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Notes to self – 7 – Girl Jam


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

General comments

  • 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.

Another weekend, another workshop, another disappointment

Another weekend, another workshop, another disappointment. I’m not going to name the workshop because many people (mostly leaders) enjoyed it and what you get out of a workshop has a lot to do with your own goals, experience, preferences and the level you are in.

Perhaps it’s enough to say that this was one of those workshops where (in my track/level) the leads got to try out new techniques, learnt new moves and got instruction from the teaching staff. The follows, well we got to follow (although manhandled might have been a more appropriate description at times) and then we got to follow some more. There was nothing for the follows to work on, no advice about technique other than a quick comment about keeping rotation going at the end of a turn, no correction from the teaching staff (e.g. follower not getting a move, leader tries it on teacher, teacher can follow it, teacher moves quickly on), no styling tips…

I tried to be positive, watched the teacher’s technique and styling and tried to emulate, embraced the opportunity to focus on following and meeting new people and so on but this was an expensive workshop, I learnt very little, I have a sore back and bruise on my side from some rather forceful leading, I spent my weekend in an overcrowded room worrying about/being rammed into someone else rather than following what my leader was doing and I danced with the people I always dance with due to uninspiring music and very long band songs (ok, this one is my fault).

I had high really high hopes. I am really disappointed. I feel like I have just wasted an awful lot of money.

Right, think that’s out of my system. Time to move on!

Shim Sham stylings and variations from Stompology

No dancing means more time for watching videos! This is fun, the Stompology 2011 instructors teach their personal Shim Sham stylings and variations. I really like Evita’s version.

Dancers include Nathan Bugh, Laura Glaess, Mikey Pedroza and Evita Arce.

SJ Park and NY Lee demo grapevine switches

SJ Park and NY Lee from VIVA Swing Club in Korea demo grapevine switches:

Possibly inspired by a Laura Glaess and Mike Roberts lesson on idance?

A bunch of footwork variations from Momentum Dance Concepts

Not sure who the dancers are but, as they put it, here are “a bunch of footwork variations” including heel pops, kick away, double kick away, rocks, ronde and kick ball change and triple cross.

Here’s another variation from the same group that I’ve never seen before a squat Charleston tagged onto the end of a swing out:

Hep Jen and Kevin Munroe demo a “falling kick ball change” variation

Hep Jen and Kevin Munroe from the Verdi Club in San Francisco demo a “falling kick ball change” variation at the start of this video:

Dax Hock’s triple step drill sequence

Lots of people have blogged about this and you can find other people’s posts here and here. So for my benefit…

Dax’s version:

Dax and Alice doing the drills together:

Here’s a version performed by Joe Demers for Charleston Chasers. Denver, CO.

A different version with Ali & Katja:

Does the original version of Dax doing this exercise still exist? I remember seeing it on idance (on YouTube) years ago but I haven’t been able to find it again.

Kate Hedin demos a rock step substitution

Kate Hedin and Jason Niesz demonstrate various simple variations in a Jam Cellar Building Your Basics Swing series. A nice, simple rock step substitution is shown in the second half of the video.

Savoy kicks swing out variation – Jean Ma and Bromley Palamountain

Jean Ma and Bromley Palamountain demo a Savoy kicks swing out variation in a 9:20 Special class.

One day I will get over my Savoy Kick mental block, here are some more Savoy kick lessons:

Hep Ken teaching at Lindy in the Park… 5,6,7 replace, hop, tap… :

Andrew Sutton demos Savoy Kicks on

A breakdown of the step by Bernd Baumgarten

3 Kick fwd with left foot.
Kick low, leg extended, but don’t point with toes. Right after, relax left knee.
As in ordinary walking, arms swing “against” the feet, i.e. here: right arm forward, left
arm back.
4 Step forward with left foot.
5 Kick across with right foot.
Kick higher than on 3, swinging extended leg up and left. Don’t point with toes.
Left arm swings up and across your chest; right arm swings back, maybe even slightly
around behind your body.
6 Let extended right leg swing down past right side.
7 Continuing smoothly, swing extended right leg diagonally back.
Don’t point with toes. Right arm swings forward; left arm swings back.
8 Swinging right leg towards left leg from behind, jump onto right foot on 8, which you
put right where your left foot was standing.
& Hop a few inches forward on your right foot, turning body 1/8 turn (45 degrees) right.
1 Bend right knee. Lower body. Tap toes of left foot diagonally back onto the floor.
Left arm, elbow bent, swings forward; left arm swings back. Crouch a bit.
2 Letting body move up to normal, flick left leg, i.e. raise lower leg to the rear.
Turn body 1/8 turn (45 degrees) to the left, such that you face original direction again.

Another version of a Savoy kick swing out:

Savoy kicks in side by side Charleston:

Savoy kicks in the Dean Collins Shim Sham:

Iris Dolowitz and Manu Smith demo sugar push slides

Iris Dolowitz and Manu Smith demo a simple sugar push slide variation.