Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lesson: Smooth Beginning to a Near Wipe Out, and Spinning In Between!

Greetings all! I had a second lesson last week that I just haven't had the chance to post about before now... This is a GOOD one too!

When we started this lesson there wasn't really a warm up, RT and I just took up frame. I could tell whatever we were going to do was smooth, so I thought Great! I'm going to get to maintain my smooth skills! Well, yes... we started dancing and I was just concentrating on following. My internal monologue for the first few measures went something like this:

We can't be, are we? Yes, oh...wait...maybe not...oh damn, yep he's making me Waltz!

Yes ladies and gentleman, RT wanted to Waltz. I can't even tell you the last time I actually worked on a Waltz as part of my lesson. Way back at the start of this adventure I had it as one of my majors, even had a coaching with Tony Dovolani on it more than a year ago. Sometime over the Summer I became so frustrated with my lack of progress in this dance that I insisted it be removed from my list of primary dances. I have NEVER felt completely solid or balanced when working on Waltz. I feel like a complete fish out of water. I thought it would only be for a moment that we would do this, maybe RT just wanted to see if I remembered it at all.... Well, we worked on a pretty basic Waltz for a bit, and I came out and asked point blank "Why are we working on Waltz?"
"Because you like it." RT responded.
"Oh, yes so much!" Was my reply, soaking in sarcasm.
He said with all seriousness,"Look, I'm hoping to change your mind."
I'm sure I came back at him with some biting remark, I don't recall what it was, but that didn't stop him! Come to think of it, I don't think a freight train, mack truck, or pack of wild horses can stop RT when he has his mind set on something. Lucky me, on this night Waltz was the something. We focused on fine tuning the rise and fall, and on that silly outside turn I ALWAYS have issues with. I do have to say that while it doesn't feel natural in the least, I think I may actually remember how to finish it now. Blissfully the Waltz portion of the evening was over, although I am glad we worked on some aspect of smooth, Waltz is not my cup of tea.

Next up RT suggests Bolero, to which I could only say "You just made me Waltz, and now you want to do to the 'Waltz of rhythm'?" It didn't make sense to me, why move from one excruciatingly slow dance to another? Don't get me wrong, I think if I ever get the Bolero basic down I could actually like it a lot, but I was not in the mood for that! Guess what? We worked on Bolero! Not for a long time, but we did. (RT's way of reminding me who actually dictates the lesson) I pretty much kept quiet during this particular study, I'm still trying to understand Bolero so I didn't want to muck it up with protests. I guess my face told the story though, because after a song or two RT suggested Mambo.


Well, I should say he suggested Mambo, but it ended up being Salsa. This is because I always like to clarify if it's going to be On1 or On2 because if it's On2 I really have to pay attention to follow, whereas On1 is easier for me to get closer to that feeling of actually dancing. So after I asked for clarification, RT said "Ok, Salsa then." I don't remember the beginning of the dance, I do remember getting that look though... the one and only look I can't read from RT. It's the one I get after I've done something, a spin or a pivot or a cross body lead...and when I see it I never know if he makes that face because I did it right and he's surprised, or if I've completely blown it when I should know better. Anyway... that look bugs the heck out of me, but in the end I figure if he didn't correct me then I must have done something at least passable if not right. Then for whatever reason RT decided it was time for a test...

We were working out the Salsa, having a grand old time and RT raises his and my arm for a spin, I complete the spin, and we're back to the basic. He then raises his arm again and I spin, only his arm doesn't come down, that's my signal to keep going... so I did. By the time his arm came down I had lost my spotting and was a tad dizzy, so we stopped for a second. RT asks "Have you done that before?"
To which I respond "I don't know, how many was that?" (I'm really serious when I say I don't count when I dance.)
"Kat, that was four." RT states.
"Oh, ummm... Nope, never done that before." I wasn't sure I could do it again either to be honest.
"How did you know what to do?" RT inquired, seeing as he's never lead me for that many consecutive turns... I understand the question.
So I reply "I just know I'm supposed to keep going until you bring your arm down, that's all."
RT had kind of a puzzled look on his face and we picked up with Salsa again, and again he leads me into a spin...so I do... again, and again, and again, and again! This time I actually spotted so I wasn't nearly as dizzy. Gotta be honest that was a blast! "That was four again?" I ask.
"Yes, your spotting was right on. You're becoming a pretty good spinner." RT replies.
I was all cool calm and collected on the outside... inside I was leaping for joy! YEA! I used to be able to spin with spotting when I took ballet/jazz about 17 years ago, I never thought I'd be able to get it back!

Then RT says "Ok, now try to do two on your own." Meaning he wanted me to spin twice in a row without having him hold my hand above my head like before. I knew it wasn't going to work, but I tried it anyway.... boy was I right! I over rotated something terrible, lost my balance to the point where I did that oh so attractive trying to catch myself by taking some giant awkward steps thing and for only the second time in 19 months of dancing I almost completely wiped out!

We decided to stop Salsa at that point, and I simply stated "It's a lot easier when you've got my hand above my head, I think I find my center better." I then put in a request to get a Cha Cha in before time was up, and my request was honored...

During the Cha Cha RT was going to take advantage of the recent spinning discovery and lead me into a single spin from a point I had not done before. Only he lead it...and I was in no way ready to spin! Both of us thinking it was me messing up on the footwork we tried it again. Nope, not a chance I was going to be able to spin from that lead! I would topple over every time, and I told RT as much. He stopped for a second, and I could see him counting it out and walking through it in his head. He then looked up at me and with a smile and a chuckle said "Oops, my fault I was leading you into that on the wrong count."
"Well, it doesn't happen often, but I knew it wasn't me that time!" I said, and we tried it again on the correct count. That made it so much easier!

With that the lesson ended. Between my surprise Waltz, and my successful completion of FOUR consecutive spins in Salsa. This lesson definitely goes into the history books as one of the most accomplished lessons ever!

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