In short list format:
- triple steps – I still have trouble really swinging my triples. I think part of this is because my pulse could be stronger, so I’m really going to work on that. I also want to make sure I’m pulsing at the end of my swingout — I don’t know for sure if I’m not, it’s just something that was mentioned which I’m curious about.
- Charleston pulse – one of the teachers said something which really resonated with me: pulsing in Charleston should be mostly in the bottom half of your body, leaving the top almost still. While I’ve theoretically known this, it really clicked with me this weekend — honestly, it makes Charleston a lot more comfortable, which can be painful in (let’s be honest) the boobies region.
- keeping my feet closer, more under me – something I feel I’m almost always working on — but I think that’s because I gain more body awareness the more experience I have. Specifically, I’m going to be working on keeping tight on my triple steps (when possible), my turns, and various fancy moves.
- focusing on the main point of connection – 1) helps maintain frame with awkward connections, like when a lead has you by the left hand or left elbow; as long as you orient towards that connection, you won’t over-rotate or break frame. 2) helps be a better follow, as you’ll be focusing on what the point of connection, which is telling you what to do next. This might be obvious, but it’s worth saying. We frequently forget to pay attention when we’re connected in a strange place or when we’re “going crazy” for the music or the moment.
- frame – yes, I mentioned it in the last point, too; but I’m really trying to work on it. Specifically, I’m looking at not opening up too much, as well as not giving more tension / compression than my lead is asking for or than is necessary to understand what’s going on. Additionally, I want to work on my core frame, meaning the muscles that hold it all together.
- posture – also part of the frame thing. Also, I noticed in the competition video, that I don’t always stand up straight…and that’s just ugly.
- be true to the step – If I should be triple stepping do it. In fact, just try to triple step more, as eventually I’ll learn the difference of when to triple and when to step-step.
That’s a lot, and I’m cognizant of the fact that not all of it will get done, and that much of it I’ll be working on this time next year, at the very least. However, it gives me a good idea of where I am at the moment, and things I can think about while social dancing.
There are two things I really want to do outside of swing dancing which might help in some areas (particularly balance, posture, and frame):
- boot camp of some sort — for core and upper body strength, specifically, but also to build stamina and potentially speed?
- yoga – to build control, flexibility, and strength
If anyone knows of any boot camp or yoga classes which can be taken on a budget, let me know! I’m also going to keep an eye out for Groupon and LivingSocial deals…
On a tangent, I have noticed a few things since I’ve been taking all these workshops since June-ish: my dancing with specific leads I’ve always found challenging has gotten significantly better. I think, though, that it’s how I approach dancing with those leads. I’m a very visual follow: generally, I want to match the variation that my lead is doing. While I realize this isn’t always what should happen (and I’m good about resisting the urge on a swingout, I swear), it is still frequently what I attempt.
One lead in particular is a very light, but very complicated lead; he’s different from most dancers in Atlanta — his pulse is much stronger, and through that pulse he leads complicated syncopations and variations. About two months ago, I stopped looking at his feet for clues about what to do next and stared at his chest — and low and behold, it went a little smoother. No, I did not get all the awesome stuff he led. However, I was able to get the general movement and direction, and I was more on time. Now, some time later, I frequently hit the same or similar variations, and I have a much higher frequency of matching his syncopations.
I think it’s something a lot of follows have trouble with — the transition from a mostly visual follow (most beginners) to a more “feeling it” follow. While much of this is fairly easy to figure out (connection, basic pulse), I think there are specific leads who challenge us to find their pulse, or maybe who challenge us to find a better pulse (I’m not sure which yet — or maybe even both), so that we are better able to follow.
I think a lot of my dance goals above tie into what I’m talking about here: I’ve been really pushing myself with leads I don’t connect well with so that I might find more challenges in my own dancing. And honestly, it’s been working pretty well — this particular lead now asks me to dance on a regular basis, which was never (and I mean never) the case before.
Success? Moving towards it, I guess!