Swing Discussion Boards > Message to beginners and intermediates

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Flat Shoes, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    This thread never became what I intended, which was how to find the a new way to communicate some ideas.

    Anyway, since there is some disagreement about the ideas themselves, which might mean either that I am wrong, or that I didn't communicate them properly, I found this post about using the body.

    This is essentially much the same thing I've tried to say. But probably much clearer.

    I was trying to stay away from the phrase "dancing from the center", though, because I think that won't mean anything to most beginners and intermediates. Focusing on the muscles that connects arm to body, though, is something I'll add to my plan.

    The thread itself is a very good read. http://dance-forums.com/showpost.php?p=545279
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    The old timers have said that back in the day partners spent much time practicing their moves together. Frankie Manning, et al, were professional dancers who didn't want to be thought of as professionals.
    So, how is it that we have ended up thinking of Lindy as almost all about lead and following skills?
  3. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    There is nothing wrong with practicing moves and patterns for social dancing. On the contrary, I thing it can be very useful. Also I agree with the idea that practicing a routine is a way of getting confidence, and through that learn to relax more.

    But at the same time, I think it is important to teach and learn technique directly, through focusing on different issues and how to avoid them. For example how to avoid being tense, and let that break flow and balance. See also the quote from d nice: If you are trying to stiffen or tone your arm muscles I'd bet dollars to donuts that you are doing it wrong (as in too much). Concentrate on the tension of the muscles that connect the arm to the torso.>

    So I disagree with the idea that learning to relax can only come "once you have gotten your technique down. It isn't the other way around." Especially since relaxing is part of good technique.

    What I'm hoping to do when teaching, is getting the students to relax by focusing on smoothness and flow, by working on some patterns I think fit this goal.

    Also I was implicitly talking about social dance. When dancing Lindy socially, there is no set syllabus with a correct way of doing things. A Lindy turn, for example, can be danced in a lot of different ways. Leading in on any count between one and three, leading out forwards, sideways, backwards, different styles and improvisations, hesitations and so forth. A follower following this needs good technique, not knowledge of a learned pattern.

    When performing a routine, for example for show or competition, many things changes.
  4. ireniecat

    ireniecat New Member

    Sorry, I wasn't being very clear. It was indeed in reference to lead and follow and using your body, and had nothing to do with choreography. In the particular instance I'm thinking, he was referring to allowing yourself to become tense purposefully so you could move with power and anticipation. Once you could feel what that power is like, you would gradually cut back on the tension ("effort"), but retain the power. The idea is to become aware to engage your body in movement, and not be so relaxed from the start that you feel the lead but don't do anything with it.
  5. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Ah, then I understand what you mean. I agree that more tension is better than less tension. Because there is more room for error on the "more tension" side, than on the "less tension" side.

    But when I was talking about being tense and relaxing, I was thinking more about being stiff. There are those that stiffen their arms in order to have more tension. That is a bad habbit, and my goal is to get them to be more smooth and soft.

    Also there are those who tense up their body, so that they can't move smoothly, can't turn smoothly and mess up their own balance.

    So the goal is to teach them to relax, while still maintaining a good connection with their dance partner.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    TONE - Firmness with flexibility. (Stretch the heel of your forward, while stretching the back part of the shoulder blade back & down. This produces a round elbow and a flexible, but toned arm. (NOT a strong muscle)
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I kinda miss d nice.
    It is very common to overdo when learning a new skill. After a while you learn to tone it down.
  8. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Just searching on is name and reading threads he participated in is very useful.

    That is one of the problems when telling people to have tension, or telling them to relax. It tends to causes either inflexible arms, or spaghetti arms.
  9. ireniecat

    ireniecat New Member

    So true. It's not an easy concept to understand for a beginner. Nor is it easy to apply because it requires a certain attention and awareness of the body that the student has probably never experienced.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This is an interesting item about West Coast Swing.

    "August 2008 - When ..... travel to Europe, they frequently run into people who have studies West Coast Swing - who honeslty believe that there is no standard curriculum for West Coast Swing. They have been told that West Coast is a free spirited dance with no standard patterns. Nothing could be farther from the truth."

    I find this of interest, not only for my own dancing, but from a historical perspective, and I keep asking about the "improvisational" thing that is so much emphaiszed now a days.
  11. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    For Lindy Hop, I could say both, depending on circumstances. The is a standard curriculum in the sense that there are a set of basic patterns everyone should learn as a beginner. Exactly what that set is would differ, but it would always include swing out, lindy turn with inside and outside turn variations, circle, side by side charleston, tandem charleston, tuck turn etc.

    But there is no standard curriculum in the sense that it is not defined what the basic set is, and in the sense that there is not one correct way of executing any of these patterns. There is only good and bad leading and following.

    Personally I like to say that there is no standard curriculum, but I can agree with the other side too. I wouldn't disagree until having learned more about what lies behind that opinion.
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well, with West Coast, the text I included is the opinion of someone who has been involved with that particular dance, and others, since the early 1950s.

    I just had a tought that maybe the improvised thing has been emphasized as a continuation of thinking from the 60s.

    With Lindy I'm still sorting through the sources to form my own opinion. From the beginning there was a "do whatever" during the breakaway, and copying other people's steps was frowned upon.
    What we see on film are mostly choreographed performances.
    Manning and others talk about social dancing, but I wonder how much they danced with just plain everyday dancers given their celebrity status and having their own corner of the Savoy to dance in.
  13. Apache

    Apache Member

    Its interesting you bring that up because you get different opinions depending upon which of the old timer dancers you refer to. A lot of people have gotten the whole "copying other people's steps was frowned upon by the interviews with Al Minns in the past when he stated fights would break out over stealing steps. But many people have contradicted that saying he was exaggerating for the sake of the story and that it was common practice. I believe that past sentiment was even voiced in Frankie Mannings book Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Manning's book is just one of many I'm currently looking at.
    The Stearn's included a whole chapter on gang related activities and the Savoy, too.
    I remember Manning discounting one account of a fight.
    Then there was the business of kicking people in the shins if they weren't supposed to be there.
    I'll keep looking until they make me take the book back because someone else put a hold on it. You wouldn't have a page number by chance?

    "After all, it was a new dance, so a lot of moves were being invented on the spot."
  15. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    With an out of context quote, it's often difficult to know exactly what is meant.

    But when it comes to Lindy and syllabus, I can quote d nice again:
    The link to the post: http://www.dance-forums.com/showthread.php?p=53227
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "All of the Lindy hoppers at the Savoy had their individual style. It's not like everyone was going to class and learning someone else's way of dancing."

    Stuff like this is why I kinda miss the guy!
    While several decades went by, Manning worked for the post office, and Minns worked at a paint factory. The syllabus dependant studios kept right on teaching.
    Now, when swing was hitting the mainstream big time in the last half of the 30s, sure, the kids didn't go to the studios to learn "jitterbug" as it was known in the wider culture. Now a days, though, I don't think The syllabus dependant studios feel threatened at all.

    And I'm not saying there SHOULD be a syllabus, but if you are going to teach Lindy, as you say you are, what is the "plan"? To me it's like the AT people talking about an "embrace" rather than a "frame". A "syllabus" by any other name...

    Hey, I was in LA last weekend and went to three places: Atomic Ballroom, the Press Box, and Cowboy Country. Can anyone tell me how many Lindy events I missed?
  17. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    This depends on what you mean by syllabus. To me syllabus carries implies some formality and definition. Although there is a subset of patterns I think everyone should learn, this would be more agreed upon than defined.

    This is in contrast to dances where you have clearly defined bronze, silver and gold levels with accompanying syllabi (funny word).

    There is also a skill set belonging to Lindy Hop. I have thought about sitting down myself and trying to break this down, and figure out what these are. But I think there are many ways of doing this, and no formal/correct way. So again, it is hard to define a syllabus.

    The goal, the "plan", whenever I teach is to make those attending the class better social dancers. I want them to understand what makes a good connection, and what makes the connection break down. And I want to do that in the context of what agreeably could be called Lindy Hop.

    There are skills and patterns you should learn when dancing Lindy Hop. And I'm sure it is possible to break down and define this, and call that a syllabus. You could do that for your classes, and your own teaching. But I'm not sure you could do that in a generally acceptable way.
  18. Apache

    Apache Member

    I know Atomic, but I have never heard of those two other places before. Also a lot of the hardcore Californian dancers were out East for the Boston Tea Party last week.
  19. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Happy that you found it useful! :)
  20. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    if you are into blues at all, you would have missed dosomethingblue (dosomethingblue.com) in pasadena on friday night.

    if you can get here on a thursday night, try lindygroove (lindygroove.com) in pasadena.

    next time, check www.lalindyhop.com. it's reasonably comprehensive and now that the weather is warming up a bit, should eventually include the outdoor events such as the 'pot luck' dances at the 3rd street promenade or on the pier on sundays.

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