Lessons to Learn

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With the work drama under control for a bit, we can now return to dancing.  I know I seem to have drifted from dance posts quite a bit.  But there has just been more to say in other parts of my life.

Yesterday’s group class was Rumba.  We seemed to have settled into a relatively stable crowd of advanced students for group class and the gender ratio is balanced so it makes for better classes.  There is one of Z’s students who seems to have backed off a bit as well – or maybe he just comes on different days because he used to attend group class all the time and now I rarely see him.  He was there for a lesson but didn’t stay for group class.

I had the advantage again but the Rumba step OwnerGuy was doing is one that is in my amalgamation.  So that gives me the chance to focus more on the technique things OwnerGuy wants like getting my head weight over my foot.  And, when he tosses out little tips, I can start working on those since I’m not so focused on trying to learn the steps.  Things like foot placement before the opening outs that create more spring and momentum.  Like instead of closing your feet, just bring one slightly in front of the other which creates a similar effect.

So, for our lesson, we briefly touched on the Cha-Cha which is one of the dances JoNY and I worked on at our last lesson.  There are some transitions that weren’t clear to me so that was an easy fix because one was just a back rock into my forward lock steps.  On a step called the puzzle, he wants me to travel in a straight line where before I was curving it a bit.  So there is one place where he just wants me to take two forward walks rather than what I was doing with Kid T which was kind of like a half moon – a back rock to rotate her around me.  Things like that always drive me a bit crazy because I default in my head to their being only one way to do something and if they are changing it, then I was doing it “wrong” before and I hate that. What is harder for me to accept is that there often isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way and it depends on you and your partner and there are tweaks that can accommodate differences in how people move.

I forgot to mention when I was getting ready for my lesson, this guy who was in the group class was talking with me.  He says he’s seen JoNY make some real strides since she’s been dancing with me.  Don’t worry, I’m not taking any credit for that.  I know that this is what she’s doing with OwnerGuy to prep for our lessons.  I mention it only because it is interesting to get a perspective from someone on the outside.

The rest of the lesson was Mambo which is a dance we haven’t visited in awhile.  Unfortunately, my legs felt a little dead and dancing Mambo with dead legs is not a good thing.  Plus we were getting late in the evening (for me) and I had the work drama earlier so I kind of started to lose it a bit at the end and let some of the frustration take over.

It starts with a cross body lead to set up a back spot turn which is basic.  But that goes into a fallaway swivel which is similar to a step we do in Cha-Cha but just with Mambo timing.  In Cha-Cha, we end with an open box so we move after the swivels.  In Mambo, it ends quicker and we me circling around her and wrapping her arm around her neck (gently – its not a choke hold!)  That part is a little funky but it is one of those steps that just kind of happens if you move in the right way so the trick is just remembering which way to move after the swivels.

From there, I continue to circle and unwind her and we go into a spin whip which is a step we do in Swing.  (There seems to be lots of overlap between the dances – steps with the same names but danced differently depending on the timing).  The spin whip starts a section that is unchanged from what I did with Kid T so once I hit the spin whip, the muscle memory kicked in and the next parts flowed out nicely.  I’m now thinking that there is one part where my leg action should be more like a back spot turn to set up the thing she does so that’s something I’ll try to fix on Thursday.

But we go from the spin whip and I end up getting her back on my side and we do an opening out and then walk sort of in promenade and my last step is to cross my feet.  That allows me to turn her and then spin myself so we end up in a hammerlock.  I get her out of that and we go into a open box with a turn on the back half of the open box.

Then we start a second open box but I need to be back in frame by this point which was something I didn’t do the first time (and the step suffered because of it).  Instead of doing the back half of the open box, I’m supposed to do some funky mini grapevine to start a section where we are circling around each other.  OwnerGuy says I’m supposed to bounce her off me with the grapevine-ish step to get her in proper position for the circling parts.  It means my first step is kind of into her and in the opposite direction from where we end up going with the circling.  At least I think that’s the case because that’s what OwnerGuy was doing and I didn’t get a chance to ask him.

The first circling part ends with me leading her to do a ronde.  That’s something I sort of know because we do our three steps and then after my last step, I do a little rotation of my upper body to get her to swing her back foot around.  Then, we do another three circling steps and I supposed to come to a dead stop and her momentum carries her a bit into the next position.

The ending is a little grey, vague and funky.  I know I’m suppose to step into her and then pivot around so my back is to her.  There could be some kind of arm wrap there but we haven’t gotten to that.  Then, I do another pivot to face her but I’m supposed to just tap my right foot since the next part of the dance requires me to start with the right foot.  This is because the timing of the last part is different from the rest of the dance and I still don’t have it down yet.  In theory, that leads to a place where we can loop the pattern.

Oh and all during this, he is getting on my case about the frame.  He wants more forward poise (weight towards the balls of my feet) and wants my elbows out in front of my body.  Right now, I think he is trying to exaggerate it so I can feel what I’m supposed to do and, because it is new, I instantly assume it looks dorky.  I mean we are sort of leaning into each other with my left (her right arm) connected but held relatively high because that’s the only way I can make sure my elbow is in front of my body.  And we look like we have space for a beach ball between us because my right arm is barely on her left shoulder – again, that keeps the elbows in front of us.  He says it looks fine and that’s what he’s going for because it creates a stronger frame and a better look.  There is a method to his madness.  He wants the judges to get a strong first impression so they look beyond that to find other layers for us to work on.

I think he is off our lesson on Thursday so he wants JoNY and I to get through Rumba, Cha-Cha and Mambo.  Which just means I need to shut up and dance and not get hung up on the parts I can’t quite figure out.  We just need to do the steps and figure out where we still need help and let him work on those.



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