- Wait, wait, wait and then wait some more…. omg I am rushing my following at the moment.
- If you are feeling tired don’t dance, yes dancing is a good way to relax and it’s nice to meet up with friends but if you’ve had a long day at work going home might be a better option than going to a dance feeling tired, dancing badly, getting frustrated and then ending up even more tired from the late night
- Work on matching frame and picking up when a leader is giving you more or less frame and respond correctly.
- Tune out the music more and follow the lead more, don’t kill the momentum on a turn even if the music is screaming ‘slow’ when a lead has given you a quick, quick, quick type lead.
- Think long term, I am going to busy at work until the mid to late summer and I need to focus on that… then I will have more time to spend dancing (hopefully).
Interesting post-dance pub discussion the other day. Should teachers teach footwork patterns for leaders at intermediate level?
Some of the leaders were complaining that the teacher made things really difficult for them by not teaching the footwork pattern and leaving it up the leaders to work out for themselves if their foot should go behind, in front or to the side.
I listened to the arguments being made and I thought yes, it is much harder if the teacher doesn’t tell you where to put your feet but you learn so much more about dancing if you have to work things like this out for yourself.
I think I understand what to teacher was trying to do, your feet end up where your feet end up – hopefully they are under your body. Your feet should cross because you are keeping them under your body not because that’s what the pattern says you should do. If you are taught to cross your feet to do a certain move it might be easier and you can learn that move more quickly but the shortcut means that you don’t learn much about how the dance works and it’s harder to progress as a dancer.
As a follow I think you give up on attempting to do the ‘correct’ footwork pattern fairly early on in your dancing career. A few social dances in and you realise that the patterns don’t fit what most leaders are doing most of the time [perhaps they do where you dance?]. Learning how to respond to what the leader is actually doing is the really tricky bit of following and it’s not something that you learn from being taught footwork patterns.
As a follower, I definitely prefer classes where you learn skills rather than patterns.
Partner dancing, partnership, togetherness, connection, cooperation… if you’re not interested in these things why not try solo dancing?
Let’s take a simple scenario. A teacher explains very clearly that you must be able to do X, Y and Z competently to take this class and recommends going to another class, happening at the same time, where you can learn those moves if you can’t. During class certain people (leaders in this case but same applies to followers) clearly don’t know what X,Y and Z are let alone how to lead them. One leader cheerfully admits he’s only been dancing 4 weeks and has no idea what he’s doing!
WTF! If you jump into a class like this you end up making the class all about you. What is your partner supposed to do? Back lead the moves whilst attempting to talk you through? Do you both stand there like lemons? Do you shove your partner round the floor in some vague attempt to do the same as everyone else?
Partner dancing implies that you will be dancing with another person. In a dance class, that person has their own reasons for dancing and their own learning needs. It’s pretty unlikely they paid for a class so that they could act as your personal coach and walk you through the basics. Please think about the person attached to the end of your arm as well as yourself!
Feel better now…
Solo dancing – never really enjoyed it, choreography – I can never remember it, women only events – lost their appeal after I left the Girl Guides. However, I signed up for Girl Jam 2013 knowing that it would be good for me and…. I really enjoyed it! Notes to self below:
Things I want to follow up on:
- Pulse/bounce from the bottom
- Shorty George – it’s about the knees, really move the knees side to side
- Think arms or legs but not both. Where should people focus when you are doing a move?
- Free style dancing to Charleston music is a lot easier when you string together a number of moves and memorise those rather than continually having to think about what to do next
- Laura Glaess’s body moves like a spring and it’s a joy to watch her dance. I don’t think you can really appreciate just how wonderfully her body moves watching YouTube clips of her dance
- It was nice to be taught by youngsters and to see just how dynamic and athletic their body movements are
- Professional dancers are incredibly ‘straight’ compared to the rest of us who spend our days sitting at a desk and end up a little rounded in the shoulders and back
- Great dancing and great teaching really aren’t the same thing. I’ve never really liked the way one our local teachers looks when she dances but but this workshop reminded me what a great teacher she is. People not getting the routine – break it down further, people still not getting it, break it down further still and drill it until people get it. Felt good to be in a class with a teacher that was really in tune with the class and their needs
- If I want to continue to do more solo dancing (other than beginner classes) I need to learn all the routines. Once you get above beginner level it seems to be assumed that you know the Tranky do, Jitterbug stroll, big apple, etc.
Things I learnt about myself:
- My life is pretty busy at the moment, I social dance but rarely have time go to classes or think about my dancing. It is intimidating to go back into a classroom environment!
- Step, step, triple step, step, step, triple step… I am really rusty on moving my feet to a lindy Hop rhythm. Too much Bal, too much rock and roll, too much not paying attention to what I am doing. I really need to practise this pattern, moving the steps in different directions and getting the rhythm back into my body.
- I still rock step automatically most of the time when partner dancing but left to my own devices I can now start on either my right and left foot without a second thought and needed to consciously remember which foot to start the routines on
- Swivels, my timing is slightly off (and always has been). I need to work on the rhythm of swivelling and doing it without a partner
- I look old and stiff and slow when I dance (the tyranny of dance studio mirrors…) which is pretty much how my body feels half the time. On the plus side I was a lot fitter than many of the younger women there.
- I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to remembering routines
- I found it really hard to let go on the prep for turns. Taking a short swig of water during class I noticed that I wasn’t alone, perhaps it’s a British thing
- Counting, I am not naturally a counter and because I don’t teach/am not particularly OCD about my dancing, I have to think long and hard which bit of the Charleston happens on the ‘3’ or on the ’4′. I think I just need to teach myself these things.
Jerry Almonte posted a link to a Carsie Blanton’s new video Backbone which features Sarah Breck and Sharon Davis dancing a little while ago. Here’s the video:
I think the video is arty and clever but I don’t particularly like the dancing. Not saying anything is wrong with the dancing, its just that as a performance it doesn’t grab me and make me want to keep watching. I found it interesting that the YouTube comments included “Titillating” and “So sexy!” I didn’t find it sexy at all, more like strangely asexual (if you can use that word in this context). The dark eye make up and sad faces don’t do it for me.
What interested and bothered me more about this video is my reaction to it. Instead of watching the dancing I ended up looking at the (very slight) bulge of flesh at the top of their stockings and thinking hey they’ve got some fat on them.
Am I a complete bitch? Probably! Am I envious of their bodies? Yes, I would love to have a body that looked that good. Am I jealous of their success? No. A lot of hard work has gone into that success, work that I wouldn’t have put in. Am I guilty of being manipulated by the media? Hell yes. I mean seriously, fat thighs? Here are two healthy, slim dancers, put a tight band around anyone’s leg and you will get that bulge effect! Where did that thought come from? I really am quite ashamed of myself…
Skip to 2.23 – vagina swivels:
Fascinating stuff from Nathan Bugh – Ladies first
…when it comes to learning and teaching lead/follow skills, the follower’s technique is a much higher priority than the leader’s. Her dancing ability, her awareness, strength, balance, use of the floor, etc. are the elements from which spring her following ability AND the leader’s leading ability. She is the beginning of the logic in the dance. In class, the followers empower the leaders to learn. Leaders judge their progress according to the results that their partners embody. Followers are the focus of the lead/follow process, and they have to follow before the leaders can lead….
Although I agree with this:
“Oftentimes, good following is the answer to bad leading. For example: the best way to help a slow leader is to wait for him”
You also need this to happen:
“If you are a leader, have patience with the teachers who are follower-focused, because they are actually working for you too! Be kind to your partners, and encourage your partners to dance honestly. Don’t make your partner feel pressured to act out the steps you are attempting to lead. Make sure she gets, from you, the support she needs to master her technique.”
In my experience, it’s pretty rare that a lead will give you the support necessary to do this. I know I am a pretty sh*t follower. I know this because during class I get tutted at, given disapproving stares, been told I am not doing it right, been told it must be me because the move works with everyone else, get plenty suggestions about how to improve, and during one particularly humiliating class, I’ve even been told by a leader that they didn’t want to practise with me because I was doing the move wrong and they didn’t want to learn the wrong technique!
Sometimes I wonder why I still dance!