Strippers…The Misunderstood Ballerinas

Strippers…The Misunderstood Ballerinas

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The other night, at the tail end of the Beginner Intensive, I was engaged in some post lesson Q+A with one of the leaders.  It came up that when I am dancing I do not think about what pattern I am doing or even what is coming up.  Instead I listen to the music and let the dance happen. When I said this the young man reached out, grabbed my arm, and gave me a little shake “You listen to the song while you are dancing?” he forced out with the most baffled and confused look on his face.  Of course my answer was yes and I went on to explain.

Music is a mathematically accurate art form comprised of different instruments, melodies, harmonies, emotions, and feelings.  Dancing is the exact mathematical and artistic compliment to music. If two different types of music are played back to back like “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC and Leo Sawyer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”.  One is hard hitting, fast, with a lusty overtone while the other is a happy-go-lucky, melodic, and a slower groove. If you had to tell the story of each song, from inside a sound proof room, using only your Sugar Push, would both songs “look” the same?  

All too often we get lost in the search for the next big pattern like its the be all and end all.  Pattern shopping is like having a drug habit.  No matter how many you have you will never feel like you have enough. Knowing more patterns does not make you a better dancer any more than doing more drugs makes you a better person. What makes you a better dancer is understanding the relationship between the song and your dance.  When Mario Robau does his Musicality Workshops he spends most of his time working out the math end.  I find it difficult to break music down mathematically while I am dancing and so I came up with an easier way.

On May 4th, at the Advanced West Coast Swing Intensive, we are going to explore this relationship in depth.  At the end you will have the tools to handle things like breaks, accents in the music, and you will be able to take the patterns that you already know and dress them up so they can help you tell each song’s story.

Dance New  England

78 Princeton St, Chelmsford, Ma

Ballroom Cafe

West Coast Swing Basics Are Wasted on Beginners

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West Coast Swing Basics Are Wasted on Beginners

The best workshop that I have ever taken was Bill Cameron’s “Intro to Swing” class and not Jordan Frisbee’s Triple Hammerlock Whip Variations.  I had hit a slump in my dancing that I could not shake and had tried everything from leading the same pattern over and over for an entire song to taking ballroom classes several times a week.  I was trying to break through to the next level and just could not seem to do it.  I took the class to see how he taught (I love to watch how other pros teach their classes).  As the class progressed he went into a brief description of what makes swing swing that quite literally changed my life as a dancer and teacher.  

This story would be so 80’s cool if it ended with me walking away with the 1st place trophy after my epiphany but there were 250 people in my division.  I did make the top 10 though…not too shabby!

Why do the basics help so much? They are the base that holds up the rest of your pyramid. One little change in foot position in your whip, for example, can dramatically affect how it looks, fits to the music, and how it feels to your partner. These changes over time lead up to those special dances where the song, the partner, the connection, and the patterns aline like the stars and produce a dance that is euphoric. The first time you experience this “Dancer’s High” you are hooked for life!

Dance New  England

78 Princeton St, Chelmsford, Ma

Ballroom Cafe