Well, I think my posture is going to improve pretty quickly under new coach. Not that I’m being told anything new, but lots of reinforcement of things I should know, but often can’t manage to do all at the same time. So, hips forward, relax the shoulders (yeees, it’s possible that could happen…maybe), head up (also dubious), strong frame. And then remember to do all the correct skating things – bend knees, up and down at the right points, strong pushes, bring feet close together before the next push (a quick boot to boot tap works for me with that last one).

More work on the basic dance components like edges, swing rolls, cross rolls. My inside swing rolls are feeling a lot more stable, and I’m sometimes even managing a backward leg stretch on the left one, instead of just bringing the free leg straight in. Crossovers/progressives are still in need of improvement, I fear, but as these are difficult to practice on even moderately busy sessions, that’s not really a surprise.

We ran through Dutch Waltz again, including to music, which somehow felt a lot faster than normal, even though it’s not like  I haven’t done this recently. Not sure what’s going on there. Also looked at Canasta Tango briefly, which wasn’t too bad, and even managed to get a smidgin of edge in the slide chasses. Finished off with some chasses in preparation for Swing Dance. These were suprisingly okay, even though I was going backwards. I’ve certainly done them a lot flatter in the past, so maybe Swing Dance at the very end of a session is the way to go!


Back to Basics

So, the first lesson with new coach went quite well.

As expected, we worked on a lot of basic stuff, which was a good thing, as that all needs to be right for everything else to follow. I also quite like just doing edges, chasses and so on every now and then, as it’s sometimes nice to do some easier stuff well (or relatively well anyway). Was also the first time in a long time I was skating with partner who wasn’t a coach, so there was a height adjustment there, but this didn’t go anywhere near as badly as I’d feared.

We started with outside and inside swing rolls in killian hold, mainly working on getting the hold solid, and a little bit on extension. Moved on to edges in waltz hold, forward and backward – more corrections to hold (mostly mine – applying pressure where needed, arm position). Chasses went pretty well, even backwards, which could have gone horribly wrong, as my backward chasses are normally ridiculously shallow. Did some progressives in open hold, which were okay, considering it’s some time since I actually practiced them, though we only did them in the ‘good’ direction. Followed up with some crossovers in killian (never have managed progressives in a closer hold).

Ran through Dutch Waltz a few times, which went fine (it would bloody want to be – I’ve been working on it for long enough!). Had some small corrections of course, but nothing major.

Finished with cross rolls – these still need a lot of work, but that wans’t news. Backward cross rolls was where the big revelation occured. New coach suggested I flex my free foot before placing it, and oh my goodness, it got rid of all the scary toe pick jab, and they started to even feel vaguely stable (not stable enough to want to do them on my own, but less grip of death). Wonderful!

There was also a little bit of work on back edges, but less said about this the better (no change there then).

Anyway, pretty happy with how it all went.




Hello Blog, Long Time No Post

So my last post was in December 2012. There were a few things that stopped me posting at that point, not all of them involving sheer laziness.

First the rink closed for planned maintenance. Then, less than a week after it reopened, there was a fire in a storeroom and it was shut again for just over six months. Of course arrangements were made for people to train at other rinks during that time, but these didn’t really work for me, for a variety of reasons largely irrelevant at this point.

Once the rink reopened, I’d missed a lot of time, and even now, almost a year down the track, I still don’t feel like my skating is back to where it was before the long break. A level of confidence (never great in the first place) has gone, along with some skills that were improving. To be more specific, Swing Dance mohawk has never consistently returned, and I can no longer do the Fourteen Step to proper speed. I don’t belive I’ve even attempted Foxtrot since I last blogged about it.  On the up side, I’ve finally got the hang of the re-start on the Canasta Tango.

I’d really been waiting till everything was back to where it was before starting to write about skating again, but it just hasn’t happened yet. So why now?

Well, my coach has decided to stop coaching. It wasn’t actually that much of a surprise when he announced it, but I was still sad. There was also a very strong pull to perhaps look at this as a sign, and decide this was a good time for me to stop skating as well. There was, however, the prospect of new coaches, and it certainly wasn’t a case of not enjoying the skating, so I was unsure of what to do. My final lesson with coach was quite a good one (even my twizzly things were pretty solid), which you’d think would make the decision to continue easy, but my brain doesn’t work that way. Instead I wondered if the combination of stopping when things were going well, and I had positve associations with the sport, was perhaps a good time to stop. I was still a mass of indecision.

Anyway, to cut a long story and lots of angst short, first lesson with new coach is coming up in a few days time. I suspect we’ll be going right back to basics (and it will be a very, very long time before anyone lets me play around with the Paso Doble again), and I’ll have to learn to do things on my own again without having a helping hand. At the moment I still have mixed feelings, but am prepared to give the new arrangement a go.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that, with a new beginning, it seems like a good time to start logging progress again. Let’s see how long it all lasts!

The Fox Has Trotted Away

Bit of a blah lesson this week. As coach commented the following session, my Foxtrot is either there or it’s not, and there’s nothing really in between. In this case, it wasn’t there. Couldn’t do the mohawk for love or money and the rest of it was pretty rocky too. We kind of abandoned it when it became clear it was just an exercise in frustration. The trouble is that when moves fail me, it takes me a long time to get them back. I think coach is struggling to work out a way to fix my brain, as it’s not that I’m incapable of doing this stuff, but that I tend to listen to the inner monologue in my head which is screaming “You’re going to die if you do this”! I understand the benefits of thinking I CAN do something, but it’s not something you can really teach (i.e. it’s not like learning the steps to a dance).

Fourteen Step, if not great, was at least less dodgy than the Foxtrot, and coach is now picking on small things, which is a good sign (more knee bend, now there’s a suprise). Same with Swing Dance, which I now use as a type of warm up dance for the rest of the lesson, which is a bit hard to get my head around, when only a few months back I was still using Dutch Waltz and Canasta Tango for this purpose.

Also did some of the usual exercises to improve mohawk. Now trying to get some decent timing on them (translation: don’t rush) and make sure I’m holding my body upright and taut (that’s a bit of a theme at the moment, but is good for me as it applies to everything).

Finished lesson with a little light Paso Doble. Fairly sure it’s not meant to be done stationary….

Was somewhat disappointed with the lesson as there was only one other person on the ice, so should have been ideal, but alas my brain was not co-operating. Rink shuts for repair at the end of next week until new year, and not sure there’s a lot of point in even attempting to skate next week.

And for my Next Trick

So to add to the Paso Doble, coach now has me practicing choctaws. These seem to be much easier than outside mohawks – nowhere near the same level of terror. Not saying I could do them on my own, but they flow much more naturally from one foot to the other to make the turn. I can even envisage possibly doing them on my own, which I can’t say about the outside mohawks.

My other new accomplishment is that  my sort-of-almost-twizzles are now away from the barrier and being performed without holding onto a hand. They’re not all the way round, and there’s a lot of putting the foot down at odd points, so they’re not actually twizzles, but they seem to at least be making progress.

Which is just as well, because my last lesson was really rubbish. Couldn’t do anything right, and completely lost the outside mohawk in the Foxtrot (although the three turn has inexplicably started to work properly – hope this isn’t a one or the other thing!

Show Me Your Paso Doble!

Was feeling so tired Friday morning that I didn’t feel like tackling anything particularly difficult in my lesson, so after a warm up Swing Dance (went okay – did the mohawk both times, but the timing was rubbish!), I actually asked to do some edges.

Just some tweaks on the forwards edges, mainly because I kept failing to bring my feet back together before the next strike. Backward edges, whilst much improved, are still in no danger of being ready to test any time soon. The actual edges are at least there now, and I’m not putting my foot down in the middle any more, but they’re shallow. Coach tried adding in the arms to help, but as soon as that happens, I can’t do anything with my feet. I had hoped I might be able to work towards passing the test, so I could then test dance, but no, that still isn’t going to happen. Never mind.

So did some more work on Fourteen Step. Now need to work on getting down in the knees more on the runs, but fairly happy with the rest of it. I am certainly at the point now where I feel like I have more time to think, which is good, and means I can start working on things like remembering to look up!!

On Saturday morning, which I normally only use for practice, coach had a cancellation, so got an impromptu lesson on…Paso Doble. Yes, much, much more advanced than anything I’m currently working on, but Paso Doble means two step in Spanish, so that must mean it’s easier than Fourteen Step, right?

No. Not so much.

The actual steps themselves, taken in isolation, are not that difficult. They’re almost all steps that are already done in the early dances up to Foxtrot. But then you put them in a different combination, and make them really, really fast (obviously we weren’t doing any of this at anything approaching the proper speed, or indeed any speed). So there weren’t really any steps I couldn’t already do. There are, however, an awful, awful lot of cross behinds, all but one going backwards. Yay. Like I don’t hate cross behinds enough already. And the slippy slidy steps were all over the shop – could not get them to run backwards/forwards to save myself. My blades were sliding uncontrollably sideways, and I have absolutely no idea why (no, not due for a sharpening). So that bit was a bit shit, to put it midly. The easy part was actually the mohawk in Foxtrot hold – suprisingly stable. That was the easy part. And there is, apparently a hold more uncomfortable than Foxtrot hold – it’s Foxtrot hold going backwards, but with partner more to one side. Awkward doesn’t even start to describe it. Anyway, got to the point where I managed one full pattern. I’m pretty sure it was completely unrecognisable as a Paso, but lots of fun to work on none the less.

Fourteen Steps to Happiness

Started the lesson with Swing Dance. Apparently I haven’t done this in so long (like a few weeks…) that I’ve forgotten how it starts. D’oh! It was otherwise okay apart from the still dodgy mohawk.

Did some exercises on the circle for inside mohawks – crossover, mohawk, back crossover, step forward, repeat. The ‘good’ direction is fine, but tried to pull coach over going in the ‘wrong’ direction.

Moved onward to European Waltz. I do not like this dance. Too many three turns! Either too little or too much time to think about them (haven’t made up my mind which yet).

Finished with Fourteen Step. I think I’m actually starting to like it, which is a turn up for the books. It’s certainly less frantic than it used to be. Admitted this to coach, so we started working on improving the various parts of it, working more on getting the correct edges for the outside mohawk, and on the backward runs, which are still a bit kicky and don’t have a lot of actual push (if any).

Should probably look for my missing cross behind at some point as well.