Swing Discussion Boards > What Makes a Good Swing Dancer?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by pygmalion, Apr 25, 2004.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay. So just by coincidence, I started dancing in the ballroom world, planning to move into swing later. But when I started trying to move into swing, I kept bumping into walls -- things that were unique to swing dancers. :oops: :lol:

    So now I have a question for all you swing dance people. What characteristics make a good swing dancer? Are there particular dance skills? Personality chracteristics? Physical abilities? Or are swing dancers the same as all the other dancers out there (with an enhanced love of 40's music LOL)?

    What makes a good swing dancer? What do you think?
  2. jon

    jon Member

    Swing dancers tend to have a much stronger connection to & passion about the music they dance to than ballroom dancers, for one. But I suspect that's more of an effect than a cause, for most people.
  3. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Certainly depends on the dancer, but there's definately some truth to what jon says... and it seems to be something that also holds true across the other non-ballroom partnered dances as well.
  4. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Since I don't do Ballroom, I can't say what's different for swing dancers. So this is more general.

    What makes a good swing dancer is a person that is smiling, having fun, giving eye contact, plays with his/her partner and enjoys the music! :D

    These are the most important factors, though many seem to forget about them. Some people seem to be under the impression swing is solo dancing while holding hands. It's not. :lol:

    More technically, what is very important for good dancing is a good connection in the lead/follow arm. It's a relaxed tension that should be present almost all the time.

    Swing dancers have a different body posture. But his varies between the different forms of swing. While WCS is more erect, gliding and sexy with stylish arm movements, Lindy dancers are more bouncy, loose, a bit forward bent and a bit sitting down. WCS I guess is more like Ballroom in that sense.
  5. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    Oh, I'm going to really chide you for that generalization. Then again, all generalizations are generally wrong. ;)

    Since I do both, swing dancers do tend to be quite a bit more "free" from the constraints of ballroom syllabus (as it would be the case if you did club salsa vs. ballroom mambo). Those people I have seen doing just lindy/swing/balboa around here tend to be really expressive and wild about just the music they like to dance to. That being said, ballroomers are expressive but in a different way when it comes to dancing swing. The characteristics of dancing within ballroom expectations are different for whatever reason.

    But believe me, there are plenty of ballroom dancers who do jive (ballroom swing variant) who are very expressive with dancing.
  6. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    Actually, that's partly true in my opinion. I don't know if it's so much posture as it is frame vs. connection. Ballroom (especially smooth and standard dances) emphasizes frame a lot while swing (not in ballroom context) is much more on connection. That goes the same with WCS, which I really enjoy dancing. But ballroomers have as much difficulty with WCS as would most people taking it for the first time because WCS is so improvisational and depends so much on connection in ways that ballroom does not as much (because ballroomers connect with their frame).

    However, I have noticed and used what I have learned with WCS and used it in my Latin dancing as I have been able to use compression better for leading.
  7. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    Okay, to actually answer the question:

    I wish swing/lindy/bal dancers were more in love with classic Big Band versus neo-swing or neo-Big Band. They don't play as many "classics" unless they are remade, but you can understand that (quality of recordings is better). What I wish is that we'd play more sock-hop 50's music, but that's another issue.

    Basically in swing, I have been told good swing dancers have strong connections to lead spins and various kick combinations. I haven't mastered kicks. Frankly I am no big fan of those kicks because depending on who you dance with the timing of kicks is entirely different. Consequently most people will kick only with people they know (which makes sense) so the timing problems of lead-follow there aren't issues.

    Lifts and aerials... I won't go there.

    Personality wise:
    1) They must have a fun time while not losing frame or connection.
    2) They must not be creepy. I've covered that.
  8. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I agree! There's nothing like a live big band knowing their stuff (i.e don't play fast music all night long, but varies in tempo).

    Neo-swing is cool, but it's not really the Lindy feeling that Big Band gives. It's nice for variation though.
  9. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Connection is derived through body movement and frame. A lot of swing dancers will not address frame specifically but instead will address connection because in order to have good connection you must have good frame and move your body in an appropriate manner.

    As an instructor I talk about frame specifically when the body movement is present but the frame has some problems that are minimizing connection rather than maximizing it.

    As to people having problems with WCS because of its improvisational manner... that is based entirely on the person. I've seen creative artistic people take to the dance with little training at all and i've seen more analytical people struggle with a lot of personal direction. At least until they over came the idea that there were rules and finite values that were being dealt with.
  10. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    What do you consider the difference between frame and connection? I always thought of them as more or less the same thing - ballroom frame isn't just holding your arms at a certain position, but a standardized connection . . . a frame that isn't a connection with your partner is just akward(sp?) and stiff . . .
  11. jon

    jon Member

    Er... OK, but the degree of expression in dancing wasn't what I was talking about.

    (and, BTW, I've been dancing both swing and ballroom for about 15 years, so am more likely to be swayed by arguments more specific than "Since I do both" - what I opined may be right or wrong, but it isn't rooted in ignorance of ballroom dancing).
  12. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    connection is created and maintained throught the frame... frame is the conduit in which weight is transfered, leads are lead, and connection lives-- it's the method of communication.
  13. hepcat

    hepcat Member


    I'd say what makes a good swing dancer is:

    proper frame
    good grasp of newton's 1st law (...an object in motion stays in motion)
    seated posture
    no resistance (i.e. when you push a follow, they don't push back, but rather move instead)
    arms are always in dance position (whenever possible)
    no thumbs!
    upper body moves very little in relation to the lower body
    staying in one place on the dance floor when not trying to travel
    clear but soft lead
    awareness of where your partner is & is within arm's reach
    staying on the track
    energy and enthusiasm
    vocalizing: whoops and wails ;o)

    When a follow can't describe the moves they do, you know they're good because they're not doing moves, they're just going where you put them. There are certain signals that tell you when to tripple or double step. If you know them, then you're really good. When dancers think in terms of two beats instead of 6 or 8, they're damn good.

    Did I miss anything?
  14. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    I used to work in a ballroom studio for slightly over a year. Now, that I've been dancing outside the studio, I can see the differences more clearly. Social swing dancing is all about the proper connection and technique. The frame is used, but not overly emphasized. Ballroom also appears too stiff and unyielding for me. Also, watching ballroom dancers dancing swing, whether it be ECS, WCS, or what they call lindy, tends to be humorous experiences, because of their frame. They need to loosen up and focus on leading with their body more without the awkward stiffness.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Re: craziness

    You crack me up! :lol: :lol: Welcome, hepcat. 8)
  16. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Have I been taught differently?

    There is particular emphasis on body leads in WCS in all the classes I've ever been to; in fact, it's stressed at some point with just about every dance that I have learned. FWIW, while most of my dance education has been at the studios it's been mostly group classes if that means anything.

    Whenever I'm dancing an ECS or other dance I just don't have any feeling of it being stiff and unyielding, but rather loose and free - to me anyway.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I think it's a common misconception among some swing dancers that all ballroom dancers focus on pattern memorization at the expense of learning lead/follow concepts and frame. Unfortunately, that stereotype is often true, but not always.

    My view, having had many ballroom, some salsa and some swing teachers, is that you have good and bad everywhere. The good teachers all teach lead/follow and proper use of the frame, regardless of their discipline. Those concepts are essential to good partner dance, I think.

    Maybe another thing that leads to ballroom dancers being perceived as not so hot in the connection department is the teaching approach many studios take -- steps first, then partnership, styling, etc. The swing teachers I've had seem to start out with lead/follow concepts on day one. Not sure why there's a difference in approach, but that's what I've seen. *shrug*
  18. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Oh! Oh! I want to comment on this... but I gotta run! Cya! :car:
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Dying to hear what you have to say. I have my own (jaundiced) view of why the dance studios sometimes push steps at the expense of other important dance concepts, but I'll leave them to another day. Gotta keep the old blood pressure down. LOL.
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    btw, I'm not suggesting that ballroom dancers cut a mean rug doing lindy, necessarily. I'm saying that good ballroom dancers do use lead/follow and frame. There's no way they could do standard dances or smooth dances in closed position if they didn't. It would be impossible.

    If I want to learn lindy, I'll go to a lindy teacher, though. :wink: :lol:

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