Swing Discussion Boards > Cha cha cha...West Coast Swing...

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Catarina, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    But thats where you are wrong again -- I , DO SEE -- have taught numerous times on 1-- the issue is the correctness of the method NOT its practicality .

    And I trust all my lessons, no matter the genre ,are allways fun !.

    I also teach Guajira -- which is on 1 , which gives me plurality in my teaching methods - and by the way-- whilst I was teaching down South-- 95% of my club students were latinos- PRs and Cubans .

    I can-- and do-- switch " hats " as the occasion arises , and am able to choose from 4 different styles, to hopefullly suit all needs .
  2. dancin/dj

    dancin/dj Member

    well now tangotime, why did'nt you say that before? then we have no problem between us, i admire that you can/ & do both, shoot i"d take some on 2 lessons from you if your ever here again. but i still take umbrage with chachakats view point.hey how do u spell umbrage? i know what it means lol.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "the issue is the correctness of the method NOT its practicality"

    Please, instructors, do your level best to teach correctly.
  4. Alias

    Alias Member

    It is relevant to relate a generic Cha-cha-cha "on 1" with West Coast Swing (or a Swing dance with 8 counts moves) as you fall in the general pattern (step-step, triple-step, step-step, triple-step) with timing (1-2, 3-and-4, 5-6, 7-and-8), with the rock-step as a kind of step-step and the cha-cha-cha as a kind of triple-step.

    When you learn a Cha-cha-cha "on 1", you may think of it as having four parts which are almost separated (rock-step, cha-cha-cha, rock-step, cha-cha-cha), this going well (you then think) with some 4/4 music where the 4/4 measure (bar) is made of two parts (and you can think of the music as a sequence of two beats units) (the "and" has also to find a way in the music), the same thing going for some Swing dances (with a (step-step, triple-step, step-step, triple-step) basic step) and music for them.

    I have a different impression when learning to do the Int. Ballroom Cha-cha-cha "on 2" with timing (2-3 4-and-1 2-3 4-and-1) where for instance you maybe kind of link more the 3 with the 4 (and don't the 2-3-4 belong together in some way), but this may be because I relate it to the Int. Ballroom Rumba (disclaimer: I am not a Ballroom expert).

    Another funny thing to point out is that we also can in some way relate the Ballroom Cha-cha-cha with the Ballroom Mambo (I leave it as an exercise to the reader), so what about the idea that the Cha-cha-cha would be playing with the Swing dances world with its "on 1" version and with the Salsa/Mambo dance world with its "on 2" version?

    Could we consider these as two different Cha-cha-cha, and one or the other may be more adequate depending on the music you're dancing Cha-cha-cha to?
  5. dancin/dj

    dancin/dj Member

    alias i like what you said about how the 2 different cha cha cha s being adequate for different music, well said.
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    How YOU accent a bar of music, does not necessarily denote the " style " of the dance-- in some cases only preference-- the music should determine the " accent " to be stressed , and thus the "style ".

    The reason for the musical changes in many dances,was the advent of "new" musical ideas being introduced--two e,g,-- Tango changing from 2/4 and Q.Step doing the same--- as did Guajira change, when the Syncopation was re written within the octave, to become what is now known as Cha .

    The roots of dances speak volumes about its construction, with the music usually taking a simple format and expanding it thru innovation. Subsequently, the basic dance stucture begins to explore new ideas, and implements those that work for the premise .

    This is a large part of the reason why the controversy exists between the " purists " and the latter day protagonists .

    Jazz influences in the 60s created a new paradigm, when introduced into established partnership dances , Mambo to Salsa was the end product, hence the shift to 1 in many cases .(but thats a whole other issue )
  7. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    I have taught for twenty years as certified and properly trained teacher.
    Not only do I know the American syllabus, and a lot of the International as well, I also know West Coast Swing, Salsa, Argentine Tango, Nightclub two step, etc. I have been trained by major champions from England and the US.

    I know there are "street dancers" and "studio dancers."

    What those who have no training do is not my business.

    I know cha cha is widely abused with this 1, 2, cha cha cha bit.
    I think my ex even used it with his seniors to make it "easier" for them.
    That doesn't make it right.
  8. dancin/dj

    dancin/dj Member

    i think u need to let it go, some of us here have experiance too, you cant get past ballroom & another form of cha cha, this is why salsa dancers laugh at ballroom salsa(i luv ballroom in its higher forms personally) ballroom trys to turn everything into proper dance form, please enough with its wrong, its wrong to YOU.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    While it's been mildly amusing to read some of these posts, let's look again at the question that was posed...

    While dancing a cha cha cha last night (on1), the lead asked me if I danced West Coast Swing. I do not. When I asked him what prompted the question, he just said, "it's just how you move."

    Anyone care to give me clarity on where his comment may have come from?

    Is there something in how break steps are done that could be similar between WCS & cha cha cha?

    I assume you were following, Catarina, so if by "break step" you mean the first step in a basic pattern - the first walk step in the walk, walk - you started forward when you were asked to by the lead. So I don't think it had anything to do with that. (This assumes you WERE following the lead and waiting for it, not trying to fit your movement into something you thought you were supposed to be doing. If you weren't following the lead or waiting for it...)

    My guess would be that you weren't very "latin" in how you moved. Rather, you had a more casual West Coast sort of laid back look and feel.

    Maybe you guys can have some fun discussing that one!
  10. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I have no dance credentials at all :D However, I would think that your dance partner was referring to the way you feel and move.

    Regardless of if he didn't know or chose to dance chacha on1, I think the feeling of someone with compression and leverage is different at most social levels of wcs and chacha. I notice the leverage/compression concepts coming back in to chacha at a more advanced stage, but they are central to wcs from the very beginning. In fact, wcs sort of doesn't work without it, but you can chacha quite happily with good frame; at least up to a certain point.

    The other difference in movement I notice is the true ballroom chacha dancers have very sharp, snappy motions in turns and breaks. I notice wcs and country dancers doing chacha have smoother, more relaxed body motions.

    A similar difference is some of my dance partners can figure out that I learned to 2-step and then Foxtrot. They notice my path around the dance floor is more direct and less angled. So they can pick out my dance roots by my choice of paths around the floor.
  11. dancin/dj

    dancin/dj Member

    ha im always annoyed at the way some people like to chastise like were little kids, now now children im amused but, i"LL refrain from certain words according to respect of the board, disagreement is not wrong, insults certainly are, be specific with whom your adressing, after all im NOT the one making radical statements about timing and dance(i"ve clearly have shown both sides of the coin) others have NOT. sure we went off topic, when someone writes with un bias both sides of the coin, it gets shot down but 100 words of male logic,and that goes for women too if she goes there.
  12. Catarina

    Catarina New Member

    thanks for responding to the original question--that sort of makes sense, along with what kayak commented about in the feel of the dancing. I do try to keep my movements more smooth, and while the steps are each pronounced, i'm not bouncing/moving up and down vertically much at all, which may make it seem smoother.
    are the terms "compression and leverage" specific to wcs/swing dancing in general? if so, i'll just do a search and look them up, if not, kayak, can you explain those for me? (no need to be redundant to the forum though if it's elsewhere numerous times already).
  13. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Hopefully, the more experienced dancers will add more here. However, my take is compression and leverage fit in a lot of different dances.

    I would say one of the defining parts of wcs is the rubber band effect of having the energy of the two partners moving towards each other in the first half of a pattern and then away from each other in the second half. Reaching the feeling of leverage is a way of defining the stopping point before the next pattern begins.

    As I have learned more about chacha, similar inward and outward energy is used between partners. So just doing a side basic, there is inward compression during the 4&1 and outward leverage energy on the 2,3. The cool thing about the tighter connection is it allows a guy to lead moves that break the standard rhythms that would be harder or maybe not possible with just a neutral frame.

    What I notice is most social chacha dancers have a neutral frame until they have taken a lot of instructions. Just having a decent frame means we can dance a lot of fun chacha patterns. In wcs, there is more emphasis on the compression leverage ideas at the very novice levels because even leading a basic sugar push requires it. So it is kind of hard to have fun with the dance until we at least sort of get it.

    How did I do with that description?
  14. Catarina

    Catarina New Member

    not sure if you're asking for my opinion, but to me, it makes good sense. thank you!
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    It took me a long time to find the following explanation. I looked for it because I was troubled by something I think is new, women telling me that I shouldn't be "pulling" them.

    West Coast Swing can be danced to almost any music written in 4/4 time at speeds ranging from very slow to very fast, but the character of the dance changes over that range. At the slowest speeds the dance tends to exhibit a highly elastic connection with the possibility of very sexy, "slinky" walks for the lady, and a slight backward leaning poise at the full extent of the connection. At faster speeds the partners become more upright and the connection shortens with more of a "push and pull" feel and look.

    Notice that there is nothing about leverage here. So, I'm also going to ask kayak what he means by "leverage", cause I don't get it.

    Compression, sure. I know the Sugar Push is taught to beginners, but it's like the cruzada in Argentine Tango. Way too many women don't get it (probably guys, too), and they don't create any compression for the push.
    Elastic, as in the quoted material makes sense to me, a streched rubber band (or are they elastic bands now?) being the analogy.
    Even the whip uses the elastic effect. There's no compression because the partners then move pass each other.

    But leverage? Are you using this term to mean "at the farthest extent of the connection"?
  16. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I believe the way leverage would be defined is a settling away from each other of our lower body centers so that you can feel an away tension in your frame. Hopefully, that sounds kind of OK to the pros?

    If we were thinking about basic 6-count patterns, I set the stopping point of the space between me and my partner on count 4 by putting a plumb bob below my left hand. At that point, I should not let my hand move forward or backward. On counts 5& we are positioning ourselves and on 6 we settle our lower body center way to create a feeling of leverage in our connection.

    The reason creating leverage is more important than anchoring is so many of the cool moves do not have a formal anchor. Still, they all create the feeling of leverage.

    Also, the huge advantage of actually getting to proper leverage is we can really start to play with the rhythms in the music. So with leverage, the lady doesn't come forward until led and then there really isn't a choice but to come forward. The lead to bring her forward is a steady arm (no pulling) and leading with the whole body backward.

    We will have to see what Vince, Dnice and Dancelf have to add :)
  17. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Yes, yes we will.

    As usual, there isn't really a standard vocabulary. However, the best instructor I know describes the common concepts as compression and extension, reserving leverage for those circumstances where one or both dancers are no longer capable of supporting their own balance. So please indulge me if the vocabulary seems alien.

    Compression and extension are precisely the same concept, but in opposite directions. Both describe a circumstance where your center is offset slightly from the location of your support on the floor. Essentially, the body is bracing itself against the lead, but on a very small scale.

    This is the body action an experienced west coast swing leader will use when he wants to change the linear momentum of the follower.


    The arms are part of the communication of the lead, but they aren't actually generating any of it. (Analogy: the arms are the steering wheel, not the accelerator/brake). A follower complaining of being pulled is probably reacting to the leader trying to create momentum using the muscles of the arm.

    Now, I'm not going to tell you that you cannot achieve a good lead using only the arm. But to do so requires a lot of practice, that can only begin after you understand what the lead is supposed to feel like - and this understanding usually comes by learning to lead the "right" way... and once you can do that, what's the arm lead for?


    Proximity really doesn't figure into the equation at all - fundamentally we're talking about shapes: is the partnership making a \/ or an /\? It doesn't matter whether the shape is \/ or \---/.

    There are a couple of benefits that come about from this. First is that the lead becomes a lot smoother - a consequence of the properties of inertia. Second, the actual connection becomes more sensitive to small changes in the distribution of weight in the support; translation: partner can feel where your feet are, and can actually match your weight changes on touch alone.

    Ugh - I hate this definition for two reasons. First, I don't like "lower body centers" - I don't know what it means, strongly suspect that it doesn't mean anything, and am nearly certain that if it does mean anything, what it means is wrong for this context. What we are really doing is adjusting our center relative to our support WITHOUT changing the relationship between our center and our head and WITHOUT changing the relationship between our center and our hips.

    Second, we've substituted a verb for a noun. There's no need for settling away indefinitely, being only a little bit settled is good enough. Extension is the position, not the verb of achieving it.

    Unfortunately, no to both of these - unless the follower has settled so far that she is depending on the leader for support, which is not the modern style. In extension, she can still come forward early or late, deliberately or not. We're still talking about physics and human physiology - not magic.
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I consulted my dictionary, which has these definitions.

    leverage - The action of a lever. (Boy that's helpful!)

    lever - a simple machine consisting of a rigid body, usually a metal bar, pivoted on a fixed fulcrum.

    So, I would not use the word leverage as kayak did.

    compression and extension work for me, as does elasticity.

    Regarding the use of arms...
    If I keep my arm at approxinately the same angle when I take my first step of the "basic pattern", which is backwards on my left, the woman will feel a strong pull which is a direct consequence of my moving away from her .
    Where I dance, and I dare say, most everywhere I've seen people dance socially, most dancers are very unconnected to the music.
    (I read the other day in Wikipedia that music and dance being separate things is a Western concept. I find that a very interesting concept.)
    The lack of connection with the music is most noticable when something is very fast or very slow. With very fast music you to take smaller steps and stay close to your partner. If you don't you won't be able to move forward in time, and it will feel like the man is pulling you.

    Regarding "lower body centers", I'd have to say it's a valid concept. The feel of an anchor step is a direct result of doing this. It's a small thing, usually, that can be accomplished my letting your weight settle onto the entire foot, rather than being at the front of the foot, and/or bending the knees a bit more. If is not so, then the anchor step consists soley of cessation of movement.
    (ps I became sensitized to this via Agentine Tango)

    So with leverage, the lady doesn't come forward until led and then there really isn't a choice but to come forward.
    If you want to have fun sometime, try moving towards your partner for "step one", rather than away.

    "unless the follower has settled so far that she is depending on the leader for support, which is not the modern style"
    You know, I wonder if the women who complained about me actually leading them to step foward at the Skippy Blair lesson I took learned "the modern style". To me, it felt like they wanted to do their steps on their own.
    Sometimes I'll play with that connection by doing rock steps in place. There has to be SOME mutual support for that to happen. But it is not extreme or "total". But it "total support" the right term?

    Dancelf, care to elaborate with approximate dates for when this "modern" development took place? If West Coast Swing becomes increasing less dependent on the connection...

    And, I like this, and think it is right on...
    "Second, the actual connection becomes more sensitive to small changes in the distribution of weight in the support; translation: partner can feel where your feet are, and can actually match your weight changes on touch alone."
    But, isn't it a bit at odds with the previous paragraph?
  19. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    There are all sort of terms used in dance which are at odds with definitions you'll find in dictionaries. Kayak's definition may be unfortunate, but it is a very common usage. "The name of the song is called Haddocks Eyes..."

    Almost true. There are a couple important distinctions, which is one of the reasons I don't use the verb "pull" to describe this action. First, the inertia of your own body mass causes the acceleration of the movement to smooth out. Second, the tension in the musculature of the hand and arm is very different from a pull.

    I disagree - hint, dance your part in place, without holding onto anything. If you can do that, it doesn't depend on mutual support.

    OK, I think two things are being conflated. I interpreted Kayak's claim to be saying that what I've been calling leverage magically makes lead follow happen. Because the follower is supporting herself, there's no physical compulsion to come forward when lead (for example, she can syncopate...)

    If the follower is actually depending on the leader from support, then she does have to follow (or fall, I suppose). To my knowledge, this has never been how WCS is danced... BUT westie is believed to derive from Lindy, which I believe has included that interdependence of balance. So I leave some wiggle room in case somebody who was dancing in the Garden of Eden has first hand experience that it was done differently.

    I don't believe there is any contradiction, I certainly didn't intend any; can you be more clear?
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I just posted a link to an Instructor's Manual another thread, and that instructor's manual also talks about leverage. Now, although I accept the common usage of syncopation in dance, I'll go with the dictionary on leverage and think this is an unfortunate instance of "dance educators" using a word incorrectly. Maybe it's not too late with this one.
    This next one is a bit more complicated.
    Originally Posted by Steve Pastor [​IMG]
    And, I like this, and think it is right on...
    "Second, the actual connection becomes more sensitive to small changes in the distribution of weight in the support; translation: partner can feel where your feet are, and can actually match your weight changes on touch alone."
    But, isn't it a bit at odds with the previous paragraph?

    I don't believe there is any contradiction, I certainly didn't intend any; can you be more clear?"

    In Argentine Tango I am a connection junkie. And by that I mean a very real physical connection that facilitates non verbal communication, or communication via touch, which would be haptic.

    How do you create a "good connection"? In the Argentine Tango style called apliado the bodies are connected by directing a fair amount of weight towards your partner and the connection occurs at the chest or even throughout the torso.
    In West Coast Swing the "energy" or weight that creates the connection can be either towards each other as in the compression of the Sugar Push, or simply the weight of the woman's hand resting on the man's hand.
    I can best feel my partner's steps and balance when there is something else to strengthen the connection. And that is the tautness of the muscles in her arm, shoulder, and probably back when there is some pull away from my hand.
    This stenghtens my sense of her body (and not coincidently increases the tautness of her body giving me a better sense of her axis and amount of motion or lack thereof).
    It's the equivalent of speaking in a conversational tone, rather than whispering.
    Now, if you pull something towards you, and it doesn't go any where, the only way to off set that force is to "move" yourself away from what you are pulling on, ie to "lean backwards" (well, you can push downwards with your toes, too.

    When we say something like "the follower is actually depending on the leader for support", it is of course a matter of degree. And we are talking not a whole lot here, but enough.
    My concept is not so much that you can't "catch" yourself without moving your feet.
    How's that for precision?

    (Tangent Alert!
    You've done the fall back thing at some point, or seen it? So far I've only done it in East Coast Swing, and my WCS partners look at me in horror when I even hint at going that way. Someone told me this weekend that they saw someone mixing Argentine Tango with Night Club Two Step. He said it looked really cool. I don't think he was surprised when I told him I was doing it a couple years ago with my then favorite dance partner who is now married. Darn.)

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