Knees, Feet and Thighs

You really have the strangest conversations in dance lessons.

The most interesting part is that while the conversations might be strange elsewhere, they are perfectly normal in dance.

Today I had a lesson in standard and part of the lesson involved a conversation about my knees, feet and thighs.

The last couple lessons I have had in standard, Boss has been watching my footwork as I did the routines on my own, but also he had remarked a bit, especially in chasses in tango about the ‘clapping’ sound my feet make when I bring them together.  When I do a chasse, whether in standard or latin one of the things I make sure I do is make sure I fully close my feet.  In standard, I get a little over enthusiastic about this sometimes and I quite literally clap them together.

This habit seems to be knocking myself off balance.

The problem is that when I bring my feet together, my knees tend to overlap each other, instead of resting beside each other, so one ends up a little in front of the other.  This then pushes me out of balance.  In short, if I put my knees next to each other in line, my feet remain about and inch apart to compensate.

So what does this have to do with my thighs?  The same thing happens with them.  If I stand with both feet fully closed together, one knee is always slightly forward and one thigh is as well.  I cannot stand with both legs parallel from my hips down with my feet closed.  My thighs are basically too big.

So what was the conversation?

Boss asked me to not think as much about bringing my feet together, but to focus more on my knees and thighs being together.  This does leave a gap between my feet during quick chasses (like in tango, waltz or quickstep), but it also keeps me from knocking myself off balance, which right now is more important.

It’s a little like taking away one security blanket and trying to change it with another.  When I do steps that require me to close my feet, I rely on the feeling of my heels being together to let me know I have done them right.  Not closing my feet feels a little sloppy to me, but I have to work on changing my thinking and adapting my footwork. I tried it a little while doing my routines today and it does seem to make a difference in my balance overall.  I am just not completely convinced about the aesthetics.

Hopefully as I lose weight my thighs will shrink down some and it will become a non-issue.  It’s a little mortifying to think that my thighs are too big for my feet to close properly.

I have one other issue that plagues me and that is that my right foot naturally turns out from my knee down.  Basically, when I stand and feel that both my knees are facing forward, my left foot faces forward (12 o’clock) and my right angles to the side (2 o’clock).  If I turn my right foot forward, I feel like my right knee is angles in (11 o’clock).  This is an issue in standard because while my knees might be facing the right direction, my right foot is usually not oriented the way it needs to be.  I have to constantly remind myself to keep it turned in, and for some steps where I need to turn my right foot in, I feel like my knee has to be almost facing backward to make it happen.

Apparently Boss has been doing some research on this as he was asking me today about it and if I can turn my foot without turning my knee (which I can).  I don’t know if that is usual or not.  It will be interesting to see where he goes with this and what he discovers.  I have a hard time sometimes figuring out if I should pay attention to the direction of my knee or my foot in standard.

I think in just about any other setting, a discussion about my thigh size and how it affects my ability to close my feet would be strange.  But in dance, it’s almost par for the course.

No lesson tomorrow due to Remembrance Day, but I will head to the gym after the ceremony to practice and do my workout.

For all who serve and have served–thank you for your sacrifice.

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Lest We Forget.

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