Friday, June 29, 2012

Stupid Stuff 'Every Skater Does'

So occasionally, I hear stories. Something horrible has happened. Older skaters nod wisely, "Every skater does that....once."

Worst one, step on the ice with your blade guards on. I made it to year four before I stepped on the ice with my soakers on. Fortunately, I always hold on to the door jamb when I'm stepping onto the ice and didn't fall. I've heard stories of this happening to elite skaters at high level competitions. Barring video, I'm disinclined to believe it. Aren't their coaches with them every step of the way? And wouldn't the gate staff point it out?  Regular skaters, sure I can see it. In fact at Aspen I saw it happen three times in one day!  Altitude and Fatigue.

Most embarassing one, showing up at a competition without your skates.  Mmmm, never competed so I never did this.  However, I've heard from people who have done this. Me, the worst I've done is drive to the rink without my skates for a freestyle session. And then drove home 5 seconds after I opened the back door of the car and saw it was empty.

I suppose I have bad costume choices in my future.  And other things.

And in my past I have bad choices too.

Oh yeah, I thought Nixon was cute.

Not this one
This one
Pandering to my UK readers there ;-)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Danger to Life and Limb

Apparently my accidental  kicking of Dance Coach's boot out from under him has become rink legend. I am now "The one who caused Dance Coach to tell all his skaters 'Don't kill your coach.'" So, of course, I nearly 'killed' him again in a lesson.


The lesson started normally; forward stroking followed by the usual routine of chasse' and swingrolls alone and in hold. We're really zipping along now, and while my posture may not be of Olympic caliber,  it's awfully good. I occasionally get glimpses of us in hold in the glass, and while I still look like an elderly lady skating with her grandson, my dance posture is good.

Extension..meh..I look like an elderly lady.

See this? The only way that level of extension will happen for me is with a full body replacement--or a personalized time machine.
Hope Schroeder SFFSC
But Dance Coach and I got through all the exercises in hold, covering the ice in four strokes a side, with nice edges and deep knees. The first thirty minutes are filled with ups and downs of the rink, insides and outsides. This thing and that thing without cease or desist. Finally we get to the Canasta Tango.

Since the Tango is not fun to do on public ice, we're fortunate this is a light session. We start. My power isn't enough to get us into the corners, but it's not awful either. When I do the crossroll on the end pattern, Dance Coach actually makes happy noises. Then during the presentation glide I see my posture in the glass. If I drop 40 lb, I'll look mighty fine.

When we finish our second run through, Dance Coach tilts his head to point down the rink. Two little girls are trying to ice dance together. Apparently, he has fans.

It's in stroking in waltz hold where I get into trouble. As usual, we start with me stroking forward, with him stroking backwards. This goes okay, and we turn so I'm stroking backwards. Only now, I don't really do a good job of turning on the curve. I can feel Dance Coach's hand pushing on my back to get that curve.  Once, twice down the rink. We're 30 minutes into the lesson and after 30 minutes of non-stop fast skating, I'm out of breath. It's been months since this has happened, so I take this as a sign I'm being pushed harder than ever.

I bend over to grip my knees, heaving the air in, while Dance Coach puts on his 'mean Russian coach' comedy act. It goes something like this, "Zo, leetle skater iz out ov zee breeth. Leetle skater need to work harder like zee ryusshan ize danzer. Ryusshan ize danzer feel no pain," I'm still heaving. Dance Coach goes back to his normal voice, "Okay?" I flap a hand around. He makes a few more of his normal voice comments, yakking about my edges and whatever other things seem handy to talk about. I honestly can't remember what he said after we stopped.  I feel like I've run a mile, hard.

Finally, I stand up. "Again?" I say.

We start with the waltz hold stroking with me going backwards for the fourth time. Thinking it might help with the 'not having enough curve' I really get extra deep in the knee for that first stroke, and as we hit the glide I start to roll backwards just as Dance Coach strokes forward....I don't know what happened. I know I caught him off guard and did the unforgivable, I gripped his shoulder and took him with me. We both start to go down. I know he dug in his skates and we didn't hit the ice.
Save me Dance Coach!
Geeze louise, did I get a lecture I deserved. Then we start the exercise again. And it happens again. Only now he was ready for it.

I didn't get a second lecture. For the first time since I started to skate, a coach tells me, "Don't go so deep in the knee."

That seemed to work, I'm still not getting the curve, but I was able to stroke backwards in hold without any problems.


          there's always....

                                    next lesson.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Freestyle After a Hockey Session

Freestyle ice after Stick n' Puck

Then some hockey players pay the freestyle fee and get on the ice

It makes you feel like this
But, what you want to do is THIS!

Oh, please, like you all haven't thought this.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dance Coach's Revenge

With an age spread of 30 years, Dance Coach and I have almost nothing in common, except we both like social dance. The difference? The social dances I learned started with the Twist, and ended with the Hustle. Back when he was single he used to off-handedly move to some music over the sound system. What's that you young folks call it? "Clubbing"?

I occasionally pull out a couple of moves to amuse him, when the music's playing. Just a second or two while we're skating to a dance start position. I'm not awful for 60, let's say that.

This last lesson some  danceable music came over the loud speaker. Dance Coach was skating towards me after I had demonstrated some element. The music is VERY danceable. I can feel myself wanting to move to it, but I'm in lesson and Dance Coach has his serious face on. Lessons don't involve much humor on his part except when he mimics "mean Russian ice dance coach". Lessons are serious business for him. I'm almost always the one that jokes around to get the laughs.

Then he busts a move.

It's a good move too. Full hip, shoulder, body action. Just super.

I keep a straight face and say in my Church Lady voice, "Well, who thinks he's hot and sexy."

Dance Coach then gives me the look that every man in the world would give any woman who made a comment like that.
Rowan Atkinson
I can't help myself, I totally corpse. And when I corpse, I laugh like a seal.
I can be heard in Anartica
Spontaneously, I'm honking, gripping my knees, spurred on by the fact that every time I catch my breath I can hear a wicked chuckle.

So, after a week at work,  a laugh like that is totally worth the $0.25 in lesson fees it cost me.

Thanks Dance Coach. I needed that laugh.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Freudian Slips on Ice

The term 'freudian slip' may have fallen out of fashion these days. When I was young it was a way of signaling that you or someone else had made a mistake due to the unconscious mind briefly taking control of your body. Funny slips of the tongue, a physical action, or faults in memory were once attributed to the deep unconscious raising its ugly head. Unable to repress desires hidden from your conscious mind, you were supposed to reveal your real self through (usually) naughty slips of the tongue, or some unintended action. Here is a pretty clean example.

Here's another example: over the last couple of weeks, I've mislaid my skating protection, time and time again.

First, one day I left my knee pads in the bag and skated a whole session without realizing I didn't have them on. Then one wrist guard disappeared.  I was in the ice show and couldn't wear them under my costume gloves so I skated without them. Then after the second ice show, I left my elbow pads behind in the dressing room. This occurred despite the fact I looked under the bench, on the shelf and all around my dressing area. I  walked out without them even though according to the woman who found them, they were left in plain view.  I've since skated without them.

So, is my unconscious telling me I no longer need my skating protection? Have my skills become so solid that I'm consciously clinging to an unneeded crutch? Am I ready to train while skating 'bare'?

Let me slap some sense into my unconscious mind
First off, I skate mostly on public ice. It's crowded, and you never know when an ice tourist will skate into you, or block you and cause you to take a fall. Secondly, public ice is not always as well maintained as freestyle. Recently, at a nearby rink a coach(!) tripped on a divot and broke her wrist. Thirdly, while I'm totally willing to skate a test or complete on nicely maintained ice with no skating protection, or do even a freestyle with only knee pads, I'm not willing to go 'bare' on public.

Falls are part of the game. But unlike kids who recover quickly, it can take me months to recover from a really bad fall. I'd rather spend that time skating in practice with protection, rather than skate without my sensible protection. But comps or tests, totally bare is okay.

So, little miss unconscious mind, you need to scoot back into your box and unrepress something else.

Dreams of Skating bear 


Dear unconscious mind, please stop punning and pick another topic, willya?

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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No Midweek Ice

Tuesday Night Ice Sold to Hockey Team

Wednesday Ice Disappeared for the Week

Friday afternoon ice Sold to a Hockey Team

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Elegant Coach

There are people who have a riveting presence on ice, and there's a male coach at one rink who has it in spades. I'm occasionally at the rink early, and I'll glance in to see who's on the ice. Sometimes I'll see this coach. At that point I'm like a slack jawed yokel, who's seeing 'them fancy moving pitchers' for the first time.  I hate to tear my eyes away from his skating. I don't have sophisticated enough skating smarts to figure out how he does it, but even just stroking around he seems to be orders of magnitude above every one else.

I once chanced to see him coaching a student. At one point he demonstrated something, and my brain went, "OMG. Look at that toepoint." Yes, I stared at his boots, as if 'toepoint skills' could feed by osmosis into my brain.

He's Elegant. Effortless. He puts on posture, edge, and style like he puts on his clothes. Even when he's just leaning against the boards, he has perfect line.

The best word to describe this coach is soigne'.  But that doesn't work into a moniker, does it? So I'll just call him Coach Dreamboat, because his skating is dreamy.

The couple of  times I've seen this coach on the ice, he distinguishes himself not only by his skating, but by the way he dresses. He's the only coach I can remember seeing, who skates in regular clothes. And therein, I think, lies some of his visual appeal. Why? Because in regular clothes it's much, much easier to see line, knee bend, posture, and all the aspects of skating finesse, than when a coach is bundled up.

I'm old enough to remember when men skated in tweed trousers, or just comfortable slacks, and a very nice look it is. Perhaps I'm nostalgic for the customs of my youth, but I have to say that regular slacks have an advantage in that it's easier to see knee and ankle bend than it is in the insulated and padded coach slacks that are worn today. It's almost impossible to see line and body angles when a coach is dressed like the Michelin man.

To demonstrate how this works, below is an action shot of Dick Button from the 50's. Even though he's not wearing form fitting clothing, I think you can see line, bend, posture, attitude much better than you can see from a coach wearing a sleeping bag disguised as a jacket. And these pictures are over 60 years old, of poor resolution and in black and white.
Dick Button

And what it looks like in action? The late, great Robert Waggenhoffer in Crying. 
So Coach Dreamboat's lucky students; a fantastic skater for a coach, and they can actually see the line, bend and posture when he demonstrates a skill.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

An Ice Show Group Number: A Time Line (edited)

Phase 1: Herding Cats--Everyone's all over the place

Phase II: Herding Flamingos--people know their spots but there's some wildness still going on

Phase IIb: The skaters get 'into' their roles as zombies--Every one has a different zombie artistic vision...

Phase III: The group number comes together and the coach's vision is realized

Phase IV: The show: Now and Forever!

PhaseV:The Coach Gets a well deserved nap
Thanks to Coach Amazing for her great choreography and super coaching! Here's a virtual bouquet of our thanks!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Death Has Left the Building

The Ice Show is over.

Scariest thing about it? Skating with that hockey stick. I swear, if I do this again, I'm going to work on learning how to do a spin or even a crossover with that stick. And proper hockey skating in dance boots. I felt like a pre-alpha skater with that stick. Tried a 3 turn with it---not doing THAT again.

Second scariest thing? Skating with a hockey stick in the Finale. Dozens of little kids going really fast. I just skate off back stage rather than be on the ice in the melee' and run the risk of tripping or whacking one.

I don't know how the costume looked from the stands. If you were there, please let me know if the bones showed. I'm not really satisfied with the look of the 'robe'. Maybe next time, I'll go with a cape, or oooh, a custom costume. Let me tell you, it would have been cheaper to go custom. There's probably $150+ in all that stuff. The floaty glittery fabric alone was $11 a yard! And I think I cut it wrong. Sigh.

On the other hand, the vertical line on the leggings does make my legs look slimmer. *wink*

I skate on Team Death
But now that I have the costume, I'm wondering if I can do a Dance Test in it,

Maybe, the Midnight Blues? Hmmm.

Although at the rate I'm going, that costume might be a heads up to the judges on my ability to do the outside Mohawk in the Rocker Foxtrot.

*Sigh*  Back to real skating for me. See you at the Ice Show next year!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dress Rehearsal

I spent 5 1/2 hours in my skates the other day. I now understand why there are special 'coach skates'. My feet were on fire after all the driving, and skating, and walking around in skates, and some more driving. I moisturized and got some heat to my feet and they feel much better.

The rehearsal went really well. All of the skaters but one showed up, and we all got input from our coach. Most people can hear their musical cues, and there's only a couple of skaters I have to cue directly. So my role as the "Yeller of Numbers" has pretty much gone away.

Thank the Lord.

My costume--the Personification of Death---is mighty fine. I have pictures, but I'm not quite ready to post them until after the show.

How can I tell my costume is "mighty fine"? Well, I  stepped out into the lobby in full costume with my mask on and two very small kids screamed in terror. Their mom and I spent 5 minutes explaining about costumes, and acting. After that, I didn't put the mask on until I was ready to step on the ice. There were lots of little kids around.

Who's that scary lady?
Backstage, behind the curtain, had some scary moments of its own. I'm back there in a mask, with a hockey stick and surrounded by little kids. The curtain is held up by poles that in turn are held up by 2'x2' metal plates.


So, behind the scenes skating safety:

Step one: Don't fall
Step two: Don't whack a kid with Death's Scythe (a hockey stick)
Step three: Don't step on a metal plate
Step four: Don't step on the concrete where the zamboni sits since for some reason the gate is open
Step five: Don't fall on a kid
Step six: Don't fall on the hockey stick

Since I wrote the above, I've been sent a video of the last half of the rehearsal. I'm pretty much invisible once I get behind the line of zombies skaters, which is what I'm supposed to be. The part where I'm center stage wasn't videoed, so I don't know if the 'working it' that I was doing paid off. Sigh. At the end I noted, "NEED MORE KNEEBEND."

Also, I need to be taller. By about a foot. So I need a foot more leg.....hey I'm surrounded by zombies maybe I can use one of theirs!

The costume, though, D*** it looks fantastic!

I look just like this but with a hockey stick instead of a scythe, a hockey mask instead of a hood, a shorter robe,  tattoed arms instead of sleeves, plus I'm shorters and cuter.
Got the picture?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Addiction that is Ice Dance

The times I've handed a lesson fee to Dance Coach in an envelope. Or the day I sat with him with a stack of money on the bench between us while we added up music cutting charges, lesson fees, and whatever else I owed him. In the end I was digging stray fives out of my boot bag.

Yes, it looks like a drug deal in the movies. And my drug of choice is ice dance.

Once you swallow the ice dance blue pill you have two options:

Good Trip

Bad Trip
 Choose your costumes wisely....

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Photos from my Ice Dance Lessons

Canasta Tango

Here Dance Coach demonstrates "Tango Expression" in reverse Killian hold. Note the tango hauteur and wonderful posture that bespeaks years of professional training in projection of not only skating skills, but attitude and style of the dance.  Normally in hold he looks ahead, the turn of the head here is because he is speaking to me.

Here I am demonstrating the chasse' from the Canasta Tango. This is one of my earlier attempts. You can see I'm keeping an eye on Dance Coach's expression. My posture is better now, and my upper body carriage is much stronger.  The lean to the right is completely gone, and I carry my head in 'the ice dance way'.

Alas, I'm still this fluffy.

Rhythm Blues

Dance Coach demonstrates the inside swing roll from the Rhythym Blues.

What can I say, OMG, that extension. 
I'm having a bit of a problem with the pattern down the side of the boards. Although I have the step behinds on the end patterns, the crossovers on the side feel a bit like this:

I hate that 'lilt' in Rhythm Blues!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Get Younger. It's a Miracle!

My lesson with Dance Coach was typical for a lesson. He has a structured way of running his lessons. First he runs me through an element alone, then we do it in dance hold. Since I'm a beginner skater, he usually starts me off with forwards stroking (ice dance style).

I zip down the ice in what I hope is appropriate ice dance stroking. I look left when stroking left, right when stroking right. I get down in the knee--and stay there. I hold my free leg extended and I keep my chin up in the "I'm Queen of the Rink" ice dance look. I'm told to hold my hands more forward.


Dance Coach then takes me in Killian hold and we stroke down the rink. "Good. Can you do it with more power?"

I grimace.  Nothing scares me more than those two words, 'More power'.  I had been going as fast as I felt comfortable with. I say, "I'm going all whiny on you. I'm too old."

This amuses Dance Coach. "No whiny. Do again with more power."

We line up again in Killian, and I stroke with all the power I've got. My posture is just perfect against his right arm; my  knee bend is good and my edges solid; my extension is as close to perfect as I can make it.

We zip down the center, avoiding the kids on public, hockey boys teaching their girlfriends how to skate, and a couple of low level freestylers in the center. At the end, Dance Coach raises his hand "High five!"

We slap gloves and he adds, "You had the flow of a 16 year old."
Bask in my glory!!!
We do swingrolls next and I ask with good humor, "As good as a 40 year old?"

Dance Coach strokes his chin, "Thirty-five."

Not bad. Not bad, at all, for 60.

The rest of the lesson has some highlights which I won't go into, it was a good lesson. 

At the end of the lesson I ask Dance Coach, "Did you tell me flow and power of a 16 year old? Or just flow?"

"Just flow, you need more power."

This picture shows how I feel things will end up when I finally get enough power to make Dance Coach happy. He's (metaphorically) on the left, I'm on the right.

That's me on the right. Wheeee!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Out of the Blue

Last week, Dance Coach looked at me and asked, "Do you still have your little hat?"

He means the Ice Halo, a piece of protective gear I haven't worn in months. He always called it my 'little hat'. It either dropped out of my skate bag or someone stole it, I don't know. It disappeared one day and I skated with a knee pad in a knit cap for a while. Now, I don't wear protective head gear.

Ice Halo
"It disappeared a long time ago," I say.  "Why?"

"Oh, no reason."

Really? After a bazillion days you just 'bring it up' out of the blue? Really?

Are you thinking of teaching me the open outside mohawk from the Foxtrot or Rocker Foxtrot, or whatever dance it is? The open outside mohawk that is the 'source of many amusing falls'?

Or maybe you're going to start me on back troikas?

Hmmm, I hear the words. What's the sub-text?
Am I being paranoid for nothing? Moi?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Ice Show Cometh

I'm not quite panicked yet, but a little tremble of speculative unease is beginning to build.

Last night Coach Amazing gave me my choreography as the Angel of Death for the zombie number. The dress rehearsal is coming up. And there's going to be spotlights at the show. This weekend I finish the costume, and take it to practice on Saturday freestyle. As soon as it's picture worthy, I'll post it.
Basic Costume Idea
On the lighter side, I took a plastic foot and plastic hand to Coach Amazing for her to use on zombie costumes. "You can now say I gave an arm and a leg for the show," I said.

What does my choreography consist of? In the beginning, I have to do some simple 'band leading' of the herd of zombies, then I have to skate around and cue people by clacking the hockey stick and calling out their numbers so they can strut their zombie stuff one at a time. I think this is where the spotlight comes in. They get spotlighted as they do their jumps or spins. I have to cue one skater by touching her, since she's hard of hearing, and that's about it. At the end I have to do a slow two foot rotation waving the hockey stick over 'dead' zombies and fake laughing. So, nothing special.  No jump, spins, and I suspect a swing roll is not a good Death move. I was tempted to do the step behind from the Rhythm Blues, but I have to cover too much ice.

This role would be dynamite for someone with real skating skills. Somebody tall and thin, who could pass for Death. But, they've got me.
Hi! I'm short, cute Death.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Backwards Falls

So, I sat down to Sunday lunch with my friend the Big Guy, who used to figure skate, and during a recitation of my week, I told him how I 'almost killed' my coach.

The Big Guy grinned without any sympathy for my horror. "I once saw a former elite skater at a suburban freestyle take a backwards fall." He tells me the gentleman's name. He had been a team member at Worlds and won at least one Gran Prix gold medal in his time. "He was skating backwards really fast and hit a rut. You know how bad the ice was at that rink. He fell backwards flat on his butt and slid halfway down the rink. You could see on his face it caught him completely by surprise."

I know what would have happened if this had happened to me. In the blink of an eye every coach in the rink would have been at my side solicitously asking if I was okay.

I think for a second. "Did they laugh?" I ask.

"Oh yeah."

Well, I don't feel quite so bad now.

You can stop laughing now

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Presentation Skills

I was brought up in an environment of professional level artistic performance. My mother sang in a professional opera chorus, and sang internationally in choral performances. From a very young age I was exposed to performers and performances of world class artists. As a child I watched opera stars of international fame, perform and rehearse on a regular basis. It's not just about singing. It's stage presence, and acting, even the turn of a head or the tilt of a chin makes a difference.

In a way, I have the performing bug, but I knew from childhood that I would never have world class skills needed. Still I was taught to observe and critique with a professional eye. I know, when I see myself on video, or watch others perform, where the errors are. I watch people skate and my mind reflexively ticks off: poor arm position, wrong head position, poor expression, needs some shoulder action, hunching, timing off, needs arm expression, bolder moves, hesitating.....I was taught to analyze this.

Most kids, no matter how good they skate, don't seem to know how to perform. I'm not talking about 'skating skills', I'm talking 'performance skills'.  Most adults, who do have strong presentation skills through experience or close observation, don't have strong enough skating skills. There are obviously kids who are born performers, and adults who can skate strongly. I'm just making a generalization. It's hard to find the complete package.

A while back, at one of the many rinks I skate at, I chanced to see a former elite skater while he was coaching one of his students in her program. I know him slightly. He's a family man, with a new child on the way and exudes a natural aura of macho. He has amazing ice presence. If he takes two strokes onto the ice, everyone in the rink is watching him. His student's a pretty enough girl, but she has no more idea of how to carry herself to hold the viewer's eye, than I do to do an axel.

"No!" the male coach yells over the exotic Bollywood music. "Don't just fling your arms. Push them into position and do this!" He raises his arms in the movement he described, and in doing so, his hands curl into this seductive motion, his body arches, and his hips move. For that three second demonstration, he's more of a woman than the girl will ever be.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between a skater who has presentation skills, and a skater who's just going through the motions.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Horror. The Horror.

Dance Coach announced at the beginning of the lesson, "I have many new things for you to learn today."

I'm always aghast when that happens. What new horror is this? Anyway, today was mostly backwards stroking, and backwards chasse' in waltz hold. He started with me in the usual way, with me doing the forward stroking. This goes okay, we've done it off and on. Then backwards stroking/chasse enters the lists.

This is not the first time I've done either of these. We did them a few times in earlier lessons in what I think of as Dance Coach's 'introductory phase'. I'm sort of projecting into his mental processes, but what seems to happen is he shows me something new to see where I am in that skill. If it's completely new, he seems to work on getting me comfortable with the skill with small criticisms. Then he drops it for a few lessons, or we only do it for a few minutes off and on.

Today, the 'introductory phase' was over. We quickly transitioned to what I think of as the 'super critique phase'.

You know what this means. Picky. Picky. Picky.

What happened? One comment on one stroke, "You stepped wide there." And, I learned that I need to be able to skate these when I'm in hold but as if his supporting (right)arm isn't there. So, I shouldn't depend on his arm for support, just guidance. Okay, we do it again, and now that I know what he wants, I do it.

We now proceeded to the 'advanced phase':

"You need deeper edges in these."

Awk! Couldn't we glide along in the 'super critique phase' for a while, so I can enjoy it?

So, I work my kneebend and ankle action on my edges, and Dance Coach says, "Much better than I expected."

I mockingly give him the hairy eyeball, then I laugh. "That's kind of back handed. But I'm happy with that."
The hairy eyeball
Five minutes later, we're warming up for the Canasta Tango for the first time in the lesson. No music, just the pattern. As we do the cross roll, I ask, "One pattern or two?" Don't hear the answer and proceed to go for the second pattern.

Dance Coach went for one pattern.

I don't know what happened exactly. I know my boot hit his boot. The next thing I see is his upper body going past the vertical--backwards.

We're still in Reverse Killian, but I'm useless here. I don't remember if I let go of his hands (which would have been sensible) or not. Whatever happened, he has the reflexes of a fox. He gets himself upright and doesn't fall.

If Dance Coach is shaken up he doesn't show it. My face is white with horror. He sorts out what happened and pats me on the shoulder. All my smugness is gone. I just want to go and hide.

We still have half the lesson left.

I have to credit Dance Coach's professionalism, and coolness for moving the lesson on. He doesn't mention 'The Horror' again, and soon we're back doing the same dance again. He doesn't even emphasize the statement, "Two patterns, this time." Thank you, Dance Coach. I feel better now.