Things I learned at the practica last night:
– Contra-body movement is very nice when it is subtle. Some leaders I know can make it fabulous and dramatic, but in most cases it doesn’t have to be big. And it helps so much in little ways, like when a leader asks me to walk forward. I also noticed that it feels different when the leader is shorter v. taller than I am.
– Confidence makes a huge difference for beginning leaders. I danced with a beginner who will certainly need to work on making his walk smoother, but kudos to the teacher who gave him some basic milonga steps to work with. The milonga came on and he got excited to try it, and once I tuned out his bopping-to-the-beat movements I really enjoyed the clarity and simplicity of what he did. No fast tango, no insecurity. Sure, he stuck to one basic pattern, but he did it really nicely, especially for a beginner. Clarity of movement should definitely be a fundamental concept for beginning classes to focus on.
– Colgada yummy goodness. Ok, that wasn’t a particular lesson, per se, but we played with using the colgada in transitional movements. It was wonderful. I also worked on getting airborne with little hops – a movement I usually think is silly and inappropriate but want to be able to follow for the sake of being a good follower. It was good practice.
I was also reminded throughout the practica that I enjoy working one-on-one. I enjoy the approach that says, “Ok, let’s figure out how to make this work.” I enjoy stepping back and looking for the little ways to improve something. How to make things feel smoother and slower even though you’re still on the beat; how to clarify the difference between leading two different movements; what can make or break the lead into a cross. It’s fun to puzzle out how to make things flow.
P.S. My dance sneakers are perfect for our practica. The floor is very slippery in a few spots and plenty smooth in general, so these shoes have just the right amount of traction but ability to pivot (as well as being comfortable!). And no fear of stabbing myself or my partner while trying out new things.