Sunday, January 27, 2008
Thursday Lesson: Journaling Comes to Lessons and Samba Strikes a Chord
Thursday night's lesson was a bit of a take off in style from my usual lessons. RT and I did do rounds, and we did open with Rumba. The difference was subtle at first, but then it became apparently clear to me that RT was dictating what he wanted to teach me by referencing what I had written about some of my previous lessons here in this journal. Now, I know that RT has made the odd stop to my journal since it's inception but, I did not know he was actually paying attention to what I write! While working on Rumba, RT had remembered to mention "Settle" when that last rollover to the next hip is supposed to happen, which did in fact continue to help. Ordinarily the appearance of a detail THAT small in a second lesson is rare unless I mention that I need it. This time it was automatic, and it completely surprised me! So, yes with a little assistance I absolutely had a Rumba that was nearly as good as Monday's lesson... so now my goal is to work that out to the point where I don't need the help.
I know that when I write things here, I'm not just writing for myself. I write to inform others, educate them about what being a dance student is like, and as it happens I have also inspired a few. I have regular readers and to some extent "fans" if you will, that really seem to enjoy much of what I'm doing. All of which is awe inspiring and humbling to me. I have been approached at the studio by others that have wanted to discuss my journey and that is welcomed and encouraged. However, my journal has never actually made a direct impact on my lessons, generally it's my lessons that impact my journal. Just wait, as the lesson progressed RT took the opportunity to really get into some of my writings and bring them back to the dance floor....
Pleased with Rumba we turned to some smooth dances and began to work on some Fox Trot, which I hadn't actually done in several weeks if not a month, my main problem when I get out of practice in smooth dances is my terrible tendency to back lead, and rush which is just awful and I know it. Sometimes this can be remedied if RT and I are actually talking about stuff while dancing, that takes my mind off what I'm doing and I generally begin to follow again. I don't recall the topic of conversation, but it must have been good, because before we knew it RT was not leading me in Fox Trot, we were going with the music playing and it happened to be Waltz! The conversation was abruptly ended by RT saying "Are we doing Waltz because I just can't do Fox Trot to Waltz music." Which I still, days later, find exceptionally funny. Seeing the window of opportunity we did in fact work on a little Waltz, but we picked up with Fox Trot again shortly thereafter and I think I did stop the back leading and rushing by the end of it.
RT also remembered that I had referred to the Tango fan steps as difficult so that was our next venture. I can't say I was terribly successful at it... I still use a lot of feeling when I dance instead of counting. So if I'm told to step on the 3, or hold on the 7 I can do it...but it requires me to take the feeling out of the dance and go down to the basic counting which isn't a smooth transition in thought. I prefer to just remind RT that I don't count when I dance. So, after what felt like many many drills on just a few fan type steps I may be able to follow that lead if asked to, but I'm not making any promises. Onward we went to our next dance...
Here's where I get flipped out a little, the thing about having had two instructors of differing styles is that one instructor generally doesn't know what the other instructor has shown you, unless they discuss it amongst themselves, the student mentions it in the lesson, OR the student writes about it in her journal. RT said "So, [Buddy] was working on Samba with you, lets to that." I almost shot back with "How do you know that?" but quickly knew better.... and just said "Well, yeah but it was really just the basic, and it's been several weeks I really don't have it down at all yet."
The thing about Samba for me is that it is extraordinarily intimidating, and RT was really good about it, in the past he started with the technical stuff, which I never took to very well... This time he tried to work it the same way Buddy had, just kind of shoving me through it. It worked, not as well as I'd hoped, but there is a ton of underlying stuff about Samba that I have issue with anyway. I told RT "Oh, no this is different, it's not right...something is off." I knew exactly what it was... it was me. We tried it again, I did the head down concentrate on the feeling of the steps thing that I do, and that did help me get back on track a bit. My issues with Samba are two fold, one.. I know what's coming with the hip motion and I am terrified of trying to do that, it's one of those things that I can't see myself ever being comfortable with the way I LOOK doing that. (Yeah not even 110lbs lost can get me to shake all of my insecurities) Two... Samba is one of RT's favorite dances, and I know how I am with my favorite dances... to not be able to get a decent one done is an awful feeling... and I don't like that I'm positively terrible at one of my instructors favorite dances. The Samba beat I've got, the feeling of the basic makes sense...but my brain is like Teflon when it comes to actually remembering what my feet are supposed to be doing...I could stand in my practice area not an hour after working on Samba, get the bounce going and the side steps, but that dang front and back basic has been wiped from my brain. I expressed my frustration in knowing that the hip motion drills were coming up, if work on Samba continues and he said "So, it's like some wall in front of you that you can't get over?" First I was surprised because RT doesn't normally speak in metaphors and second surprised that he was understanding my frustration to a point. I know he finds it ridiculous, I know he'll help me get through it... but he also knows when enough frustration is enough for me, time for another dance.
With about five minutes left to the lesson he said "You were working on Cha Cha too right?"
"Yes, [Buddy] and I worked on Cha Cha a LOT." I responded, thinking but you already know that because you just read my journal!
So Cha Cha we did, it was quick but fun I felt like I hadn't done a decent Cha Cha with RT in forever, he remembered to shorten up one of the moves that I never really got down well, and I was feeling pretty pleased with my following until the double open breaks which is a normal open break held for longer with some weight shifting and some hip stuff... I think I got it on the second or third try. Then something strange happened, I was lead into a pivot turn and then two spins right after (don't ask me why I can remember this move exactly and Samba basic escapes me, I have no idea either.) Here's the thing... I did it... and it was on time...but as soon as it was over I said "What was that?" and RT told me what it was (again, never could get the names of these things down) and I told him I'd never done that before... ever, to which I got the moderately surprised response of "But you followed it." I guess I did...and I even think I could do it again... so now, I suddenly have the ability to maybe follow turning combinations in Cha Cha? If so, that's a totally new and exciting development... I can't wait to see what happens at my next lesson!