My parallel learning tracks: a particularly diary-like post

parallel tracks.jpg

I’ve often said that my primary audience for my blog is me. It’s a way of reminding myself of what I’ve learned in particular lessons, so I can revisit them from time to time, and of tracking my progress. Anyone else finding the posts interesting is a bonus.

More so than most, this post is a memo to myself …

I’m now working in two parallel tracks: refining my vocabulary of figures, and working toward truly improvised dance rather than deciding which figure to lead next.

Refining my vocabulary of figures

Pure improvisation is hard, and requires an understanding of what is and isn’t possible for a follower from any given point. That’s going to take a lot of time, so I’m not going to be abandoning figures anytime soon!

But I definitely don’t need more of them. What I need to do is get some of the rough-and-ready ones up to milonga standard, and keep working on improving my technique for the ones I already use in milongas.

So here’s my vocabulary as it stands today. The elements in italics are those which I don’t yet consider to be quite milonga ready (except with understanding friends happy to indulge my experiments), but which I think are easily within my grasp given just a little more practice, and some guidance here and there.

  • The walk
    • Including tight circular walking with pivots
    • And outside walk
  • Ocho cortado (with some work needed on blocking a full pivot with some followers)
  • The cross
  • Boleo/planeo (from side-step sacada)SlowFast
  • Front ochos
    • Without paradas
    • With paradas
    • Slow
    • Fast (with a skilled follower)
    • With sacada + pivot
  • Back ochos
  • ‘Messy’ giros*
  • 3-step rebound turn
  • Leading follower to walk around me while I pivot
  • Calesita
  • Simple planeo
  • Pivoting planeo
  • Americana

*Precise giros are a Whole Other Thing. Those will take a lot of work.

Understanding the elements that make possible improvised dance

However, the fact that I don’t need more figures doesn’t mean I’m going to stop going to group classes.

As far as I can see, there are four ways to develop the understanding needed to improvise movements:

  1. Exposure to different possibilities
  2. Mistakes! Sometimes, messing-up is good!
  3. Private lessons, specifically asking for guidance on the smallest elements
  4. Thought & experimentation, as per yesterday’s private with Maeve

Trying new sequences gives me the first of these, and is also extremely likely to give me the second.

I’m not attempting to be able to do any of the sequences once I walk out of the class. I’m aiming instead to find small elements I can use, and to better understand the principles behind different types of movement.

I also started a couple of improvisation exercises at tonight’s milonga – but that’s a topic for the next post …

Image: Shutterstock