Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quotes From Friends Pt. 2

D: Would you like my muffin?
Me: Hold on.
[pause while I fiddle with my phone]
D: Are you calculating the carbs in a muffin?
Me: No, I'm writing down your muffin question so I can blog about it later.

Quotes From Friends

Danie: I haven't seen you in pants in days! What?! Why are you laughing?

People on Clay Aiken

In the break room yesterday, I saw a cover story for People magazine: Clay Aiken is gay.

  1. I'm glad he doesn't have to live a lie to his children, as alluded to on the cover.
  2. Who the fuck is Clay Aiken?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dancing and Quotes

Hung out with G&C last night, before Strutter's Ball.  Walking from dinner to Strutters, we came across my favorite mannequin.  I've seen it before, so I made the same joke.

Me: [Freezing and making a face]
C:  What?
Me: What, exactly, is being sold here?!
G: Nipples A-Blazing!!!

Then later, sitting at the fountain,

G:  That thing is a wild beast, and I want it!
Me: That's not the first time I've heard that!

Movement Swing Student Teacher

I spent the weekend of September 20-21 in Berkeley, CA helping Jofflyn and Amber teach a workshop for thw swing subgroup of "The [M]ovement".  Berkeley has an active on-campus swing scene, which [M]ovement Swing is a part of.  So, Trisha flew up while I rode with Charles on Friday night.

The three of us acted as fill-ins and roving coaches for the closed session.  It was a bit of a change from my experience acting as a "peer" coach, suggesting a change to a fellow troupe or team member as I've done as a member of the Atomic Jitterbombs or Bobbysox Brigade.  I've had quite a bit of experience in the more informal mentoring role, using a critical eye on a fellow dancer's dancing.  It's quite different to be in this mode in a more permanent basis, constantly scanning a group, constantly looking for flaws to correct.  The three of us know what Jofflyn and Amber are looking for when they're teaching basic technique and the group was pretty large, around 15 couples.  I think having a few extra people keeping eyes on the students to correct basic technique helped to accellerate the learning process.

In discussing the experience aftwards with Amber and Jofflyn, I came away with a couple things: 
  1. I have a good ability to see what fundamental problems a dancer is having
  2. It's a different skill to see the problems of a group as opposed to a specific couple or dancer
  3. It's a skill to be able to say the same thing in multiple ways until you figure out the way that the student understands
  4. I really enjoy teaching and mentoring swing dancing.
During the open-to-the-public class, Charles and I essentially spent our time giving a private lesson to a guy who was brand new to swing dancing.  We took him from knowing nothing to have a solid basic swing-out.  Getting him up to speed on a rotating East-Coast basic helped the beginning of his swing-out from closed.  Then we really blew his mind by giving him "changing places," and a six count circle.  But the vast majority of the time was spent on the swing-out.

As a result, Charles and I missed most of the "moves" class.  But that was O.K.  It was interesting to teach him, and he'd have been lost in the other class.

On day two, Charles, Trish, and I led the review of basic technique.  I got to be the booming voice, Trish had lots of cool follow insight, and Charles got to expound on the importance of frame.  We'd gone over the lesson plan with Jofflyn the night before, but it helped to have all of us there to remember it:
  1. assessment (warm-up)
  2. visual leading, visual contact (no touching exercise)
  3. frame
  4. connection notes (C grip, gun grip)
  5. momentum (center-to-center motion, stepping beneath oneself, consistent rotation speed, lead's choice exercise)
I totally forgot the frame exercise, and Charles brought us back to it.  He also had great additional frame exercises (starting from two hands and rotating, then lead-and-follow directional walking), and emphasized that good frame on the catch of the swing-out made the follow feel comfortable.  I countered that it was easier, which spoke to my lazy side.  That got a chuckle.

All in all, it was an incredibly positive experience for me.

Feedback from Amber:  Don't talk too much between repetitions of the exercise, or they tune out no matter how critical the advice you're giving.  Give a nugget, do a rep.  Give another, do another rep.  "It's a lesson I learned the hard way."

To a certain degree, I think we need reps in leading that kind of class to get fully comfortable, but we're very close.  "Apprenticing" under Amber and Jofflyn's guidance was a heady experience.

On the drive back, Charles and I talked dancing inspiration, musicality, and especially about the subtleties of connection and frame.  From the lead's perspective, we need strong left side connection to begin the swing-out but essentially nothing after that.  There's something there about a totally relaxed arm, as Laura Keat taught me, but not as relaxed initially.  Firm when it needs to be (1, or 1-2), relaxed when it's not needed, then firm when it needs to slow/stop the follow.  Have to talk that over with Jofflyn.

Still buzzing, days later.  The group was amazing to work with, and I'm looking forward to seeing their showcase and performing for them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


googlesack, v.  The act of asking a question aimed at making someone search for an answer on the internet when you yourself are perfectly capable of searching for it.

"I wonder if there's a later show of the movie?"
"Don't try to googlesack me!  Look it up yourself!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bobbysox Brigade

I heard some muttering about a potential future upheaval of the Atomic Swing Teams.  I'd been worried about how things had been stagnating for a while, and as a result, I decided to look around.  The other high profile team local to me is the OC Swing Team.  I'd asked Sky about it once, but he gave me a look and told me it was invite only.  OK...  Another potential option was the Bobbysox Brigade, headed up by Jofflyn Valencia and Amber Villa. So I asked Jofflyn about attending a practice to get a feel for their style and philosophies.  They'd been teaching at Atomic since April or so (I know I mentioned their interesting teaching methods before, in Excitement), but hadn't ever mentioned that they have a team.

Let me back up for a bit.  The consensus on Atomic teams for a while had been that Jerry was distracted and unfocused.  Later on, we found out that the family had been considering moving to Texas for about a year.  So eventually, I found out the upheaval in question was a sale of the studio to Shesha and Nikki Marvin, who head up the OC Swing Team.  I talked about that transisition before in Dancing Transition.  Ultimately, I decided that the refactored Atomic Team wasn't for me.  I liked the idea of access to different instructors, different choreographers, different styling.  But the philosophy of running the team was different enough that I wasn't up for waiting out the transition.  But I still needed to figure out if I should fully commit to the Brigade.

I actually took the time to reach out to people who's dancing I liked watching, who had left the Brigade.  One high profile dancer actually told me he had a very positive experience, but hadn't left with a lot of skills that he still used.  Meh.  Other people had really positive things to say about the troupe.

My experience in the audition process was really interesting.  They threw a lot of choreography at us which I didn't know (Big Apple, Dean Collins Shim-Sham).  They told us we should just try to come along for the ride, and that they were looking for those who didn't give up.  Fair enough.  Fake it 'til you make it.  They told us up front that they were looking for people who enjoyed themselves, who could learn, and who could fit in with the existing personalities.

Ultimately, they offered me a spot on the troupe, and I decided to join based on a few factors:  Jofflyn and Amber are amazingly personable people.  They're the type of people who want to have troupe members who they also socialize with.  That's hard to resist.  They're amazing teachers.  And their philosophy of stripping away all styling to get to basics is very compelling.  It's easier to add styling to basic moves.

I miss the old Atomic dynamic that I had.  I loved the team socializing we did.  I miss it enough to have gone to Atomic last Saturday to eat lunch with whoever was willing to go. But joining The Bobbysox Brigade didn't mean I was choosing to leave my friends or my socializing, just my instructors. 

Things were going to change, regardless of what happened.  So far, I'm really happy with the choice I've made.


Chat exerpt:
ok FYI John im not this teenage girl ,, number one , number two hello , what the F...

I love irony.