Sunday, June 14, 2015

Timing is everything

I had my finally lesson of the "off season" over at Piney last Thursday.  Dance Coach and I will reconvene when Bowie reopens after the 4th of July.  Things being what they were, I hadn't skated a lick between one Thursday lesson and the next.  I figured this would be the skating equivalent of me having to tell my Coach that, um, I'm sorry but the dog ate my homework.  Oddly enough if turned out to be one of my better lessons.  Coach said the pattern, timing and even the tuck behinds for the RB were much improved.  So, is less really more?  Maybe someone should tell all those elite kids who skate twice a day, six days a week to just go to the beach or goof off or do something completely different every now and then.

But back to the title of this post: timing.  One thing the became apparent when we skated together is that every now and then my timing for the first tuck behind would be off.  Coach had me skate the dance solo and said "when you count you're getting confused at the inside swing rolls."  The swing rolls in question come immediately after the lilt step sequence in the dance:


If one looks at the dance pattern, the lilt sequence starts at step 5 which is held for two beats; steps 6 & 7 are one beat each and step 8 is held for two beats.  So, if you're counting 1, 2, 3, 4--the lilt sequence goes 1,2,3,4,1,2.  This means that the two inside swing rolls (steps 9 and 10) start off at the 3, 4 count--as in you start the swing roll at the 3 count of your 4 count beat rather than starting the beginning of the swing roll on the 1 count which is how most other dances (granted I've only skated the first three dances) treat the next new skating element.

This little anomaly repeats during the second swing roll (step 10) and finally resolves itself at the progressive (steps 11 through 13), just before the first tuck behind.  But until my Coach pointed this out I was getting thrown off course--I think the times I actually got the dance correct were the times I miscounted beats!  Somehow I'd not picked up on this.  But that's why coaches are so valuable! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Doldrums

Summer Doldrums are better than Summer Tantrums but only just.  Since my home rink closed for it's customary two month maintenance routine I've gone from skating four to six times a week to maybe twice a week if I'm lucky, when the alternate rink's (Piney Orchard) schedule and mine align.  One of those times includes an ice dance lesson so I'm guaranteed to get on the ice at least once a week.

Once a week is barely enough to hold my place let alone advance my skills so coach and I are attempting to refine small aspects of my skating.  Over the past several lessons we've been working on improving knee bend and free leg extension.  Remembering to point the free toe.  Remembering to bring the feet together before the next push.  Remembering that the two beat step of the Rhythm Blues lilt sequence should be executed while heading towards the boards rather than along side the boards.  Working on flattening and stretching out the RB's inside swing rolls in order to get down the ice for a full pattern.  Lots of stuff to think about and maybe even remember!

Last week she decided to tidy up my notoriously sloppy forward inside Mohawks.  I tend to bring my free skate to the heel of the skating boot rather than to the instep of the skating boot.  She had me glide on an inside edge while bringing the free skate to the instep but without placing the blade on the ice.  I do have enough hip turn out to do this.  I just don't like it.  We worked on this in both directions until I decided it didn't feel odd.  At that point she told me to remember (that word again) to bend both knees before placing the free skate on the ice.  It actually worked!  Of course the time I tried it in my weak direction it didn't work at all, but subsequent attempts in the CCW direction did show improvement.

So, there it is folks.  The Summer Doldrums won't quite go away even after my home ice kicks back in after the 4th of July holiday.  Bowie, like most rinks, holds an endless parade of summer camps for kiddies.  The normal schedule doesn't take its rightful place until September.  Even so, based on last year's schedule I should be able to skate more than once or twice a week.  One thing I will miss about going to Piney is a little BBQ shack just up the road from the rink called Expressway Pit Beef.  Maybe it's just as well that Piney's schedule limits my access!