Sunday, 20 April 2008

What to work on next

I try to improve my dancing one or two things at a time. It keeps me interested. I decide what they're going to be, based on my experiences dancing, and I change them as I go along. Here's what I'm working on now.


This week I am working on my attitude. This is an emergency diversion because I've had a dodgy few weeks. I planned to go out this evening, but just didn't want to. Most of the time, when that happens, I go anyway, and once I'm in the water's lovely. But I've been having this sinking feeling far too much lately. The outer corners of my eyes turn down in a very pitiful way when I'm sad or anxious, and that certainly doesn't help me get dances. So this week I've decided to have a rest, and see if that helps. It has before. It doesn't count towards my two things, but it's a priority because until it gets better I won't be able to fix anything else.


It works well for me and adapts to different shapes and sizes. I almost always succeed in getting and keeping a good connection. But I want to improve the way it feels for the leader, and the scope of what it allows me to do. I don't know exactly how to do this, but at the moment I'm trying a mental checklist when I start a dance, to make myself consistent. Then I'll have something to work on.

(Relax the) neck
(Relax the) shoulders
Breathe into the lower ribcage
Right elbow pointing down
Feel the floor
Ready to Go
That takes a few moments, so I'm struggling if the leader is one who just grabs you and zooms off without a moment to get set. It's bound to get faster as I practice it more. I think I should add "find the right position for my head" (it varies because it depends on the height of the man, whether he keeps his head straight, and whether he wears glasses). I'm not sure where it should go - probably at number 3.


I've got some little exercises for this. I found a book written by a lady who teaches belly dancing, and thought oooooh - these are just what I need, and not a huge bore like exercises usually are. I'm not stiff - but I want more physical freedom and control so I can express myself more. And they help with relaxing the shoulders, too. (No, gentlemen, you do not get to watch.)


I feel that there's something I should work on here, but I haven't quite decided what it is yet, so it's in the queue for when my attitude has improved. However, I think the belly-dancing exercises will apply to this as well.

Current self-assessment

I'm easy to lead and comfortable to dance with. I'm competent in quite a range of styles and can deal with almost all of what gets thrown at me in social dancing - including quite a lot of things that most people don't do, and give or take a couple of things I simply, sincerely, don't like. I'm fairly confident I have no serious bad habits. I'm naturally musical and respond well to musicality in the leader, at least when I'm feeling good and not anxious. But I'm not exactly exciting.

Observable Facts

Some good dancers seem to quite like me, they're asking me more often than they used to, and average dancers quite often say I'm really good.


ModernTanguera said...

Ooo, what is the book that you found?

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

Hola Ms Hedgehog,

I like the order: attitude, embrace... very Argentine. And as long as you're comfortable and relax with your embrace, you don't have to worry about improving how the guy feel. It is a man's job to make sure the embrace is comfortable for him before he goes off into the LOD. One can enjoy the dance more if one has less concern.
I always take off my eye glasses when I dance. And ask the woman to do the same.

And in my opinion, one's posture should be placed just under embrace in order. Once you have a good posture, everything else (hips, being grounded) comes in natural way.

And I am happy for you that you are comfortable with your dance.

msHedgehog said...

@ModernTanguera: this is the one. It's got a CD in the back and I think it's nicely written and illustrated. Oh, and here's the Amazon US listing.

msHedgehog said...

@nyc tango pilgrim: You're quite right about posture. I see that and the hips/shoulders thing as all pretty much one thing, though, because all the problems I encounter with posture are to do with tension in the neck, shoulders, and lower back - and mainly caused by my work. So I don't make a distinction there. But you're right anyway. The dissocation bit is more of a bonus.

I normally wear glasses but I always wear contact lenses for tango - most men take their glasses off before dancing with me, and I think this is wise because they could easily hurt me, or I could accidentally bend them, and that really interferes with the embrace. But if his glasses are above the top of my head, it's not necessary.