It didn't matter whether I skated solo or partnered. Coming off that big swooping CCW swing roll with lots of speed and then putting that left skate down on the ice was distinctly hit or miss. During practice I could pull it off maybe 75 percent of the time. The other 25 percent? Can you say "Bawk, buc-buc, Chicken?
Scrolling back in time to a lesson a week earlier: Coach A. queued up the next song on her smart phone. We pushed off, more or less in time, onto the four intro steps of the dance. We safely negotiated the opening strokes, the chasse and wide-step and plowed our way past the BK and slalom steps. Psychologically I knew that tuck behind was out there, waiting for me.
We steamed down the ice with Doris Day ironically crooning "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" over the blue-tooth speaker on Coach A's left arm. After the swing roll I slid my left skate down the inside of my right boot and was promptly rewarded with the sound and feel of a toe pick attempting to augur in as the blade touched the ice on too acute an angle. Whoa Lordly! Somehow I managed to reverse my foot and we stayed sunny side up. Visions of Monty Python flashed before my eyes--no, not his entire life, just the bit about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. I did want to blurt out "Run Away! Run Away!" Did Doris know something I didn't? There just had to be a better way.
The following Saturday found me at a lightly populated Public session. After looking at the Cha Cha pattern diagram I decided to try the cross in front step which leads to the tuck behind. It's basically a forward cross roll and who doesn't like doing those? Cross rolls are a feel good kinda element for me. They're part of my warm-up routine. I figured that the tuck behind might feel less spooky if both skates where already on the ice. I gave it a go and much to my surprise the tuck was easier to pull off if one does the cross in front step before hand. I confirmed this over and over. Ha! A minor breakthrough.
Last night we had another lesson. I soloed my new found proficiency and after she nodded in approval we quickly got into partnered mode and skated the dance against every Cha Cha tune she had on her phone--Doris included. She told me that if I made the proceeding swing roll a bit swingier (might be a word) the cross forward and tuck behind would be even easier because my direction of travel wouldn't be so flat.
So, I've mastered technicalities of all the steps. Now I'm down to her nit-picking on style issues: think about free leg extension, think about toe point, think about keeping your feet closer together--she was quick to point out that not every step of the dance is a wide step--just one.
Our club has a test session in mid-May. The filing deadline is the 2nd. Not much time to tidy things up. We discussed whether or not I should test and she said "Well, you could put it out there and see what happens. It would be good experience. " The translation of that statement from coach-speak to English is "If you don't have a total brain freeze in the middle of the dance and if the judge is blind you might get lucky. Otherwise it's good but expensive experience." I think I'll wait and let her