Swing Discussion Boards > Ballroom WCS versus non-Ballroom

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by toothlesstiger, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Recently, DW and I finally made it to a day of classes put on by Benji Schwimmer. 3 hours of WCS, and 2 of Night Club Two Step. It was mind-frying, with how much I needed to fight muscle memory.

    It was great in terms of theory of how WCS is supposed to work, and NC Two Step felt like a different dance when I switched to the Schwimmer timing.

    He called out as problematic things I was specifically taught when I learned WCS (not pointing to me, but calling them out in general).

    I'm curious how common is the experience of finding such significant differences between how you first learned, and later classes. Also curious if anyone knows of ballroom people that successfully compete in WCS at straight Swing comps.
  2. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I've seen some silver and gold level ballroom dancers have problems with WCS, the anchor is a bit different concept. But I see no reason that they shouldn't be able to adapt if they set their mind to it.
  3. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    totally different dances, cultures, and partnering.
  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    When ballroom dancers show up at the local WCS dances, they stick out like a sore thumb. They do the patterns, but they do them with all this latin styling, and they don't have the same connection. They tend to be too quick on the draw in following the lead. I used to be the same way until my DH got me into some lessons with an excellent WCS teacher. Now I seem to do pretty well...I think most of the ballroom has been beaten out of my WCS, except for when I dance with another ballroom dancer and I forget myself. :)
  5. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies. I've got a few effects intertwined in my local observations, so I was looking for outside perspective to disentangle them a bit. The ladies I dance with around here tend to be too quick on the draw, regardless of the dance.
  6. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    true same with hustle!!
    samina likes this.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Would you tell us what they were?

    My 2 intensives with Skippy Blair convinced me that my "honky tonk style" WCS was different than what she was teaching. But that leads to the question, is Blair's version "studio" WCS. Which is what someone in Long Beach called it.
  8. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    those who learned WCS first and ballroom second yes there are good ones devorah pashev for example
  9. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I do know a ballroom dancer who is doing well in WCS competition. He was a professional in the ballroom world and discovered WCS maybe 10 years ago. He's now competing Advanced, I believe.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And, well, Benji comes straight from the source, his father being the guy who is credited with creating the dance. But, hey, if you have the time, what changed for you?
    I key in on the strong, sustained beat in the song. Don't much care if it's the downbeat or the backbeat. What did you learn from Benji?
  11. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    It's not "ballroom wcs", if that's what you're asking? Too modern.
  12. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    it does take that long too!! we have a ballroom pro who started with WCS as a teacher has won in all stars

    now does more ballroom.
  13. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    A few questions here, let's see if I can get to it all.
    Things I learned that were "wrong" according to Benji:

    a) Well, really, the main thing is that on the Sugar Push, just to take an example, I would step "3 tap 4" rather than a triple step, and ladies who learned a similar style to what I did would similarly do a tap step, crossing behind with their left foot on the tap step. Not doing the tap step was really screwing with my muscle memory. One of his big points is that, other than during turns, the partnership should spend as little time in "neutral" as possible, there should always be tension or compression in the partnership, as much as possible, and those taps steps and crossing behind puts the partnership in neutral.

    b) No contrabody. I.e., hips and shoulders always line up, like panels, they always face the same direction. They don't have to be parallel in the coronal plane, but their axes should always point the same direction. The way I learned it, WCS was treated like a Rhythm dance with lots of contrabody. As Benji put it "No contrabody, only contra-partner"

    c) Not that it's really a big deal, but he put a big emphasis on the starter step. I would normally start out with 2 triples in closed position into a throwout, but other than DW, that seems to freak out ladies around here, who expect to start in open position with a sugar push. Benji put an emphasis on embracing before the dance started, rocking from side to side to get a feel for your partner, and then essentially doing two triples where the throwout really happens during the second triple.

    Probably, the first two are the two biggest points that had me working hard.

    As to what changed in Two Step, just changing from counting SQQ to 1&2 made a big difference to me. I haven't had a chance to dance socially since then, but we'll see if that throws a monkey wrench into my dancing. Also, I always thought of 2Step as a dance for pop ballads, kind of slow, and I come to find out that Buddy's default speed for a 2Step is in the hustle range of bpm for me.

    What the workshop also has me thinking about, especially as I right this, is thinking about the relationship of music to dance. I'm going to start another thread about that.

    With respect to the comments on WCS and Hustle learned in ballroom studios versus more specialized venues:
    I'm kind of getting confirmation of the idea that it's hard to be really good at both, partly because of how ballroom studios teach the dances, and partly because, as I have found in my own experience, ballroom dancers tend to learn a bit of many dances, while westies, salseros, and other more focused dance groups tend to go more deep.
  14. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Let me preface my responses by pointing out that I am a ballroom dancer. Anything that sounds negative or derogatory toward ballroom dancers was not meant to be that way. I'm just discussing the differences.

    This, and a common problem (one I'm still trying to fix myself) is "leaving" too fast on the 4. It's important to engage with the leader and compress until he leads you out, not just bounce right out again as soon as you get there. The triple helps keep you there. In a sense, the tap step is still done, but as a variation and often looks more like a hip lift or even a knee lift in place of the tap.

    Something important to understand here is that different WCS pros have different views. There is way more variation in execution in WCS than there is in ballroom. I just had a workshop with Sharlott Bott, who has been around WAY longer than Benji and has had a long and successful career (yet isn't old or old fashioned), and she taught us to have some contra body action in our walk.

    There are many variations on the starter step. This is just one. but it is very common to sort of embrace and sway or step-touch or something together to get connected before dancing. I would say, from my experience, this is more common in competition, where it's so important to connect to each other right away. Social dancing, I'd say it's split between a starter/throw-out and starting in open. In my experience in my area, anyway.

    Do you mean you were starting on the side step on 1-2 and then the rock? I learned it that way initially, but then maybe a year later discovered that starting on the rock (QQS) is more common in this area. I can't even do it the other way anymore. We use a range of speeds here, mostly slow, but the styling between ballroom and WCS dancers is different. I don't know if I could explain it.

    SO important in WCS and so overlooked, by comparison in ballroom. I'll have to go look at your other thread.

    True. Also, because of the emphasis on lead and follow and the popularity of Jack & Jills in WCS competitions, an important part of practice is social dancing. Plus, these people just love to dance every chance they get, so you'll see (again, in my experience) a generally higher level of dancer at WCS dances than at ballroom. Ballroom competitors tend to spend so much time on the practice floor that they don't want to go social dancing, or they don't want to risk getting hurt, or they're just too busy, or whatever. So, the average Saturday night ballroom dancer is not as good as the average WCS social dancer. Of course there are exceptions in both worlds, and plenty of people at the top and bottom of each. I've found that the typical WCS social dancer takes more workshops and lessons than the typical Saturday night ballroom dancer--the latter tend to take enough lessons to learn some steps and call it good. They might take the lesson before the dance, but that's it, whereas those who take it more seriously and take a lot of lessons and workshops are less likely to social dance. I've never understood that phenomenon, but that's the way it works in my area. I've found AT dancers to be very similar in mindset to WCS in how they pursue the dance.
  15. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    it can be done with a lot of time and effort ( oh and money)
    twnkltoz likes this.
  16. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    she is excellent

    fourth of july in phx (GPSDC) you will learn enough WCS to last you a year of practice

    IHSC in miami you will learn enough hustle and salsa to last you a year of practice

    that how the mrs and i accelerated these three dances
    twnkltoz likes this.
  17. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the detailed reply. On this last paragraph, I think it's more than that. My first few years of dancing were at a studio that didn't have any competitive dancers. There were a core of dancers that easily spent as much time on private lessons, workshops, and dancing at parties, as some pretty good open level competitive dancers i know now.

    My first year of dancing, I spent as much time dancing salsa as the rest of the dances combined, and it showed in my dancing.

    It just stands to reason to me that if I spend X hours per week in classes, Y in private lessons, and Z hours dancing, whether at socials or practicing, if I put them all into one or two dances, I will be better, in a shorter time, than if I share those hours among 20 different dances. Yes, there is some synergy, what I learn in Waltz will be applicable to some extent in Quickstep and Foxtrot. But I've also seen plenty of times that throwing more dances into the mix just creates confusion.
  18. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    Well said. The mrs and i have been dancing for 12 years we used to average 12-16 hrs a week, but found we werent social dancing enough and missed the fun and chance to do more WCS hustle salsa etc . So we added in 4 hrs a week of that , its a second job lol
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Both Sharlott Bott and Benji studied with Skippy Blair, and Sharlott continues to be closely associate with her. Interesting, too, that Buddy Schwimmer had an acknowledgement in Blair's 1978 book, "...for the 10 years (or more) that he's been part of "The Family"
  20. MintyMe

    MintyMe Member

    Oh no- I'm sure I must be guilty of that. :oops:
    As someone who learned ballroom before learning WCS, I watch WCS dancers and think "why don't they have any style?"
    Could you or anyone give me a couple of examples of "WCS style" vs. "Latin style"?
    I'd rather not be the sore thumb if I can help it!


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