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.
TIMING: First of all...from my own point of view all forms of true swing dancing are mostly comprised of different combinations of DOUBLE, TRIPLE and various DELAYED rhythms. Such rhythms can be carried by or shown through the feet or foot work or through the body.
Within that...to define the actual type of swing somthing to be considered is the pulse of the dance or type of swing one is doing.
EVERY SONG has a specific beat that pulses....EVERY DANCE has a specific beat that pulses.
Often times the pulse of the dance is not the same as the pulse of the music. For example... Most of the MUSIC we dance west coast swing to pulses the DOWN beat or ODD numbers of 1, 3, 5 or 7 in a phrase of 8 beats of music....
The DANCE West Coast Swing naturally pulses the UP beat or EVEN numbers of 2, 4, 6, or 8 in a phrase of 8 beats of music. The correct articulation of the correct beat can improve the dance you are doing and in some case even define it..... Alot of WCS dancers and even instructors and top level competitors do not exhibit a pulse of any kind in their dance or at least not consistently. The better dancers regardless of the style of west coast swing they are doing always have it.
ROLLING COUNT is also something that should be present if the music consist of swung rhythms. Again...this can be carried or shown through one's foot work or their body movement or both.
From a judges perspective it also is something that is easy to see if one knows what they are looking for.
But for the dancer.. it is something that is felt.. some of us are blessed with the ability to hear it, feel it and easily show it in our dance…but for the rest of us it is something that must be learned. YES.. one can be taught how to feel the music…however it is very often a slow process as it does not come easily for many of us. Pulsing, rolling count and hearing and feeling the music are all critical elements of good WCS or dancing in general and lend greatly to the quality of your dance. Without them.. even the simplest of basic patterns can not possibly be as good as they could be..For you Jack and Jill and Strictly Swing dancers and even those aspiring to simply be the best social dancer you can be….…QUALITY…. NOT…. QUANTITY should be your goal !