Monday, June 2, 2008

The Last Few Lessons: Introducing Largo

Seriously I need to either stop dancing so much because it's eating into my writing time, or I need to sit down and find more time to write! I have to tell you that dancing lately could not be better! I will spend, in earnest, the next 24-48 hours updating on my activities of the last few weeks. Let's start with the lessons:

The last two weeks found RT taking some personal time. What's a girl to do when the only instructor she takes private lessons from isn't scheduling lessons? Why, begin working with another instructor of course! (If you'll recall, I found Buddy as a second instructor the last time RT was away from the "office".) Dancing must continue whether my instructor is available or not! This time I ended up with a true gem! He's new to our studio, but he's been dancing International Latin for around 14 years, and he's been an instructor for just about 4 years. So he's got the foundation behind him, and I must say he's adapted to the American Rhythm style really well. For our purposes here he will be called "Largo". (It took me a long time to think of an appropriate nickname for him... and I realize that the initialization of everyone can be confusing :-) )

Largo has been with FADS BG just over a month I think, I had a lesson with him when we first started, kind of a "getting to know you" sort of thing. I really enjoyed working with him! While RT was pretty insistent about Largo being my new second instructor but, I still only have a set number of lessons left, and I'm not entirely sure where my dancing is continuing so I was, and am, not ready to commit to another second instructor.

However, I did jump at the chance to work with Largo again when RT was on his personal time off. Our lessons together were spent getting to know each other, and my adjusting to his leading style. We really focused on the Rhythm portion of my dancing, which RT and I do anyway, but I loved getting a fresh perspective on where I need to improve. Largo has a similar keen observation style that RT has, but he notices different things first. For example RT is very much into making sure my feet are positioned right, and that weight transfer is correct that's first and foremost. Largo, picked up on my lack of arm styling first and made sure I was working my free arm as I should be. Largo also wants me to work my hips more (no surprises there)!

The one thing I made clear, as I always do when I work with someone new at this studio, is that I am there for social reasons before competitive ones. That doesn't mean I don't want to be a good dancer, or learn all the things the competitive students learn, it just means that I am taking a different perspective to my dancing education. Largo is the only instructor I've worked with that didn't question my statement of intent, he accepted it, and continued to teach me what I need to know. This put me at ease right away, I knew I wasn't going to have to justify my choices during my lessons.

Over the last two lessons Largo and I worked on a couple of dances a lot, West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Rumba, and a little East Coast too. Largo's West Coast style is vastly different than RT, and I have only danced West Coast with it took some getting used to. Largo's leverage is MUCH lighter than RT. Which, after I adjusted worked out pretty well as I was asked (through the lead) to handle a lot of the steps on my own, where as sometimes the leverage RT and I create kind of carries me through. I learned a new variation on the whip that RT and I maybe touched on once or twice, but Largo and I didn't focus on new steps so much as working on the ones I already know.

Cha Cha wasn't that different, but again Largo had me working that free arm! He asked me several times why that arm "sleeps." I told him it was too much to think about, and he retorted by telling me to wake it up. (Great! I've only spent two lessons with the guy and already my excuses aren't working!) We worked on Cha Cha quite a bit, I think because it is similar to what Largo is used to with his International style, American Rhythm is different, but the overall concept of Cha Cha is the same. I am currently working on making sure I'm ready for any direction change when coming out of the basic, as I now know a step that requires me to move forward instead of the customary back. Oh we drilled that one a lot! I think I actually have it now!

We covered some East Coast Swing, which has the same "triple step, triple step, rock step" basic as the International Jive, but ECS it travels more around the floor, and isn't nearly as fast as Jive. Largo even reviewed some steps that I haven't been lead through in AGES! I was quite pleased that I remembered them! Oh! Most importantly to me is that we really worked on one of the steps that has me, pivoting I guess, with both arms above my head. I've always had trouble with this one, anytime both of my arms are above my head I seem to lose all sense of timing and it never ends right or feels correct. Largo was able to help me out and now, at least for this version, I can do it...stay balanced, and on time!

Rumba time! When Largo asked if I wanted to work on Rumba I totally started laughing! Then after receiving some odd looks from my new instructor, I explained that RT and I work on Rumba in EVERY lesson and it's sort of become a joke that we simply can't have a lesson without it. So then Largo insisted we work on Rumba, and we did. This dance didn't feel very different from RT, which was good. We worked on some steps that RT and I have covered, but haven't consistently practiced. A few of them took me a long time to get, but what I like is that we would finish and Largo would say if it was good or not, and then I would generally tell him what my perspective was on it, and we'd drill it until we were both happy with it. It was pretty amazing that in only two lessons we had developed a quick way of figuring out how to get things so we are both happy.

Largo is very good at taking care of his students too, he relies on reading expressions a lot... and if I looked stressed or out of breath he'd immediately ask if I needed water. Which I generally am not too stressed, or in need of hydration. Problem is I'm a bit of a drama queen with my expressions which made it a little harder for him to read me... but I explained myself. We had one instance where I was being lead through the round-about-crossovers (I'm pretty sure that's what it's called), where the follow is lead through three spins back and forth before ending in an open break of sorts. I hate this step, or I should say I never liked it because I couldn't spin correctly and I always feel out of control with it. Well I've also developed the habit of saying that I hate it when the lead starts, and I have a terrible miserable face for it too. Poor Largo thought he really upset me and stopped completely to apologize! I immediately brightened my expression and said it was ok. I then told him that he can't believe me when I say I don't like a dance step, he has to make me do it anyway! I also told him that if RT listened to all of my protests I wouldn't have allowed myself to learn half the steps I know! This made Largo laugh and he agreed to not listen to me when I protest against a dance step.

In two private lessons Largo and I have developed what could be the foundation to a good teacher/student relationship. I'll have to remember that if dancing continues at FADS BG I'll have to ask him if he'd like to be my second instructor!

Keep an eye out folks! I have socials to write about, and some new good group classes being offered too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I enjoy your blog very much. What you have accomplished is great!

This question is not meant to be rude at all... I am a beginning (well, I guess about a year now) dancer, and I love it! But, I feel very limited by my ability to pay for classes -- instead of taking privates, as I would like, I spend hours searching out "new student" dancing deals and driving for ages to new studios.

Do you have any advice? Do Fred Astaire studios offer special deals for people that will keep coming back again and again?

Thanks very much! Looking forward to new posts.