Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hot Jam - 12/01/08

Woo! Had a freaking fantastic night of dancing last night – best night at Hot Jam in a while. Also, incidentally, my first trip to Hot Jam in several months – I didn’t realize what I had been missing. Things to remember from the night in notation form and no particular order:

  • Had another great dance with Les, a guy I danced with at Graveyard last week. Super fun, excellent lead, and gives me plenty of time to play. Also grins and seems to appreciate when I play, which is always nice. We did contrive to send my glasses spinning across the floor at one point, but I recovered them before they got stepped on, which was a relief. Really need to get new glasses that stay on my face.
  • Danced 3 songs with Daniel, a tech guy I met at AVS. He’s just learning lindy but he has a good 6-count foundation so he leads nicely enough. Needs to stop counting and appreciate the music though ;P Had a funny conversation with him while dancing because he and Benjy both pulled an odd move on me. He lead it well enough, but it was different enough to catch my attention – turns out someone taught it at a class a couple of weeks ago.
  • Saw Pretty-Boy-Fletcher again, who I also met at AVS. After the first Andrew Sutton class at AVS he and I practiced a bit and it was really good, but last night his lead was really, really tense. Super sad L
  • Speaking of, I had a pretty rough dance with Robert, too, which is a shame. His lead was a lot stiffer than I wanted, and we kept bumping on free turns (probably my fault, but still). Made me sad, because I want to have goo dances with him!
  • On the bright side, Leigh Ellen from KLX is moving to Atlanta! Whee! Yay for girls that I get along with. We also danced together, which didn’t go great, but mostly because girls (apparently) make me all shy and clumsy.
  • I also danced with a new guy named Shaun (sean?). He was good, though our first dance was a little awkward due to space constraints and my being determined to bump into the fireplace. He came to ask me for another dance later though, which is always both encouraging and promising.
  • Oh, also re-met Bryan from AVS (tall lanky guy, shaved/short hair, big beard). Didn’t get to dance with him, but wanted to note and remember his name.

Anyway, bottom line is that I had a fantastic time. My knees were a little tired but not too achy by the end of the night, though my right ankle was hurting some. I was a good girl an iced when I got home, so today my legs are fatigued, but don’t hurt much. Whee!

Monday, November 17, 2008

KLX 08

Wow. What a fucking spectacular weekend. Incoming: longer than usual rant with a higher personal-to-dance ramble ratio than I generally put here, but I feel the need to adequately commemorate my first exchange experience. Man, can you believe that in the 7 years I've been dancing (and/or not dancing) that I've never been to a real exchange? Terror!

So, without further ado, the weekend from the top.

Thanks to being stuck at work for 12 hours on Thursday, I got to head out of the office early on Friday, putting me on the road early enough to avoid The Traffics. Amaze! This may be the first time I've ever driven out of ATL without hitting some sort of slowdown. A good portent of Weekend To Come. The drive went smoothly until I got off the interstate in Lenoir City... and my phone rings. It's my PM. They've been working on a deployment all day and shit is broken. Talk about putting a damper on my drama-free departure. Luckily I managed to talk them through the issue even though I didn't have the code in front of me - I won't get into how displeased I was that I had walked the dev in question through the EXACT SAME issue last week. Seriously, dude.

Anyway, I made it to my dad's place around 6. Sam & Cal were ridiculously hyped up to see me, and much shrieking and running around ensued. I filled myself with some dinner, hopped online to make sure that work wasn't still having issues... and promptly lost all enthusiasm for going out dancing, from some combination of tired and full. Luckily, Coworker of Awesomeness was online chatting with me, and convinced me to get off my lazy ass. I dragged myself out the door with middling enthusiasm around 8:15.

I made it to the Friday Evening dance to find a pretty decent crowd, a pretty good band... and basically no one that I knew. There were a couple of familiar faces that I recognized from Atlanta Varsity Showdown, but nobody that I was really on more than nodding/exchanging brief pleasantries with terms. It became pretty quickly apparent that I wasn't going to get much dancing done if I stood around and waited to be asked, so I started grabbing people. I have no problem asking guys to dance, but it does start to get a little discouraging after a while, especially when you know next to no one.

By 10:30 or 11 the tiredness was starting to catch up to me again, and my enthusiasm was fading fast - though I'm loathe to admit it, I started eying the door pretty hard. I decided to migrate to the other side of the floor, see if I could get one or two more good dances, then maybe call it a night. Enter two of my Notable Leads from the weekend, David and Josh. I snagged these two gentlemen in turn and danced with them back to back, and all of the sudden my enthusiasm was restored.

Josh's most notable feature is his amazing pulse - smooth and springy without being overdone. I felt so connected to the music when I danced with him, and his lead was light and encouraging, leaving me lots of room to play. Our first dance consisted almost entirely of swingouts in which we'd each do a variation and play off the other person's styling. Massively entertaining - I love a dance where the sum total of your communication is in movement and shared giggles.

David... just damn. I would be such a great dancer if I could dance with him on a regular basis. He has a fantastic feel for the music, and his style is just so smooth and expressive. His lead and connection are both light and gentle, but he's still very clear. He's also massively tuned into his follow's position, weight, and balance - I didn't once get pulled off my center while dancing with him. As a result, I really felt like I could focus on keeping my own connection light and supple, something I've been working on since the Followers Footsteps series last month.

Wooo, tangent! Anyway, I had two great dances and that convinced me to keep at it. I left the evening dance a little early so that I would have time to procure ice for my knees and transfer over to the late night venue. I made it to the Square Dance Center with time to spare and sat with a 5lb bag of ice spread over my knees like a good little physical therapy patient. I was pretty impressed at how well they were holding up - the drive up made them pretty achy, but dancing actually seemed to help rather than hurt.

People finally started trickling in around 12:30 for the midnight breakfast. I sat down with a guy named John and his wife Tiffany, who were in town from Hawaii, where John is deployed in the Navy. My last dance at the evening venue was with John, and he was a lot of fun - very playful and well connected, if not a little flashy. He pulled the flashy off without being a bad lead, so I suppose I can't complain... any guy that inspires enough confidence in me that I'll let him really dip me within the first few dances is pretty impressive.

Eventually David joined us at the table, and then the really geekery got going. Here's an absolute first for me, ever - David worked with the consulting division of Microsoft up in Canada for a few years... and he worked with Avanade. I was completely floored - absolutely NO one has heard of my company, even people who work for Microsoft and Accenture. Cue "it's a small world" theme here. Anyway, from that point on we really hit it off, and suddenly rather than feeling a little lonely at the exchange I had several great people to chat with.

The Friday late-night is a little bit of a blur... I had a couple more good dances with various people, including David and John. Sadly the blues room upstairs was a little dead - they had half the lights off, but left 1 set of florescents on so you could see, and it kind of killed the atmosphere. David and I ruminated on the possibility of bringing some christmas lights to make it better for Saturday. Oh, and I also had a really fun dance with Megan - dancing with her is just so different from dancing with boys. I'm not quite sure how to put words on it... there was one point when we were dancing where we did something and she got all smiley and was expounding on how boys don't appreciate "the stretch" in music like girls do. That's definitely true for some leads, but there's more to it than that. I feel the same difference when I dance with Mike the Girl - one of these days I'll have to see if I can't find the words to express it.

Right, like I said, the late night was a bit of a blur. I finally got home around 3:30 and passed the hells out... only to be woken up around 7:30 when Sam & Cal woke up and started calling upstairs for me to get up. My dad & Pam are currently just living in the new extension of the house while the original half gets renovated, and the result is that there is no door between the upstairs and the downstairs. I managed to grab a few more broken chunks of rest, but by 9:30 I gave up. Spent the day socializing with the family, then hit up the KLX dinner. Ate delicious pesto, had a longer conversation than I've ever had before with Robert, then headed to the evening dance.

Did I mention that the Saturday Evening Dance was a live performance by Christabel & the Jons? Oh. Hells. Yes. I danced myself silly for the first set - I think I maybe sat out two songs at most. I also gave David fair warning that there was One Song that I was required to dance with him to, assuming Christa remembered that when she was ATL she promised me that they'd play it for the exchange.

I started to wear out a bit during the second set, but I was still having a blast dancing. Other notable dancers... Yossef (who I met at AVS), Seth (liked him a lot though he didn't give me the time I wanted to milk the music), Bennet (cute, skinny, goofy guy who's a teacher and knows Bela)... I know there are more, but I'm already forgetting. It doesn't help that I probably danced with 5 guys named John. Ah well.

A little before 11, I got pretty bummeed... Christa announced that they were going to play their last song, and then struck up a tune from the new CD, rather than the song she promised me in ATL. Luckily it was just a ruse; the song ended and then she said "So in the last few weeks I've had a few people saying we should play a blues tune..." and they struck up "You go to my Head." As promised I grabbed David and we had a really great dance - have I mentioned how goddamn much I love that song? I don't think I've ever danced it with anyone except Bert, so it was a fun experience to see how someone else interpreted it. Sooo happy.

Sadly, Christa's set ending by 11 meant that the energy level of the dance kind of plummetted. It's hard to go from Excellent Live Music to a DJ set and keep things up. I had promised David a ride to the Late Night venue, and we ended up leaving a little early on the logic that we could show up and spend some time setting up the Blues Room to be more intimate using the lights he bought the afternoon before. We drove over to the Square Dance Center.... and there was no one there. Oops. We ended up sitting in the car for a while while he played me samples of good blues off his MP3 player - he has pretty similar taste in stuff to DJ as Mike the Girl, so it was a fun experience. After a while we got bored of waiting and decided to run back to his hotel so he could pick up his laptop just in case they'd let him DJ for a while. We pulled out of the parking lot right as another carload of people pulled in - I can only imagine how it looked, what with my windows all steamed up. Scandalous!

Anyway, we found the hotel, procured laptop, then headed back to the venue and had more luck this time setting up lights and such. David pulling chairs in to make the dance space a little smaller when a couple of people showed up from downstairs and wanted to know what was up... apparently at the last minute they'd decided to make the blues room a "whatever the DJ wants" room instead. And the DJ lined up first wanted fucking Fast Charleston. Let me tell you how pleased I (and David, and Terri, and a whole slew of other people) were about that. The end result was that from 1 until 3 the upstairs and downstairs were playing functionally equivalent music - too fast and totally not appropriate for a late-night. We all groused around a lot, but I managed to get a few more good dances in on the slower songs.

Finally around 3 the DJs switched over and Jim Wheatley took over upstairs. Now that man can run a blues room. By this time I was practically ill I was so tired and sleep-depped, but I found some more reserves when Jim started spinning - he was playing a really great variety... some soul, some solid blues, some slightly more modern stuff. I think the hour and a half I danced in that blues room did more for my blues-following than all of the dancing I've done at Northside in the last 4 months. I could just feel myself listening and responding better and better as the night went on. It was pretty amazing. My biggest observation is that I need to work harder on keeping my back in my lead's hand - I could feel myself coming disconnected there from time to time.

Much as I would have liked to keep dancing, I was asleep on my feet by 4:30, so we headed out. David obliged me with crash space at his hotel so I didn't have to drive the 40 minutes back to my dads (and so I could hopefully get unmolested sleep, rather than having my sisters wake me up early again). Unfortunately I was so exhausted that I had a hard time relaxing enough to pass out, and I ended up waking up every hour or so. I finally gave up on sleeping around 10 and dragged myself out of bed to head back to my dad's for an early Thanksgiving dinner.

Sadly that's it as far as dancing, though I will ramble a little about sleep-dep... this weekend was the first time I've been sleep deprived for fun. Sure, there was that one Infamous Project at Tech where we were in the lab for 50 hours, but that was misery for the sake of grades. This weekend I danced for about 16 hours, and slept a total of about 10. And I had so much fucking fun. Granted I was almost in trouble on the drive back to ATL... my MP3 player died about an hour from home, and I was obliged to keep myself awake by singing Girl Scout Camp songs. Any time I stopped I could feel my head start to get woozy, so I'd have to dredge up another one to sing. I had no idea I remembered so many of those things....

But anyway, the bottom line is that I had an amazing time. In addition to the dancing I really connected with a couple of new friends - I hope we can keep up with each other and meet up again sometime. On top of everything, my knees even behaved themselves, which is a small miracle in itself.

Final thoughts: I need to remember to look up info on the Portland fusion-workshop that David told me about, as well as seeing what's up with Knoxville's Rhythm workshop (I think in April?). I also need to remember that next time I do an exchange, I should get a damn hotel room rather than trying to stay with family - dancing is so much more fun when I'm not dead on my feet.

Whew! I think that's it. I'm all rambled out.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Follower's Footsteps - Week 1

Hmm, I suppose I never got around to writing up a physical therapy post, complete with lists of home-exercises. Ah well, I think they're pretty well ingrained in my head at this point.

Anyway, I started a 4 week class series last thursday, and it was Damn Excellent. It's called "Follower's Footsteps" and it's an int/adv class focused on women and spicing up our dancing. Sadly, I'll only be able to go to 3 of the 4 weeks.

The class size is absolutely perfect - 4 women plus Evin, who is teaching. It's free for leads, and we actually ended up perfectly balanced last week. Ideal! One of the leads is Evin's husband... whose name I totally know, and remembered last week in spite of only having met him once... but it's gone from my head now. Stupid brain. Anyway, he's SO fantastic to dance with, and a fun guy to boot. He gave me some really great feedback on how the different things we tried in class last week felt from a lead perspective.

Right, so, last week we worked on loosening our frame - how long have I been working on that now? My problem is that even if I start loose, I tighten up the longer I go. Just need to keep concentrating and practicing. Anyway, using said loose frame, we worked on a swing out variant that involves kind of walking into your arm, almost like you're clotheslining yourself. This creates an interesting shape, and leaves you room to play with your feet and body isolations some. It's very essential to keep that nice loose frame thoughout, because if you're loose you can really communicate to your lead that you're doing something different, just in the way that your hand creates weight and counter-balance. If you're too tight, the "sproing" of the swingout doesn't change, so he'll be less likely to leave you the play space you're asking for.

We mostly focused on taking the time and improvising, but Evin did give us one specific bit of footwork to try - it basically amounts to a sweep-step on 6 and a pivot with a little bobble-step on 8 to get back in place.

Next week: Tuck Turns!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Backyard Blues – 7/29/08

Knees were hurting me too much to dance the lesson last night, but there are a few things I wanted to jot down to come back to once I’m all better: mooches, grinds, and fishtails.
  • Mooches are a sweeping of the foot – kind of a toned down boogy-forward. In ventral and dorsal closed, the guy can use his knee between the follows to do these by brushing them to one side or the other. Your feet are offset, so for the leg that the lead has between the follows, he canjust give her a gentle nudge as he does the sweep. For the outside leg, it helps if he makes gentle contact with the outside of the knee and kind of “pulls” her to the side using that contact. Very smooth and light and swishy if done well.
  • Grinds are a step that involve turning in one toe and planting it with the knee bent, while keeping the other leg totally straight, then straightening the bent knee. You make an awkward angle with your legs, then resolve it. The straighter you can keep your opposite leg, the niftier it looks. Definitely want to play with these in front of a mirror.
  • Fishtails are just the same as fish tails from lindy, though perhaps a little lower and with the knees more bent. It seems like they look best if you focus on swinging your hips out and back on the transition from one foot to the other. Again, mirror practice needs to happen.
We also talked a bit about partial weight changes, but that’s lead follow enough that I don’t feel the need to ramble about it.

Hokay, time for my 2 week hiatus from dancing. Here’s to hoping my willpower is strong. I may blog a bit about the exercises my physical therapist gives me, we’ll see.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Private with Mike – 7/23/08

Bert and I did a private with Mike the Girl last week, and it was pretty good. I wish there had been a chance for me to blog sooner about it, but hopefully I haven’t forgotten too much.

The biggest thing we talked about and focused on was really sinking into a downwards pulse, letting your whole body get into it, down through the knee. I think Bert and I both have a tendency to smooth things out too much, at times. It’s something I’ve been considering in myself a lot lately – I danced with Kirk at the last aseda dance and when we were talking about dancing stuff later he mentioned that he really enjoyed dancing with me and that I’m “very smooth.” I keep coming back to that, obsessing over it in a very un-lisa-like way… “very smooth? Does that mean too smooth? Does that mean I don’t have enough pulse? What if I’m separating out my lower body movement so much that I’m not giving solid feedback to my leader!”

Ack, tangent! Point being, we worked a lot on pulse, and I’d like to try and incorporate that into my lindy to some extent, as well as my blues. For me, we also worked on “walking with purpose” which is to say, really putting some “umph” and attitude into my upper body when I’m doing blues movements that are just walking. Same with doing tap-steps – really sink into and commit to the tap, rather than just sticking my leg out and tapping.

The other big theme we touched on was following technique…. Namely really waiting for my leader to lead a step, rather than assuming and going. It’s a veeeery minor form of back-leading, especially considering some of the lindy back-leading troubles I worked through back in the day – but in blues every step should be lead, so I need to hold on and wait a little longer before taking a step. We spent a while just having Bert lead me around and trying to do “odd” things that I wouldn’t expect, so that I’d really have to listen and commit.

I think that’s the big stuff from my side of things… Mike also had Bert working on keeping his hands quiet and his shoulders back. I think my following focus stole the show a little towards the end, but hopefully he also got something out of it. Yay private lessons!

Backyard Blues – 7/22/08

Just a quick blurb on this one, because I wanted to write down an observation. One of the guys I danced with did something interesting when he turned me a couple of times – he left his hand connected with my back and tummy all the way around the turn. Now – this is obviously a bit of a risky prospect, for a number of reasons: you might end up getting an accidental grope, or you might come across as skeezy or make your follow uncomfortable. But, as it turns out, done right an used sparingly it can be a really interesting tool for keeping a gentle connection. It’s also pretty damn sexy. Nice.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Bill Borgida Workshop

Holy hells did I ever get some good stuff out of this class. I wish the overall level of leads had been a little higher (there were probably 4 or 5 leads who simply weren’t prepared enough) but the teaching was absolutely spectacular. I hope in delaying writing some notes about this I didn’t forget anything.

Hokay. So. Biggest revelation of the weekend: don’t stick your butt out! It sounds silly when you say it like that, but when I learned from Joel it was very much a “get down, keep your knees bent, stick your butt out” kind of thing. As Evin put it “now you look like a 1997 swing dancer!” Basically, it’s just an out-dated stylistic thing. As soon as I started thinking about it, I felt much more natural, and joy of joys) my back stopped hurting. Go figure. Hand in hand with this bit of advice (which was given to the whole class) Evin got me working on standing more up-right – again, there may be stylistic merit to really getting down, but for general dancing it’s putting more strain on me than necessary. Hand in hand with that, I need to keep working on keeping my shoulders back and releasing the tension in my arms – I’m getting there, but it takes pretty constant concentration.

The other big thing that Evin talked to me about has to do with committing to steps. She pointed out that “right now you’re doing a lot of sliding your feet, which is usually the last big step before you get to be awesome. A lot of people get stuck there and never take that final step to being really good.” Aside from giving my dance-confidence a much-needed boost, she also explained some stepping techniques that will help me get there. Particularly, for every step I take, concentrating on rolling from toe-to-heel over the entirety of my foot. My weight should never come all the way back to my heels, it should stay over my toes, but for every step I should be engaging the entire sole of my foot. Concentrating on this will help me take distinct steps, while still keeping them springy and light. This also seems to relieve some of the knee pain I’ve been having, or at least distribute the strain more evenly.

We also spent a lot of time working on using all of the beats in a phrase to really stretch out and use your connection to it's fullest - which includes stretching things out through 7&8, rather than reaching the end of your slot on 5&6 and stepping in place. In order to do this, you realy have to focus on taking smaller steps on 5&6. We talked some about using the "and" in the beat to really prep for what's coming next. Additionally, hand in hand with the "stepping" advice is the advice of really "pushing" into all your steps, like you're running, instead of reaching out and stepping. I seem to be doing well on that front, except that I'm noticing myself reaching instead of pushing on the &2 of my swingout, so that's something to keep an eye on.

The final bit of advice I got out of the weekend is this: when you go out dancing, pick one song early in the evening and just for that song concentrate really really hard on applying the new things you’ve learned. Then for the rest of the night, just don’t worry about it. This will help you get the knowledge into your repertoire without bludgeoning yourself in the head with it all night and getting burnt out.

Oh, also, I started keeping an extra log for knee issues – I’m finally going to see a doctor in a couple of weeks, so I figure one definitive list will be more helpful for telling him what’s up than extensive blog-ly rambling.

Hokay, I think that’s about it. This week I’m in DC, and it turns out the Jam Cellar is starting an Intro Bal series! W00t!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Backyard Blues - 6.24.08

Absolutely excellent Backyard Blues last night, to help offset my horrible day. During the intermediate class we worked a lot on divorcing guy’s movements from girls movements, working a lot from a side-by-side position. For example, getting the guys to lead the girls to take a step without taking a step themselves, then taking a step themselves without leading the girl to take a step. This is very tricky, as feeling the motion of the guy taking a step generally leads you to follow that step, so they have to work to keep you disconnected from that motion. I’ve found it worked better if I kept my eyes closed, so I didn’t get any false visual cues from the guys’ feet – bad habit in itself.

It was a little odd – I almost felt like I got less-good as the evening wore on... I wonder if the two glasses of wine I had dinner did more to get me relaxed than I realized? Or maybe I just started over-thinking things. I dunno. Still, I had some fabulous dancing, regardless, though we were a bit light on guys. Oh, and had to take an advil about 9:30 because my knees were swelling.

I had been planning to start a tango series tomorrow, but I think I’ll hold off until I’m not going to be traveling for work – I should remind me to remind me to enroll once this 6 week series is over.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Graveyard 6.11.08

Went to graveyard last night and had a lovely time! I hadn’t planned on going, but I got all my housework and chores finished, so I figured a little dancing was in order to help shake off the post Buenos Aires Blues blues. So silly to be blue after so much dancing, but whatcha gonna do?

Anyway, the band didn’t start until late, but the DJed music was pretty good. I had a nice warm-up dance with Adam – I feel like I finally comported myself well dancing with him. I don’t know what my issue was the first couple of times, but my quality of following was definitely not in-line with his quality of leading. I’m very glad we finally got synched up.

My goal for the evening was to focus entirely on following well. I made a few opportunities to introduce styling and footwork, but overall I really wanted to concentrate on my posture, the tension of my frame, and really listening to my lead. I think it did some good, as I had some excellent dances, and a lot of the opportunities for improvisation followed naturally. I don’t remember struggling or feeling like a did something off the whole night, which is always an accomplishment, and my dancing was much more relaxed as a result. I had a particularly lovely dance with Juan, which is a change from the norm, as I often feel like I’m fighting his lead due to some timing differences. I’ll have to see if I can keep that up.

Oh, I knew I had one concern for the night – dancing with Bert is always fabulous, but I’m having some dipping issues lately... ending up putting a foot back for support instead of stretching it out, or ending up with my body out of line. It happened a couple of times last night and I’m trying to identify why... I think I might be worrying too much about throwing my weight around. I dunno.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Buenos Aires Blues Recap

Ok, saving the bellyaching about this event for LJ – this post is just about the stuff I learned.

Tango is Le Hard! It’s so very different to stay “up” and on your toes and a little forward. Some takeaway points, other than the obvious:

  • Always collect your feet under you after a step. Make your ankles brush if necessary – seems a good reminder to have your feet together, and it looks nice.
  • Pay attention to the lead’s chest and shoulders – this is good for getting visual feedback about when to do pivots. Once I manage to get better and following tango this crutch will be less necessary.

Hmm. I though I had more points than that, but maybe not. In spite of the difficulty level I do really want to learn some more tango - I think the subtlety of it w

On blues stuff there isn’t much to write about, except to give myself a reminder to try and teach Bert the really cool counter balanced pivot turn. If we end up doing a private with Mike I’ll definitely bring that up a something to learn – Bert actually does the counter balance stuff well enough that I think we could pull it off (unlike many of the leads from BaB. Blargle). I think I spent most of the weekend over-thinking my blues dancing, and thus didn’t do a very good job – I just need to shut my damn eyes, stop thinking, and go with it. Still, the class with Michael and Jaya gave me some interesting blues-style things to think about – namely with tap stepping, using each stap or step to send your hips back and up. This creates an interesting body dynamic, without being to lindy-bouncy.

Tying a couple of things back into Mike’s Master Class from the other day: she’s totally right about trusting my lead. I caught myself being very tentative when dancing with a couple of new people... if varied by how well I felt like I could understand them. The couple of great dancers I danced with I followed unerringly and unabashedly, but especially with beginning/intermediate people I found myself holding back a lot. The result is that my dancing seems hesitant sometimes, or I don’t end up where I need to be, because I don’t trust where they’re putting me. I also think some of the styling from Michael & Jaya will help me put as much oomph into my “up” stance as my “down” stance.

Oh, and as a reference note: my knees both got swollen and achy by the end of the day saturday. Not sure if it was the standing or the dancing. Ice packs and advil brought the swelling down in time for the evening dance, but I was tingy again the next day (albeit without the swelling).

Guess that’s it. Glad I managed to get something useful out of the weekend.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

BYoB 6/3 Addendum

Oh yeah, I meant to note that my elbow was hurting me pretty bad in the tendon last night, which probably means my frame was a lot too heavy. Need to keep working on transferring the weight of that into my back (which is also killing me, but in a good way, rather than an upset-ligament way).

Posture, dammit!

Backyard Blues – 6/3/08

The beginner class was a “pre-baby” intro class to both blues and tango. We mostly practiced taking steps in each and talked a lot about the differences in lead and frame between the two. The large majority of the time was spent eyes closed, practicing very subtly lead weight-changes. Tango is... odd so far. Stepping backwards feels strange, and I’m not sure I’m correctly drawing my weight up. Taking my legs so far out from under my center of weight feels strange as well – it’s such a non-swingy thing to really stretch out your legs like that. Looking forward to learning a bit more at Buenos Aires Blues this weekend.

Last night’s intermediate class was something that I should have expected from the title, but just didn’t make the connection... it was a master class, which basically means everyone gets up and dances one at a time (or rather two at a time, but with everyone focusing on the person whose “turn” it is). I’m exceptionally glad I came to the beginner class first, because it got my nerves entirely un-jangled, so I wasn’t too tense for the mater class. We played spin-the-bottle to pick who was going first and who would dance with them. Of course I ended up being first -_- My partner was Angelo, who I’m much more comfortable dancing with now than I used to be (now that I know he’s actually fun and goofy in spite of the serious face he puts on while dancing). However, I have a bit of a hard time sometimes because I’m a good... oh... 6 inches taller than he is, so it’s really easy for me to get strung out and disconnected. Bleh. I don’t feel like I did a really great job – it was nerve wracking being the center of attention, and I was concentrating so hard that it actually made it harder to follow.

Still, I got some good feedback – FG complimented my footwork, which is nice. James reminded me to look up... I thought I’d been doing better about that, but maybe it was the nerves. Mike’s feedback was interesting... the first bit was to commit as solidly to being “up” as I am to being “down.” It’s kind of hard to word-ify without demonstrations, but basically as much as I get down into a nice low frame and commit to it, I should also take the same energy when I’m in a more up-right frame. This is an interesting observation, and makes me think that while I’ve mostly broken the habit of getting too high or on my toes during turns, I may still be doing a lot of low-energy “standing there” while I wait for things to happen sometimes. Definitely something to keep in mind.

The second bit of Mike-feedback was to trust my lead and commit to the actions he’s leading, even if I don’t know where they’re going. This is something I’m fine with in lindy with pretty much everything, I think the trouble last night just sprang from the fact that I was nervous, not as comfortable with Angelo, terrified of screwing up, and not nearly as confident doing blues as I am doing lindy.

Good feedback overall, and I was pleased with the opportunity to get to know a lot of the folks that came a little better. Nothing gets you comfy with each other like constructive criticism! I had some nice dances later in the evening, as well. I feel like I’m still fighting with James a bit when he and I dance – I can’t figure out why I tend to get my feet tangled with his. I do better when I just fucking relax though, so I should focus on that. It’s not like James can be intimidating, since I was the one who dragged him into dancing years ago. Dancing with Ken is also getting better, though there’s still a bit of awkwardness from time to time. I had a nice start of a dance with Angelo before work called him away – he promised we’d finish it up another time. I also danced blues with Reggie for the first time, which was goddamn heavenly... I hope my inexperience doesn’t scare him off, because damn it was nice. And, as always, I had a number of good dances with Bert, though the music tried to skip out during my favorite song, which was Le Sad.

Right, that’s probably more than enough about that.

Jam Cellar Retrospective

Things for follows that Kate went over in the “31 flavors of footwork” class:

  • Swivels with a wide base vs swivels with a narrow base
  • Swivels from the ankles, knees, and hips
  • “Steal the lead” swivels... the kind of “waterski to the side” lead gank. I had trouble getting this one down, dunno if I like it. Right now it just looks weird.
  • Whip kick swivel (left foot draws counter-clockwise circle on 6 into a tango-esque whip. Ideally finish and hold on 7&8)

I need to try and remember to focus on trying all of these and isolating them, rather than just letting a bunch of them bleed together into a “standard” swivel. I’d also like to spend a little time working on the original swivel I learned, so I don’t lose it... that is, after all the one Sylvia Sykes complimented me on ;P

Obligatory Intro Post

I need somewhere to keep notes on my dancing and workshops, so here we go! For now I'm not releasing this blog widely, as it will mostly just be a dumping ground for my dancefull thoughts, with little eye to any audience but myself. Hoorah.