Swing Discussion Boards > Understanding "lines"

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by genie, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. genie

    genie New Member

    I'm trying to understand the concept of "lines". Can anyone share their knowledge about lines, what they are, where they are, how to assess whether you have clean lines, how to adjust your dancing so you have clean lines, etc.
  2. huey

    huey New Member

    Hello genie,

    Could you give some background to your question about lines (where have you heard them mentioned)?
  3. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Hmm, lines as I think of them in a ballroom context aren't something I think of as being associated with the more specialized swing styles.

    What is the meaning of 'line' in a swing context?
  4. huey

    huey New Member

    Yes - that was my thought too :wink:
  5. Angelo

    Angelo Member

    I'll hazard a guess that they are similar to "lines" that are valued in in Latin dance. For example, the posture line from the top of the head to the coccyx; arm extension lines that do not cause one shoulder to be "raised" relative to the other; a clean line of connection from the leader's elbow to the follower's elbow in open facing position et cetra, et cetera.

    The details for what makes a clean line may or may not be different between the styles, but from what video I've seen of high level lindy hop competition they are not too far off
  6. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    One word: mirror!
    To me, a line is the toal look from head to toe, or, usually, arm line to leg line. You can hit a good line on a break. Look in the mirror and see what needs adjusting to make it look better, i.e., arm a little higher.
  7. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Maybe I just haven't seen good swing dancing then. What I have seen tended to be more earthy, almost valuing posture that would be considered hunched in ballroom or performance dance contexts.
  8. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    There are a number of lines in swing. It is possible to think of them in reference to the slot.

    West Coast Swing is danced on an invisible "line". The Lead is the center point of the dance with the follower passing by on side passes, whips, etc. I like to visualize it as a train track. The folloer spends the entire dance between the imaginary rails of the track. In order for her to pass, the leader must move out of the way and onto the rails.

    The posture of WCS is also more upright. In my opinion, former ballet dancers make this dance a joy to watch due to thier trained posture. There are also hustle arms which can come into play as far as having clean lines while dancing.

    Lindy Hop is "technically" danced in a slot as well, but as it is a looser form of swing than West Coast, the line moves a little more and a more circular feel and look is given to the dance despite it still being slotted.

    It's an earthier dance, and does tend to be lower than WCS, but the necessity for good posture and clean lines is there. The thing about Lindy Hop is that it is a social dance. It's meant to be fun and unrestricted, so the requirement to have perfect lines all the time is removed. Dancing and form of swing is an unrestrained feeling and worrying about clean lines, especially while dancing Lindy Hop, doesn't create a great dance.
  9. Angelo

    Angelo Member

    It can have an earthy look to it , which seems to me is mainly due to the use of the knees, hips, and ankles. The really good swing dancing i've seen in the videos didn't looked "hunched" at all
  10. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    This raises an interesting but subtle point:

    I think there's a fundamental skill of being able to make good, aligned posture look comfortable rather than stiff and artificial.

    It's like if you put on clothes you never wear, they don't look comfortable on you - but live in them for a while, and it all starts to work. People who don't "wear" good posture regularly probably have more trouble putting it on naturally and comfortably - so it ends up stilted and artifical in a kind of way that would be completely incompatible with dances like swing.
  11. genie

    genie New Member

    One way that it's been explained to me is that if someone took a snapshot of you during any part of the dance, (if you have clean lines), you would look good, like a sculpture.

    I've also heard it explained that there is a line going from right shoulder to left foot, and left shoulder to right foot. And you need to keep your center open.

    So, when dancing, I try to apply the "snapshot" concept. That helps me be mindful that I need to make every motion count. Even a walk walk or step step gets extra spunk now.
  12. Angelo

    Angelo Member

    Yes, this seems to be true of just about any motor skill that is not habitual.
  13. TemptressToo

    TemptressToo Member

    In most every style of dancing...sort of the universal thing to look for is parallelism. For instance, in tango...during a corte...you want to see a parallel slant.

    Essentially...is is a lot of geometry. Clean boxes, slants and angles that match your partner are going to be some pretty clean line. Of course, there are things you can do to better your lines by practicing some good posture, making sure you have a good flat back and neck and side stretch...oh, and when the dance type allows it, point your toes...it lengthens your whole leg line.
  14. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    So, I guess, TT, that the lines I use on you . . . are not what they are talking about here???
  15. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Actually you have it the exact opposite. Swing dances (or I should say historical swing dances) use the Africanist aesthetic, a low more grounded look lacking straight limbs is the ideal.
  16. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Depends entirely what you mean by slot. If the leader leads the follower straightforward is she suppossed to go straightforward? Yes, but that has nothing to do with slotting. Lindy Hops base moves are ellipses, only passes and the sugar push are linear.

    It's an earthier dance, and does tend to be lower than WCS, but the necessity for good posture and clean lines is there. The thing about Lindy Hop is that it is a social dance. It's meant to be fun and unrestricted, so the requirement to have perfect lines all the time is removed. Dancing and form of swing is an unrestrained feeling and worrying about clean lines, especially while dancing Lindy Hop, doesn't create a great dance.[/quote]
  17. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Thank you . . I wanted to comment but couldn't find the words!
  18. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Line in the art of dance...

    In matters of artistry and beauty the subject is often of lesser significance than its elements or composition. One important element in creating art is the LINE--of which there are two fundamental types : curved and straight. Other elements are texture, color, light and shade, etc... All of which, when combined, create a form of expression.

    Lines occur in a number of places when dancing. One is what I call Directional Path. This is the path taken by a couple/individual while dancing/travelling through space. Second is the Dynamic path, taken by a part of the body--such as an arm--while moving through a given space relative to the body. And third, which I call Static Line , is the line(s) created by the human body when adopting a pose.

    Examples of lines in dance:
    1. [Directional Path] The direction one takes when doing a Waltz Natural
    turn--the line taken over the six steps is flat when taken along the line of dance (LOD), is vastly different from the inverted *u* or *\__/* shape when the figure is taken at the corner of the dance floor.

    2. [Dynamic Body Movement] The line taken by the foot when doing a Ronde (a sweeping movement that creates an arc (curving line)). A smaller line is the curve of the lady's right hip as it settles during a Rumba movement. (Remove the actual hip--the subject--and just imagine the resulting curve that is shaped like an *S* --that is the line).

    3. [Static]. The shoulder line of a gentleman dancing a waltz. The curve created by the lady from her coccyx (bottom of her spine) to the top of her head in ballroom. The line from the lady's toe to her head during a dip. The line running from the left toe of the lady (and gentleman) to the right shoulder in a *Same Foot Lunge* figure--which is categorized as a *Line Figure* for this very reason. And finally, the line from the tip of the finger, through the wrist, to the elbow of the lady's left arm as it is held out when in Fan position, and then the curve of the same arm from the wrist to the elbow, to the shoulder.

    Remember that the aesthetic value of the combination of lines often depends on the perception and aesthetic sensibilities of the viewer. For instance, a gentleman's straight (back) posture is admired in the International Standard Waltz, but could be frowned upon when doing an intimate Argentine Tango--or other dances, where a lean--and a little curve may be seen as the norm.

  19. genie

    genie New Member

    I can understand why lines are important in ballroom dances, and I can even see how they would be important in Salsa and West Coast. I guess I'm trying to see how clean lines applies to Lindy. A lot of lindy hop and blues dancing seem to defy any "rules" or structure, which may be why I love them so much. The lines would be totally different between lindy, charleston and balboa, and it's not uncommon to do all three in one song. And how about the lines in blues dancing? We can get to that later....

    Anyway, are lines "standardized", i.e., it basically means that you should do x regardless of the dance? Or do lines vary along with the style of dance? Can lines be straight, curved, or flowing? I've never known lindy to be structured or "straight".

    Therefore.... are lines even relevant in lindy hop? If so, then how?
  20. SwingBean

    SwingBean New Member

    Line refers to the posture of the dancer including curve of the spine, angles of the legs and arms, position and flex of the feet and hands, head position and so on. It is the total look of the person at any moment in the dance but is especially noticeable on breaks, dips or anytime the dance slows or "freezes" in time.

    Line can be thought of as standardized in any dance: ie the extreme arch of a tango corte, the pike of a lindy hopper, the arm styling of the cha-cha cross-over, the embrace of Argentine Tango. So any dance can have standard lines, and these lines are straight, curved, etc. Any dance can also have non-standard lines. Your unique posture and style creates a certain look while you dance. Your unique pike, angle of leg during Charleston, proximity to your partner on a swingout, arch of the feet during swivels--all these things create your line. You can try to achieve the "standard" or you can create new styles. It's all up to you.

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