I’m a little behind on the blogs now, in part because of working, and in part because I accidentally created another little project for myself while I was here! I really haven’t gotten the hang of holidays.
I said before that Diego and Laura have proven the perfect teaching duo, even though they have been working with me independently, and that continued today …
Private with Laura
Laura and I had absolutely delicious tandas at La Milonga del Moran on Saturday, and I asked her whether she could remember enough to base the lesson on things she picked up there. It’s always great when a teacher can see – or, better, experience – my dance in a milonga, as real-life dancing is very different to dancing during a lesson.
Amazingly, despite the wine involved at the time, and the several days that had elapsed since, she could!
We worked first on a balance issue she’d felt on some pivots. Laura said there was still an upward rather than downward feeling to my pivots. She emphasised always focusing on feeling the floor, so there was a connected downward intent. I actually found the easiest way to ensure this was to bend my knees as I pivoted, and Laura said that was fine – whatever works. Another key to balance is ensuring my axis is in the balls of my feet, as my tendency, as Diego identified, is to fall outward rather than inward. (By ‘fall’ we mean a slight off-balance feel, not an actual fall – though watch this space …)
Interestingly, while she and Diego gave exactly the same core advice on grounding, they came at it from opposite directions in terms of how to think about the pivots in my upper body.
Diego said to focusing on my inside shoulder, pulling it backward around my axis. Laura suggested focusing on my outside arm, pushing it around my axis. On the face of it, this seems contradictory, but it’s really not. Each approach is designed to focus my attention on pivoting my own body around my own axis – they are simply different ways of achieving the same result.
As with many things in which I’ve had to resolve apparent contradictions, this was enormously helpful for my understanding! I experimented with switching my attention between the two things, and realised that (a) the real focus in both cases is on my axis, and my inner and outer shoulders remaining aligned, and (b) once I’d switched between the two, it then became really easily to think of both simultaneously, like rotating a connecting rod between my shoulders. This made a huge difference to my balance in pivots!
A second issue Laura identified was remaining fully connected in fast rebounds. She said that I was moving back before my partner, so we were losing chest contact. The solution is to keep some forward presence while moving backwards, exactly as followers do in the walk. This again fell quickly into place once Laura drew my attention to it.
I also accidentally added a new double-time element to my dance! When experimenting with fast rebounds, I tried them in back ochos, and found that moving to double-time on one side was really easy! I’ve previously switched between normal time and half-time with each side of a back ocho, which works beautifully well with certain music, but this gives me a much more dynamic option too.
Between Laura and Diego, I’m making really great progress with double-time dancing. Both are threatening to send me out in milonga tandas soon …
Impromptu video interview
I wanted to link to both Diego and Laura’s websites when writing about them in a previous blog, but discovered Laura didn’t have one! This clearly needed to be corrected – her teaching is way too good to be kept a secret – so I offered to create a simple one for her.
I’d previously told Diego how much I loved his video about teaching, and that I thought it should be on his homepage as the first thing people see. I wanted to take the same approach with Laura.
I do have a decent set of filmmaking kit that could be used to create a video for Laura – but that was rather inconveniently situated some 7,000 miles away. What I had available instead was an iPhone. But a very basic video is a hundred times better than nothing. So …
Camera: My iPhone on a mini-tripod balanced on top of a sofa cushion as the camera. Microphone: Steph’s iPhone on the counter in front of Laura running Just Press Record. Lighting: Laura’s Android phone torch balanced on a kitchen roll.
I sent Laura some questions to think about, but then not to refer to her notes, simply to talk. This worked really well: she was incredibly engaging, and gave some perspectives I loved. Interestingly, a lot of what she said mirrored a blog post I’d written the same day!
The website is complete, lacking only one more testimonial, so should be live in a day or two.
This productivity was followed by two milongas – but that’s another blog post …