What Have I Gotten Into

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Turns out JoNY is not going to be here on Thursday so we just have next week to get the West Coast finished and ready to roll. But I knew that was going to be a challenge since I brought it up midway through the festival.

Anyway, we spent most of the lessons last night adding the new pieces. It feels like a lot but we still have to find another 10-20 seconds to finish it up. But, as near as I can remember it, here’s the new stuff we added. It comes after the Sweetheart where she stretches away and then I bring her back around and she’s on my right side and off the track.

My walk/walk is just to bring her around in front of me and she’s turning while I do that so she’s got most of the work but we need to get back on the track. The next part is just a basic hammerlock but it sets up the little trick she wants to do which is me getting her shoulder blade and rotating my arm while she kind of spins in place. That part went pretty well although I kept forgetting the whole sweetheart stuff when we practiced.

Then, we got to a Silver step that she saw and thought it looked cool. After the spin, we end up with arms crossed. I’m supposed to turn my left side away from her and use my next to steps to bring her in front of me (while I turn 90 degrees) while she’s doing a turn. Then, I have two triple steps which progress down the track while she’s turning – or I’m moving under my own arms or something. To be honest, it is all a blur of arms and legs and turning things. If all goes well, after the next set of moves, she ends up behind me and my arms are extended behind me. Then, to finish it, I take a step forward and then backwards while bringing her around for a free spin with my right arm. After that, we still need new material to finish it.

This is also where we see some of the shortcomings of learning from videos. I don’t think she had anyone to teach the step to her and I don’t think the video gives all the details. Or it takes 100 views to soak it all in. I don’t know. I do know that she explained the general concept but we kind of just figured it out by doing it a few times until we could get to where we needed to be. In fairness, it is probably hard to describe all the movements when it is just spinning and moving.

And this is the step she’s added with a week to go before we get to perform it. Ambitious but I kind of like it. But I also freak out just a little (or maybe a lot). I mean in slow walk throughs, it was fine but once we tried it to music, it was chaos. Pure chaos.

The Dance that ate the Dancer

With the other time in the lesson, we did more work on the Argentine Tango which is farther along but it should be since we started working on that last fall. One issue is the start because the song she’s using doesn’t seem to be available on ITunes meaning that she can’t chop it up and control when it starts. So we wanted to start on a pretty strong violin beat but we couldn’t get a consistent starting point to be able to count to that so she decided to just have us hold a beat after that violin and then start. It worked although it isn’t quite as cool as starting on a strong beat.

The other dance we did was Mambo and that was just more work on the two new steps. We did run through the whole pattern multiple times. I think JoNY needed a break from all the spinning she was doing in our West Coast Swing. Mambo is fast but not a lot of spins in our pattern. In the Ronde, most of my footwork is just a back rock and a side step which works but I thought it should be more complicated than that so I was overthinking it just a bit. When I actually just did the back rock and side step, it went much better.

The Silver group class was Fox Trot and they let DH teach it. I think he’s the designated teacher of the big groups until he leaves for other parts later this month. I know life is taking him in a different direction but the studio is really going to miss him. He’s a fantastic dancer but also a great teacher. One thing about these Silver group classes is that he always mixes in a lot of technique along with the pattern. I find that I always get something out of his classes which isn’t always the case with other instructors.

The basic pattern was a Hover Corte which required us to get into Shadow position. Shadow position is one of those things where there is a “safe” option and then there is the option that really creates the best connection. And when you are dancing with people you don’t know so well, they might be squeamish about hand position so the default is usually the “safe” option with the man’s hand on the ladies shoulder. When you get braver, you can get you hand around her mid section which is tricky because the real estate just above is not something you want to grab in polite society. It becomes more fun when switching partners and dealing with differences in height.

But after doing this a couple of times, DH stops and asks us where our hand should be in shadow position. Well we give him the moderately safe answer of on the ladies rib cage. That’s only part of the answer he wants. He wants the palm of our hands there with the fingers wrapping around the front. If the lady then pushes her rib cage into your right hand, you have a strong connection and it mimics the frame that you would have in normal hold. As he told us, just because you are in shadow position, you are still expected to have a proper frame. Of course, this increases the probability of accidental inappropriate touching but I kind of think DH enjoys our discomfort just a bit.

Best I could do – this is a G rated blog after all

He actually ended up having me be the lead demo on this so he could show the ladies the whole rib cage thing and then demonstrate it with them so we could all feel how it should really feel. And, after dancing it with me, he tells the rest of the class that I’m wearing a nice cologne. Everyone’s a comedian. Although it is just another reminder that a dance studio just isn’t like a normal work place. Things that go on there would make most HR people freak out.

Not really but I thought this was funny

No lesson on Thursday but I will be going for the group and party. Next week we have to finish up the West Coast and get ready to show it and the Argentine Tango off. Will make for an interesting Tuesday lesson.

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