Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Final Stretch Part 3

Friday 3/30
Swing 1: Balboa Routine
Jenny runs the class.
Balboa Basic
Transitional Step
Come Around
Basic with Break on 7
Come Around with down hold on 7 (facing left of starting position)
Come Around with Spike Out

The Spike Out is a release of the right-hand connection, and a kick with the right foot while remaining connected with the left hand. Then, use that connection to spin the follow, and catch up with her at a 180 degree rotation from the beginning position and finish the rotation around to 360 and pick up the Balboa Basic. That's a lot of running around, and I don't think I really got it.

Swing 2: Hijacks
Amazing class! Not quite a hijack of the lead in the first move we did, but a giving up of the lead. This means the leads switched to follows and the follows switched to leads. Routine for some of the staff, but a huge adjustment for most of us.

The actual move was during a standard swing out. Instead of releasing with the right had during 6, we released with both, but slid the right hand down the inside of the follow's left arm. They knew to grip with the lead grip and lead a swingout! We essentially had to stop the class and run an AB class with the follows learning lead footwork and hand placement and the leads learning follow footwork and hand placement. So strange. For example, in closed, I was on the right side instead of the left, and needed to put my hand on the lead's shoulder, as follows do, not around the waist, as I would as the lead was doing to me! We even did some ECS basic like this. And interestingly, it really emphasized to me what a good lead needs to provide to a follow. I wonder if it's worth taking the AB series over again as a follow. Probably uncomfortable for most guys, though it seems acceptable for male instructors to fill in as follows. Just a beginning guy thing. I definitely remember having that attitude when SL mentioned it to me when I first talked about swing dancing.

I talk to Gerald about the second hijack, and he tells me it was on a walk through where the follow pulls the lead into open Charleston position, but I don't remember it.

Swing 2: Weird Swingouts
Lots of fun, but the only one I remember is the "cuddle" swingout, where we start with a two-handed connection, provide a forward pull on 1, loop the right-left connection over the follow's body, and pull them straight back. I finally get this move. I think Shesha taught it at the first OC Swing Sunday class I took, but I never got it then.

Social Dance
Met up with Phil from the old Thursday OC Swing class. Glad to keep connected with him. He complemented me heavily for the progress I've made this month. I'm uncomfortable with complements in general, but try to be graceful and make it about having the time to take all the lessons I've taken. He bought a couple of DVDs for swing instruction which he's willing to share. He describes them as having a library of basic moves and variations which is exactly what I need to do some planning of my social dance patterns. Yes, I need to choreograph my social dancing. I'm a freakin' beginner. It's either that or be boring. And I'm not content to survive on East Coast Basic, Tuck Turn, Changing Places, Ease to Closed. That's boring.

I'm around and dancing for a couple hours, then start to think about heading home (team practice in the morning). Gerald takes off, and I start to really think about leaving. Then I start up a conversation with Alan, who isn't on a team, but I see around lots of the Atomic lessons and at the OC Swing Sunday series. His social dancing is where I'd like to be: solid basics, with interesting variations which he leads well. We talk about his path and background in dance for over an hour, and I find it really enlightening. His buddy got him into swing around January 2006, and he spent time on the Atomic Ballroom teams for a few months as well. He found his skill level increased, but doesn't think that all the Atomic level 2 classes are applicable to social dance situations, which is why he'll take level 1 classes instead sometimes. Alan mentions the double bug specifically, and I think of the transitional Lindy class I took a few days before (difficult, and can't imagine it being useful). I can immediately understand his viewpoint. Apparantly he and Chris (one of the staff) started around the same time. I idly wonder whether I can get to Chris's level in the space of a year. I discuss my quest to increase the variation of my social dance pattern, and he has lots of great suggestions like switching hands, free spins, block turns, and doing a free spin directly to closed position. He has some interesting comments on the contrast between the stylistic differences between what Jerry and Shesha are teaching. He describes Jerry's swing outs as very "Hollywood," in that they're linear and the lead holds ground, while Shesha teaches more of a "Savoy" styled swing out, with the lead and follow coming together then springing apart. Very interesting observation. The descriptions feel right, though I don't know anything about the terminology. He likes to know both styles. That's right, I see Alan at Shesha's Sunday series. He likes to learn from more than one teacher to keep it from getting stale. I like that.

I ask whether he's gone to Camp Hollywood. He hasn't, but is planning on it this year. I'd really like to go as well, and am waffling about the track to take. He's planning on intermediate, which was my thought for myself, especially since it's months away. Have to think about it for a bit.

After talking to Alan for more than an hour, I go home and crash out.

3/31 AB Team Practice
We work on swing outs again, building on the traveling we did before. This time, we're starting in a line and traveling into a "V" formation, so the couples on the ends of the line have to travel farther than the couples closer to the middle. Then we travel back to the line, then into an inverted-V formation, and back to the line. We're getting better as a team on spotting the other couples and lining up in the middle of the moves.

At the end, we move from the line to a circle while doing swing outs. From my position, that means doing an over-rotated three-wall swing out to line up, then another swing out to get to the proper position. The three-wall swing out finally "clicks" with me during this exercise. It's a normal swing out but instead of releasing the partner on 5, I bring her back "in" while doing a 180 degree pivot on 6 and release her the other way. During a normal swing out, the partners end up in the exact same starting positions at the end, while a three-wall will have them 180 degrees rotated (the rotation on 5-6-7). Hmmm... I could totally throw the three-wall into my social pattern. Note to self: do that.

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