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!!