Swing Discussion Boards > Ballroom WCS versus non-Ballroom

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

  1. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Hmmm let me see if I can describe it. Part of it is being too big and sharp with the styling, particularly when not called for. Feet that are too fast. Too much hip motion. Being disconnected from the music and your partner. Dancing on top of the floor instead of being grounded. On top of the beat instead of having that laid back, silky feel like you have all day to get from 1 to 2. In general, too flamboyant.

    When you watch WCS dancers you think have no style, look a little more closely. Look at how connected they are to each other and the music. When they do some kind of styling, it's very purposeful and with the music and their motion, not just sticking their arm out because it's free.

    Watch some youtube videos of invitational winners, and you'll get some very good examples of what you should do! However, the best way to dance better and in the right style is to take lessons from a good WCS teacher.
  2. MintyMe

    MintyMe Member

    Ahhhhh haaaa.. I see. Yes!
    I know exactly what you mean now. I see where I could be getting it wrong.
    That's very helpful, thank you!!!:)
  3. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    You're welcome! Glad I could help.
  4. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    Since WCS uses mostly "loose coupling" open position/hold, the
    (coordination of) footwork of partners is simply not that
    important. Good connection can be maintained even when the
    partners are doing quite different footwork, and instructors
    often teach this.

    I'd be careful about using descriptions such as "as much as
    possible," since this invariably has dancers over-doing the

    I would suspect that he was just trying to have you reduce
    any over-usage of contrabody movement, as ballroom dancers
    are often apt to do. It's practically impossible to move
    fluently without using contrabody action, which includes
    the wind-up for turns and spins.

    Many of the top WCS dancers have Latin dance background,
    and many WCS pros recognize the value of "ballroom" technique
    in dance in general.

    The starting method in WCS is far more flexible/varied than
    in ballroom, partially because of the "loose coupling" thing.
    Few WCS instructors even teach the "same" starter steps, and
    most have their own preferences.

    There are apparently at least two flavors of NC2S, one deemed
    Rhythm WCS that uses 1&2 and one deemed Smooth WCS that uses
    12&, with the former more fast/bouncy and the latter much
    slower/smooth. The Country folks use the Smooth style.

    As one gets more experienced with all the various aspects of
    dance and movement, one will figure out what the important
    similarities and differences are between various dances, or
    at least in the ways that one wishes to do them.

    An important thing to realize is that instructors often
    don't really do what they teach, so sampling many schools
    and instructors is a good thing.
    vit likes this.
  5. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I spent some time finding videos of other instructors from the westie side of things, and so far I'm finding Benji may be out there on his own, to some extent. To be fair, he said that in recent months he had been rethinking and reworking his teaching of WCS.

    A little off my own topic here, is there a competition that decides the US Champion in WCS? Is that the most prestigious competition? My web search doesn't give me any clear answer.
  6. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    When looking at videos, pick people who win on a regular basis and have been for years...Mark and Sharlott, Kyle Redd and Sarah Van Drake, Robert Royston, Robert Cordoba. I think it's fair to say that Benji is out there a little, but that's not to say what he teaches isn't valid.

    The biggest deal competition, the WCS Mecca if you will, is the U.S. Open. It just happened, and it takes place in Los Angeles, I believe.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Gotta say, "top level" competition dancing is not the best thing to model your dance on.
    vit likes this.
  8. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    No, it may not be the best thing to model my dance on, but when someone throws out "eleven times champion" it helps to have more context. :)

    Also, with respect to what Benji taught, again, I'm not trying to say that what he taught isn't useful, it certainly is, but getting context beyond what I learned in the ballroom world was definitely helpful.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I would highly value anything Benji said, not only because he is a "champion," but because he is so close to the source. Or at least that was his foundation.
    As several people have pointed out, "Swing" teachers value individuality much more so than some other teachers. Blair's West Coast 101 is not the same as Laure Haile's "Western Swing," and it's not the same as what most people learn. But I have found it to be very useful in my social dancing.
  10. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    It's not so much a matter of modeling after their competition dancing as determine whose lessons are most likely to be valuable and current, as well as whose dancing you like and feel like you can relate to. I have found many, many youtube videos (and, unfortunately, so have my students) from so-called "professionals" who are teaching incorrect or outdated styling, technique, and even patterns.
  11. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    there is a whole united states swing dance circuit us open is the "nationals" if you will many great comps

    maybe even one near you


  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    How about people who teach who don't dance in time to the music?
    I say, they should give their students their money back.

    I'm not a "Westie," but the places I dance: Cowboy Country in Long Beach, Stoney's in Vegas, and Bushwhackers here in Portland seem fine with what I do and how I do it.

    Reading most of the Westie comments I see, they still seem geared toward learning moves, rather than really getting into the music. I wonder when the basics/less is more revival will hit.

    But I'm curious... can you sketch out one or two of these?
  13. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I can articulate it, to be honest. The latin styling I mentioned above, for one. Bounciness that applies to country but not WCS. One move that comes to mind that's outdated (not that no one does it, but it is outdated) is where you lead the follower for an underarm pass, catch her tummy, send her back, catch her and send her forward, catch her and send her back. Styling has changed since I started WCS "for reals" 12 years ago, but I don't know how to describe the difference. I just know it when I see it.

    I do want to be clear that I am not a WCS professional, and while I do teach beginners, that's where I draw the line...I get them through the basics, and then I send them on to a more qualified teacher. I'm not a competitor, either. But my husband did for many years, and I spend a lot of time with serious WCS dancers, have taken lessons from respected WCS pros, dance it weekly, etc. I just don't want to seem like I'm making myself out to be more than I am.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Bwaaah! I used to do this one all the time back in the truck stop days!
    I've been sticking to pretty basic stuff since going to Downey, but am thinking of bringing out some old stuff, and stuff I see in the old texts and movies.

    I thought your post on latin stuff, which looks out of place in WCS, was excellent. And, hey, I certainly make no claims about how good I am. But I know what I know, and want to learn what I can from other people.
  15. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    But I'm curious... can you sketch out one or two of these?

    there is an old school move called the investigator try to find that you will laugh hysterically and it will get you slapped if you try it
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Couple of things you see pretty frequently in "Rock Around the Clock" are:

    a kick forward, step, step forward on what we now on counts 1 & 2. It's a syncopation on that first beat;

    another one is what is called "Wheeling;" that would be similar to doing "sailor shuffles" but moving it around the point where your hands meet.

    MOST of the dancers in the film are 40s era "Lindy" dancers. The two variations I listed are included in Lauré Haile's description of "Western Swing."
  17. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Your are confusing 2 separate entities.. What you described is, a " variation ". Standard patterns used in dance ( no mater the genre ) are variations.. " Style " applies to 3 things .1.. Music.. 2... Personal style.. 3.. the Indigenous format, grounded in a select few variations that, established that" format ".

    Patterns in many genres ( even basic ones ) go out of favor," Old " , pattern wise ,doesnt mean they have no value . And,how far does one go, before the original format completely disappears ?
  18. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I'm not confusing anything. I was responding to someone who was responding to my earlier post about how some teachers teach outdated steps and outdated styling. The OP asked about how a ballroom dancer can fit in with WCS dancers, and if you want to blend in, it's a good idea to eschew old school patterns and styling. That doesn't necessarily mean the dance should evolve so far as to be unrelated to its roots, but it doesn't need to stay exactly the same, either.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    THE preceding chapters of this book describe the groundwork movements of the dances of to-day that it is considered will live for several more seasons. New Variety Steps are, however, being constantly introduced, and these must be known by the ambitious dancer who wishes to be "up-to-date."

    My advice to the reader is not to perform the "new" movements continuously to the total exclusion of the "old" ones. Use a judicious mixture. Fashions come and fashions go, but they move in a circle and the "old" movements will soon become the "new" again. Dance all your dances with all the variety you know of, and avoid monotony.

    from the 1920 Hand Book of Ballroom Dancing
  20. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I guess I should say something in clarification here, because these discussions have a tendency to drill down on one point and take it out of context. I'm not saying you should never do "old" steps. I'm just saying, if all you do is outdated steps and styling, you're going to stand out as old fashioned. For someone who wants to blend in and "dance like a WCS dancer," I would make sure I was taking lessons from someone who is up to date on the evolution of the dance. There are lots of WCS dancers who still dance the way they did 25 years ago, and it's fine. They've been around forever, and they don't care. They don't win contests, but they're more about social dancing anyway. I, personally, wouldn't take lessons from them because that's not the way I want to dance.

    One of my ballroom students took some group classes from a very nice lady, but she teaches steps that are outright antiquated. There are two issues with this beyond just sticking out as being outmoded: 1. these steps are not designed to really practice and showcase the best technique (frankly, they're awkward) and 2. he would try to lead them at socials and the girls couldn't figure out what he wanted. He is a pretty decent leader, although he's a beginner. He doesn't have this trouble with modern syllabus steps, for the most part. I don't want to get into descriptions of these steps because they're ballroom and this is a WCS discussion. I'm just giving an illustration of why it's a good idea to keep up on what's current.

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