Sunday, March 27, 2011

Focus, Clarity, and Landing a Partner

My friend Ampster has talked about waiting for the follow to land, and how he uses that to dance. It sparked a chain of thoughts about my own process. My process is not very different really, but:

I always want to know where the follower has their weight. Why? Because a step taken when they are off-balance (or worse, have the wrong leg free) will break connection with the follower, and likely with the music. Maintaining those two things are my main focus (and the source of most of my enjoyment and satisfaction) when I dance. At least so far, the people I dance with seem to appreciate that focus!

This isn't to say that I test each and every step before I take it ... I don't. When I am doing a turn, I might do the whole thing in one smooth motion. I will make sure that my follow *is* ready for that first step, but for the next couple steps, I leave it to some mutual sense of when, how far, and how fast to take additional steps.  I still influence this, of course, by using my chest to direct the movement, the strength of the initial pulse, and keeping my own weight moving through the step. However, the fine control of each step has become, to some extent, muscle memory.

The creation of this muscle memory has lead to nicer dancing. I no longer have to plot out the exact physical instructions for my body to create certain motions, I can think at a high level: 'A step in cross system out of this turn will feel good here', and can enjoy the sensation more easily than when I needed to focus on thinking 'okay, step 18 inches to the left. Twist upper body to signal to follow. Shift my own weight while follow is engaged pivoting ...'. I am exaggerating the thought process some, but I think the sense of it is clear?

This clarity in my own motion also frees me to focus on the follower. By improving my own technique, balance, and 'mind of no mind', I can pay better attention to my partner's weight and balance, and the music.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Confidence and Interpretation

I had a funny exchange Monday night.

Monday night, at the China Harbor milonga, I never felt on. It was a mix of losing my balance, not quite connecting with music, and losing connection with my partner. This part was not funny, but it happens from time to time.

Later in the evening, I was standing at the bar, chatting with some friends (followers, in this case) who made the exact same observation. One of them I had danced with earlier, but added that she really enjoyed my dancing for our dance, it was just her dancing that felt off. And I thought the same: that her dancing was quite nice, even if mine was off.

I guess if we could stop criticizing ourselves, we could just take pleasure from the fact that our partner enjoyed the dance. Not a new realization, but it keeps happening.  I should try actually learning the lesson.