Swing Patrol on Dragon’s Den, 20th July 2014
Dragon’s Den is a super popular prime-time show in the UK, so this is huge for the UK swing scene (and I think everyone would prefer for it not to become Zumba, thanks…)!
The British Dance Council is set to consider a proposal that would ban same-sex dance partners from ballroom competitions.
Oy, British Dance Council, y’all are clearly out of touch, boring, and too hung up on gross traditions. Let me help you out. It is in everyone’s interests to:
1. get the heteronormativity out of partner dancing
2. get the gender roles out of partner dancing
3. destroy the idea that men are stronger than women
4. destroy the idea that dancing is about strength
Sign the petition here.
Imagine there’s Authentic Jazz version of Mortal Combat named Mortal Step. You select a dancer from 1930s and different buttons have different basic moves, and when you hit combination, BAM, some awesome sequence comes. You can learn these steps while playing the game :D
I’d be completely addict to this one.
John Ennis is here to solve your #LindyHopProblems!
John Ennis: President, Jazz Dance Education Council; Head Organizer of The Process, a workshop weekend in Richmond, VA, dedicated to how to learn and how to teach Lindy Hop
John Ennis has been dancing since 2002 and dancing Lindy Hop since 2005. His defining characteristic is enthusiasm - he is completely convinced (and with good reason) that Lindy Hop is the culmination of human achievement. This enthusiasm is evident not only in John’s dancing, but also in his dedication to increasing his dance knowledge, to communicating that knowledge to others in the community, and to helping grow a vibrant Lindy Hop community in Richmond, Virginia.
For the first eight years of my dancing, I approached improvement as a dancer in much the same way as Cory approached improvement as a student - he expected that if he took enough classes that one day he’d suddenly become the student he always wanted to be. But what he and I were both missing, and what I hope to share with you in this solution, was a personal process guiding our developments. In particular, I’d like to share what I’ve learned over the past four years of more focused dancing, teaching, and practice. I hope that this solution will help save you some of the time I lost and frustration I felt during the years when I was simply dancing as much as possible, and taking as many classes as possible, only to find myself left behind by dancers who progressed much more quickly than I did. At the time, I felt there was something wrong with me but, after four years of applying my own process, I now see that the only thing that was wrong was my approach.
Step 1: Take ownership of your learning process
For me, this was the hardest step. Looking back, I always felt that it was someone else’s job to make me a better dancer - it was up to the teachers in my classes, the instructors in private lessons, or even my partners on the social dance floor. But eventually I realized that the only person who would be there in every planning session, every practice, and every dance was me. Once I fully appreciated that it was up to me alone to improve my dancing, I felt quite empowered and began to turn the corner almost immediately.
Step 2: Take stock of your dancing in a critical (but non-judgmental) way
This step was the second hardest for me, I think because I confused skill as dancer with worth as a person. Thus I wasn’t in a good position to assess the state of my dancing because I didn’t want to admit that I was missing important skills. But while this step can be painful, it’s also essential - without a good sense of where you are you won’t be able to plan a path to where you want to be.
To start the assessment, I recommend having a friend videotape you social dancing at regular intervals and then watching the video to find:
a) Things you do often and well
b) Things you do often and not so well, and
c) Things that you don’t do at all.
If possible, you could also ask your friends to watch the video and do the same. Once this step is done, I encourage you to start a “dance journal,” (or, if you’re really nerdy like me, a “dance spreadsheet”), where you record your thoughts and observations. And remember, the mere fact that you’re taking this step is to your great credit, so be easy on yourself!
Step 3: Make a “Vision Statement” for your dancing
What is your answer to the question, “What type of dancer do you want to become”? This step is usually much easier than the first two steps, since most of us Lindy Hoppers will have a few dance idols that we look up to.
But I encourage you to do more than simply say, “I want to dance like Max,” or, “I want to dance like Alice.” In what way do you want to dance like Max or Alice? For example, it’s more helpful to say, “I want to dance powerfully like Max,” or “I want to dance with poise like Alice.” Eventually, you’ll want to break these statements down further into even more actionable goals, such as, “I want to sink though my hips into my rock steps like Max,” or, “I want to dance with excellent balance like Alice.”
For now it’s sufficient to identify the essential qualities that you’d like your dancing to exhibit. For example, here’s my current vision statement:
“I want to be a clean, clear, athletic, and powerful leader who creatively selects moves, movements, rhythms, and styling that meaningfully interact with his partner and the music.”
This statement evolves constantly, but having a vision statement has helped me tremendously in terms of figuring out next steps for my dance development.
Step 4: Make a list of specific steps you’ll take on a regular basis during the next six months to move from where you are to where you want to be
Now that you know where you are and you have your vision statement in hand, identify activities/exercises that relate to your vision statement. For instance, since I want to dance in an athletic way, I need to be fit. So I do P90X3 six days a week. Similarly, I’ve identified the quality of my personal body movement as a current limitation for me, so I’m completing the Swingin’ Body Movement course on RhythmJuice.com with a goal of submitting one challenge a week. Finally, to help improve my musicality and the clarity of my lead, something I’m currently working on in every social dance is to quickly identify the phrasing of the music and then to vary my dancing very little within each phrase.
Which particular exercises you choose for yourself will depend on the results of Steps 2 and 3 your own vision statement, but to help you brainstorm here’s a list of ten activities that might stimulate you as you create your own plan to improve. Each of the items in this list could be the topic of its own article. This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but I hope that some of these items resonate with you and help you on your journey.
10 ideas for getting started:
1) Breakdown movements from downloaded clips, either classic or modern. I personally use YouTubeDownloader HD together with BSPlayer to loop sections of clips that I’m particularly interested in over and over at 10%-30% playback speed.
2) Come to every social dance with at least one and no more than three things that you plan to practice in every dance.
3) Learn other dances. I studied Salsa intensely between 2006 and 2007, and although I only remember about three things, I can at least adjust my Lindy Hop to the Latin rhythms that infuse Jazz music.
4) Learn the history of Jazz music and dancing. Ken Burns Jazz is a great starting point here.
5) Learn the opposite role in the dance, which will help you practice with the same-role members of your community and give you a more complete perspective. And on this note, make friends with same-role members of your community, and work together with them to improve each other’s dancing.
6) Organize events in your community, and help to build community in general. This includes dancing with beginners, which not only helps to build community, but will challenge you to learn to dance with everyone.
7) Take care of your body. This is an enormous topic, but the short version is: drink enough water; eat vegetables, slow burning carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fat; get enough rest; train full-body movements through intense exercise on a regular basic; and avoid artificial and processed food when possible.
8) Teach quality classes, which means putting time in preparing lesson plans and making a commitment to provide your students with the best information you can reasonably provide. For myself and my wife, idance.net has been of great help as many of the lesson packs provide the basis for month long series.
9) Videotape yourself dancing solo but simulating partnered movements.
10) Work on your solo dancing. This is the next big push I’m making, and I’m actually writing this at Stompology!
Well, I hope you find my advice helpful. As I’ve grown as a dancer I’ve come to have the greatest respect for dancers who are on their own journeys, regardless of their current skill level. I look forward to seeing/meeting you on the social floor, and here’s to you finding your process!
This is really good advice!
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that all event directors, clubs, and national organizations including, but not limited to, NASDE and the WSDC, eliminate gender discrimination in all local, national, and international West Coast Swing dance competitions and acknowledge points and placements awarded to competitors regardless of gender. Kelly Casanova, WSDC# 124
Please sign and share! Because everyone should be able to have their rightfully earned points count no matter what they choose to identify as. Also, fuck institutionalized heteronormativity.
Question for the Lindy Hoppers:
If Frankie Manning were to attend Hogwarts, what house do you think he would be in? Please explain your reasoning. I have my answer, but I am curious what other people think.
Mable Lee, queen of the soundies, has broken her hip and shoulders while teaching in Korea, and they need funds to get her operated on as soon as possible!
If you do not feel comfortable donating to an individual, you can also donate through the Frankie Manning Foundation - more info here.
~ dancey dance ~
I might color it in or something.
Sketch from yesterday. My swing dance teacher who is just too cool :3
I didn’t upload the sketches from the day before because they are for a project in the works and its a surpriiiise
RIP Maya Angelou, Poet Laureate & JitterbugAngelou took to Facebook to share this story about the photo of her dancing with the late Baraka.