sWinging It – Week 13

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Week 13 (Lesson Week 10)

I feel like I’ve passed a milestone. I was asked how long I’ve been doing Lindy for and couldn’t remember how many weeks I’d been coming here so I said “a few months”. I can’t explain why but this feels good (probably just a tiny little beginner ego trip). I now measure my dance experience in months. I suppose I am a Lindy toddler?

Continuing the analogy, I am starting to feel like a toddler on the dance floor too. This is good and bad – I’m comfortable with my footwork on the moves I know so I’m starting to experiment a little bit (good), starting to explore a bit more (good). Like a toddler I have no idea what I am getting myself into (bad or just normal?) and thinking about other stuff sometimes messes up the basics again (bad)!

I tried a lot more 6 count and didn’t force it into sets of four (which brings you comfortably back to 8 count on the ‘1’). My brain does not like this and I’m aware that it isn’t working well most of the time but fortunately all the advanced follows are very understanding or way too polite. They are also very good at keeping rhythm and pulse which saved me a lot of times when it went wrong and I had to try to reboot without actually stopping everything. It’s frustrating but I haven’t had a tantrum or cried. Yet. I don’t know what a Lindy hopper tantrum looks like but it’s probably something that should be done in private. Certainly not on the dance floor.

We did swing outs again in the lesson this week but this time with different teachers (Andy C and I think Lisa). This meant an emphasis on different things so still lots to learn! We also covered swing out from open (score!) and had a variation thrown in (double score!) I have some questions on swing outs from open that I didn’t have time to grab someone about this week (I rushed off to change for Solo Jazz). They don’t feel right, or my expectations are wrong. They don’t seem to swing like the ones from closed do. I’m booking a slot on the clinic next week to cover that off I think. I got some more advice from Chris in the rotation so thanks again! If he had a pound for every thank you I owe him he would have enough for a good session down the pub.

Solo Jazz was awesome. Taina was teaching again and we covered the second part of the Tranky Doo so I was really pleased! It has an Eagle Slide. Eagle Slides are cool. It also has 8 counts of freestyle, the catch being you have to have your weight on the correct foot for count 7. Taina showed a few different ways to do this (and I’ll practice as many as I can remember) but I tried to actually decide when it came to that point i.e. actually freestyle. This didn’t work as well as I planned but I did discover that when my brain freezes that Tick-Tocks are my default jazz power. For some reason this makes me think of Sylar from Heroes.

I’ve decided to drill a set of moves that I can do during that freestyle so I have a box of tricks that my brain can just pick from and minimise the thinking time. In addition to this I want to spend some time on really trying to get better at moves (I’m looking at you Applejacks and Bracking), rather than routines. All this is eating into Solo Jazz time that is full of all the routines I’ve learnt over the last 12 weeks and counting. Something’s going to have to give but deciding what is hard!

Social dancing was fun but packed, so very much an exercise in Floorcraft. Floorcraft does not come naturally to toddlers but given it has been busy a few weeks now I am getting much better at things like looking over my shoulder before swinging out my follow. I heard it referred to as ‘Checking For Tigers’ a few weeks ago*. Not only is it an amazing term, it is also very memorable which has helped me to actually remember to do it! Even with my more cautious approach there were some scary moments and a lot of swing outs ‘pulled**’ short. Those tigers are damn sneaky.

I have tons to look forward to next week. Tuesday lessons, hopefully including a clinic session (I hope I get a slot!), the Manchester Lindy Christmas Party (WOW!) and, because I’ll be in Manchester that Thursday evening, hopefully some more swing dancing at Revolution de Cuba!

I’m all giddy with excitement.

Dan

*This was from someone who I have danced with before but, unsurprisingly and embarrassingly, I have not stored her name. Fortunately I have a pre-booked dance with her for next week as she couldn’t dance this week because she had been, in her words, “Destroyed in a workshop with Frida and Skye.” So until next week (and let’s face it, probably for a while after given my track record) she is the FridaSkyeTiger Lady.

**For people new to Floorcraft – don’t pull! Just tense your arm and don’t let it come out so far in front of you – the follow feels the compression and stops. They might also spot that something is wrong when you look at them with a bit of panic in your eyes – at least that’s what I am doing! Check out the Swungover video on Floorcraft for some more handy tips (and a better explanation).

 

Dan, would you like to dance?

Music to my ears, yes I’d love to! It’s been a while since I used this blog to beg for someone to dance with. I also like to chat. So if you spot the guy with impeccable style and taste on the side of the dance floor, look past him at the guy with the dodgy beard and ask him to dance or just go up and talk to him. Warning, if you chat for too long he will end up asking you to dance as well!

MCRLX news and MORE JAZZ!

MCRLX news and MORE JAZZ!

Solo Follow tickets for MCRLX are still available (£50 0nline) but the GUARANTEED PLACE offer ends at ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT on the 28th of February (Saturday night)!

It’s very likely that at that time First wave Solo Follow bookings will end (and second wave bookings will be near mythical)

Don’t miss out on your Early Bird saving – buy in the next 19 hours!

Cinders

Solo Lead (£50) and Couple (£100) tickets go ON SALE ONLINE FOR THE FIRST TIME on Saturday 28th February at 11am! Couple tickets are likely to be extremely limited so don’t miss out!

Lead and Couples

In other news…

Been learning The BIG APPLE at Manchester Lindy for the last month?

WELL…

Here’s your chance to put it all together!

Taina is teaching the WHOLE ROUTINE on Sunday 1st March!

(Taina studied with the Old Timers! You will be taught this classic with accuracy, speed AND Authentic styling!)

Facebook event here

“The classic & super popular Big Apple routine from Keep Punching!!!
Note the Sunday friendly starting time of 1pm!

It is a solo routine, so no need to hunt for a partner 🙂
Meant for those who have tried the Big Apple before or are fast learners. We will start from London Bridge, then work through the whole routine from the beginning

HAVE I DONE IT?
Harlem Hot Shots dancing the Big Apple:

Original version:

BOOKINGS
Text or email to register, you can pay on day!

WHERE:
Room 6, Students Union, Manchester University, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR (Students Union is pretty much opposite NatWest)”

Lastly, TONIGHT!

ML dancer Daisy is performing with her band, the Swing Commanders in Prestwich!

This event  has a fantastic dance floor, and lovely hosts, Ian and Sheila 🙂

Swing Commanders

The Lindy Circular – Flying Solo

Flying Solo

a blog about Jazz by Leanne Frank

Manchester Lindy is branching out into the world of solo Authentic Jazz, with a veritable smorgasbord of Jazz knowledge being delivered by the wonderful Taina. But why go? What is it? What’s in it for you?

There have been a lot of questions like this bandying about the social dance floor; so to contextualise, let’s use what we know.
It’s Saturday night. A song comes on that you love but none of your friends are keen to accompany you to the dance floor. Fuelled by (Dutch) courage, you get up and dance, regardless, throwing shapes with such joyous musical abandon that those around you gaze on, secretly jealous of your style and the apparent happiness it brings you. The song finishes and you feel… electric, knowing that you danced because you wanted to and nobody was going to get in your way. Now, add a swing soundtrack and there it is… solo Jazz!

Solo Jazz (or vernacular Jazz, as it is also referred to) is a way of dancing without a partner, which is always helpful on a social dance floor if there aren’t many leads/follows to dance with. Along with that, it’s a fast-track way of developing your own sense of style in your partner dancing and gaining confidence with variations and more technical moves.
If you only remember three things that solo Jazz can (and will) add to your dancing, remember these.

Creativity
The best international social dancers get to be the best because of their understanding of the freedom solo Jazz offers to you. After a few months of classes, your swing-out repertoire will be unbelievable; follows will find opportunities to try out new moves with the most basic of leads, leads will be able to interpret the music in previously unprecedented ways. This is the stuff that makes a good dancer a great dancer. If you enjoy improvisation and playing with rhythms, then this is the next step.

Confidence
It almost goes without saying that if you are bold and creative, your confidence will increase. If you are in the middle of a dance, testing new Jazz steps and having a jolly good time, people will notice. People will praise you. Most importantly, people will ask you to dance. Remember, you are partaking in an activity that is visual. If someone sees that you are an innovative dancer, they will want to dance with you because you will put them through their paces and create those ‘did-you-just-see-what-they-did?’ moments that we all feel when watching the professionals dance. Some people may feel self-conscious about dancing alone, but to those people I say: dancing fortune favours the brave, and where you lead, others will follow.

Commitment
Now, for the science-y bit. The beauty of solo Jazz is that you are completely responsible for your own body movement. It seems silly, but seeing as we are ‘raised’ in a world where our dancing destiny is inextricably linked to the person we’re connected to, breaking that link is enlightening. You have to take command and really contemplate your weighting, balance and positioning, for every move. This is something that feeds back in to your partnered dancing, making you more sensitive to yours and your partner’s movement. You learn what works and what doesn’t, and even better, how to self-correct.

That’s when you’ve made it.

The best dancers don’t get to be the best without making things up, being bold and trying them out, getting things wrong and taking the time to work out how to make it right. Solo Jazz helps with every aspect of this. Of course, there will be some trip-ups along on the path to Jazz glory, but if you aren’t cocking up at some point, you aren’t trying hard enough.

Leanne Frank