Solo Fundamentals


In my experience, solo jazz movement has always been a priority, but the thought of jumping into a solo jam circle or contest has always put the fear of a thousand deaths straight into the core of my being. I have profoundly crashed and burned in front of my savvy solo peers because I was missing three crucial components of spontaneous solo movement: a solid repertoire, effortless musicality, and perhaps most important, unbridled joy. Continue reading

Thoughts From Yoga – becoming a better learner

Can you spot Rob Fitzpatrick?
Can you spot Rob Fitzpatrick?

Can you spot the swing dancer yogi in this sea of warrior poses? This is from one of Ace Eat Serve’s free Corepower Yoga sessions. Free yoga and free dim sum (typically a salad and curry). It’s absolutely delicious.

Why talk about yoga in a swing blog? Well, it’s certainly good for you and ummm… free food, right? Not only does yoga help you  become more flexible and increase your proprioception, it might also help you be a better dance student.

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Scatting in Rhythm – an update

asking-questions-with-countsLast week when Jesse and I were driving home after her’s and Wiley’s Logan House class, I let her know about the blog post I wrote – the one about them not using counts. Apparently, she did count them off once and quickly recovered. So their batting average isn’t exactly 0%, but it’s close. However, they’re running into another fun issue – the student asking them questions using counts.  Continue reading

The Specialist vs Jack Of All Trades


Back when I was dancing in Kansas City, I often went out dancing swing, salsa, and tango during the same week. I was hooked on dancing and being well-versed in popular social dances gave me more options. I even attended a few dances that featured all three styles in the DJ rotation. I had a circle of friends that did all three and then when went out dancing we’d expand our circle for the specialists that we only see out social dancing their one dance.

Those “good old days” have been coming up recently in conversations. Why? Because nearly all of us social dancers are specialists now. We have enough options within our one social dance circle that we don’t need to expand our knowledge to another vintage swing style. It’s a perplexing issue. Continue reading

Equally Strong Teachers


One of the selling points for our classes is that we have equally strong teaching partnerships. Our teachers deliver solid information for both the leader and follower. Just as in social dancing, both individuals within the partnership are contributing.

We believe that leaders and followers should equally receive information in class. If you’re not receiving that as a student, be sure to ask questions. There’s always knowledge and technique to be gained.

And teachers, be sure to give information for both roles. Sometimes there is one dominant teacher delivering mostly to one role. That’s not so good. Sometimes there is one dominant teacher giving information for both roles. That’s ok, but it’s nice to hear the person teaching your role contribute to the conversation even if they might repeat what was already said. Ideally, you’d have equal contribution.

Food for thought.

Safety In Numbers?


Is there safety in numbers? Perhaps not  as Wiley and Jessica are showing us in their Logan House Coffee classes. Many teachers, including myself, use numbers when teaching. “Uh 5, 6, uh 5678…” and everyone starts dancing. Or “hey, ho, here we go” and everyone starts. And it’s working, but why are they doing this?

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Arm Placement – thoughts on Asa’s post

Recently, Asa Heedman wrote a Facebook post that came across my personal feed that started me thinking. In summary, a Herrang teaching couple supposedly said “do not have your hand on the leader’s shoulder.” Asa then gives some personal history about dancing with Frankie and how his teaching preference was to have her hand on his shoulder. She then goes on to say that it doesn’t matter where it’s placed, but that she’s concerned about teachers making their opinion a rule. Please read her post and the comments below it.

As I said, though, this got me thinking. We teach our follows to have a relaxed upper arm. This means it will typically hang downward from the shoulder so that the lower arm will probably rest of the leader’s lower arm and the hand near the bicep/deltoid area. So what might another follow do while dancing with Frankie? Continue reading

Writing Your Narrative

authorI was just thinking about this last night when reflecting on a student of mine. They tell me they’re a slow learner, but I’ve seen them be fast in other skillsets. Why are they fast at one thing and slow at another? I think the brain and our ability to learn is malleable. It’s also related to the story we tell of ourselves.

There are many ways to hack your learning. First is just figuring out what works for you. Second is just changing your story, telling yourself you’re smart, you got this, and then again, just taking the steps to make your success story a success.

We’re all capable learners and we can all be successful at dance.


teaching-in-real-lifeOne of the dangerous pitfalls of teaching is teaching what you do in real life or the closest approximation of what you should be doing (allowing for your current abilities). One time my teaching partner and I were teaching what I call the “follower in front” or what Jesse, I think, calls the “follower pop out.” My teaching partner was emphasizing to the followers that she relaxes her upper arm so her lower arm slides from my shoulder to near the deltoid. As I repeated this move, she continued demonstrating what she does so I was receiving quite a vigorous arm rub. What do the students do? Mimic the teacher. Does she do that in real life? No, not at all. Did we set a bad precedent? Time would tell. Continue reading