Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Absolute Beginner and Level 1

Sunday at the Atomic Ballroom is the Absolute Beginner Series class at 5:30, followed by the AB drop-in class.

5:30pm AB Series taught by Katie
We briefly review the series we learned last week.
6-Count Basic
Swing Out from closed
Inside Turn
Outside Turn
Circle (Swing In)
Swing Out
6-Count Basic
6-Count Basic

The only problem I have is when we Swing In then Swing Out, I keep forgetting to let my partner go, just doing another circle from closed to closed. But I figure it out. There's a big difference between dancing with Katie and all the other follows (though a couple seem quite experienced). She provides a very firm right hand to my left, allowing me to really push off on the rock-step. Makes leading that much easier.

Self-doubt moment: Whenever I dance with Katie, she ends up by conspicuously covering up her chest. I try to pay attention to whether I'm doing something to hit her there, but don't think I am. Wonder if it has to do with her pregnancy, or if it really is me? Shudder.

Katie remarks to the class that we're edging forward during the course of the sequence, which indicates that leads aren't holding our ground during the 8-count moves. My lead follow at the time marks our starting point and points out that I've moved forward 1-2 feet by the end. I attempt to hold my ground better from that point forward.

Note to self:
Ask Katie what point I'm supposed to release my right hand during the Swing Out with Inside Turn. Perhaps the follows are starting to pass me early on 4 or perhaps I'm holding on too late on 5, but I tend to have this awkward moment where the follows are passing me on 5, but are perpendicular to me. I'm still connected with my right hand, but grabbing more armpit than shoulder blade.

6:15 Swing 1 Technique
No one else shows up for the AB drop-in class, so I join the Technique class that Jerry is teaching. I'm intimidated, but move forward. It ends up being a very cool experience. We focus the entire class on the Swing Out. In the first exercise, we start in open position but replace the connected hand-hold with a bungee cord. That is, we each hold an end of the bungee cord and stand a bit farther apart to create some tension in it. We have a couple goals during the exercise. On 1 and 2, leads are focusing on generating tension, but fluidly opening our shoulder on 1 and closing on 2. Follows were focusing on waiting to snap forward on 3. Leads then focused on sending out with a strong shoulder turn on 4, and feeling the same tension on 6 as we had at 1.

The follows (Trish, Danie, Lilly Beth) all had a ton of experience on me, and it was really cool to be along for the ride, though I think my lack of experience shone through at times. For example, they all started every sequence with swivels, and expected me to know when to start my rock-step based on their swivels. I didn't, though now I realize they were swiveling as if finishing 7-8.

After getting the feel of snapping tension the bungee cords provided, we ditched them in favor of the hand connection again, but trying to maintain the feeling of that tension. What a difference in my Swing Out!

We then worked on spotting. As a lead, my facing should always be front, my head does a 360-degree spin between 4 and 5. This action, along with the leads holding back until 3, and the lead shoulder turn starting at 4, really emphasizes a very circular, flowing swing out.

Trish has some problems with the spotting, and the group joshes her a bit about how she faces with her eyes, not her head.

I ask Jerry about what's needed to take Level 1 classes, and he gives me a list of moves, then stops and says the real secret is to be someone who has a strong lead and actually shifts weight on the triple-step. Weight transfer is a very big deal with him. One of the moves he gives me is a double-outside turn, which I've never seen, but he thinks I'll pick up quickly. The follows all give me passing grades on my lead (though I know they'll probably say something different when I'm gone). It ends up that Jerry is talking about what's needed to get to his level 2 class. He states that I'm solid for level 1 right now. Wow. I wish I was as sure as he is. Perhaps I'll sign up for the level 1 drop-in classes from now on.

March Swing Lesson Totals:
OC Swing: 3 Lessons, 3 Hours
AB: 14 Lessons, 10.5 Hours

Running Totals:
SL: 2 Hours
OC Swing: 4 Hours
AB: 12 Hours

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