Plankity Plank

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Yesterday’s first lesson was Mambo all the time. First of all, we have to discuss Medal Ball and checking out. Hard to believe that it was just last year when I was doing my last dancing with Kid T (didn’t know it at the time) and we were checking out of Silver 2. The only dances we left behind were Bolero and Mambo. Probably because I didn’t have all the steps down and checking out of nine dances might have been a bit much. Technically, I’m still in Silver 2 in those two dances.

So JoNY presents me with an option. If I want to check out of those dances, then we just focus on the current patterns. If I don’t, then we start adding some Silver 3 stuff. This is one of life’s easy questions but I have a thing about not being able to make little decisions like this on the spot. I kind of don’t have strong feelings either way although I guess that leaving them dangling and technically behind the rest of the dances probably isn’t a good thing. Well OwnerGuy shows up and I guess I sort of agreed to do the check out. But he still wants to teach a new Mambo step although it is more for Showcase in May.

First, he needs to see the Mambo and he’s instantly got a few suggestions. We start with a basic into a cross body lead. For years and years, I was taught that a cross body lead is a rock forward (or a step forward depending on the dance) and then you step back and out of the lady’s way. But your feet are apart. I guess I shouldn’t say years and years since this was covered a long time ago and nobody has said anything different so I’ve kept doing my cross body leads the same way. Well now OwnerGuy wants something a little different. Instead of having my feet open and parallel to each other, on the third step, I kind of sneak my left foot slightly behind my right but angled just so. This is something like coiling a spring because then I sort of pivot on the foot to bring her around. I say coiled spring because it creates significantly more momentum than we had before and sets up the next move so much better.

This just continues to be a theme. Small changes in even a basic step make a big difference in how the dance flows and feels. I’m not sure when they decide that it is time to start learning some of this stuff. Maybe it was time before but OwnerGuy wasn’t really around when I was dancing with Kid T and now he’s there and watching so he’s in a better position to suggest these little tweaks.

The new step he wants us to do requires us to dance apart from each other. This is certainly interesting but also a little scary because if we aren’t in sync, it will be so obvious. The step is simple but deceptively tricky because it moves different from other Mambo stuff. Starts with a basic forward rock. On the back rock, the left foot steps out and away. Then, I bring my right foot to a point but then step on the right and cross the left behind the right. I bring the right to the left, hold and then kick out my left foot into another point. (I swear we were moving on the 1’s which I thought was a no-no in Mambo so I need to double check that). Then we do another pair of basic rocks but I end the last one with my right foot pointed. I roll her in to pick her up and start over with the cross body lead. By the end of our second lesson, we were pretty much getting through it and looping the pattern without too many glitches. But we were probably doing it half speed so it will be a challenge when we try to take it up to speed.

Group class was Silver Tango. The class was taught by the newest guy instructor who is really, really good. He dances at competitions so he’s a great dancer but he is also a really good teacher. It is a step JoNY and I do but he mentioned some things about posture and poise that I hadn’t heard before and that was nice.

We were sharing the floor with the newcomer group which was a little rough in places because our Tango moved quite a bit and it felt like we sometimes squeezed them into a corner. Not really the intention but it might have felt like that to them. At one point, the lady I was partnered with looked over and said “remember when it was that easy”. I had to remind her that back then it wasn’t so easy. It just looks easy now. I hope this doesn’t come out the wrong way but it is good to see real beginners because you tend to forget that you started that way as well. Ballroom is full of ups and downs and it is easy to get down on yourself but you see beginners and it is a real visual reminder of just how much you’ve accomplished.

As I mentioned before, our second lesson continued with the Mambo. But after going through it a few times with no major glitches, JoNY switched to Bolero so we could practice the new step. It was funny because I now remember the post I wrote about that step and how it was going to be fun to have in the beginning but I had actually forgotten about it when she brought it up last night. Not quite locked into the muscle memory circuits. But it came back rather quickly and so we got some needed practice in on that dance since it will also be part of the check out.

And I did want to briefly talk about my training session earlier in the day. My other trainer used to love to have me do a plank to finish up the routine. This lady also seems to enjoy having me do planks. I think they all do similar things where they pick a set of exercises and I cycle through them 2-3 times and then they have a different set and we cycle through those. Well she had planks in one of the early cycles. And, when I thought we were done, she says we’ll finish with a plank and I just hold it as long as I could. She asked if I wanted her to call out time or just leave it blank. I opted for her to call out every 15 seconds. Kind of an incentive for me to just hold it a little longer.

Today it is just my shoulders and knees that are a little sore. The good news is I went way over the 10000 steps so I don’t have to do as much today to stay on target for the 50000 steps in a week. And it worked out OK because I had meetings in the morning making it hard to get to the fitness center.

And, today is Wednesday leaving just two days in the week and only three days before we fly out of here to a much sunnier and warmer place. Really looking forward to telling winter to eff off for a week.

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