Teacher does an excellent job of figuring out different ways to explain ballroom concepts, based on what his students can relate to. Recently, he has focused on my love of hip hop dancing to help me come to a better understanding of…wait for it…
Wait a minute. What exactly does this:
have to do with this??
Teacher’s point of drawing a connection between the dance styles of hip hop and ballroom was to give me another way to think about how I move my body. My body frequently falls behind my feet when I’m dancing, and I end up looking heavy or slow or clunky. It’s like my feet are pulling my body along instead of my body leading. The different parts of my body aren’t staying aligned or stacked like they’re supposed to. I’m probably not explaining it very well, but bottom line, my movement is supposed to originate from my body (i.e., my torso) and it’s not.
Teacher has coached me on paying attention to my ribs and where they are moving. We’ve talked about using my lats. He is probably sick of reminding me to keep my chest up. It’s all good information and I do my best to apply it to my dancing. But it’s a lot of details to think about and at the same time, I’m trying to remember to stretch my head, place my feet correctly, not let my arms go behind me in frame, etc. Something always gets forgotten and I get frustrated.
So in our last couple lessons, Teacher wanted me to forget all of those details and just move my body. I think it’s working!
It’s the same movement that Teacher has been working to get me to do, but now my brain is approaching it in a different way. Instead of thinking about lifting my sternum or contracting my lat, I think about popping my chest like I would if I was just freestyling to a hip hop or R&B song, just slower. I have a clearer image in my head of the end result in hip hop, so it’s easier for me to produce the same movement in waltz by thinking of it in the different context.
It’s funny how just tweaking the approach or context can make such a huge difference. Every teacher has a slightly different way of explaining something. I find myself “translating” in my head sometimes as I hear one teacher tell me something, but I know I’ve been told it in another way that made more sense to me. I take it as a sign of progress in my dancing that I can hear instruction, translate it in my head to what makes the most sense to me, and still produce the correct movement.
I can already feel a difference in my dancing (yes, I can actually feel it!) since Teacher built the bridge between hip hop and ballroom for me. I’m secretly hoping (well, not so much a secret now!) that I can rewire my thinking about styling and bring in some hip hop context to help me feel more comfortable in the expression part of ballroom. Worth a try, right?