Physics of Swing
Awwwwwv look at little Todd gettin it
I love this clip. Todd’s all like “aw yeah crazy stuff” and Naomi is just chillin’ as usual, as if dancing like this is just the easiest thing in the world.
“My question is about movement, styling, and grace. I’m as tall or more than most leads, and have a pretty muscular build as well as a pretty masculine way of walking and holding myself generally. My dancing has become more graceful in some ways, but looking at myself in mirrors during the weekend there were definitely a lot of moments when I felt ungainly. Hyperfeminine touches are not things that feel very natural to me, and I don’t want to put on a false personality, but I would like to minimize awkward postures and develop a better way of holding myself. How should I work on this to develop my own style of holding myself?
Trying to get more mirror time is something that I’ll definitely start doing, but what are other ways that dancers tend to develop their own personal style? Do you know of any awesome tall (NOT the willowy ones!), muscular, or androgynous follows that I should study to pick up tips from?”
A follow that I met recently sent in this question and I admit to being a little stuck when it came to finding an answer. The best that I have been able to come up with is Laura Keat. I wouldn’t say that she is androgynous, but I don’t think she is hyper-feminine either. Her dancing is powerful and strong but graceful too. She is also a tall follow and I definitely wouldn’t classify her as willowy. I hope she is sort of what you were looking for? There are tons more videos, this one just stuck out to me as a good example!
As far as developing your own personal dancing, I have one major pet peeve when it comes to tall dancers. I wish they would all learn to dance their height! Maybe it’s because I’m short, but I love tall dancers. A tall dancer with great posture just instantly grabs my attention. So, I definitely thing you should continue working on your posture. The best tip that I can give you for that is that you shouldn’t turn on dance posture when the song starts, you should aim for having great posture all the time. It’s a pain in the ass when you first start working on it and you may be sore after dancing that way for the night. But when it becomes natural, it can fix a lot of problems, especially with the visual aspect.
When I committed to working on my personal style, I started by isolating part of my body and working on one at a time. It’s a great idea to work on these ideas in conjunction with solo jazz. Learning to move your own body, independently of a lead is a really important skill. Plus, hooray solo dancing! And, it can be much simpler to think about arm styling as it relates to Suzie Q’s or the Shim Sham than just dancing in general. But, obviously, the same ideas can be easily applied to partnered dancing.
- Arms & Hands - I tried out basically every styling that I could find and found that most of them felt awkward on my body. But I found several that work for me and I still play around with new options when I see another follow trying something that grabs my attention.
- Legs & Feet - Aside from working with rhythms and practicing actual solo moves, I have spent a fair amount of time exploring different types of movement here. I worked on kicks, holds, poses, swoops, jumps, etc. Sometimes I just put on music and dance but I also spend a lot of time on the internet, (DUH). And I watch a lot of videos looking for inspiration. When it comes to other people’s variations, my goal is almost never to recreate an exact movement, but instead to re-interpret what I saw in a way that feels natural to me.
- The list could go on and on, but I think that’s a good place to start. (More ideas: Head/Shoulders, Hips/Butt, and Core.)
Do you have a question for me? Hit me up and I will see what I can come up with!
Submit via tumblr or send me an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Breanna Perry is awesome and has lots of things to share too!
"Saw the question about tall follows and wanted to submit my suggestions!
First—love Laura Keat, obviously. She is fabulous and dances in a feminine style that is all her own, with definite strength to it. She’s also roughly my height, if I remember correctly, so she’s not all that tall (5’6”-ish).
Suggestions—there are lots of tall willowy follows, several of whom have a really neat not-overtly-feminine aesthetic to their dancing, like Gen St. Lo (Montreal) and Brittany Johnson (Seattle). Check it:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTI2m48Oitg
There are also a few tall, less-willowy follows that fit the bill. One of my favorites is Marie N’diaye (Sweden). Marie’s dancing is vicious and athletic in the BEST way, and always reminds me of old clips like the Spirit Moves or Hellzapoppin or something, she’s got that sort of badass aesthetic:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOPrLUjBwiw
Lastly, there are a few follows who might not be that tall, but who definitely dance with an aesthetic that is not strictly feminine and graceful—like Casey Schneider (Seattle), who has always had an athleticism and rhythm to her dancing that I love, or Amy Johnson (NOLA) who is definitely graceful but not typical or predictable in the movement choices she makes. Both are absolutely fabulous dancers and people, and even though neither of them are very tall, per se, they definitely use their bodies in interesting ways that can be fun to try out when you’re looking for an aesthetic of your own. It’s like how we all try to be Frida or Laura Glaess for a couple of dances until we figure out we can’t be them, and have to be ourselves, instead. Here’s Casey (first out with Nathan) kicking some ass at Lindy Focus this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TYeQTYi6ks
So hopefully that’s helpful for all those tall and/or androgynous and/or athletic followers out there who are looking for a little more modern inspiration!”
I’m not sure how tall Giselle Anguizola is (she’s definitely not short) whose dancing is also more edgy, powerful and rhythmic rather than dainty and feminine.
Also the other Frida (Borg) of the Harlem Hot Shots whose dancing is very athletic and….Swedish, though she’s not that tall.
When I saw this adorable photo by Mark Glenn Studio on the page of The Original Prohibition Clothing Company (https://www.facebook.com/Prohibitionclothing/photos/t.1034310114/514764508652971/?type=3&theater), I could not resist sketching it XD. These two adorable people are Brian and Samantha, and happen to also be phenomenal swing dancers. It is so much fun to watch them dancing, and just as fun to be in one of their classes! They’re an absolutely adorable team
So just some more sketchy digital coloring of pencil sketches. Its a relaxing break from digital paintings- i just find them alot less stressful haha!
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.