Drive! (But Remember to Breathe)

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So last night’s coaching lesson was amazing.  Honestly, it was stuff I’ve been told before but somehow it just clicked better last night.

I’m kind of aware that I can get way too tentative at times and mostly in the smooth dances.  I’ve been told that I need to drive more but I tend to hold back a bit because driving is difficult when you’ve got a lady in frame who is kind of in your way.  Yes, she will move but there is some part of me that is like “Now, don’t run her over, that would be mean”.  So I tend to shorten my strides in a lot of places.

We started with the Fox Trot because I knew if we started with the Viennese Waltz that I’d be a sweaty mess by the time we got to the Fox Trot.  As it turns out, it didn’t matter what we started with.  But I wasn’t as worn out as I would have been if we had reversed the order.

We worked through the Fox Trot once and got stuck in a few places which is kind of par for the course.  The good news is that I was in a place where I could really just laugh off the mistakes so JoNY and I were having a good time trying to struggle through things.  We finished it once and he asked me if I was breathing.  Well, for sure I was when we stopped.  While we were dancing, can’t really say.  I don’t know this is just another bad habit of mine and breathing would certainly help.

After we got through the second time, he pulls out a chair and places it roughly where we start and then gets a second chair and places it on the floor.  He tells us that our basic movement was good and that we looked smooth and not like I was pulling her over the floor.  But that I needed to drive more on each first step because the drive set up the momentum for the second and third step and set up the rise and fall.  By cutting my steps short, I was actually having to work harder.

Then he demonstrated and he talked about drive without really explaining it other than to say that it doesn’t mean that it comes from the knees which is what I think I’ve been told before.  He points to the chair and tells us that’s where we ended the first part of our pattern.  Then, he grabs another chair and puts it down past the second chair and close to the wall.  (Wish I could have measured the distance to give you perspective)  And he tells me that he wants me to end up at the second chair.

I’m wondering if having an actual goal to shoot for is what I needed because I didn’t really have a clue about how to drive or what I needed to do differently.  I just kind of set my mind on reaching that second chair and we did it on the first attempt.  And it made the movement so much more natural and easier.

That turned into the theme for the night.  The other them was to keep my right arm from drifting in towards my body which would bring her out of position and would then make life complicated.  That happened more in the Viennese Waltz but it was important for the Fox Trot as well.

With the Viennese Waltz, we do a run around and he got us to open up our right sides a bit more and suddenly it was like we were a tornado.  There was so much momentum that it was kind of hard to stop.  Plus, he fixed a part on the tandem turn where she’s behind me but we weren’t working to get her to my right side which is where she needed to be to make the turn out of that step work.

In the Viennese Waltz, we have a sequence on the short side of the floor that is two shadow spirals into the Tandem Turn.  Ideally, it ends up at the edge of the floor but when we were practicing ourselves on Tuesday, it always stopped more towards the center.  When I focused on the driving, we easily made it all the way to the edge of the floor.  And the first part of the sequence was now almost covering the entire long side of the floor.

At the end of the lesson, both dances were moving 100 times better than they had in the past.  It was really the first time since I started dancing with JoNY that the smooth dances started to feel really smooth and effortless.  The gliding around the floor which is what they are supposed to do.  (Except Tango which is a different beast)

The really nice thing about the lesson is that it was just some relatively minor tweaks but they made a big difference.

I will say that today several muscle groups in my thighs were a little tight and sore.  I guess 45 minutes of driving will do that to you.  The good news was that I had a session with my trainer today so I could tell her which muscles were particularly tired after dance to give her a target of what to work on with me.

Of course, the challenge for both trainers is dealing with my arthritis.  Normally, they would just have me start doing a bunch of squats but my knees just don’t work well enough for that.   But she’s going to think about some ways to work around my stupid knees.

So now the weekend is here and some of the seasonal confusion is supposed to end tonight as temperatures become more fall like.  I’m in that place where you’ve just had a great lesson and you want to get right back into the studio.  But then I don’t really want Tuesday to get here that quickly because I do want to enjoy my weekend.

One comment

  1. I’m sorry to say I haven’t been keeping up with your posts, but I’m so glad I checked in on this one because it made me so happy! I LOVE those lessons when everything clicks and once someone explains something the “right” way for your brain, you just do it and you’re left like “oh, it’s really that easy?” So good!

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