Swing Discussion Boards > Lindy Hop and the Studios

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Spitfire, May 23, 2004.

  1. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    Trust me on this one. He hasn't changed his small-minded mentality. I worked for this person as a ballroom/swing instructor for 1.5 years and performer for 3 years. Ever since I've left and have been running my own swing events, he's been scared that I'll steal his 'swing' people away. Frankly, trying to exist and succeed in both worlds would be a pain in the butt, so I say he should concentrate on the ballroom side of things, since that is where the true money comes from.
  2. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    That is scary. Hopefully if he becomes more serious with ballroom, he can be told a bit more about how he needs to place his body weight and center properly, and then his posture will adjust. Better yet... give him a mirror or videotape him.

    I have a slight disagreement since I've been trying to do lindy along with my ballroom. It is a different "posture" but that's because you have to be leveraged back a lot. The posture makes it easier to do lindy circles and swingouts, but the major point is that the dance is a "close to the ground" dance. I'm still working on my ballroom posture, but I recognize that there is a different way ballroomers will work the floor, but that's because they want to maintain their posture while moving their body centers around.

    I guess there's a reason why I like WCS so much... I don't compromise so much of my ballroom posture to do it. Just a thought.
  3. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    I do tend to intersect the two worlds a bit, but the lindy group here is definitely much more geek-centric. I have been told anyway that it is generally much friendlier than other areas, but nevertheless, they are very much addicted to swing, lindy, bal, savoy... . That's fine as long as they appreciate some of the other dances that I can do.

    But the thing is... more young people want to do swing. Not that many young people want to do ballroom. On campus, I claim to host a swing/salsa dance, I get 80-120 people. If I host a ballroom dance, I'd be lucky to get 30. So the answer why he's sponsoring swing dances is simply money.
  4. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    From my experience, I had a difficult time sacrificing my ballroom notion of frame, not to mention the infamous coaster step. I went from lindy hopper doing wcs (too bouncy), to ballroom dancer doing wcs (too stiff and unnatural), to westie doing wcs (relaxed, good posture, smooth, not bouncy).
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. All three are different. So how does one find common ground? Is it possible?
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Or maybe the better question is, "Is that a reasonable goal?"

    Whan I joined DF nine months ago, I thought that dance was dance, and that I could synthesize what I knew from different areas to make myself a better dancer overall, regardless of genre. What I keep bumping up against is that swing seems to be different, somehow. Is it really that different?
  7. jdavidb

    jdavidb New Member

    My two top priorities now are waltz and lindy hop. I sure would like for the hustle to be up there too, but that would leave me hopelessly partnerless. I don't see why a person would struggle with doing such different styles correctly. My way of doing them is not to treat them as merely two different dances. I treat them as being two different things to do.

    You know, the music is supposed to kinda help ya get into character... waltz-> :| lindy hop-> :bouncy:
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yup. The music is in my blood. Has been for a long time. My Mom raised me on big band music ... the genuine article from the forties. Not the neo-stuff from the nineties. LOL.

    It just seems that the cultures are so different that I'm not sure if the divide is worth fighting to breach.

    Can anybody here help? etchuck? tsb? jon? jdavidb? You guys seem to have made the transition peaceably. Can you help me? I just want to dance to my level of ability in both worlds withou ticking people off unnecessarily.
  9. jdavidb

    jdavidb New Member

    yeah if you were raised on neo-swing, you'd only be about 10 now :lol:

    The more instruments a musician learns, the better he is at his #1 instrument.

    I don't really know how heavy the mind conditioning may be in the formal "ballroom class" world. Is it possible that they conditioned you to feel you can't do anything unless they show you how in extremely tedious detail? Do you need to fire up some rebellion in your spirit?

    Do you do anything sporty like play tennis?
  10. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    If you found common ground, would you truly be dancing these dances well? Right now, I'm working on differentiating my lindy from my west coast. It's difficult, but it's important to me. I want to truly become a lindy hopper. I had this same goal when I was learning street salsa. I wanted to get the ballroom out of me. When you enter a dance, you can tell who dances what for various reasons; posture, frame, facial expressions, etc. I think it's important to differentiate between different dances, not find common ground, I want to truly become a westie, a lindy hopper, a salsero, a tanguero, a hustler, etc.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I'm not suggesting homogenizing the dance styles. That would be murdering them, which, incidentally, is why I think the ballroom studios out there have such a bad rep in the swing community as a rule.

    I believe that there are some common concepts in the dances -- such as lead and follow, body/muscular control and isolation, moving from the core, using the frame. These are common, and once I understand them in one dance, I think I have an advantage inlearning other dances. Or is that wrong?
  12. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    What you say rings true swinginstyle. I do know what dancing experience a person has when I start dancing with them. This is very easy for em to tell when I do salsa, but I can also tell this to a certain extent when doing other social dancing. There are a couple ideas related to being a dancing generalist and taking my knowledge from one dance and applying in another.

    (1) Body awareness, and common techniques of lead/follow frame. Knowing this in one dance helps to learn another, and knowing in a couple helps even more.

    (2) Moves. Take the sweetheart/cuddle in salsa and the same in swing. Similar moves and can be translated from one dance to another by using the barebones of the move and fleshing it out with the unique character of the dance that you are doing.

    Just this past Sunday I found that I could pick up folk dances a lot easier then I was able to do in the past. That is due to my general dance experience. I also could identify the differences between a leg raise in folk dance vs one in latin dancing. Leg motion, for folk, vs hip motion for folk. If I applied myself I could do it.
  13. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Bingo. ECS was born out of the desire to tone down jitterbug/lindy hop and limit th elearning curve for teachers. It was only a matter of time before prancing and swishing were introduced. *shudder*

    Yes and no.

    While each partner dance has those elements as key things in its make-up rarely does a dance approach it from trhe most natural way. Most dances (all ballroom smooth and latin) dress it up giving you an abstraction rather than than the reality. A lot of the things that get taught with fram in wlatz for example have nothing to do with frame. Frame is the controlled use of muscles that allow for transmission of body movement through the arms into your partners body. These are torso muscles. I can execute every move in the waltz/foxtrot/vienesse syllabus with what most ballroom teachers would tell you is terrible frame... but that begs the question... If the frame is truly terrible why does it work? What they have added to frame is a specific aesthetic that involves arm muscles being active and held in specific positions and angles.

    Now don't get me wrong, if I dance wlatz without trhe arms held like this my aesthetic is going to be horrible. I will be adversely affecting the character of the dance, in a word I'm doing it WRONG. However my frame could be absolutely correct.

    There are numerous methods of teaching, one of the easiest is to teach students in the most direct manner to achieve the immediate desired result. That means lots of black and white, little explanation for why things are done one way instead of another, and bundling things like techinique and aesthetic together in an inseperable whole.

    Technique to me is what must be done in order for the dancers to dance together. How counterbalance, tension, compression etc. etc. are used to move your partner or be moved by your partner. Aesthetic are things like lines, arm and foot angles, etc. etc. They help give the dance that specific look that identifies it from other related dances, but they are a "requirment" to making the partner interaction work.

    I'm not trying to bash on ballroom dances, so much as explain why if you are taught with this bundling you may have severe problems trying to seperate what is part of the base concepts that cover all partner dance and what is necessary to make you dance one specific dance correctly.

    THere are lots of swing teachers that teach this way also. Thankfully the top level of Lindy Hop teachers tend to keep the technique and aesthetic seperate but explain how the aesthetic can help you dance correctly.
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hmm. Maybe I've been lucky, but this is exactly what I've been taught, by at least three different ballroom teachers, all of them exceptionally good ones, I have to admit.

    But you're right. There are many ballroom teachers out there who don't understand frame themselves and therefore can't teach it well or clearly. *shrug*
  15. Doug

    Doug New Member

    pygmalion - I think that Damon's point is that a Lindy hopper, or perhaps better yet a Balboa dancer, has incredibly good frame - how else do you lead and follow at say 250 BPM?? but that a ballroom instructor might say that the frame is terrible because the aesthetic is all wrong. Lindy hoppers at 250+ can look like a bunch'a monkey dancers out there! So I think that his point is that ballroom instructors generally layer on a lot of "extra" stuff in the name of frame.

    Wouldn't you agree??

    And to a balboa dancer, the frame often IS the torso, with the lead translated to the follow directly through the torso with only minor reliance on the arms. Not good frame to a ballroom instructor!
  16. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    I do agree that there are these common concepts throughout all dances. Learning body control, framing, toning, lead/follow technique, has eased the learning curve for additional dances. I do find that ballroom instructors gloss over the technique behind the moves until they become rote memorization. The more I've learned outside the studio, the more I've come to realize the poor quality within the studios I have been involved with.

    Anyone can force someone to do a move. Not everyone can lead a move smoothly and with good technique.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes and no and yes. Yes, lindy and balboa dancers have to have incredibly good use of frame. Absolutely. No, creation of lines for beautiful appearance in ballroom dancing is not the same as frame. Yes, other requirements are layered on top of the need for good frame in ballroom, but they are not synonymous with frame.
  18. Jmatthew

    Jmatthew New Member

    One of the unique things about oregon state university is that it offers a huge assortment of dance classes by very skilled instructors, and encourages everyone to take everything.

    of course most people pick a dance and tend to stick with it as their focus, while only being able to fake their way through most other dances.

    Some of us though have chosen the incredibly difficult road of getting good at everything, which is frustrating and really cranks up the learning curve for everything you try to learn. The more dances you're learning, the harder it is to dance any of them.

    I began a year ago with Lindy Hop, and now I'd say I'm a fairly good Lindy Hopper. About 6 months ago I started learning West Coast, and my west coast was UGLY as hell for a long time, but with some obssessive teachers who really drilled the correct form into me I was able to become a pretty solid Westie. Of course, all that time on West Coast made my Lindy more westie-like, so I had to spend more time going to Swing workshops and dances to regain my "swing."

    a few months later I started taking some serious ballroom classes, trying ot get my waltz to look watlzish, foxtrot to look foxtrotish, and to completely ignore American Tango (because Argentine rocks its socks off). oh and I sort of learned to Vienesse Waltz, but that dance is scary.

    These dances, being vastly different from swing, didn't affect my swing dancing much, BUT they were really hard to pick up, because their attitude is so much different from swing dances.

    My latin dances still suck, but they're getting better.

    Some tips from my experience to become competent at multiple styles:

    1) practice a lot. If you practice one dance once a week, you'll need to practice it twice a week when you pick up two dances. Basically try to cube your dance stylings. If you do Lindy and west coast, practice four times a week, if you do Lindy, West coast and ballroom, practice each dance 3x a week... if you slack off and neglect any of your styles, they'll fade away very very quickly.

    2) Listen to the music you dance to, not just the music you like to listen to, when you're just listening to music. If you listen to swing and jazz all the time because you're a "lindy hopper" you'll have a harder time getting into the feel of ballroom or west coast. Mix up your listening music selections more so that you can really get into the music you're dancing to.

    3) Try to hit mixed dance venues as often as you can, so you can practice jumping from Westie to Lindy to Ballroom technique and give them firm but seperate seats in your brain. Focus on your technique at the beginning of each song and really make sure you're dancing a westie to a westie song, etc.

    4) Get over the idea that more moves = good dancer. If you're trying to do a million moves to a dozen dances, you'll never keep up. Focus on the appropriate frames and technique and stick with basics and simple moves until the frame and technique are at least passable without thinking about it. If you have to keep reminding yourself to keep your back straight, or your elbow up, etc, then you need to focus on that, not pulling off a quadruple spin.

    My biggest tip is my last one: Focus on your frame and technique in whatever dance you do, and it will help you improve on ALL the dances you do. Luckily I sucked at Lindy Hop at first, took me a couple of months to figure out the basic, but some good follows took me under their wing to really drive in good technique, so after a few months I had almost no moves, but really good technique. With good technique, adding moves was pretty easy.

    after I was dancing for about 6 months a friend of mine came up to me, and pointed out that while we'd been dancing for the same length of time, I had become a fairly good Lindy Hopper, while he was an okay dancer at pretty much everything our school offers (lindy, west coast, latin, ballroom). He wasn't saying either of us made a good or bad decision, just pointing out his insight that I had excelled past him in one dance considerably, he'd made adequate progress in a number of dances. 8 months later though, I've surpassed him in most dances, and I'm an even better Lindy Hopper. I don't say this out of vanity, he's quite a good dancer, but I think the early focus on technique in my Lindy (which, as I said I was forced into, so none of this is commentary on me so much as the insight of my teachers) made figuring out the technique of ballroom and west coast all that much easier.

    Now if I could just get my hips to move like I wasn't a white guy... :)
  19. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Some excellent comments, insights, and advice there Jmatthew. Thanks for sharing! :D
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes. Excellent. I plan to emulate you, guy. :wink: 8) :D

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