you pick up along the way.  The first step was a rock turn where the leader did a rock (left/right) and then went back to the left while rotating his body to bring the follower around him so you ended up doing about a quarter turn of rotation.  To do it, you kind of have to start the rotation with your lead foot so your body is slightly twisted to start with and that makes torquing the final step easier.  As we went through the rotation, I was dancing with a newer lady and I did the rotation and she was kind of shocked at the amount of movement and then said her husband needed to be more forceful in his lead.  I tried to tell her that it takes some time to get used to how much force is needed in certain steps.  I spent many years being told by Z to “man up” on my leads because I was doing them too softly and she couldn’t feel them.  Now, there is other extreme, which you don’t want, where you pull the lady off her feet.  It is all about finding the happy middle which just takes time.  Of course, it hit me that if she wasn’t doing that in group class, then she wouldn’t have felt the difference and, by feeling the difference, she can then give her husband some feedback if she needs to feel more.  Maybe there was a benefit.  Although, it again seems unbalanced because maybe the inexperienced follower gets more out of it.  Unless you experienced ladies back lead the inexperienced leader to let them know what they should be doing.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now.  Got a double lesson tonight.  First with Kid T and then we bring a coach in to work on our Argentine Tango.



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