Coordi-what?

We are currently having this thing here in Switzerland where it will be over 30°C on Monday, and by Wednesday it will be 17°C and pouring. We call it sum-mer. It has the undeniable advantage over more traditional forms of summer in that it allows everyone to complain about the weather all the time. It is not uncommon to hear «You call this summer? I’m freezing!» and «This is way too hot and I have a sunburn!» within a single week from a single person.

We are currently in the pouring and freezing stage of sum-mer. Nevertheless, my jazz teacher, Y., excitedly announced that she prepared a summery warm-up exercise for us. She specifically said it was «a little something for coordination». Half the class burst into cynical laughter at this.

Merriam-Webster defines the kind of coordination we’re talking about here (the motor kind) as…

the ability to move different parts of your body together well or easily

I’m sure you can see how the word would intimidate a bunch of beginners. But not me, oh no, of course not. I was like «I will totally ace this and be the best ever and do it in my sleep with my left hand because I’m just that awesome». There were new people in class and I always get like this when there are new people in class. I like to think of it as super-motivated (and not at all super-stuck-up).

The exercise started off easy. You can repeat it just from a verbal description. Hold out your arms to your sides, level with your shoulders. That’s the starting position. Bend the right arm at the elbow, bringing your hand to your shoulder, still level. That’s 1. Now turn the bent arm 90° so that the elbow points down. That’s 2. Raise the arm straight up, fingers pointing at the ceiling, elbow straight again. That’s 3. Lower it to the initial position, parallel to the floor and level with your shoulder. That’s 4. Repeat with the other arm.

Effortless, right? That’s what I thought. Now turn on some fun Reggae beats and do it with both arms simultaneously – but not at the same time. Stagger the movements so that the right arm starts the sequence on the count of one, but the left one starts the same sequence at the count of two.

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Still… I did manage it a little.

This actually works surprisingly well as long as you keep your mind blank as fresh snow on the slopes of the Himalayas. Sadly, having your brain in the Zen and your body in the Reggae will only work for so long. After a couple of repetitions, I always made a mistake. After this, there’s no going back. You start thinking about what you’re doing wrong and how to get back to doing it right and then your body and your brain grind to a halt against each other and both your thinking and your dancing are reduced to «Why is arms?!!!»

After this we did some jumps and some soutenus and started learning a new, exciting and really fast choreography and by the end of the lesson we were so hot that everybody forgot to complain about the cold and the rain upon exiting the studio. Which, I suppose, is also something.

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