Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday Lesson: Dancing with my Eyes Wide Shut
I had a second lesson this week, newer instructor again that I have decided to officially make my "buddy teacher." (Since names are always omitted to protect the guilty... he shall be referred to from this point on as "Buddy.") This is good because having more than one instructor makes me a better dancer, it gives me another lead to follow and a fresh perspective on the same steps and techniques that I'm learning.
Buddy opened the lesson with a review of all the basic techniques in East Coast Swing. Now, the basic BASIC techniques and elements were never really taught to me as such, they were just incorporated into whatever I was learning step wise so when I was asked, "Do you know (such an such) element." I had to answer "I don't know, just lead me through it and we'll both find out." Turns out I've got the elements covered, so we did a fairly nice East Coast and incorporated some of the more advanced steps that I have been doing for a while. There was a point where Buddy tried to teach me an alternate version of the basic step...the portion of the step that "rocks" back he was asking me to almost "rock" forward. That I was having trouble with...but then I often have issues if I am asked to change what has, in my mind, always been done a certain way. I actually gave up on the idea of doing the "rock forward" as I just couldn't wrap my head around it. THAT was frustrating because it's really simple, and I just couldn't grasp the concept. I'm sure it will be reviewed in future lessons.
Next dance Buddy wanted to work on was Rumba. The Rumba and I have a love/hate relationship really... I blame the Cuban motion of it all... I love it it's fun and sexy and it's a great opportunity to perform...BUT...I'm a person that can't actually perform a Rumba unless I'm comfortable with my leader. Buddy and I have been working together for a very short time and I don't feel as though I trust him as much as the teacher I've been working with since day one... That means that when he wants a Rumba (as he described to me, "sex on the dance floor") with full blown Cuban motion and sexy eyes the whole nine yards... I immediately disconnect from the dance and from my dance teacher. Had I put two and two together I would have suggested the solution to that, luckily I didn't have to and Buddy suggested the very solution I missed... one of my favorite teaching techniques ever... Dancing with my eyes closed.
I know... dancing with one's eyes closed sounds a little out there... and I don't suggest it for a crowded dance floor, but if you're taking lessons and haven't done it yet, it's a MUST. I've danced with my eyes closed on two previous occasions... and I admit to being a little embarrassed that I like it so much! I can't imagine what dancing with partner that isn't looking back is like, but what happens when I close my eyes is pretty cool. So, I close my eyes and it takes me a second to adjust, immediately all my other senses are trying to make up for the fact that I'm not using my eyes to try and read my partner (I'm EXTREMELY visually oriented in general) I start to listen to the music more, I'm paying more attention to the feel of my dance teacher instead of trying to read his face for my cues... and after a few steps of adjustment and deciding to drop the internal argument that I'm doing this with someone I don't really know... I just try and follow...and after a few more measures...hey what do you know I'm following!
It's very strange because with my eyes closed, and my mind quieted, I almost feel like I'm inside the music... I don't remember the song... doesn't even matter.... and while I normally have visions of what the room I'm in looks like and where we are moving in it in my head...(essentially trying to "see" with my eyes closed...) This time I was able to make it all fade to black much more successfully than previous attempts and there was nothing but me the music and the frame I was dancing in... I did cheat when we opened frame for a cross over break and I had to find his shoulder again..if I hadn't peeked I could have hit him in the chin with my arm or something... With each measure of the music I felt more comfortable throwing whatever it is I've got into the Cuban motion. By the end it sure felt like a Rumba... I wish I could do that with my eyes open... I think I can... I just have to hang on to that feeling...
Then the magic was broken and with confidence in hand Buddy promptly shattered it by going over how to add my rib cage into the Rumba... Hey at least it doesn't matter how good I think I've learned something, because there's always room for improvement or a new element to add.
My usual instructor (pseudonym yet to be determined) will be out on personal business over the next few weeks (bummer!) so Buddy and I will get some quality lesson time in while he's out I'm hoping for some grand improvement in skill and scale numbers!