Back to my regularly scheduled program: Festival highlights!
One of the highlights of the festival for me was taking class with Alex Krebs. I dance because I love it – I look for the enjoyment, the beauty, the connection that comes in dancing. But I find myself enjoying those dances more after taking a class that helps me refine my technique. This is just what Alex’s classes did.
He does not teach steps, or sequences, or anything wild and crazy. I took one intermediate class – called something like “fundamentals for experienced dancers” – and an advanced class on boleos. At the beginning of his class on boleos, he walked in and did a long sequence and pretended that this was our material for the class. I giggled until I realized that some teachers really do think this is effective.
The fundamentals class was lovely. It involved a little work on comfortable posture (a lifted rib cage, but keeping an open back); creating a snuggly embrace; walking confidently and smoothly; … the fundamentals. I would have to pull out my notes to remember the fine points they were making, but I know that I appreciated the reminders and tips.
The class on boleos really broke things down. We did drills for pivoting just the lower body, just the upper body, and in a calesita. We talked about the need to disengage the arms to pivot the follower’s upper body – otherwise she will do a calesita. We talked about the need to time things properly to do a boleo, because the leader only has a small window to get the proper, comfortable torsion. We then tried a back boleo that started with a lower body pivot and was completed with an upper body pivot. When the arms disengage, it feels smooth and beautiful!
This gave me an idea: The most comfortable line boleos I have followed always felt soft in the embrace, whereas jerky ones always feel like the leader is reigning me in with his arms. I think the key for a comfortable line boleos is for the leader to disengage his embrace. I haven’t had a chance to test this out thoroughly, but it’s an exciting realization! This is why I like classes that break down movements into their technical elements; it helps us all refine our dancing.
Kudos to Alex for a fabulous couple of classes. I am already daydreaming about a trip up to Portland to take more classes (not to mention simply experiencing the Portland community!). I came away with great ideas, things to play and experiment with, and more confidence in my following. I can’t wait for the casually organized practica that I’ll be going to tomorrow night …