Swing Discussion Boards > Understanding "lines"

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

  1. genie

    genie New Member


    Would you then say that lines are an individualized thing? So, my lines would not be the same as your lines due to our own unique style? Is it more about discovering what lines look good for you?

    It kind of sounds like everyone's version of clean lines will be different then, correct?
  2. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Hello genie (love your avatar).

    Without exception, lines are relevant in ALL forms of dancing. And they are standardized to follow certain rules. Following those rules would create a pleasing aesthetic--dependent of course on the artistic sensibilities of the viewer.

    To me, a line [or more importantly a series of congruent lines] is the distilllation of form and/or movement. The type of dance is irrelevant in this regard (see my previous comment about the subject being less important than the composition of its elements).

    Ever wonder why in any dance--let's just say Lindy--some look better at it and some look worse? It's because the better dancer has better lines (whether stationary or moving).

    Whenever the human body is involved in movement lines will be present. Whether that's simply a Watusi jumping up and down, or a tribal highlander doing a tribal hop, or a ballet dancer on *pointe*,

    A movement in any dance will be composed of multiple lines (both curved and straight). For instance, a ballet dancer... The turnout of her feet--her left toe, left heel, right heel, and right toe should be in a straight line. When doing a *plie* her back should be straight. Depending upon the movement, her arm might curve, or be straight.

    Combining the different lines correctly will inevitably result in an aesthetically pleasing form.

  3. SwingBean

    SwingBean New Member

    Hi Genie, yes--I think our lines are going to be different unless we are both striving to meet the standard (mentioned by madmaximus) for that dance. Even then, we won't look the same unless we really strive to do that--we may be of different height and weight, our flexibility may be different, we may place our feet differently, etc. All those things will change our lines.

    "Discovering what lines look good for you"...hmmm, yes! that could be a whole topic in itself. I'd think that this would be a great way to start developing your style (in dances where styling works, where you don't need to be standard).
  4. genie

    genie New Member

    madmaximus wrote:
    Combining the different lines correctly will inevitably result in an aesthetically pleasing form.

    Is there a secret or formula to combining the different lines correctly?
  5. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Yes there is...

  6. genie

    genie New Member

    What... You're gonna make me beg for it?

    Give it up! Bring on the secrets!

    Please please please.
  7. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    I WAS going to have you wait for the book I'm writing...

    But then you said please... (three times yet!) so how can I resist?

    I'll post it next time I'm on. Right now I (really) have to run. :)

  8. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    The secret is simple. Extend the existing lines of the body, depending on the pose/movement being adopted.

    The trick is--of course--knowing where those good lines are.

    A simple example--for Waltz (ballroom) dancers.

    Point A: Where the neck meets the shoulders. (You know, before it slopes outwards towards the shoulders).

    Point B: The tip of the shoulders.

    Connect point A & B. (This is at a 5 degrees or so angle from horizontal).

    Raise the elbow so that it is in line with A & B. Now you have that pleasing shape known as the shoulder line.

    Hope this helps genie. Let me know if you need further clarification.

  9. genie

    genie New Member

    Alright madmax.... I'm with you on that one. Thanks for the insight!

    Now, would you say that the lines of a ballroom dancer differ from those of a lindy hopper? The shoulder line would be a good example -instrumental in appropriate ballroom dance, but is it applicable in lindy hop movement?

    If not, then it leads me to suspect that lines differ in the various dances. Perhaps this is what truly differentiates the dances?
  10. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    It's been years since I've done a decent lindy, so bear with me.

    The premise is that there will be lines where movement and the human body is concerned.

    But not all lines will be appropriate to a dance. You must select those that are pertinent to the aesthetic sensibilities of the dance form.

    For instance, I would not dance swing with the lines of ballet feet (turn-out). But the ballet spinal posture is appropriate in the Foxtrot. (Remember, too, that a curve is also considered a *line* in artistic expression)... the west-coast posture is often-times danced with a real gentle curved (almost straight) back--not sloppy curved (as in *hunched*), but relaxed curved, which some would say is appropriate to the Argentine Tango, but not to the International Style Tango (they value a more ram-rod straight back).

    I forget, but there is a lindy/charleston move where the free leg is held or pointed backwards while hopping. There's a line for you right there. What would look better--a straight leg pointed backwards whose foot is held at a 90 degree angle, or a leg that shows a straight line from hip socket to toe?

    As to your question about the shoulder line--what I described in the previous post would still be appropriate depending on usage. When (doing an ornamental movement as when) you hold your free arm at torso level (say on a single hand or handshake hold) I would still aim for a straight shoulder line(that slopes) with a curving arm. It might be a moment in time, but the lines would still be there. As will the line from the tip of your fore-finger to the wrist to the elbow. It would still end up looking *casual* but to the onlooker, there would be that indefinable element of *being correct* for some reason.

  11. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    These lines these lines these broken lines,
    these mystery lines, these elusive lines.
    My teacher says I should have connected lines
    tell me what's the role of the lines?

    The arm line connected to the shoulder line
    the head line balanced on the neck line
    the neck line connected to the back line
    the foot line extension of the leg line

    (or something like that)
  12. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    What's a nice line like you
    doing in a post like this? :wink:
  13. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Pike in Lindy? Not at all standard. Maybe one specific stylistic branch pikes, but it is in no way standardized for the dance. Historically the early styles danced in the Savoy had little to no pike through their basic, especially the perofrmance competition styles as exemplified by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers.
  14. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Um, lindy hop has NO standardized lines. Period. Every persons lines will be different. There is a rnage that is correct, but no rule that creates a single definition of what is correct and what is incorrect. Anyone who tells you different isn't a lindy hopper. HAte to be so brusk about it but there it is.

    I've spent years researching form and function of lindy hop and dancing with and studying under some of the past greats, each had amazing lines and every time I tried to copy their lines I was told not to. Charly Mead (instructor, choreographer and coach, who prduced more Harvest Moon Champions than any other person) told me to "Quit clowning around and dance like yourself."

    Extension is usually considered good... but I've seen some compact lines on some of Mama Lu Parks dancers that were amazing and were generally recognized as being among some of her best dancers.

    What makes good lines in lindy hop is the visual movement. Being able to see that energy flow through your body. This IS easier with extended lines, but the real thing is to not be tense. Your body movement should be relaxed and your limbs flow naturally with the movement.
  15. SwingBean

    SwingBean New Member

    Hmm...maybe we're not talking about the same thing. I think most lindy hoppers use a piked position in many of their patterns. This creates a certain look which I am calling "line" and it is characteristic of the dance.

    Take a look at http://www.ocswing.com/swinginsundays.html . Both dancers are piked forward (the woman more than the man) and Shesha talks about the pike in his text: "The look of Lindy Hop is down low with bent knees and waist and open arms. One can pike forwards or backwards depending on style. "
  16. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Yeah, (at least from a gymnastics/diving perspective) that is a lunge the guy is in, a pike is straight legged and straight backed and bent at the middle. So the Dean Collins/Smooth/Hollywood style could be called a pike, but the classic Harlem styles are more lunges or squats.

    We just use different terms based on our experience in movement study.
  17. kansas49er

    kansas49er New Member

    This is from the SW Regional Dance Association rules:

    Lining “Striking a line…” portions of the couple’s bodies (i.e. arms, legs, torsos) visually line up either in
    the same direction or opposite directions while creating a visual image of symmetry.
  18. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Africanist movement uses asymetry purposefully, actually a surprising amount of non-Western European cultures' dances do this. One of the reasons why I stated that the general concept of "lines" as understood and used by most people is pretty incompatible with the Lindy Hop.

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