There’s bad news and good news with pure technique lessons. The bad news is that, because you’re always working with the fundamentals, it can feel like: what, this again/still? And today’s lesson was working on basics:
- Pushing into the floor from the standing leg
- Reaching for the floor with the free leg
- Keeping the core engaged during the step
But Fede said that my technique now was at a whole new level from before BsAs. We’re working on the same stuff, but at a finer level of detail.
I was chatting about this with a friend a few days ago – the spiral nature of the learning process. You make a breakthrough with something, move on to other things and then revisit the first thing again a while later. It can sometimes feel like you’re starting again, and in a sense you are, but really it’s about revisiting first principles when you either have a new level of appreciation for what they mean, or have a new level of body awareness that enables you to detect and work on smaller problems.
A lot of the lesson was spent dancing and Julia just telling me ‘break’ when she felt that the connection had been broken for any reason. Sometimes this was obvious, like if I lost balance, but other times it was very subtle.
I’m still working on a tendency for my hip to collapse. They said it was much smaller than it used to be, but it’s still present. We did a lot of side-steps, focusing on the three bullets above, and Julia calling ‘break’ when she felt one of them was lacking.
I asked them for a solo exercise I could do to work on the collapsing hip issue, and Fede gave me a simple one:
- Start with locked knees
- Then unlock the standing leg and the free leg should start sliding away a little
- Let the free leg project a comfortable distance
- Then push into the floor with the standing leg, all the way through to the toes
- But don’t go any further than the distance the free leg has already projected
- Keep the core engaged during the transfer
So essentially the weight is going down into the floor on the standing leg, coming up and then pushing down into what was the free leg. The key for me is to think core all the way.
The pivoting planeo
We picked up on the planeo introduced at the end of the previous lesson:
- Lead a side-step to the left
- Leader-only change of weight (exactly as if for an ocho)
- Pivot to my left, to turn the follower 90 degrees
- Project the left foot diagonally left
- While doing this, lower myself to ‘sit’ on my right leg – further than feels comfortable!
- Optionally, play with rebound pivots, ensuing only my chest and shoulders turn
- Then do a two-footed pivot in which I transfer my weight from left foot to my right (exactly the same as one type of medio-giro) to end with a parada to the follower’s standing foot (right)
There were a bunch of technique issues to think about here:
- When taking the side-step, keep the toes open (else the pivot is harder)
- When projecting the left foot out, ensure it is side/a little forward, never back
- And don’t allow any weight to come onto it
- Ensure none of the dissociation of the pivot is lost
- When playing with back-and-forth pivots, keep my hips and left leg still
- Ensure my left shoulder (and thus hand) moves with my chest
- When doing the full rotation, transfer 100% of my weight to the left
- And stay with the follower’s chest, don’t come back and away at all
- Ensure the parada contacts only the front of the follower’s foot
- Ensure that foot is as open as possible (hence open toes in the side-step)
- Ensure I just turn my chest when leading the step-over; no arm involvement
So getting this to a decent standard is going to take a lot of practice! But Julia said it works already, and we made quite a lot of progress on the technique issues during the final part of the lesson.
Fede also said this was the type of movement I couldn’t have done a few months ago. I didn’t have enough dissociation and clarity in my pivots; now I do. This number of technique elements would also have seemed overwhelming then; now it still feels like a lot to think about, for sure, but does feel like it’s all achievable with practice.
So, hard work, but for the right reasons: because the standard Julia and Fede are expecting of me now is so much higher than just a few short months ago.