Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category
So last week’s challenge, about softening your gaze, was amazingly helpful to me! I found that when I was keeping my head up and looking more-or-less at my partner, without staring anywhere in particular, my turns worked better, I felt more grounded, and most importantly, it was a lot easier to smile! Awesome. Did anyone else have a similar or not-similar experience with this challenge?
This week I have a visualization for you to try. We all know we’re supposed to dance with our bodies, not with our separate parts: arms, legs, hands and feet. The famous “body leading” we always nag leaders about applies equally to followers – we need to “body follow” as well. This is the most comfortable, efficient and safe way to dance and also looks way better than steering and stomping.
Now, the deepest, most elemental part of our body is our primitive fish body, or our spinal column. As a way to encourage us to dance with our bodies this week and not with our parts, I suggest the following visualization. Imagine that you and your partner are nothing more than a couple of spinal columns. While you’re dancing, try to feel where your spine and your partner’s spine are in space, and in relation to each other.
Leaders, explore how you can move your partner’s spine by moving your own. Followers, play with feeling what your partner’s spine is leading your spine to do.
And when you’re solo dancing this week, explore generating all your body movements from the movement of your spinal column.
Well, that’s what I’m going to try this week anyway. Let me know what you think!
So last week’s challenge – to pull in your chin and keep your head up – brought out all these dancing issues for me that I never realized I had.
What happened is that when I started trying to keep my skull regally balanced atop my swanlike neck, suddenly I had to deal with all these faces.
It occurs to me that part of the reason I love Balboa dancing more than any other kind may be this: Most of the time in Balboa the partners don’t have room to look at each other.
I’ve actually had blues dancers and salsa dancers say to me, in the middle of a dance, “I’m up here – look at me!” But I can’t stand to – it feels strange, and makes me do that nervous laughter thing. I think that’s why I’m always looking at the floor.
So I experimented this week with where to look. Staring into my partner’s eyes – no. Too creepy. Never going to happen. Staring past my partner’s shoulder felt rude, like I was looking around for someone to dance with next. Staring at their neck or shirt collar worked so-so, depending on relative heights, but is not a good option for when I’m dancing with a girl since it could look like I’m staring down her dress. About the best I was able to come up with was staring at their teeth. But it was a lot of work.
Then I ran this question by my dance teacher. And she told me that basically, it’s the staring that’s getting me into trouble in the first place. Rather than focus on where to look, she advised me to keep my head up and then soften my gaze. Use my peripheral vision and soft-focus to take in the whole scene – my partner’s face, the other dancers, the whole room, all at the same time.
I liked this advice so much that I want to work on it again this week. So that’s my challenge to you, my loyal readers, as well. This weekend, when you’re out dancing, think about softening your gaze.
How did last week’s challenge work for you?
Happy Friday! So how did smiling work out for you? I’ll bet you a quarter that if you tried last week’s challenge, you might not have danced any better, but you had more fun. And I bet your partners did too.
You can’t go by me – I was at the DC Lindy Exchange last weekend, and I couldn’t help having a big grin on my face the whole time. It wasn’t really a fair test, you might say.
So anyway. I’ve been looking at pictures of myself dancing. Ugh.
And one thing I notice is that my chin is always sticking out. Also, I’m always looking down. Super awkward. I’ve got that whole forward head thing the yoga folks talk about. Looks like I spend way too much time on the computer.
So I’ve decided that this week I’m going to try keeping my head balanced on top of my neck where it’s supposed to be.
Wanna try this with me? If you’re not sure how, try this:
- Put your finger on your chin. Now pull your chin back, away from your finger. Not enough to squish your throat, just to the point where your head is on top of your spine, rather than in front of it.
- Imagine that your head is a big helium balloon, and your body is dangling down from it like a string.
- When you turn your head, rather than turning your face toward the thing you’re looking at, think about turning the back of your head away from it. Like you’ve got a big handle sticking out the back of your skull, and someone’s using it to turn your head for you. If you compare the two ways of turning your head – turning your face versus turning the back of your head – you’ll see that the second one allows your neck to turn more freely.
Well, that’s what I’ll be obsessing about this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.