Always Advance, Never Retire

…unless you’re dancing a ceili, of course!

Since I’m still on one Irish class a week until August, I did some at home practice last night during what would usually be my Thursday evening class time. I’m always so happy about the advances I make during at home practice, and last night was no different.

My main focus was on my new steps so I can have them squared away before learning even more new steps next Tuesday. I started in soft shoe working on my new slip jig. The new step is finally clicking, at least on my right foot! Previously I had difficulty with one of the turns and the little transition jumps and switches that surround it, and it’s finally starting to make sense when I execute it. I was even able to go (mostly) correct through the step with music up to tempo. The birdie step will still need a lot of work because I can’t get my foot anywhere close to a butt kick. Since I’m getting better at holding my leg up during a leap, at least part of the lack of birdie may be mental although I’m sure some strength and quickness will need to be built up too. But as we say, left foot happens, so there’s still a long way to go on perfecting the step. But I’m moving forward.

I also practiced my new treble jig. I practice in a yoga room at my apartment complex with a nice big mirror, so it’s ideal for dance but I can’t wear my hard shoes for fear of damaging the floor. While I do have a square of shower pan liner for dancing, it’s too small to practice any runs, so I usually wear my dance sneakers when practicing hard shoe at home. One problem I’ve been having for months is that my sneakers really hurt my arches, particularly on the outside of my foot. Early on with the problem I discovered tying them very tight helped the issue a bit, but it still ends up being so painful I can’t wear them for very long. In addition to concerns with injury, this means I have pain problems when I need sneakers for parades or other street performances where I can’t wear my dance shoes. I’ve tried all manner of arch supports in the shoes. Finally, exasperated, I stopped last night and retied them as loose as possible to the point where my feet were moving around in them. Voila…no more pain! Derp. At least I finally figured out the problem was that I was tying them too tight and can now dance pain-free in my sneakers!

On to the jig practice. I’ve got both steps down but I’m having problems falling behind on transitions and can’t keep up with the music in rhythm sections either. I can hear how the steps fit with the music just fine when listening, but as soon as I start to dance I just can’t keep up with the music. So, more practice is in order!

The last few minutes of my practice I spent on Blackbird. My tips are ever so slightly better and I’m remembering the step and first part of the set that I’ve learned and executing them better and in time to the music. If I’m ready to dance this set in September I’ll be super happy!

Bonus picture of me dancing last night. What is turnout?

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