Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Emergency and Intention

Emergency and Intention

I had a lesson the other day, focused on two main themes. First, and what I'll talk about here, was making my lead more inviting, by removing the emergency from my body during faster steps. Second, which I might talk about another time, was which exercises were going to be most helpful to continue developing my dancing and dancing technique.

I have a little of practice moving smoothly and comfortably to regular rhythmic tango passages. However, I often want to respond to or play with the music, in moments when its rhythm changes. When that happens, I frequently want to change the rhythm of my own steps, or those I ask of a partner. What I've been working on here is two fast steps together, followed by a pause (or two fast steps together following a pause). To the best of my ASCII skills, consider the following rhythms:

1. TA - - ta -- TA (Straight/Square rhythm)
2. TA ta - - ta TA (Syncopated Rhythm)
3. TA - - - -ta TA (Syncopated Rhythm, very characteristic of Milonga)

Rhythm 1 my body accepts as a completely natural motion at this point, and processes the intention I give to my partner naturally, with no real new effort from my body or mind while dancing. However, for 2 and 3, when I go to take that fast step, I tense up in warning.

Now, this tenseness doesn't make the dance suddenly terrible, or become hard to follow. But the tensing does cause two things: it weakens the connection to my partner, and because I'm tense I actually no longer step at quite the right speed, so I miss the beat just slightly.

Avoiding that tenseness has taken some practice. One help has been placing my body's emphasis on the second of the fast steps instead of the first.  If I focus on the first step, I tend to over-commit to it, or move too far with my initial step, which will break the connection when I recover too quickly to reach the second step. Second, just repition helps; I'm getting used to the faster pace required, and now that I'm more used to it, my body seems to stay more comfortable during.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Injured Shoulder

I pulled my shoulder last Sunday.

Perhaps ironically, I pulled it while stretching. I stretched a little too far, using my weight to lean into it, and I felt like I suddenly developed a little knot right under my shoulder blade. This knot persists, though I can tell it's improving -- I can now take a full breath without a twinge of pain.

It was that twinge of pain that prompted my post, though. I danced  with a friend in my kitchen after pulling it on Sunday; I haven't been out to a milonga. While dancing, I would occasionally have a spike of pain from my shoulder. This created a difficulty: every time my shoulder spiked, I was jerked out of connection, music, and embrace. Indeed, quite literally, my embrace was hurting me. It spurred two thoughts.

First -- as a result, I had to focus extra hard on re-gaining connection after each spike. I wouldn't want to use pain for it, but something similar would make for good practice, I think. Songs that stop and start randomly, having to change partners or directions without warning, etc.

Second -- I think the ability to avoid causing moments like this (in either yourself or your partner) is one important role for focusing on physical technique. Not moments of pain, necessarily, but moments where your body feels awkward for yourself, or unclear for your partner.

I  return to dancing tonight, and here's to better connection and re-connection on the dance floor.