Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday Bluesday

Friday Night Waltz was having a Tuesday Night Blues thing last night, so I went to check that out, not ever having really learned Blues before. And I ended up enjoying it more than I expected to. The class seemed to start out slow and I was skeptical at first, but I was surprised at how much we were doing by the end that really felt like Blues. What frustrated me initially was how little Mihai taught in the way of explicit steps, since I usually like things very cut and dried when I'm beginning. But I eventually figured out how we were basically elevating the partner connection to the status of "steps." The concept of "micro blues" really helped in that respect: shrinking your motions until they're so small that an outside observer would hardly think you're dancing at all, but at which point you can lead literally with just a breath, or a twitch of a muscle. Absolutely fascinating.

Mihai also integrated musicality into the lesson right from the beginning, which I appreciate, coming from the musician perspective. A lot of teachers will cover the topic of musicality at some point, but often it's in a separate class of its own, or mentioned in bits and pieces every once in a while, as opposed to being woven into the dance inseparably. Since a lot of what dancing is to me is another way of being a musician, I think this is a great approach. (In spite of the fact that more actual "steps" instruction might have benefited me more, personally, since I do the musicality thing naturally anyway.)

One final interesting concept from the lesson had to do with the frame in the "pointy end" hands (i.e. lead's left, follow's right). I have the firm waltz frame so thoroughly ingrained that the idea of having loose arms moving around for non-leading purposes is tricky to get used to. The way I understand the concept is that you kind of have noodle arms, but they're still holding themselves up, not dragging like deadweight on your partner. So they're like "live noodle arms" or something. That allows for some flexibility so the leader can move the joined hands around as an additional dimension for expressing the music.

Anyway, it was all pretty neat. There's a Sunday night blues dance series (re)starting in Campbell this weekend, so I'm thinking I'll go to that, too.

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