Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ballroom dancing for the first time in four years

I recently made a new friend here--a friend of the male persuasion who likes ballroom dancing! This type of male is actually on the endangered species list. Last night we went to a ballroom mixer for the first time. I had to dig around to find my ballroom shoes; they were still in a box.

The mixer was at a lovely old ballroom on the U of O campus. $6 to get in, two lessons (rumba and merengue), and then two hours of open dancing. My new friend is a pretty good dancer! We had success with rumba, merengue, swing, waltz, and fox trot. I was happy to find that latin hip action, sway and counter-sway, and rise and fall all came back to me. Just like riding a bike. Although I must admit that I'm exhausted and sore today.

By the way, all you fellow dressage ladies: take some ballroom! Two major things carry over to your riding: independent balance, and the mechanics of lead and follow. In ballroom, the lady follows the man's lead (feminism doesn't apply, so get over it). You quickly find that when you're dancing with a gentleman who's a "strong" lead (strong as in, clear and direct, not as in shoving you around the floor), that gentleman will make you look good even if you're a mediocre dancer. On the other hand, dancing with a poor lead is really frustrating. It's impossible to tell what they want you to do.

How does this apply to dressage? Well, in dressage the rider is the lead. If you're a strong lead for your horse (clear and direct), you'll have a happy horse. If you're a poor lead, how is the poor animal supposed to know what you want? Take some ballroom, dance with some poor leads, and you'll gain a whole lot of empathy for your dressage partner.

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