Daniel couldn’t make it to Paula‘s class last night, so I went on my own. It was a great class–Paula and Jim are really pushing everybody to work on technique and styling. We worked on rumba and cha-cha and Jim drilled us on Cuban motion and on the different types of chassés (he called them chassés but I think I’ve heard other names too) in cha-cha. By the time we’d done 5 different chassés (in place, left, right, forward locks, and back locks), I was pouring sweat. Ballroom dancing is one of the few pursuits I’ve encountered that gets more strenuous as one becomes more skilled/advanced at it!
After working a few minutes on technique for each dance, Jim switched to working on steps. Paula asked me to learn the men’s parts. As a follower, I find it extremely useful to switch sides and see what leading feels like. It’s a good way to figure out how I can improve my following skills. I have a bad habit of anticipating leads, but when I have to lead I can feel the need for the follower to wait to be led instead of doing the step she knows is coming. I can also see how important it is for a follower to have good posture and a solid frame. I’ve never had trouble keeping my frame up but I sometimes collapse inward toward my partner too much. Last night we worked on a step in cha-cha consisting of (for the man) 3 forward locks, a rock step, and 3 back locks. If the follower doesn’t have a solid frame, she can’t tell when to change direction. Leading when one is accustomed to following makes me feel a little like my brain’s on backwards, but it’s such a great learning experience.