RobinSmithSwing.com - Professional West Coast Swing Dance Instruction
RSS

Recent Posts

The Challenge Of West Coast Swing
What is West Coast Swing ?
What is Swing ?
Perceptions and Expectations
TECHNIQUE - THE KEY ELEMENT

Categories

Choices
Perceptions
Technique !!
Timing, Teamwork and Technique
powered by

My Blog

The Challenge Of West Coast Swing

West coast swing is generally regarded as one of the most challenging social dances to learn. The purpose of this post is to explore some of the reasons why WCS can be challenging in order to help dancers understand why learning WCS can be difficult. Obviously, I believe that west coast is well worth the challenge, but it’s also worth acknowledging that this is a demanding dance, and that it’s natural to have moments of frustration.
 
  • Triple steps are hard.Very few social dances use triple steps because they require a strong sense of rhythm to place the & and they demand a high level of control over the body center during the triple.

What is West Coast Swing ?

What is West Coast Swing? 
 
West coast swing, or WCS, is a popular form of swing dancing that has spread from the US across the world. Part of the appeal of WCS is that it is an adaptable dance; it can be danced to a variety of musical styles and tempos, from 1940s big band swing and 60s soul to contemporary/top 40, hiphop, and of course the blues. In addition, the dance itself creates room for improvisation and interaction between the partners. Combine these elements with theethos

What is Swing ?

As defined by the NASDE (National Association of Swing Dance Events)
 
NASDE Statement of Swing to be used to identify the presence of swing in the NASDE competition divisions.
 
Swing is an American Rhythm Dancebased on a foundation of 6-beat and 8-beat patterns that incorporate a wide variety of rhythms built on 2-beat single, delayed, double, triple, and blank rhythm units.
 
The 6-beat patterns include,but are not limited to, passes, underarm turns, push-breaks, open-to-closed, and closed-to-open position patterns.

Perceptions and Expectations

I am often asked what do I need to do or know to do well  in a Jack and Jill or Strictly Swing ? 
 
Another loaded question !
 
First it depends on the level in which you are trying to compete.
Second is what part of the country or world or where are you going to be dancing or competing.
 
Requirements to do well for each level can change with every different panel of judges and sometimes even with the same panel of judges it can be different from one day to the next.
Each event judge has their own perception and expectation of what makes good west coast swing or dancing in general.

TECHNIQUE - THE KEY ELEMENT

I am often asked which is the most important for west coast swing or dancing in general.. is it technique, musicality, showmanship, timing or many other related possibilities ? my reply is wow !! that's a loaded question !
Mainly because all the other elements I was asked to compare technique to which are musicality, showmanship and timing..are all comprised of specific techniques of their own which make them useful..
So for me I strongly believe that technique has to be the obvious answer to the question !

Conversing THRU Connection

I speak of these things often in private lessons as well as group classes and workshops. But here it is again summed up clearly in an article by a friend and colleague Mr. Micheal Kiehm. Enjoy and learn ! I am always available for private lessons to help you with this.
 
byMichael Kiehmon Monday, January 16, 2012 at 12:33am
.

This weeks topic is "conversing thru connection"

You need the following traits to be considered an advanced dancer in any style of dance.

Excellent technique (footwork, lead/follow)

TIMING - TEAMWORK and TECHNIQUE

TIMING - TEAMWORK and TECHNIQUE
All the recent bantering back and forth on the internet about what is swing, swing content and the lack of or presence of it has given me reason to think about just how misunderstood what we do or are trying to do when we dance west coast swing.I am thinking about the first of the 3 T's (Timing, Teamwork and Technique)which most judges base their decisions on regarding who wins, who places and even those that make semi-finals and finals in Jack and Jills and Strictly swing.

Musicality

I have had similar conversations in private lessons I was teaching with different students thru the years....Thank you Michael Kiehm for summerizing it so nicely. 
 
"Musicality" by Michael Kiehm (Starlight Dance-San Diego, California)
Everyone wants to considered "musically gifted", but very few can claim ownership of this title.
It's as though every move they make seems choreographed to the song, even if they've never heard the song before!
Well, for those gifted in this concept, you may want to read this as "light reading" and please, please, just appreciate your skill.

POSTURE

Posture, Posture, Posture
   Having a little time today to think about technique and how each thing.. sometimes even the smallest thing  when done consistently can improve your dance tremendously.
   When judging I often see the new dancers strugggling with the same issues I struggled with.. one of the biggest issues is Posture... Stand up people !!
     Whether dancing, running, walking or sitting good posture offers enormous benefits... not just for your dancing but for your health too !

Music !! could not have said it better myself.

More from Michael Kiehm....
 June 2nd. Music appreciation/interpretation; 
   Let's face it, we are not going to like every song played at an event. Instead... of complaining about the music choices, try challenging yourself to dance in a way that would convince anyone watching you, that you actually like the song. Yeah, I know, I am just as guilty as the next guy when I say comments like; "What the heck is that Dee Jay playing" or, "That song really sucks!". We've all said that more than once or twice :). It's easy to dance with positive engergy, embellishing the breaks and preparing for those awesome cresendos when your excited by the song, or you recognize the song as a current popular hit. Here's my tip, Every song has something within it that is not always obvious to listeners. Find that background musical instrument, vocal riff, or that subtle repeating rythm and bring it out of the song so that someone watching would say to themselves, "Hmm, I did not even realize that sound was in the song until that dancer projected it". When you put your focus on this concept, you start appreciating songs you don't usually even pay any attention to. To bring out the sound that you are hearing, you might make a small movement with your head, or you might press your foot into the floor to accent the sound. Try motivating your partner by being creative and inspiring. You never know, your partner might actually assist you in making the song more exciting once they feel motivated by your dancing. Give this a try guys. In the end, we are dancers first, so we should be able to make any song within reason come alive! Until next week, keep dancing from your heart! Michael Kiehm
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint