Monday, December 10, 2012

Quickstep, I know you're in there.

Tonight we worked on quickstep, first in a lesson with Simeon, and then just practice. Brandon and I basically share the same attitude about quickstep. It's just not our dance...yet. Part of it we like to blame on being tall, but there's not doubt that it doesn't come as naturally as waltz or foxtrot, for example. Unfortunately our marks tend to reflect that too, so we've been resolved to put some serious effort into it. I could tell that tonight might end up being a bit of a frustrating practice just given that it was dedicated to quickstep, but actually, now that it's over, I'm rather happy with what we got through today. We now have our choreography lined up (whether we can dance it is another matter), but I have a certain security in knowing that we have a whole routine to work on and won't be learning new choreo one week before our next competition. Yes, this has happened before. 

Since I began dancing I've always had this kind of tenuous relationship with quickstep. Back when I was in silver level and training for pro-am competition, one lesson I just stopped and blurted out to my teacher, "I just don't get quickstep!" When he asked what I meant, I tried to explain. All of the other dances I can feel inside me in a way, and I feel like I have a generally good sense of what the feel should be even if I don't always execute on it. But quickstep...syllabus quickstep seemed pointless to me. Why would anyone want to shuffle around a ballroom floor going sort of fast but not amazingly fast, and smooth, but not very smooth, all the while pretending like this is the most happy thing that ever happened? It made no sense. Now open quickstep I could kind of understand; you're running, leaping, hopping, skipping around the floor with a bubbly exuberance that I rarely feel but could maybe make myself feel if I was dancing it. So now, here I am, a newly minted open level dancer, trying to figure out  my relationship with this new beast that is open quickstep. And I'm still having trouble.

By the way, an interesting side note. I just realized that the four dances we have so far correspond rather well to the four temperaments. Not surprisingly, my best dance is currently waltz. So we have waltz as the melancholic, tango as the choleric (duh), foxtrot as the phlegmatic, and quickstep as the sanguine. It works remarkably well! Although it makes me wonder why I'm not better at tango these days.

Tonight though, I figured a few things out with quickstep. One is, the faces help. You probably want to know what the faces are. Brandon teases me about them all the time, but he shouldn't talk since I've seen him make his own rather ghastly faces on the competition floor. But then again, he has some nice ones too, and a general aura of being that cute guy that everyone wants to mark well. Anyways, I like to make faces as I'm dancing, and I don't really make them on purpose, but they kind of spring from the mood of what we're doing and the figure and just what it feels like I should be doing. A healthy dose of that "feeling" I'm sure comes from watching countless videos of top pros executing certain figures with certain expressions, but it's gotten to the point where I've kind of absorbed some of it by osmosis. But now they're deep enough ingrained I don't feel like I can dance certain figures and do certain things like stay on balance without the requisite face. I know, it's weird, but it would really throw me off if I had to do a serious faced hover, or a depressed eight quick run face in quickstep. No indeed. In the hover develope I'm levitating with joy, and in the quick run I'm just so excited and can't wait to see what comes next. A smiling tango would be the beginning of the end. Tonight we were practicing straight up promenade runs for the first time (think quickstep meets jousting) and they went surprisingly well, and the open-mouth-charging-at-you-all-canons-firing face was there for sure, helping out the cause. 

Another thing that helps is just overall lightness of foot. Simeon was getting on Brandon's case for tangoizing the quickstep figures we were working on, and I think I need to work on that in general too. We're always working so hard in the other dances on being heavy and grounded and using lots of floor pressure, but in quickstep it's important to look like one is dancing on bubbles. If I think about champagne bubbles and cotton candy while dancing quickstep, that helps too. 

So anyways, I'm actually kind of excited about quickstep now. I like the new bit of choreography that we added at the end, more than a little inspired by what happens between 0:50-1:05  in this video. 

It's hard to go wrong with Anna Mikhed. 

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