The Great Frame Up

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Another amazing coaching lesson. I’ve talked about coaching lessons before and they are kind of a hit or miss proposition. This guy is someone I’ve worked with before although I kind of forgot until I saw him. He’s got kind of a nerd vibe but it works because he’s very relatable and easy to work with. That was not meant as a slam by the way – just a way for you to maybe get a mental picture. He knows his stuff as well.

We picked Argentine Tango and I’m pretty sure he worked with me and Kid T back in the day. I’ve done so many different coaching lessons with different instructors that I can’t keep them separate in my mind. But we ran through what we had and told him that we wanted to focus more on the end because that’s where JoNY had tossed in some steps but they were steps she had learned on the video.

He was able to breathe life into them. We had a part where we do a little 5 step grapevine around each other and then I give her a turn. She’s supposed to connect to my right arm and lower a bit which is very Argentine Tango. He changed it. Now, I roll her in like before but then change hands and give her a free spin. Then, I’m suppose to reach out and grab her so she can lower. He said if I do the grabbing (I’m grabbing the arm and its in a nice way), then there is more control. Plus it looks a lot cooler.

I asked about how we get out of that because we had struggled with how to get back into frame. We were doing a face loop which was OK but he just suggested I step back and bring her to me. I may have gotten a little enthusiastic because we ended up close together and he actually liked that. A lucky bit of improvising.

He walked me through how to do the next parts which are some funky looking walks – pointing the top and then stepping and he said to open the frame slightly which gave me the space to move outside. This is what can be so interesting about dance when a minor tweak just makes a big difference.

I’d try to describe the ending but it is hard to. I’ve got it on video so I can watch and try to burn it in to my memory. While we are coming out of the outside walks, I over rotate her so she’s perpendicular to me and looking right. I’m then supposed to step into her making contact with her leg which gives her the ability to wrap it a bit and then rotate 180 while I step into her.

Then he just went a little crazy. We’ve got these steps where I stick my foot in front of JoNY to stop her and then move back the other way. We do the front half of an open box and some ochos (she’s swiveling) and somehow we end up with me having my arm around her while she’s on one foot. Then, if all goes well, I walk around while she’s kind of rotating in place as I walk. We end that and I’m supposed to turn her while following her and then get my right arm around the back of her neck and stick my left leg slightly out and bring her down into a dip.

All the time he’s doing this, JoNY and I are kind of giggling a bit. We do that at times. In this case it was because he was giving us some really cool moves. This one is going to be fun to show off. We have a lot of slower moves but he tossed in some sharper quick stuff and some pretty dramatic movements.

The funny thing was that I never went to the place I sometimes go where I start thinking “I can’t do that”. Not sure why but it was nice.

I also stayed for the master class which was all about the proper frame for smooth dancing. He hit the main points – arms out and slightly rounded but keep the shoulders down. And he got into the fine detail of how we connect. This is likely one of those things where it is teacher preference and where there isn’t really a “right” way but it did create a nice solid frame.

He also talked about moving into promenade. I should mention that a master class is designed for all levels so a lot of times it is more technique focused. Went over the whole thing about head and feet move but the rest of the body stays in place. We practiced that a few times which made me regret doing all the oblique work I had done earlier in the day.

I got called out twice in class but as an example of what to do. The first was just my hand position – keeping the fingers and thumb together on the hand that goes on the ladies back. The second time was going into promenade. At that point, I was dancing with the lady who used to dance competitively so that helped a great deal. But he made us freeze in promenade and then walked around making tiny corrections. He got to us and said we looked great and then had everyone else kind of look our way. Teacher’s pet and all. For someone who can suffer from lack of confidence, it meant a lot to get some real nice positive reinforcement.

I will say that my shoulder were aching after that class. Keeping up a proper frame ain’t easy. I was talking with another guy after class and they had worked with this coach on smooth earlier in the day so he was really hurting. He was telling me that he’s started doing some weights – mostly lateral raises – just to build up some strength.

And now the weekend is here. We are going to a festival at a local orthodox church that will feature middle eastern food. Gyros, falafel, and all kinds of interesting pastries. We have several of these throughout the year and they are always fun. Hope you enjoy your weekend!

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