Friday, January 27, 2012

Foxtrot Hold: Inside/Outside the Circle

Imagine you are standing in waltz hold. If you are the lady, your right hand is held in the gentleman's left hand. If you are the gentleman, then you have your right hand at the lady's back. Now the two of you turn to face your clasped hands. You are no longer facing each other, but you're facing your skating direction. Congratulations, you're in Foxtrot Hold.

Now skate.

I like Foxtrot hold. I don't know if I've been introduced to all the subtleties yet, but when we're stroking along, it feels like flying. I know we've done chasse's and maybe swing rolls in foxtrot hold, but Dance Coach really likes to work on crossovers in hold. I assume this is a preparation to getting me ready for progressives.

The first few times we did crossovers in Foxtrot hold, we did CCW crossovers. This puts me on the outside, with Dance Coach on the inside of the circle. It's a little awkward for someone who's on the inside,  they're not skating the crossover in the way they're taught: with the skater facing inside the circle. It didn't really ring the bell of my memory until Dance Coach had me in Foxtrot hold and doing the crossovers in the CW direction.

The lightbulb finally went off. Whoever is on the inside of the circle in Foxtrot hold is facing out of the circle!

[For those of you who don't have a private coach, or who may have never run into the terminology before, the inside/outside of the circle talk may baffle you. Here's a simple introduction. Most skating is done on a curve. This curve is colloquially called 'the circle'. So, if I am physically 'inside the circle', this means that Dance Coach and I are skating on a curve. I am physically inside the circle's boundary, while Dance Coach is on the outside. Facing inside the circle means that the person is turned so that their face and chest are facing the center of the circle, thus 'facing inside the circle'. So when doing crossovers, it's normal to face inside the circle. To do a crossover facing outside the circle requires you to cross one leg over the other and face the opposite way.]

So here I am, on the inside of the circle, and I realize I need to do a crossover what facing outside the circle. I've done this before, and a very useful exercise it is.

I had a figures coach at the beginning of my skating career, Olga Ullman, who had me do crossovers in figure 8 patterns. She had me vary this exercise to do crossovers while facing out of the circle.  Say I'm doing clockwise forward crossovers. My left foot crosses in front of my right foot, while simultaneously my upper body is twisted to the left; In other words, I'm facing away from the direction of  turn.

This is a great exercise! It really forces me to the edge. It's also helped me gain independence of the upper body from the lower body. But I hadn't done that exercise for years.

Still, when Dance Coach had me do the crossovers facing out of the circle in Foxtrot hold, my old skills came to the fore. I laid those things down pretty smoothly.  Like riding a bike, I guess your body never forgets.

Sadly, while I can do this  facing out of the circle thing well, the Foxtrot hold may be the only time I'll ever use it.

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