Monday, July 23, 2012

A green dress and a special dance coaching


Every two months or so, I schedule a special dance coaching with a professional coach/competition judge.  My favorite coach is John Swick.  John has a long history as a dancer/studio owner/competitor/judge/coach to the professionals and is the most articulate coach I have ever worked with. He was also a trained Opera singer, stage actor and ballet dancer.
When John teaches, he draws a picture with his words that helps the dancer effectively produce the desired movement.  A less articulate coach might say "stay left" (while explaining a particular movement).  John would say "dance your foot and your head to your partner's left elbow while keeping your head over your spine and your chest lifted".  John understands how to clearly express how movement and posture are interdependent and how a particular muscle action will cause a particular motion.  He understands the kinesiology of dance; the mechanics of movement and how to create the greatest aesthetic in dance. To a dancer, this high level of communication skill creates a much clearer picture of what "stay left", or any other particular dance command really means.  As far as coaching goes; I'm infatuated.  John puts me at ease and still demands the best of me.  My dancing has come a long way since my first competition.
Jones New York dress, thrifted.  It matches the leaves on the tree!
The picture below (black dress) was taken at my first competition in 2009.  My posture was terrible.  My neck is "short" instead of being elongated, my shoulders are hunched up and there is no space between my partner and I.  I had a great time at that first comp and fell in love with competing but I had a lot to learn.  I didn't place in any of my dances.  
My ballroom "look" was not yet developed. The dress was just a simple black top and ballroom practice skirt that I embellished a little bit.  My hair was not ballroom professional with the loose bangs and little tendrils on the side of my face.  I have since learned to create a well groomed ballroom appearance, but then, for my first comp, it was all a learning experience.  The "rules" are more relaxed for newcomers.
BAD POSTURE at my first comp in 2009!!!!


Good Posture  :)
This is my 2012 Indiana Challenge photo.  Can you see the difference in my posture?  See the space created between my teacher and me? We are joined at the rib cage, but my chested is lifted off of him without the hunched shoulders.  This space is what gives ballroom dance that beautiful dynamic look.  I worked very hard to create this "top line" and it is my strongest ability.  I cannot tell you how hard it is to grasp this concept, apply it and maintain it.  Marcel, my instructor and John Swick, the coach have helped me to understand how to do this.

This is today's coaching with John.

I'm so pleased with the gains I have made in my dancing.  I feel like a contender.

It's so exciting to learn to dance at a new level of competency
This is me with Marcel, applying John's lesson to a Waltz.  At the end of the lesson, my body felt like I had been through a personal training at a gym.  Dancers make it look so easy to dance gracefully.  Most people are surprised to learn that the fluid, flowing motion in dance requires a great deal of strength and control that is virtually invisible to the viewer.

I love dance.  I love social dance, I love competitive dance.  I am so captivated by dancers at much higher skill levels than I am..and I'm willing to work very hard to achieve something close to their movement.  I have a long way to go...but I have come a long way.

Brighton chain; Da Vinci charm.  

I love the little ruching  detail on the side of this dress.   Ruching is very flattering on curvy figures.

I hope you enjoy my dance posts.  I have more dance posts planned.  I would like to do a post about ballroom dresses and why formal dresses don't work for dancing; and I would to do an educational post on the different styles and dances in ballroom at some point in the future.

Hope you are all gearing up for a great week.  Thank you for reading.

20 comments:

  1. I think it's so cool that you are a ballroom dancer! What a fun way to exercise and get to know people - plus, you can get all gussied up on a regular basis.
    And I 100% agree about ruching - works well on every figure.

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    1. I am passionate about dancing, but I have to admit that getting dressed up for competitions, social dances and other dance events is a big part of the fun for me. At comps, vendors bring in their ballroom dresses (which are uniquely constructed and are nothing like formal dresses) and I just go crazy over all the bling. It's so much fun. Hmmm...maybe you and your hubby should try a class!

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  2. Dancing sounds like it would be a lot of fun, and clearly hard work.
    love that shade of green!
    Chic on the Cheap

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    1. Thank you, Lyddie. Dancing is the most fun thing I have ever done in my life. I encourage everyone to dry it!

      I got lucky with this dress...and I love the color too! Thank you for the comment!

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  3. Nice Article! Thanks for sharing with us.
    Grooming Products

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  4. I love watching dancing - I'm not much of a dancer myself, but I greatly admire it in others. I can see the difference in your posture!

    Love your green dress! Agreed on ruching - it's never a bad thing!

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    1. Sheila, thank you for the compliments!

      If you have ever watched the channel 11 (PBS) dance competitions (America's Ballroom Challenge) you have watched the biggest ballroom competition in the country. Takes place in Ohio every November. Of course the televised dances are the TOP professionals...but the lower level non pro dancers compete there too. It's a HUGE sparkle fest!

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    2. Also, Sheila, I really didn't realize how much I like that shade of green...until I looked back at my posts and saw that I wear it so much!

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  5. Fantastic dress, the green is beautiful too. It must be so satisfying dancing like this. Hard work too I'm sure.

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    1. Even the hard work is fun, Joni...especially when it's going well! LOL!

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  6. Love this post. I had so many questions about your dancing and you have answered them all.

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    1. Glad I answered them for you. Let me know if you have more. I intend to do more dance posts. I'm always happy to share what I know.

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  7. I totally enjoyed this post. I'm fairly clueless about ballroom dancing, but have heard about how difficult it is and from the Dancing with the Stars shows that I've watched a little of now and then, its a fantastic workout ;-)

    Your green dress is absolutely stunning and looks fantastic on you.

    Hugz ... ps I have still not ventured into the gym :0(

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    1. Wendy....it is very hard to get motivated to go to the gym. I really don't enjoy it unless I have a friend to go with who is also very motivated to go. Not fun.

      Dance is a good workout, but only if you are dancing continually. During a lesson..it's stop and start, stop and start...to focus on technique. I wish I could afford to take more lessons a week than one or sometimes two....and I wish I also had an amateur partner as well as my instructor to dance with. Then, I might approach enough hours on the dance floor to shake off some extra weight!

      I think I was very fortunate to find that green dress! thank you!

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  8. I hope you'll post a short video of your dancing. I can imagine the strength it takes to keep your posture correct. Lovely post.

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    1. Joanna, I actually did post a short video of a practice session, but for some reason, it keeps jamming. I reload it and it works for a short time, then can't be viewed again. I'm not sure why.

      I will be posting some videos again soon.

      Thank you for the compliment

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  9. I do enjoy your dance posts. I'm curious if the improved posture carries throughout your life or is it something you mainly adopt on the dancing floor.

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    1. Terri.....I have always had good posture in my daily life. There are times that I am not standing as tall as I can, but generally, it's a good balanced posture. My mom harped on me about it all the time...she also made me walk with a book on my head to teach me proper posture.

      I DO stand taller now though, if I'm conscious of it. And of course, walking out onto the competition floor I walk very tall because judges look you over there too.
      I'm glad my dance posts are enjoyed! I love sharing what I know about it!

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  10. Totally relate to this post and all you've said about learning and aspiring to get better all the time - it is so wonderful and inspiring to learn from a truly great teacher. Reading this reminded me of doing some Tango lessons in Buenos Aires while on holiday with an amazing man who was just so wonderful to learn from.
    I've struggled with hunching my shoulders as a dancer too!

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    1. How wonderful that you were able to do some Argentine Tango lessons! That is on my list of things to do. Argentine Tango is so different than American Smooth Tango or International Standard Tango. I love both styles, but Argentine Tango is the where the true roots of Tango began.
      Learning to dance beautifully is a continual process isn't it? It's so much more than learning steps! Many people who dance socially believe that knowing a lot of moves makes them more advanced! I will continue to take coatings and improve my technique, even if it takes me longer to advance to the next series of "steps".
      I can tell that YOU are a true lover of dance.
      I am an amateur and intend to stay an amateur. Competing pro-am is my love. I'm so happy when I see pictures at comps that prove that I kept my shoulders down and chest up!
      Thank you for your comment! I really love your blog.

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"When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect"--Mark Twain