Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Last Week's Lesson: Fighting to Come Back

PhotobucketWell as this week's lesson looms before me I must tell you about the last, it was vastly better than my last report!

The lesson began with the question that is almost always asked of me: "How many this week?" to which I could honestly answer...


"Good knocking them down one and two at a time!" RT cheered, followed by a high five (the studio is big on high fives...don't know why).

"If you remember" I retort, "it was supposed to be five."

"I know, but two is great you'll get there one at a time."

What was that! No disappointment? Pure support? That seriously wasn't what I was expecting. Why do I build stuff up in my head like that? I was ready for a knock down drag out war with him about how insane it is to drop five pounds in one week... Although, I have to admit I was very pleased to have the two pounds to report!

We opened with Salsa, becoming a very very strong presence in my lessons. Thankfully because I had worked so hard the past week, I wasn't nearly out of breath by the end of the spins, double spins, sombreros and whatever else RT was leading. I must have been doing fairly well because there were some new leads in there too, RT tried a lead for me into an outside turn (left) by using his body... THAT was interesting the first time I had no idea what he was doing, and wouldn't have had a clue unless he told me that's what it was. Then there is some really crazy and not very comfortable things RT was doing with his, and therefore my, arms. That I don't care for very much, and told him as much.

Then it was breaking down the kinetic and potential energy that goes into a cross body lead. This is where the frustration of the lesson presented itself. Apparently I don't use my upper body in my dancing enough. I'm creating too much leverage here, not resisting enough there. It took a lot of cross body leads for me to show improvement. Then there is the use of my upper back muscles... or actually the lack of use. I was surprised RT could feel the difference... Turns out I'm using mostly my upper arms and shoulders to create the tension, whereas I should be using the muscles behind my shoulder blades. So we did it again and again and I tried to focus my thoughts on using those back muscles. I think I showed improvement... RT then gave me an exersize to practice at home using said muscles... I am to hang on to a door frame no farther from the door than my forearms will allow and create resistance by slightly leaning forward and back and controlling the movement with my upper back. Well I can do the motion well enough, but engaging those muscles is proving to be a challenge.

I have a life long habit of not using the proper muscle groups for activities. I used to have poor knees so I lift with my back, my power comes from my legs so I use those to push and pull things, and I won't even get into the things my body will do to NOT engage my ab muscles. (The last being a constant irritant because that's EXACTLY where I'm trying to drop the weight. I guess my upper back is now added to the things I have to work on. Truly it makes sense because I even hold my frame with my upper arms and shoulders, with the support coming from above my topline, where as I should be using those same back muscles as my primary support so it comes from under the top of the frame... So I guess I'll be hanging off some door frames and cubical walls for a while.

Moving on, RT asked about Bolero and I flat out denied him. I had worked my knees so hard over the last few days that Bolero would have killed them! There was no way I was going to be able to hold anything that resembled a Bolero step because the knees are never really supposed to be straight. I could do a rise and fall for Waltz because that was short and I could do Samba because that was fast. So Samba it was.

My Samba is tragic... but improving! Slowly but surely I think. While RT has never said anything about my hanging on him, I think I'm hanging on him less. So we worked on Samba for a bit, while I normally have little trouble with the timing, I was having some issue with it. Then my tendancy to pull my leg back in quickly was're supoosed to leave your leg out there, show it off a bit, and then pull it back for the next part of the basic... that is going to be tough to get down good... I don't like it when either of my legs are out from under me for too long. Ah well, something new to work on! I didn't get any compliments, but I didn't get any negative remarks either. So I was reasonably pleased...and still not out of breath!

Cha Cha was next on the lesson plan. GOOD! Time for redemption after last week's dismal display. This Cha Cha was not technically great, better than most, but not great. My following however was dead on! We did a few good Cha Chas and a lot of spins (no doubles, I still can't pull them off independently) when we ended the last one RT said "Great, now I can lead you into spins from almost anywhere." Yippee! Although I can't imagine were else a spin could be lead from we did them everywhere!

Then RT looks at me "Rumba time, we always do Rumba."

HA! Rumba we did, and I worked on my hips some more, and the spiral at the end of the Cuban walks... RT spent forever trying to get the way he wanted it to finish to me... we broke it down, we practiced. I had always done it where the Spiral comes all the way around to face my partner and then finish the basic, but no... RT wants me to now do the spiral, end facing away from him, and then wait for his lead to whip me around. It took SO long for me to get that from what he was describing. When I finally got it, I told him... "Why didn't you just say that?"

"I was trying to." He stated.

I think I'm going to have to pay attention more closely and work with RT on using less words. For a quiet guy, he really can use a lot of unnecessary words to explain stuff!

Last few minutes of the lesson and RT said "How about Fox Trot we haven't done that in a long time."

"Fox Trot... hmmm... I don't even think I remember how that one goes." I joked, but I was concerned... it had been a LONG time since we'd done a Fox Trot!

Off we went... at first it was a little rough, but I found my stride, and we did a nice basic Fox Trot around the floor, and then RT whispers while leading me into a turn (which are slow and graceful in this dance) "Double." Well...ok then... so I sped my first turn up a bit, and managed to get a second one in before it was time to close frame. Neat! I'd never done that before. It's always nice to end the lesson on a high like that. Well, in all actuality it wasn't that impressive, but in my head it was! I'll have to ask for a little more smooth over the next few lessons I think.

Wow! That felt better that last week that's for damn sure! It's just what I needed to continue stepping up my game and do away with those lessons that just drag me and my instructor down!

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