Due to some rescheduling, my last week was surprisingly free. I managed to put in some extra time with dance practice because of that, but I didn’t really go off and see anyone for lessons. That won’t happen until tomorrow (Friday) night. Crazy, right? Then I leave on Saturday morning to go off to compete over the weekend. When I had first looked at the proposed schedule I was supposed to be dancing on Saturday afternoon, which is why I had set up my plans to head to the venue Saturday morning, but if the current schedule holds it looks like I will be dancing my rounds mid-morning on Sunday. What can you do…
So, moving my lessons to Friday night means the only real dancing I did this week was going to Latin Technique class on Monday night and Standard Technique class on Wednesday night. It sounds like so little when I write it down like that, but having only a couple of things on my plate the week before a competition might have been for the best. Especially since this past week I changed up all of my workouts, so my body is a bit unhappy as it tries to acclimate. I swapped out my longer, mixed lifting arrangements meant to build muscle endurance for shorter, heavier lifting meant for building muscle mass, as well as trading out my kickboxing days so that I could go back to doing plyometrics. Good times, right? You probably don’t actually care too much, but I already wrote it so I’m not going to go back and delete it now.
Let’s go over the dancing I did get to do. Monday night was especially fun for me, because I got to do Pasodoble in Latin Technique class. I’m sure you’re all aware by now that Pasodoble is my favorite Latin dance style, so any Monday night class where we get to go over it is awesome to me. Some people who come to the class don’t seem to like Pasodoble too much, but they can just go off and get… gored by a bull? Is that the right term to use? Obviously I don’t get to spend a lot of time around bulls, so I’m only guessing here.
Because there was a different class going on at the same time Monday night at the Electric Dance Hall, Lord Junior built this bit of choreography to turn a lot of corners rather than traveling too far down the line of dance. That way we all stayed pretty far down at one end of the dance floor, giving the other class plenty of room to do their thing at the same time. If you want to try this combination of figures out for yourself, you need to start a bit far away from the wall because a figure later on in the middle of the short wall takes you several more steps toward the wall. If you don’t plan for that ahead of time, you’re liable to run yourself off the floor.
To start with, we faced down toward the back wall of the studio and did a Promenade and Counter Promenade run, but the Counter Promenade was turned to head 90° to the left so that we were heading down the short wall when finished. After that, we did a variation on the Coup de Pique where after the first step backward against line of dance, we would repeat the first half of the figure again rather than doing the series of steps backward against line of dance. If you can’t picture the figure by reading the name, the Coup de Pique has you rotating your lower body and pointing your right foot down the line of dance, then rotating back and bringing your feet together, then rotating your hips and taking a step backward against line of dance, and bringing your feet together again – and in our variation we repeated that twice. Hopefully that helps you visualize it.
When we finished the Coup de Pique variation we did a figure that is called the Left Foot Variation. It’s one of the few steps in the Pasodoble syllabus that starts with the left foot (right foot for the ladies), which is helpful when your previous figure combinations have a fake or syncopation in them and you end by closing your right foot to the left. The Left Foot Variation is the figure that I mentioned earlier that moved us even further toward the wall, which is why you needed to be slightly farther away at the beginning to give yourself enough room.
Turning to head down the short wall again, we did some Natural Pivots in Promenade Position. There were three of these in a row, with the first two being half a turn and the last one being a quarter of a turn, which allowed us to end as if we had just turned another corner, with the men facing down the new long wall. With a little time left before class was over, Lord Junior also had us do a Fallaway Reverse Turn. This one we started with a Slip Appel to turn us an eighth of a turn so that the figure would begin traveling toward diagonal center and close with the men back facing down the line of dance. Fun stuff, right?
In Standard Technique class last night I got to work on some Foxtrot. Yay! Both classes I went to this week focused on my favorite dance styles in each category! What did I do to deserve such nice things? Like finding lemon creme sandwich crackers. Oh. My. Glob. Let me tell you, one afternoon it was not quite time to leave work, and I was sooooooo hungry, so I decided to move up one of my evening snacks so that I could eat before I left the office to go do my workout. I headed down to the vending machine to get a pack of sandwich crackers. Usually I get the ones that are cheddar crackers with peanut butter filling (I’m sure you’ve had them before), but that day I saw a brand new option – they had some kind of cracker with lemon creme filling. Intrigued, I decided to get that instead, and it was pretty much the best snack ever. Seriously, I’m dreaming about those crackers right now, but I’m so far away from the vending machines at work. Sigh…
Anyway… now that I’ve made myself hungry, let’s talk about Foxtrot. That day in class Lord Junior wanted to have us work on figures where the ladies would be traveling forward while the guys were going backward. Usually if you only move like this for a couple of steps it doesn’t feel too weird, but if you do it for a couple of full figures it starts to mess with my mind. The footwork for me is easy when I’m going backwards, but the shaping takes a bit for me to figure out how to apply properly. The Reverse Wave in Foxtrot is just a backward Three Step, so the shaping and the side you lead with is the opposite. That sounds easy when you say it out loud, but I usually end up contorting myself in funny ways for the first few attempts until I figure out what the right way actually is.
Our progression of figures that night started out facing diagonal center and going into a normal Feather, then an Open Telemark with Feather Ending, and then an overturned Reverse Turn that started out heading diagonal wall and finished with the Leads backing diagonal wall. This is what set us up to start traveling backward for the next few figures. The first one we did was a Reverse Wave that curved after the first step so that the rest of our backward movements went straight down the line of dance. Then we added a Back Feather and then a second Reverse Wave, both of which that kept going in a straight line. At the end of those figures we had made it to the far corner of the long wall, so we put on an Open Impetus with Feather Ending that allowed us to turn the corner and start moving toward diagonal wall on the new line of dance.
This connection of figures is cool, but not exactly the most practical thing to do outside of a group class in a controlled environment. Normally you wouldn’t want to be moving backwards for so long, because that can become dangerous. Especially if you can travel as much as I can with each step you take, so that the nine steps backward that these three figures actually have you doing can cover almost the entire length of the floor. If you wanted to give this a try in a non-controlled situation, you would have to use the Reverse Turn beforehand to spot everything along the line of dance ahead of you to make sure it would be safe before you go.
At the end of class Lord Junior completely changed gears on us and had us look at a figure disconnected from the others we had just been doing. He said it would be called something like a Hairpin Turn Overspin, which is essentially a Hairpin that you may have seen before, with an extra Natural Pivot on the end. We ended up doing two of these right in a row, and then putting an Open Impetus on the end. With the Open Impetus essentially changing our direction, Lord Junior told us that he should have started our first progression with this set of figures – having us use them to cover the entire short wall and the Open Impetus setting us up to head toward diagonal center on the long wall, which would have set us up to do the Feather that we started the class with. Maybe next time, right?
I have only a vague idea of what to expect this weekend. I will be meeting up with Lord Dormamu for coaching tomorrow night, and then Saturday I will be heading out to a far off corner of the Dance Kingdom for a competition. This is the event that I mentioned weeks ago, where there probably won’t be any people dancing against me in the events I signed up for, but Lord Dormamu told Sparkledancer and I that we should still go to gain political points with the competition organizers. So… I’m probably guaranteed to place pretty well if I’m dancing uncontested, but I don’t consider that to be very meaningful.
Hopefully the event will still be fun, right? We’ll have to see! I’ll let you know next week, I promise.