Freeing the Free Leg
Almost no one changed partners at last night's practica so I worked a great deal with one gentleman in particular, which turned out to be a great opportunity. This gentleman tends to lead a lot of movements that count on the follower's free leg truly being free - displacements, small and fluid volcadas and the like - so I got to really work on that aspect that's been so hard for me. After the second song I was finally able to relax my unweighted leg by default instead of trying to relax it when I realized the lead required it to be relaxed. The more I was able to relax that free leg - the easier it was for me to then work on an even harder technique issue . . .
Relaxing my hips . .
The trick with relaxing my hips is that they don't generally feel tense or tight. I've even caught myself saying, 'they are relaxed!' when a leader or teacher has tried to work with me on that. It wasn't until I started working with Daniela Arcuri in her workshops and then during a private, that I experienced *really* relaxing my hips. It actually takes me focusing on relaxing everything from my knees to my hips to really release that tension. And while I'm trying to keep my hips relaxed, which is just about as hard as making them relax in the first place, I have to remember to keep my core/abdominals strong and somewhat tight. It's not a natural feeling at first. But if I don't keep my core strong, I start to use momentum to finish turns and changes of direction creating a sort of unsteady rocking/tilting sensation. Essentially, I lose control of the movement and just count on the momentum to carry it.
Note: For an idea of just how dangerous it can be to count on momentum to finish movements and steps (instead of controlled motions) - it was using momentum to carry my leg through a fan kick (many, many years ago) that dislocated my hip. Obviously an extreme example that's not likely to turn up in tango, but I try not to forget that lesson.
So last night at practica, I practiced and practiced and practiced . . . relaxing. Thank you Mr. B. for working with me so much on that and being so patient.