Change

Change is hard.

The reality of how much change I have to do really set in during my lessons last weekend. Even though I expected and knew there would be a lot of adjustments to make changing instructors, the reality still hits a little hard.

I had moments during my lesson when I seriously though I should go back to bronze and start over. I just keep reminding myself we are focusing on details which are supported by my foundation.

One of the biggest things I am discovering is that there is a profound difference in interpretation of latin and latin technique between Old and New Boss. Once you consider that they each have difference areas of focus and ways of teaching, it all adds up quickly.

I am also having a little bit of difficulty adapting to lessons only on the weekends, or every other week. I am finding it harder to retain everything because there is such a gap between lessons and reviews.

All things I have to work out as I work through the change. Nothing I have encountered is unexpected and I seem to be on track – first I was excited about all the changes, then the reality of the multitude of changes has set in making me second guess everything. I hope that next things stop feeling so ‘foreign’ and I am able to figure how to make the changes work.

It didn’t help that last week was so crazy with my graduation, my mom visiting, and two days of commuting 3 hours for work there wasn’t any time to practice or even work out what that practice should look like.

This week however, I am already on a good track with 75 mins of practice in yesterday. I took all the points from my lessons and made exercises from them for me to work on, but the main issue I am encountering right now is that there are so many details and points in each exercise to focus on my mind (and my body) is all over the place.

But its a starting point.

New Boss is still doing some evaluation. At my last lessons we reviewed the points in rumba and then switched to samba. We started working on cruzado walks, which were small changes, followed by whisks. He quickly picked up on the main point I often got from Old Boss – that my hips are swinging more like a pendulum than samba action. So main exercise – transferring my weight to a position where my trailing hip is elevated.

At least something I recognize has needed to be corrected for a long time, but I haven’t had a chance to focus on it previously.

A big difference between Old and New Boss came out during the rumba review. With Old Boss, we tended to focus on the leg action and steps and added arms later when we did styling. I had some basic things I would do on my own, but we never really talked much about the arms specific to the steps.

For New Boss, its all a package. For example, we were doing hip twist to fan in rumba and as I moved to cross New Boss I was trailing my arm behind me and doing what I usually do. He stopped and asked me why I was doing that. Mainly, its to get my arms out of my way. We then took the time to make some adjustments to the arms, but the surprising thing was that we worked on the arms together as a couple. It sounds strange, but as we were doing it I felt like I had never taken into consideration my partner when thinking about arms and how I transition from hold, keep my arms out of the way, etc. – at least not with basic steps.

We talked about how arms are part of the step and technique and separate from styling. It makes sense, but again – so much work to do!

I am still struggling to adapt to the nuances between the two Bosses as partners. There are small but marked differences in how they lead certain steps (not unexpected) that mean I have to step slightly different because where one led a step straight forward, the other led it slightly to the side.

New Boss also calls me out whenever I don’t look at him when I am suppose to. Its awkward, but good for me as it forces me to connect and will build that habit.

There are times I almost want to ask New Boss to go back through all the syllabus steps so I can see how he does them and adapt. That’s the perfectionist in me talking though. For now, I need to keep going and adjust as I can.

It may seem all negative, but really it is not. It is change, which is neither negative nor positive, it is just different. I am trying to not compare the two Bosses, but it is hard and likely a bit of a defence mechanism so I don’t feel completely overwhelmed.

I have two more (possibly 3 – one with Lady Boss) lessons this weekend, then a two week break while the Bosses are away competing overseas. I hope to work out the exercises before then and hopefully reduce the current number of them to some small fundamentals that will focus on the big changes I need to make.

I can already tell I am slowly making changes in how I dance. Its slow, but it is something. I am definitely working harder than before at moving all my muscles and that I do like. Its a challenge I am working to embrace.

But change is still hard.

Returning to Dance

Sunday was my first lesson with New Boss.

I will have a lesson with him again this week because he and Lady Boss made some changes to their competing schedule which meant they are here this weekend, but not here a couple weeks in a row in July.

It was really great to get back on the floor and be working again. The first lesson was better than I expected, and even the commute wasn’t as bad as I feared.

He is still evaluating, which is understandable, but it is interesting to see what he has picked up on. One thing that is the most interesting are the number of small idiosyncrasies he picked up on that I didn’t even know I had. Every now and then he would ask me why I did something he noticed I was doing consistently and on purpose that seemed strange to him, and I would have either no idea I was doing it or no idea why.

For example, in rumba I have a habit of automatically stepping to my partner’s right side before the twist in a hip twist, instead of stepping straight towards him. I think Old Boss always led it that way so that is my habit. Another was my starting position when my feet are together – I would stand with one foot slightly ahead of the other in almost a pressed walk position to prepare to move with the free leg turned out (this is also my position when I close the fan). Old Boss neither encouraged nor corrected it, but New Boss had me adjust so my ankles are together, my feet are more closed, my ‘free’ foot is on the inside ball of the foot and my knee is facing forward…plus other body adjustments.

We worked on rumba and cha cha, starting with rumba. He immediately noticed some issues with how I follow (no surprise, Old Boss and I were only beginning to work on it), so we made some adjustments to how I use my arm, such as focusing on relaxing the elbow and not allowing the wrist to collapse and to not grasp his hand with my thumb (another idiosyncrasy).

We worked through a basic pattern (hip twist, fan, hockey stick) to focus on using the body more, especially to turn. We also fixed my hip twist position to face it out to the audience instead of across my partner. We also worked on sliding doors, which led to a conversation about cucharachas – another correction.

From there we moved to cha cha walks which was interesting because I have never done cha cha walks backward before, except in the aida or if needed in a routine. It never occurred to me to practice walking backward lol. I have done back locks, but never with the walks before. That was interesting because we talked about the lock steps, how they are done and worked on them.

One of the main things to come out of the lesson is my general foot position. New Boss was watching me move and he said he felt like every step forward and back I made was like I was doing a series of ‘checks’ instead of flowing movements, and the main reason was because my feet were too turned out to allow full hip movement and it stopped my action. We talked about how checks are good for changing direction (like in the basic), but for moving in a line it is better to close the feet to sixth position to allow freedom of movement in the hip.

That is going to be a big change for me, especially my right foot which loves turning out. Another thing was my tendency to take big steps and swing the foot ahead of my body. This means I have to go with the foot and move my weight almost instantly onto the forward foot for balance instead of allowing the trailing foot to control the movement and stabilize me. I have to work on placing the foot under my hip, which also lets me separate the foot and hip movement instead of stepping with the hip already more or less settled.

So lots of little details to work out, but honestly I prefer focusing on little details than finding I have really big fundamentals to fix. Details I can work with and tells me I do have a good foundation to allow for work on the details. I even have DOMS in my side lower back muscles from the lesson and in my hamstrings and calves – places I haven’t really had it before (usually dance gives me core DOMS or upper body more than anything), which also says I am using my body in a new way – a positive thing!

We haven’t talked about level or routines yet, but as we have only done two dances that is not surprising. I have two more lessons this weekend, so perhaps we’ll try a new dance. I also have lessons the following weekend so by the end of that I hope we will be able to discuss levels, etc.

Mainly my mind is processing all the new information, but I wish this week wasn’t so busy for me work and life-wise. My graduation from my Masters program was today, so I officially hold a Masters in Intercultural and International Communication! For work, I have to spend the next two days commuting almost 2 hours one way to work on an issue taking place at one of our remoter communities.

 

The extra time back and forth will take away from time to practice, so I am fitting in little pieces of work here and there where I can this week. My mom is also in town for my graduation so I am also taking time in the evening to spend with her.

 

Next week should be a better week for nailing down some good practice and working through a pattern for practice.

 

Either way, the good news is I am on the floor!