Thursday, April 12, 2007

Whole New Month (of dance) Part 2

4/6/2007 AB Swing Team (Katie)

After a couple weeks of pure technique classes, we work on the choreography to Jeep Jockey Jump, and get through most of it. Odd that I pick it up this time, when I was so lost previously. Perhaps just a few weeks time, experience, and previous exposure subliminally working it's way into my mind?

Here's a performance of the routine from late February:

At about the 55 second mark, the group splits in two, with the first group doing one set of choreography, and the second doing another (at about 1:05). During practice, I was in the second group, so learned that choreography better. Unfortunately, the groups switch at 1:40, and I was a bit slow at picking things up, relying on the experienced follows to back-lead quite a bit. Sucks to be a beginner. You can see a clearer shot of the second group's choreography when the middle couple does it at 1:50.

So for those who've never been able to visualize the various moves, here's a description. When the music first starts, and the people rock back and forth, that's called the "jockey" or "ramp up" in the context of social dancing. It's used to get the dancers on the same page. The first active move (0:18) is a "swing out from closed position" (closed position is the position they're starting in. Open is ending position as the ladies arms are pointing out towards the audience). The footwork is a slight variation (that upward-skipping motion) of the basic. The next move (0:20) is a swing out starting in open position and ending there. Another swing out (0:23), then an 8-count circle, which is a swing out which starts in open position and ends in closed (0:25).

OC Swing Series
Beginner class is a snap now. I'm adjusting a bit better to the rock-step lead in the swing out starting from open. In Charleston Kicks, we spent most of the time doing swing outs with Charleston footwork. Pretty cool move, reminiscent of the shag swing out class I took at Atomic last week. Intermediate class is a blur, though I do remember we went over the Apache swing out (that's coming up a lot, lately).

I see Mark at both OC Swing and Atomic classes, so we chat about the differences between the styles we see at both. I talk about some of the stuff Alan had described to me a couple weeks ago, and my add-on opinions. I get his email to send him some of the YouTube links I've been watching.

OC Swing Intermediate Drop-In (Mikey and Nikki)
This class covered Lindy, but I didn't find it that useful (again), except for the leader free-spin which is demoed on the DVD that I got from Phil (OC Swing Thursday), but I hadn't tried yet. I think that's the last time I'm showing up to pay for that lesson.

I stay for a couple hours of the jam session after, and am floored by the level of dancers there. If these dancers are advanced, then not many at Atomic are much beyond intermediate. Jason (OCS Sunday) is there, and we chat. Megan (a beginner I met at Atomic a couple weeks ago), stays too and the three of us work on her swing out for a while. Andrea helps me with the Balboa transition from their class.

Before class, I talk to a guy, Dan, who's trying to get back into dancing after an 18 year hiatus. He gives his entire back-story, which I always like to hear. He's plans on observing the first class and possibly taking others.

Swing 1 (Jerry)
Sometimes Jerry asks for ideas for the class, so I was ready to ask about "footwork variations." We went about replacing the various parts of the swing out footwork with non-standard stuff. The key was to replace a step-step pattern with something which would end up on the opposite foot from the starting and/or replace a triple-step with something which would end on the same foot as one started from. The things that stick out in my mind were a down hold instead of either triple-step and a kick-cross-step in place of the last triple-step. Oh, kick-ball-change instead of either triple-step. Nice. I resolve to work on some of that during the dance the same night.

Between classes, Dan tells me to loosen up and feel the rhythm. He thinks I'm out there counting too much. I laugh and thank him. He doesn't end up taking any classes, but does stay for the dance.

Swing 2 Balboa Variations (Jerry)
I don't remember anything from this class. :-)

Swing 2 14 Count Moves (Jerry)
Had to lean on Mark to remember the moves. First we did a Bal-Swingout, which starts as a regular swing out from open with an outside free-spin. We catch the follow's left hand with our left, and kick out with our right foot on 7. Then we lead an inside spin, catch the follow, and finish the swing out.

Next was the no-name move. Regular swing out with outside turn, giving another turn winding the hand around the neck in side-by-side position, then leading a double (well, 1 and a half) inside turn to end in open. This one was very troublesome. :-(

Dan was watching and shook his head after the class. He's not sure anyone here can dance.

The dance was another great time. I hardly took any time off. Saw and danced with Amantha and Jenny from OCC (and OC Swing Sunday), as well as a group of women from Chapman U. First dance was with a gal I belatedly recognized as one of the best who shows up to Atomic dances (and her partner is by far the best guy there). I fumble a bit, but muscle through and work the smile. Which is totally effective! But I forget to get her name and introduce myself.

Dan expresses his shock at how good my dancing is when I see him during the dance. I try to explain that the advanced classes are awkward moves that we don't know. But thinking about it now, I wonder if perhaps it was just that the classes weren't that well planned out. Jerry was working on the moves in the middle of class instead of having them mapped out ahead of time. This worked ok for the footwork variations class, but not so well for the second 14 count move.

Dan was talking with Michelle, who I end up dancing with several times during the night. We seem to share the same taste in music, as she seeks me out during a couple of my favorite songs, including Ruby Mae. She promises to burn me a CD with Ruby Mae for Friday. Score!

Danced a couple times with Nicole (great follow from OCS Sunday), who is trying to re-create the swing out with Charleston footwork from Sunday's class. I try to do it, but am having trouble ending in open. Later, I point Jason in her direction, and I think he goes through it with her.

I dance with a gal named Amy, who is just amazing. Perhaps without some of the flash displayed by my first dance partner of the night, but so smooth. She follow my cabbage patch reverse swing out with ease (the first time that's happened!), and leaves me buzzing. I smile again (and add a laugh this time), which I get echoed back to me. Yes, she even follows my smile and laugh! Later, I tell Mark about her, then push him to ask her for a dance when she walks by. He comes back and gushes that he only needed the lightest touches to lead her. Like driving a Ferrari? I hope that's a good analogy and not an insulting one.

My pattern with the Cabbage Patch reverse swing out is to do it immediately followed by a regular swing out, and a Lindy Circle to get back to closed position. Then I immediately do another Cabbage Patch swing out, but vary the regular swing out. Well that's my plan from now on. I think I was doing the exact same pattern two times in a row in reality.

Note to self: Remember to ask Jerry about leading that inside turn as an entry into the swing out. I think it isn't a familiar move, so the follows think they're going into an underarm turn. Either I'm not putting my hand on their backs soon enough, and they pass me, or I put it there and they immediately reverse directions, thinking I'm leading a reverse of the turn. I need a debug of my technique.

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