Friday, May 4, 2007

April Dance Musings

Introspection regarding swing dancing. I'm looking for inspiration, and found this video of Dave Graybill, who taught the intermediate class at Lindy Groove when I went a few weeks back:

It's interesting to see his footwork variations during swing outs. Several times he just sticks out his left foot and holds. I imagine you need great connection with one's follow to be able to pull that off.

Some thoughts on where I am in swing dancing. I think I've hit a plateau. Well, that's not quite right. I've hit the part of the learning curve where it's difficult to make huge beginner style strides. I think I'm solid on the basic East Coast, Lindy Hop, and Charleston steps and technique. I have a few solid variations in each that I can do.

East Coast:
Tuck Turn (or Tuck to Free Spin)
Changing Places (or She Goes, He Goes)
Ease To Closed (or 8-count Circle)

Lindy Hop:
Swing Out from Closed
8-count Circle
Swing Out
Swing Out with Outside Turn
Swing Out with Inside Turn
Swing Out with Free Spin
Reverse Swing Out

Offset Kick-Throughs
Savoy Kicks

Things I'm marginal in that I need to practice:
Apache Swing Out
Tuck to Inside Turn
Swing Outs with Inside Turn on Entry
Reverse Swing Out with Outside Turn
Reverse Swing Out with Inside Turn

That reminds me:

Swing 1: Front Charleston
Darren is seemingly one of the best leads at Atomic, and has recently started teaching classes. His content is great, but he tends to rush the teaching part. The only follow in the class is an Asian gal named Jenny, who tells us she's just starting up in swing dancing after a pretty long lay-off. She's very nice and quite good. Justin (?) is the other lead who is just a beginner. Mark shows up a bit late and jumps in. Darren shows us two entries to Front Charleston, both from the rock-step of the Charleston basic. In the first, we pivot the follow on her left leg to front to front position. The second entry is for the lead to pivot on his right leg to step across the follows line with his left for the kick-step, then go into front Charleston rhythm with a step back on the right foot. We also do turns in this position, and practice exiting, which I don't quite get.

Swing 2: Reverse Swingouts
Darren teaches this class as well, with the same issues, but since I'm more familiar with the topic, I didn't find it as much of a problem. More follows show up, along with more leads (like Gerald!). We do the Reverse Swing Out from open position, which I'd never done before. I think it's a better lead to turn my body to the left, but it might be harder to catch the follow when doing that. Darren takes us through an inside and outside turn when exiting this reverse swing out. Very cool. Then he takes us through the Apache on the reverse swing out. Not so nice, as I don't have the standard Apache down yet. It's on my "next action" list.

Swing 2: Modular Lindy
This is a footwork variations class where we substitute things in for the standard rock-step or triple-step. Always interesting, though Jerry tends to rely on suggestions instead of having things prepared.

Social dance is wonderful, as always. I see Aubrey, who I took a class from a while back when just starting out, but she turns me down for a dance as she's "doing homework." What?! I see her dancing later, and flash back to an etiquette discussion I had with a gal a week or so before. "If ladies turn a guy down, the guys get mad if they don't find them to dance later." Holy crap, she was right!!! :-) I try not to take it personally. I actually get turned down several times, but get to dance my fill. I leave around 11:40, to tired to push it to the last dance.


  1. Congrats on discovering the world of swing! I know what you mean regarding "hitting a plateau" in your dancing. Happened to me many times.

    My unsolicited advice for you: keep it fun. Don't get so caught up in skills, new moves, names of moves, etc. that you lose sight of WHY people social dance. It's simply moving to good music, where you get to have innocent (mostly... usually) contact with other people in an atmosphere of FUN. As your skill improves follows fall by the wayside when ego grows as well.

    Oh, and to do those leg moved Dave does, it matters more that you have good core strength than a good follow. As a lead, you can do *anything you want* with any level of follow you choose... provided you don't hurt her.

    Keep up the good work learning!

    P.S. Who am I? I found you through your comments on Jana's website. I know her through MWU (she knows what that is). I saw you're a swing dancer and felt compelled to comment. Ciao.

  2. Amber: Thanks for the encouragement and pointers.

    Enjoyment: Fortunately, I still have fun every time I step foot on the dance floor. When I stress about learning moves, it mostly stress about not being a boring lead to dance with.

    Core strength: I'll have to remember that. I also thought the spins were pretty cool, if flashy.