Ballroom, week 9

After much discussion of theory, and extensive attempts at solo technique, it was time for me to dance with him again. I led poorly. Even leading a right box was difficult because I kept giving slight indications of a turn and well, just generally lacked confidence, kept ‘double lowering’ instead of following the 3Cs, and upon failing to transfer weight during a progressional just stopped, lost my cool, contemptuously muttered ‘fuck.’ We tried again. I was a bit pissed off. And when we finished he said ‘that’s the best you’ve done.’ Then, and today, it has come down to confidence, and especially to not overthinking–to rather being in the dance than figuring it all out on the floor. I suppose, like anything else, that’s what practice is for, reaching a point where it’s unnecessary to think about the components, to focus only on the whole.

My grandmother is horrified that my instructor is male.

‘This might be a silly question…but…do you dance with your teacher?’
‘Yes. Of course.’
‘And…your instructor is a man.’
‘Yes.’
‘And you dance with him?’ she chuckles.
‘He’s not bowing me over and kissing me. He’s my instructor.’
‘Yes, I know but…why didn’t you choose a woman?’
‘Because I spent a considerable amount of time looking for the most qualified instructor in the area. And furthermore, my first instructor, he moved, he began by telling me that it’s too bad more men don’t come to him for lessons since he himself is twenty-thousand times a better man than a woman. Doesn’t it make sense?’
‘Well, I don’t know. But…echem, if he pats you on the bottom I think you’d better begin looking for a new teacher.’
‘Yes, Grandmother.’

Concerning the Line of Dance: this is the direction couples follow as they dance. It hadn’t occurred to me that something like this existed since in films it’s never noticeable, but, essentially, the center of the floor should be regarded as having ‘double-yellow’ lines as roads do, and, as in driving in the US and Europe, couples move down the floor on the right side, counter-clockwise. One should move to the end of the room before turning, though people tend to congregate in the center; thus, it’s, if not easiest, then perhaps most enjoyable, to be as far to the perimeter of the floor as possible where one has space to navigate and not be crushed. So far as the Line of Dance goes, the flow is to maintained by a leader with a decent working vocabulary of figures, thus if the couple in front of you is moving down the LoD slowly or not at all, knowing what I know at this point, I’d respond by leading natural boxes or turns that always place me back into the same starting position until space opened up and I could use progressionals to continue down the LoD.

Concerning Sway: the body should be always moving as the figure progresses, there is no point at which one should be still to complete some footwork or rise and fall. This fluid motion assists in creating a proper sway to the music.

Concerning the knees: they must be kept bent lower than one would expect, and also must be as loose as rubber bands.

Concerning Posture: I sleep on my right side out of superstition, and he called me out on it because he noticed a tenseness around my right shoulder and a slight tendency to turn my hips towards the right, which leads my arms to push towards the right and communicates confusing signals.

Exercises:

1. Balls of one foot on a stair, the other foot hanging down. Drop first heel and then bring it up as high as possible.

2. Practice closing by pretending one foot has a high heel and the other a low heel.

3. Back, heels, head against the doorframe or wall and sliding out foot and then closing.

4. Practicing everything while holding a tray with cups of water on it, and I must not spill any.

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