Swing Discussion Boards > Lindy Hop: Improving the "Swingout"

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Apache, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Too follow up on that, the special connection comes when you are both on time and you are both working as couple. Don't expect it to be there with every partner, in fact, knowing your partner 'has not got it' is part of the learning curve.

    With experience you can take tell in about 30 seconds how your partner is balanced, what their timing is like, what there co-ordination is like - being able to dance within their envelope is as much part of leading/following as the process of indicating what you want them to do.

    Nothing is more exciting to me as a lead is follow who intuitively senses my ability - then pushs me to achieve more.

    That's when you get that special connection.
  2. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    In Lindy it is not so much being on time (with the music), as it is paying attention to the partners body position/weight distribution and physically seeking the connection.

    A follower should move with the partners lead, and not move on a certain beat. A follower moving forward on a beat, withpout witing for the lead, will break connection. Also the leader should wait with the lead until the partner is at the appropriate position/has approriate weight distribution. If the leader leads on a beat, and the follower has not reached the right position, this will be hard and jerky leading.

    I write this because if a follower thinks she has to step forward on a specific beat in a pattern, to be on time with the music, she might actually be breaking the connection.

    In order to this while staying in time with the music, the leader has to manipulate and control the speed of the follower, while he moves himself into a optimal position/distance for the next part of the lead.

    It sound probably a bit to technical when trying to describe it, but in reality for the leader is all about feeling where your partner is before leading a different direction. And for the follower it is all about continuing the movements till their ended and not anticipating but waiting for the lead.

    And in Lindy you can tell almost instantly whether a follower understand this. In the first swingout from a closed position an experience follower will sit back on 3-4, waiting, while most beginners will not seek this connection. At this point, after four beats, you already know a lot about your follower.

    To any beginner followers reading this and thinking this sounds mighty difficult, please don't be afraid to dance with experienced leaders because you can't do this yet. Nobody expects anybody to be perfect, and every experienced leader knows it takes time to master. Smile and have fun, that is just as important as having "perfect" technique.
  3. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    By timing I did not mean timing in a rigid musical sense.

    It's the same in WCS - the follower is behind the beat the leader ahead of it, a leader doesn't lead and a follower instantly follow, in between is the connection, its what Swing dance is about, whether it be Lindy or WCS.

    Connection is everything. . . .
    As you say, when they sit back and wait it tells you a lot about your follower, this is as true in WCS as it is in Lindy, it is to me the distinquishing feature of Swing dance.

    Remember that video of Ruth Cnaay, clearly holding off and waiting for the connection? It's fine example because you can actually able to 'see the connection'
  4. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    From my experience with dance I know you can dance with the music without moving on the beat. I am timing the moves based on the music, but am I on time?

    But I know beginner Lindy dancers are often very concerned with what count they are supposed to move on.

    English is not my main language, and I am not a musician so I don't know how strict "on time" is really defined. I associate it with being on the beat. So saying that being "on time" is important to have a good connection could at least mislead me into thinking that I would have to be on the beat to dance well.

    That's just how I understand it, but I may be wrong. :)

    It's so nice to look at followers really getting this dancing. You can really see how they are waiting and ready. Sometimes literally on their toes.
  5. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    I had some difficulty with WCS when I started because I was trying to dance 'on the beat'. I worked out (with a musician follower) that to get swing dance 'on the beat' you have to be moving your feet 'off the beat'.

    The rhythm is held at the point you hold the connection, not the point you step off. The lead has to step off slightly ahead of the beat, make the connection 'on the beat' and the follower moves slightly behind the beat.

    Lindy is the same as WCS, but the difference in time less noticeable.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hopefully, you all aren't too tired of me bringing up Lauré Haile, who was National Dance Director for Arthur Murray , an instructor of teachers, and documented swing dancing as done in the Los Angeles area, called it "Western Swing" aka West Coast Swing.
    Anyhow, I was very impressed with what she wrote about dancing in general, and also about the relationship of music and dance. She also shows what looks to me like a deep understanding of not just the rhythm of swing, but the rhythms of swing dancing.

    Anyhow, this part might be germane to the current direction of the thread.

    People often ask, "How can I tell where to start if I'm in the middle of a musical number?"
    One way is to wait until the beginning of the next phrase and then pick up the first or downbeat measure.
    Another way is to train yourself to recognize the halfway mark of a phrase, or the end of 4 bars...

    She wrote an entire page on the importance of matching the phrases of your dance with the music.
  7. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I'm all but certain that this is false in WCS....

    Try this drill: dance your favorite basic patterns without connection, with both partners concentrating on matching the music with their movements. It should be obvious that they are dancing in the same time - the movements are coordinated together; no echo, no lag.

    Now, while dancing, add connection - should this disturb the timing of either dancer? Of course not, both continue to move in time to the music, and therefore with each other. What we compromise instead is the signal that travels through the connection - that's the piece that needs to anticipate the music, so that everything else can occur on time.

    That said, there's enough fuzz in the terminology that everybody can be sort of right - movement includes prepare, depart, arrive; a beat can be treated as a moment in time, or an interval. There's a lot of common ground to be established before a constructive dialog is possible here.

    In addition to that, it's really hard - much easier with beginners to disguise the subtleties until they are revealed organically.
  8. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    How do you lead without connection? How does the follower know what pattern is being lead? Do you expect the follower to be a telepath?

    The whole point is the signal to move is transmitted by physical action - not telepathy, and that action takes a measureable amount of time. To be on time the action must be lead ahead of the beat. Any pattern in swing has an action and reaction, with the space inbetween being the place where the rhtym is held.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And to think, I almost commented on this. Then I realized where it would go, and how much I would have to write, and remembered that I've got other things to do!

    My fave part of these discussions is the "lead with your body" stuff, which will no doubt come up.
  10. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    But how is that signal generated? How is it recieved? If you are leading with your body you must move ahead of the signal, if you are following you must move after the signal.

    There's also the issue Flat shoes raised of building the momentum. The follow and lead sequence has to keep rhythm with the music, but is the centre point of that rhythm at the moment you lead, the moment you connect or the moment you follow.

    I say its the moment you connect, I say that because most the musicians I've danced with have problems with WCS for that very reason, to get it right your 'aiming point' in holding the beat is not the footwork by the connection.
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Pretty much ALL musicians have a problem understanding WHAT we dance, to what they are playing. Theres a disconnect for some reason .

    Ive taught world class musicians, in rhythm and smooth dances, and without exception ( this includes a drummer, guitar teacher and a classical musician ) each had problems with structuring the music to the steps..
  12. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    That's because they know they are out of time.

    Most people when they start dancing have no idea about beat and rhythm, musicians are aware from the beginning - and its awful, because the body doesn't have the physical skill (muscle memory) to hit the beats and rhythm.

    Teachers often mistake the clumsy footfoot for a poor sense of rhythm, its actually a case of trying too hard, or rather trying to hit something they know is there but is outside their physical envelope.

    Musician should have a lot of physical training before they are ready to dance to music, the music screws everything up.
  13. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I've long wondered if how much, if any, of that disconnect comes from confusion about when the sounds happen, versus when the movement they use to make the sounds happens.
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Isn't the discussion here one of the defining differences between the smooth category of dances and the rhythm category?

    In dances like Waltz and Foxtrot there is the concept of the beat as a moment. So the dancer's body motion bridges the up and down beats and creates rising and falling body flight to match the music. Stepping right on beat isn't as important as how the body is moving over the moment that beat takes. One of the reasons the heel and toe leads are so important is those foot motions help create the body movement around the beat.

    The whole class of dances that fall under rhythm dances, such as swing, salsa, chacha and even 2-step, take the step right on the beat. The leader's brain anticipates the beat and then moves right on it. The beat defines when the step should be taken in the whole dance category. Whether we call it leading with our body or just good connection, the lady should immediately know where and when to step. While she is still following, the time difference should be small enough that we need super slowmo video to percieve it.

    I think the idea of he moves - hand connection moves on beat - she moves is out of character with the dance. Better frame and connection should allow the couple to move together as a unit.
  15. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    If the couple move together as unit there is no compression - tension, no pulse to the dance, and it ceases to become Swing.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well then, you would be as dismayed as I am when someone tells me, "I don't like you pulling me". People have even argued here that there is no "push" in the Sugar Push.

    Here's a few interesting facts - the "First Five" "Western Swing" songs are around 120 beats per minute, according to MixMeister software.That's one beat every 0.5 seconds!

    As Kayak points out, we are parsing very small units of time here!
    Still, Skippy Blair, and others I would guess, teach a method for parsing steps into several segments. I wonder if this is a useful concept for beginners.
  17. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I've always been taught that good frame creates the boundaries and good connection creates the movement withing those boundaries.

    So if I step back in WCS, my frame moves our whole dance boundaries back and the lady steps forward. Once I have created where those dance boundaries are going to be, good connection lets us create fun motion and patterns.
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Yes. I would add that in this case, and many if not most others, your body moves because you are taking a step. It makes me crazy when people turn that on its head by asserting that you "lead with your body", as if your steps and body are not connected.
    I was reminded of this, once again, in trying to learn some very old, but new to me ,"moves" from step descriptions.

    I'll add, too, that she "feels" your movement through the "connection" of your joined hands/arms/etc. So that, for instance, if you DON'T take that step backwards, she would/should not start her forward movement.
    That whole move/don't move thing happens in a fraction of a second, which we are perfectly capable of "feeling" and reacting/not reacting to.

    Another beef... use of the word "leverage", which I just can't fit into my (sort of) knowledge of physics.
  19. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Oh, are we taking the thread this direction now? I've got long answers for all of these, I think - with the possible exception of "leverage". My answers might even be useful, or true....
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I have yet to see a thread that stays on one subject, unless it's a very short thread.
    I think most of this stuff has been alluded to one way or another during the course of the thread. Or, maybe not.

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