This past weekend, your Rockford Dance Examiner was privileged to attend this year’s Heartland Swing Festival in Des Moines, IA. It was a fantastic weekend of classes and dances. Most of the classes were focused on Lindy Hop, but the insights they taught could be applied to many styles of dance. The following are a few things I learned that I hope will help improve your dancing as well.
Always remember to lead and follow with your whole body. This is something that can’t be said enough, because it can take several times of hearing it before it truly sinks in. If something, such as your arms, starts to move (or stay put) separately from its natural momentum; it can not only make the dance rigid or clunky, but can put unnecessary strain on your body.
Lindy leads should be “Terminator on the inside, James Bond on the outside.” -Jamin Jackson
The most beautiful dancing occurs when the lead and follow act as one person. When you as a follow continue each movement your lead sends you, you become like an extension of him. Much like a sword becomes an extension of the arm in the hands of a great swordsman. You can both be perfectly in tune with one another, and have room to play and add your own style at the same time.
Play with the moves you learn. Try changing things like speed, direction, and the spacing in which it’s done. This will not only personalize the move, but also make it more versatile for different songs and different partners.
A phrase of music is four sets of eight counts. In much of the music you hear played for Lindy, the song does something different on the fourth eight count. If you are skilled enough to anticipate this, it gives you opportunity to do something fancy on that count and impress those around you with your musicality.
Finally, I learned many bad habits I had developed in my dancing. Everyone has them, and every area will instill different habits into its dancers. You will never know what habits or routines you have picked up unless you travel to different cities/states/countries and try out your dancing on some different partners.
Questions? Comments? E-mail Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org. She would like to thank all who made this event possible, her host, and her chauffeurs/housemates.