Champions are a bad influence

I'm seeing a trend in WCS recently where the Champion dancers (and many All-Stars) are focusing too much on musicality/three-dimentionality while sacrificing the execution of proper techniques, and I fear that it would hinder the growth of many beginners, who often like to imitate the professionals. I'm even seeing some "advanced" follows who can't follow properly because they focus too much on styling and musicality. I get that WCS is not standardized and is constantly evolving, but do you think the Champion dancers have some responsibility of dancing properly?

Just for context I've been dancing WCS, Zouk, Lindy spectrum for 5 years, and I compete in all of them.


Well-Known Member
I just re-watched Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mailman's 2015 and 2009 routines and they are both stunning pieces of dancing, though stylistically different.

I do know what you are talking about and when I binge watch WCS jack and jill videos of various levels I frequently think, "Oh, she got that move from [insert random champion dancer]". I think this happens to a certain extent in all genres of dance, though WCS changes more quickly than something like ballroom. There's always a danger of people trying to copy more advanced dancers without knowing the fundamentals or understanding how to properly generate what they are seeing (or what they think they are seeing...). There also seems to be a cyclical "go back to good basics", and not only in WCS. There are always going to be leaders and followers who don't really "get" lead and follow, and teachers who don't emphasize it enough. I think the champions are going to do what they need to do to win without compromising important basic principles. I think it's up to the judges of the various levels of completion to reward appropriate dancing. This stuff also gets (should get/sometime gets) emphasized in workshops etc.
Maybe it'll be nice to have a "swing content" criteria for judging JnJs like in classics/showcases. Judges for JnJs aren't known to consider aesthetics but they definitely are rewarding the entertainment value too much.
I think a similar "affliction" is starting to hit WCS like it did ballroom. The people who decide which are the best events, the best dancers, the "right" technique... they are a small group that keeps everything under their net. As a result, would be up and comers are not as well connected or financed. Whenever something gets big, there will be politics. It is just one of those things that happens, and you hope the people at the top make good choices.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Let me start by saying that competition has been part of swing dancing probably as long as it's been around. In the fifties in "Los Angeles" Jack and Jill started because the same people were always winning the contests. ( Lauré Haile wrote about crazy stuff people did, and there was the Harvest Moon Ball thing, and...)

Of course now you can look at things practically anywhere anytime, so maybe there is more influence, but...

I'm even seeing some "advanced" follows who can't follow properly because they focus too much on styling and musicality
Can't follow properly? Not really an advanced "follow."

I can see styling as a problem (an have experienced it myself), but maybe you can explain how that works with musicality.
I have conversations with people who don't seem to grasp the difference between looking good and being a good partner when it comes to both feeling and expressing the music as a partnership.
That can include realizing that your partner is reacting to something that you hadn't planned for, and letting her go with it. (We talk about that a lot in Argentine Tango.)

I can only say, regarding swing content, that it was addressed back in the funky WCS days, but that was a long time ago. And, I only speak from my social dance experience. I don't even look at most videos of champions because what they do doesn't look much at all like the dance I know as West Coast Swing.

Lastly, I think the basics are the basics.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Mickey Mousing, Tango Immigrant reminds us, means “mimicking the music while dancing, but in a superficial and automatised way.”

Dancers who object to the idea of Mickey Mousing usually do so because they think that Mickey Mousing means too much musicality. But I’ve come to see that Mickey Mousing is not about too much, but about not enough. Mickey Mousing does not mean there is an excess of musicality; it means there is a dimension of musicality that is missing.

excessive missing musicality?

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