Monday, March 31, 2008

Lesson: Salsa, Rumba, Bolero and Samba

PhotobucketMy last lesson was a real mix of what I know and am comfortable with and what is new and pretty much foreign to me. RT and I opened with Salsa and I immediately received the comment (or was it a compliment?) "Wow, you feel much lighter today!" I'm not quite sure how to take that really, but we'll go with it being a good thing. I think it means I was lighter on my feet than the last lesson, which is really good. I CAN be lighter on my feet, but by nature I'm really not. So I was pleased with that comment. We also did some lesser known elements, more social Latin like the Cumbia step (one of my favorites) and some little things you can do in Salsa, but don't generally see on the competition floor. Which I LOVE, mainly because I have become by definition a social dancer. After a nice warm up it was time to move on.

Rumba it was... it simply wouldn't be a lesson if we didn't do any Rumba at all...which is why I was perplexed when RT said "Wow, it doesn't feel like we've done Rumba in forever." My reply? "Yep it's been at least a week!"
"No, we haven't actually danced Rumba in a while." he states. Which come to think of it he's right, we kind of cruised over it the last few lessons because we needed to slow down, or just wanted to get my spiral right. RT also introduced me to a new lead where I turn 90 degrees after my second quick step and kind of side step into my slow. At least I think that's the timing of it...Anyway it was new to me and took some getting used to. THAT will look pretty cool once I get it. We worked on that, and the rest of my Rumba... it doesn't take me long to loose that fragile grasp I have on the Cuban motion if we don't work on it regularly, so I was glad for that. Cuban motion is vital to all things in Latin dances. I even did a very respectable spiral step at one point which I was very excited about!

The lesson continued as teacher's choice... I didn't really have any requests this week... so we worked on Bolero. What I affectionately call the Waltz of Rhythm dances... It totally is!! It's slower than Rumba, and has a LOT of knee work for rise and fall, it also has a lot of corresponding big arm movements that just makes it incredibly graceful. So you know I feel like a bull in a china shop when I'm doing it. I have a lot of trouble staying lowered on my knees... I've spent a good portion of my life doing things in such a way that keeps my knees from hurting because they've been bad most of my life. I'm happy to say that my knees are stronger then they have ever been, but the habits of protecting them, like popping up right after I've lowered myself to prevent the pain I anticipate really ruins what could be my Bolero. Also, because I am so new at this dance, I'm still working out what my feet are supposed to be doing so I don't use my all...
Another instructor saw us and said "Ok, Kat your arms are supposed to do this." which he followed by doing a big sweeping motion above his head. I just looked at him with a yeah right face.
RT responded for me and said "We're just working on the feet right now, and we work our way up."
The other teacher found that very amusing, I guess most people learn more elements at one time... me... I have to work on one, then add another, then blend them together. I never could do anything the conventional way.

RT even asked me if my knees were hurting, because he kept having to remind me to stay lowered, I told him they didn't hurt, but I was anticipating that they were going to, so I kept popping up. After a few more cycles reminding me I think it got a little better, but we did decide to rest Bolero for the remainder of the lesson. Back at the music machine, RT asked me the dreaded question... the one I fear during every lesson...

"Ok, how about Samba?"

Oh no! I think... every time he asks me about Samba I do a quick mental check of how many times I've turned him down in the past, (it's not nice to turn anyone down for a dance, it's terrible manners) and I do a really fast "systems check" mentally to see if my legs are up for it. After determining that I've turned him down too many times in a row, reminding myself that I really do want to learn this dance, and my legs reporting back that they are up for the challenge, I say "Sure, I feel like making a fool of myself today... let's do Samba." (I don't know why I said that exactly... anytime I get put in an even slightly uncomfortable position I have an open-mouth-insert-foot moment.)

Away on the dance floor we go and RT makes a very uncharacteristic statement "Ok, we're just going to work on the steps." Which I never believe, he's technical by nature so he naturally just has corrections for me even if we're just working on where my feet will be placed, not how they will be placed. It actually didn't go so badly... I don't think... I seemed to be getting parts of it really well... other parts, like the Samba walks were not going well at all. I also think I was hanging on him too much, I felt like I was hanging on him too much, which likely means I was... and I HATE doing that to any lead. He didn't say anything though, so I tried to correct myself where I could, and hung on for dear life where I couldn't. We worked on Samba for a while... and my legs held on like real troupers... I was very pleased with them. It seems my legs are getting exponentially stronger lately, my knees are still the weakest element within my legs, but they are catching up! Towards the end my calves were a little weary, but that's to be expected.

There also were a lot of people in the waiting area watching the floor, I think they may have been watching my failed attempts at the Samba walks... I think that because RT changes ever so slightly when someone is watching. I made an effort to not pay attention to onlookers because I change drastically if I know I'm being watched, and I didn't want to ruin whatever momentum I had going. We ended our Samba round with a brief review of how I can practice at home and really nail the finer points of the counts.

Then, I think because there were on lookers... I don't know for sure...just a guess... we went back to Salsa, which is now officially my strongest dance. I asked about a particular step I had learned from an instructor outside this studio and turns out RT knew it... so we worked on that, and just some fun Salsa stuff too. More Cumbia step, some turns, he probably threw a Coca-Cola in there as well, that's one I've almost got. What I like most about Salsa is that I'm at the point where I can follow and I'm not really thinking about the step...I'm just following the lead. Now, because I dance the VAST majority of the time with RT it's very easy for me to read what he's leading... which is just plain fun. I can even recover from a surprise lead faster than with a guy I'm less familiar with. We ended on a very high dance note and parted ways with my promising to work on my Samba.

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