I don’t think I’ve done a ballroom dance post in a bit. That’s because we are getting closer to Showcase and each lesson is just repetition of the various dances to iron out the kinks. Not really much there to write about because it is less than exciting.
Now, this is not meant as a knock on anyone but there are challenges when you get in the upper levels. The number of teachers with significant experience with upper Silver or Gold steps is limited. Well maybe I shouldn’t make that a broad generalization but it is certainly true at our studio and I suspect it is true in a number of Famous Franchise studios.
Which isn’t to say that they don’t have people who can teach these steps. They do a significant amount of training and have the appropriate materials. But there is clearly a difference between seeing something on video vs having danced the particular step multiple times. It may be somewhat like taking an advanced college course from a grad student rather than a professor. You’ll learn but you miss out on the experience that a full professor would bring.
And that becomes more important at the higher levels when things like shaping and lead/follow become far more important. Which isn’t to say you can’t do the step but there is a difference between two people doing their parts because they know what they are supposed to do and a couple dancing. If I cared just about the steps and levels, this wouldn’t be a problem but I do want it feel like I can really lead something and it isn’t just happening because we’ve both memorized what we are supposed to do.
Again, this is not a knock on anyone and I’m not suggesting that none of that information gets to me. It is just that there are certain steps where something is still awkward and that just suggests we are missing some small but critical piece to the puzzle. And that’s why the coaching lessons become valuable because it is an experienced set of eyes who can pinpoint things and provide the little things that make big differences.
Anyway, we had a coach in this week. We had signed up for a time slot yesterday but I noticed last week that the slot right before was still open. I figure that there had been enough opportunities for people to grab it so I suggested we take it and do back to back coaching lessons. Best decision I’ve made in awhile.
Note – the next section is primarily for me to write what we did as a way of trying to get it into my mind. If that doesn’t interest you, feel free to stop now. I do explain how I came up with the title so you might want to read for that.
The dance we chose to start with was Bolero because we haven’t had a lot of coaching on that.
She had us dance through once and then immediately started in with the changes. On our opening move, I was rocking back and she wanted me to rock forward which made things smoother. The part after the snap spin had also been problematic because I’m supposed to be moving backwards after she does a turn and half the time, it doesn’t work out so well. She changed that so that after the turn we do a fifth position break and that leads more naturally into the oversway.
On the oversway, there is a section where we are doing rocks in a close position. Well I wasn’t doing enough with certain parts of my body. This is where the infinity loop comes in because that is close to what she wanted. It should be left side up, then left side down, then right side up and then right side down. If you trace it out it would look kind of like the infinity loop.
And all of this needs to be done through the rib cage with soft knees. At one point, to illustrate it, she had me in frame with PJ while she was behind me forcing my ribs to move in the direction she wanted. It just so happened that at that particular moment, the group class ended and they drew back the curtain that had separated us from the group class. I think we made an interesting visual.
The whole ending was redone. From the cutoff promenades, I do a rock into her and turn around and change hands so she’s behind me. Then we walk out and I bring her to the side and we change the grip. Then I do a rock and get her to switch sides. After a turn we are facing each other and back to normal hand hold. We do a forward step and then turn around and come back the other direction and then turn back to where we were facing (all of that is down). After some rocks, I do a check and spin her out so she’s now on my right side. That leads to a telemark and a lungy type thing to create a nice shape. I know my description needs work but it moved really nicely and I think it looks cool.
Good thing we had two sessions because we used one and a half of them on the Bolero and it was nice to get some serious focus on a single dance. The rest of the time was with Tango and she wanted me to do more rotating before moving and changed my footwork on the fallaway which I was doing wrong. There was another section where she explained more on how to lead a particular step – through more rotation and by making my arms wider.
So lots of stuff to process but that’s a good thing.
One other takeaway is that it feels like an experienced coach can size you up pretty quickly. It isn’t so much that they are teaching you the “right” way to do something but more like they sense you’ve got more in you and they try to draw it out.
Well that’s it for now. Really glad that things worked out and we got to do the two lessons back to back.