Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vivid Language


I notice that Coach Cruella and Dance Coach often tell me the same thing. The difference is that Coach Cruella uses what I will call 'vivid language'.  Dance Coach is limited because of the male coach etiquette thing. No one's ever said anything, but my experience (limited) with male coaches is that they seem to go out of their way not to use bad language, maintain proper professional distance, and are vigilant about their professional reputations. Under restrictions like that, it's difficult for a male coach to use vivid language.

But Coach Cruella is able to use vivid language to get me to exhibit good posture. So far, I've remembered Coach Cruella's technique as a 3 step process: a. Shoulders back and down so 'the girls' rest 'on the table', b. Deep in the knee-bend the ankle, c. Use my abs like I do in the sitting trot. What the other coaches think when Cruella yells at me across the rink, "Dressage, dressage!",  I don't know.

But while the vividness of Cruella's language is useful in learning the skill of improved posture, at some point, I should do it automatically, without having to mentally step through a-c.

Dance Coach's approach is more organic. He seems to want to shape me so that everything comes automatically. His instructions are detailed: shoulders back, back slightly arched,  kneebend, but delivered in a pragmatic professional way. Then we skate--and he would yap at me.

What I needed was something simple. Something that would organically result in some physical response to an emotional, or physical memory. Something short and pithy.

So one day, Dance Coach was fiddling with the CD player in the hockey box, while lecturing me on my posture for the Canasta Tango.  It has to show 'Tango Expression' and ...... at that point my mouth moves before my brain can stop it.

"So I need to skate like a slut*." I say.

Dance Coach gasps. Then he starts to shake with suppressed laughter.

I take up a slutty pose and skate back and forth in front of the gate. "Hey, boys," I say in a wispy Marilyn Monroe voice, nose up in the air, "Look at me I have a rack*." I look at Dance Coach, "So like this?"

Dance Coach is now grasping his knees, bent over and heaving with laughter. One hand raises from a knee and makes a "Please, Stop" gesture. 

Let's go to some visuals please.

Good Girl Posture--no Tango Expression

Slutty Posture--Tango Ready

So we go out to skate the Tango, and I think "Skate Slutty". Shoulders goes back, chest goes up, back arches, my head snaps into "Queen of the Ice" position. I've found a mental cue that kick starts my body into the right position without me having to go through steps a-c. Eventually, the Tango Expression will be second nature and I'll be able to dispense with even that cue. If I ever need it again, say in a test when I'm nervous, I'll have that mental cue to draw on to kickstart me into the right posture.

Making Dance Coach laugh so hard he was out of breath--that was just a bonus.


  1. That's funny- I wonder what male coaches tell their male students?

    My female coach told me to think about pole dancing for my loop jump- really good posture, and to wrap my body around the pole on my left side.

    The other day my male coach actually said the same thing, he said- "think about a pole being next to you, but not like..." and then trailed off. I laughed and told him that the female coach had already used the pole dancing analogy so all was good. He just didn't want to say it.

    Then again, my older male coach (current one is college age) had no problem saying things like "crack a walnut with your butt cheeks" or telling me where to point my chest- whereas current coach says "squeeze your glutes", and has never referenced "the girls" at all!

  2. Love this one! One of my coach's former students relayed this last-minute correction of her posture right as she and coach were about to stroke in to the dance during the test: "tits and teeth, dear".