It there is a latin dance I understand the least, it is jive.
I think everyone must have at least one dance that just doesn’t quite come together for them. But maybe I am just hoping for some company in my frustration.
From when I started dancing at my first studio I struggled with jive. I have a back injury that when I started dancing made the ‘top forward’ position of jive very difficult for me because I lacked the strength in my back to support my upper body being forward. When I moved to the franchise studio and american style I did east coast swing, which is slower and different, and has different technique. I struggled with just the basic technique in swing for quite some time before it came together for me. Since returning to International style, I was able to adapt my swing technique to bronze jive, but I was lacking the lifting of the knees. I started working on it….then got sick.
So it’s been about two years since I worked on jive technique. I did a little bit of work just on the triple step basic without the lifts, but that was more adapting my swing technique.
Today, as part of putting together a new program of exercises for my individual practices going forward, I started working on the leg lift technique in the correct forward jive position. It was a complete disaster. We took what I had done previously lifting the same leg repeatedly and tried to get me to alternate lifting legs. No matter what I did today, I just could not seem to get my body to do what Boss wanted me to do.
It doesn’t happen often but sometimes I just can’t translate what I see Boss doing into my own body, and no matter what he says or shows I just can’t get the right body parts to move. We tried slow, we tried fast, we tried against a wall, we tried with a stick, we tried with him holding me in position, we tried with him moving my hips. Nothing stuck and nothing worked. It was completely frustrating.
I think what is really frustrating for me is that knowing that jive technique is something I really struggle to understand, I have been wanting to work more consistently on it for quite some time–but Boss always told me that my jive was ‘ok for my level’. It always frustrates me when I hear him say that because I don’t want to be ‘ok’ for my current level, I want to be preparing for the next one, and silver and especially gold jive isn’t going to go well without basic leg lifts. So as I struggle to try to understand and get my body moving right, I can’t help but be a little angry that I am just learning this now and not back when I was in bronze.
But I digress. All is not lost. I think this is going to be one of those things where I have to take all the pieces Boss gave me in my lesson and take a little bit of time here and there throughout my days to work on putting it together myself. I think I know what I need to do, I just need to give my mind time to process it a little to put all the pieces together. I am just not used to struggling so much and not being able to capture even a basic understanding of how my body needs to work.
Jive aside, the other exercises seem to be ok. I am working on specific steps in waltz and tango, as well as fluid and strong arm movements and position for paso. I should have one more lesson before Boss goes on vacation, and that should leave me in a good position to work through the exercises while he is away.
On a similar note, today I finally got to meet with the rehabilitative specialist at work to get and begin a new strength training program 3 times a week with a small running program. I am excited to get back to regular strength training, but all I have to say is that I am really weak compared to where I was! The program she gave me is great and she understands about dance and tailored it to help compliment the work I do in the studio. It means next week is going to be a lot of DOMS, but it will be worth it. Since Boss will be away, my goal is to put together the strength training with a regular practice schedule so that when he gets back I am ready to add in lessons.
We will see how that goes. In the meantime, if you need me, I will be working on jive 🙂