There is a tendency to think that dancing is about movement – the steps, the footwork, the connection, the rise and fall, the turns, the connection between partners and more – and, well, it is. . .sort of. When the focus is on how the dancers are connected to the music/rhythm, often, the magic happens when the progressive movement stops – i.e., the sways (and oversways), the stretches, the head/arm/hand extensions, the hesitations, the pauses. Some instructors refer to these pieces as what finishes a move, but I believe that it is much more. I believe that it is these pieces that MAKE the moves. This is where the energy gathers and that progressive movement is the release of that energy – but the magic is in the gathering of (and, sometimes, the completion of) the energy.
In waltz, it’s often referred to as “ooze the twos,” but’s it’s actually the twos (one-TWO-three) and the fives (four-FIVE-six). What happens is that the twos and the fives are held infinitesimally longer, with the subsequent three/six being that much faster. It just gives the visual impression – and, to those who are dancing those steps, the FEEL – of “oozing.” Truly, when a partner dances this way with me, it greatly enhances the feeling of the waltz – i.e., it just feels right. In tango, the timing is SSQQS. However, if a couple dances the first slow slightly faster, this allows the second slow to be a little slower; this further allows a bit of a “drag” between the second quick and the final slow [of eight counts], which just adds to the “snappy” feeling of the tango.
In cha-cha, it’s two, three, four-AND-one. In “on 1” salsa, the “and” happens on the silent counts 4 and 8 (in “on 2” salsa, it’s on counts 5 and 1). In hustle, the direction (side, back or forward) of the “and” prior to one directs where the follower moves on count one.
In the sugar push step of west coast swing, the “and” count between 3 and 4 is when the follower’s momentum is absorbed and redirected from forward to backward. More importantly in this dance (and similarly in lindy and some other swing dances), the “and-a” before count 1 is where the stretch, the breath and much of the overall energy of the dance occurs.
It’s important to note that movement does NOT happen on a numbered count. Think about it. If you are walking and count each step as your foot hits the floor and freeze on the count, you are not moving [at that moment]! If you clap your hands to a beat, each time that your hands are together (on a numbered count), they are not moving. In relation to counting along with beats of music or a regular rhythm, ALL movement occurs between the counts. Note, too, that movement is not just steps (in any direction), it is also turns.
Therefore, the correct way to count when to execute a one-footed turn is not “step-turn,” which would require taking a step and then turning on the count, but “turn-step,” so that you are turning/MOVING between the counts and then “hitting” the step on the numbered count.
Disco America 2018 (see video clip) is now one for the books – this 20th annual Philadelphia-area competition/workshop event took place, last weekend, in Essington, PA (just past Philadelphia International Airport).
The good news is that this event will be held again in 2019. In addition, the Philadelphia area is host to many similar events: two yearly west coast swing weekends (fall and winter), a combination hustle and west coast swing event (in the fall), one annual Argentine tango weekend (Memorial Day weekend) and a variety of ballroom competitions.
Be sure to check our Special Events page to plan your schedule NOW.
Unless you and your partner are both advanced dancers, most followers prefer that you lead a few moves well rather than a whole lot of moves, shall we say, not so well.
by Joseph Baker
The most important elements for good leading and following are dance frame, connection and timing. When these elements are present, leading and following are easy. When they are absent, partner dancing becomes impossible.
Here we have seen the common mistake among beginners is letting the arms fall and letting frame collapse. Turns are difficult to lead if the follower has a noodle arm. Tone must be maintained in the arms and all connection points must stay intact. Leading turns is easy if framework is maintained.
In any position in which joined arms are extended (such as 1- or 2-handed open position or open promenade), never lock your elbows. To prevent a rotator cuff injury, always leave a slight bend in your elbow(s) [of arm(s) connected to your partner].
excerpted from an online AARP.org article
Dance it out. It worked for Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy. Dancing “has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and stress, and boost self-esteem, body image, coping ability and overall sense of well-being, with the benefits lasting over time. In one study, it even helped control emotional eating in obese women who eat as a response to stress,” according to the Berkeley Wellness website, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.
Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is helping neuroscientists in California to explore the relationship between rhythm and brain function.
Hart has made rhythm and its many applications his lifelong business. At 74, Hart, has not only stayed young by playing percussion, he has spent the last many years exploring how it may help prevent the aging of the human brain.
“Rhythm is connection,” he <says. “It’s everything. It’s life.”
Just how connected is easy to see once you’ve had a look at the inside of Hart’s brain. During a recent series of performances, the pulsating image of Hart’s cranium spanned the huge dome of Hayden Planetarium, illustrating how different parts of his sensory system light up and vibrate when exposed to various musical stimuli.
Although Hart’s demonstrations are entertainment, his message runs more deeply: rhythm and vibration heal the brain. Dementia, he says, is the “loss of rhythm.” And he, along with notables who collaborated on the eventare all at work searching for pathways that can bypass obstacles to function and cognition. Hart has also worked on music as a therapeutic tool for brain function.
Taking up an instrument as a child and playing through adulthood is one proven way to protect one’s brain. But learning later in life is helpful, too. Hart shares the story of his unlikely best friend, Walter Cronkite, who was 73 when he became a Deadhead and also started playing the drums.
In July of 2009, as Cronkite lay dying from complications of cerebrovascular disease, Hart handed him a hand drum. “He could no longer speak, but he could play,” Hart says, tears in his eyes. “He used to ask, ‘When we do we know we have found our groove?’ Well, he found it.”