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10 Things Good West Coast Swing Dancers Do Differently
The Challenge Of West Coast Swing
What is West Coast Swing ?
What is Swing ?
Perceptions and Expectations

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10 Things Good West Coast Swing Dancers Do Differently

10 THINGS GOOD WEST COAST SWING DANCERS DO DIFFERENTLY 
Thank you Brian B. from West Coast Swing Online for writing this. Good Stuff ! 

 There are a lot of things that separate good dancers from poor dancers and great dancers from good dancers. Background, physical talents and years in the game are all factors that come into play. As a teacher I live in a world  where I’m consumed by getting the most out of what I have without making excuses. That being said here are 10 things that you can and should be doing if you want to take your West Coast Swing dancing to the next level.

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.

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.

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

Basics, Basics, Basics !!

Thought I would share this with students and dance friends everywhere...I teach this, and say it all in many different ways...This comes from my good friend in San Diego, Ca.  Mr Michael Kiehm... good stuff !! Enjoy.
 
Basics, Basics, Basics, You can't work on them too much! 
I'm sure you've probably heard this a million times, but lets face it, watch any advanced dancer and what do you remember??? It's HOW they danced, not what they danced. An advanced dancer can captivate you with nothing but basic patterns, simply because they have mastered their ability to maintain a consistent connection between themselves, the floor, the music and the space around them.

Full Circle ?

 In contemplating what to write here in my first post.. all that comes to mind is how much west coast swing seems to have changed thru the years... or has it. ?
 My journey through the world of West Coast Swing has taught me many things about myself and life as well as the dance itself...
  So I believe that it is not entirely true that the dance has changed that much.. but rather I myself have changed in my thoughts, perceptions and expectations of what exactly west coast swing is.
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