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talking-headsIt was recently emphasized to me and another teacher that we need to change how we address leaders and followers in class. Specifically, our teachers should state “leaders” or “followers,” so that it lessens confusion when making further statements like “leaders lead by rotating…” rather than “leads lead by rotating.” Address the role and then the action. Small change, big difference.

The Expert Witness

back-to-backOn January 13, 2014, I was asked to be an expert witness for a personal injury case concerning a man who flipped a woman and grievously injured her. The lawyers found my aerial recap videos on YouTube, looked me up via my website, and emailed me. We talked that day and the next morning at 7am I sent them questions for their upcoming deposition.

Over the next 16 days, I spent 25+ hours on this project. I analyzed the written deposition, picking apart the defendant’s language; critiqued the video deposition where the defendant demonstrated how he performed the back-to-back aerial; videotaped the aerials using his technique and mine, comparing and contrasting the two through captured stills; and writing a best practices document along with my deposition analysis.

It was intense. We even discussed that they might need me and an aerial partner at the hearing to demonstrate. That was to happen the day I was supposed to fly to Grenoble. Fortunately, this case never went to trial. They settled out of court thanks mainly to my work.

Here are some takeaways from this case:

  • If you’re inebriated, don’t do aerials. Don’t offer, don’t suggest, don’t accept.
  • If you’ve never done aerials before with this person and you’re both sober, do preps before going over. Build trust.
  • If the trust isn’t there and you’re compromised in some manner, do not fly and do not throw.
  • If you’re wearing compromising clothing or footwear, do not fly or throw. This could be a tight shirt limiting arm movement or stiletto heels.
  • If you successfully threw a gymnast for your first aerial, it’s totally them and not you. Same thing goes for tiny children. In the scheme of things, doing an aerial successfully with gymnasts and tiny children doesn’t count.
  • As a base, you should always have a sense (visual or physical) where your flyer is. If you don’t, re-establish it quickly and get ready to become a landing pad.
  • As a flyer when doing connected throws and landing, you should also have a physical sense where your base is. If you don’t, re-establish quickly or get your arms out quickly for a crash landing.

The 6 Song Rule


With a knee injury, you get a lot of socializing practice and you learn new things. Last week, I learned how one dancer helps others feel welcome. We’ll call it the 6 Song Rule.

Apparently, she pays attention to people that may have been sitting out a long time without being asked to dance. If she noticed that this person had been sitting out 6 songs, she’ll ask them to dance. That way they’ll feel more welcome into our dance community that can be intimidating at times. I think we all could learn something here.

Today’s Music – Wingy Manone

Back in 2007, I DJ’ed the 4th Annual Harlem Nights in Utah alongside Mike Faltesek, Ryan Borkenhagen (that guy again!), Ron Dante Capunay, and Jimmy Suisse. One of my best memories is finding out about Wingy Manone that weekend. I love the vocals, the chunky rhythms, the spirited horns, the chunky rhythm carrying your movement through and through. Search for more of his music on Spotify or here to download.


Today’s Music – Brass Bands

Today and last week has featured brass band Spotify playlists. Recently, we were approached about working with a brass band for a New Orleans-type event where a buy-in would be involved. My question to answer for this level of implied participation and promotion was – do you swing?
Recommended listening included Rebirth Brass Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Treme Brass Band, and others from Spotify playlists. The bottomline is that while this music makes me want to groove, move, and shake, it doesn’t swing. It’s funky, fun, calls & responds, but does not make move like a swing dancer. Check it out!

Anti-Scarcity Model

I’m still surprised how often I have to explain what Swingin’ Denver is about. One recent example is when I was communicating with another teacher who believes in the scarcity model. This is where there is a limited amount of the whole pie and it’s in the best interest of each swing school to grab as much as possible because their fate is tied to getting more of that pie.
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Today’s Music – Django (And Friends)

Recently, Kyle Smith, David Lawrence and I sat down to talk music. That’s when both of us discovered that Django once did a tour with Duke Ellington. Fascinating!
djangologie-4This reminded me of one of my favorite dance memories. Years ago, CMDance organized an event where the Saturday night dance featured Gypsy Swing Revue. This happened the same weekend as Summit Jazz Festival. Well, Ryan Borkenhagen, a former Denverite (too old school for me to find videos on YouTube), knew many musicians there and brought over Duke Heitger and a couple other horn players. It was an amazing dance night reminiscent of Django (and Friends).

Music: Django Reinhardt – Djangologie Vol.4 / 1937

Running & Lindy Hop

Many people have been curious about my ACL recovery progression. Mostly it centers around how long it will take me to dance and teach. During a December conversation at Great Divide, I mentioned that I needed to be able to run and add muscle mass. This student, a runner, immediately latched onto running and what it had to do with dancing and so I explained.
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