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Connection Types – Positive Contact

Connection means a lot in the world of dance. We lead and follow through physical contact. There’s visual contact as we smile and acknowledge our partner. There’s also verbal contact. We introduce ourselves, maybe even have a small conversation on the floor.

One way of connecting that I like is through what a teacher termed “Positive Contact.” For instance, if I gently push on your shoulder and you lean into the direction of my push, this would be positive contact. We never got into negative contact, but I suppose this is where you would either lean away or not react. Dance is simply more fun when we interact with each other.

This enhances the dance’s communication. We can counter-balance, add or subtract weight, hoping our partner will respond in kind. I do assume, though, that both partners within the dance connection, are using their large muscle groups (back, legs), rather than recruiting their physically connected muscles (arms, hands). That’s another discussion for another time.

Learning Solo – Find a Theme

One way that I learn is I find themes from class. It’s hard to retain everything unless you’re taking detailed notes throughout class, so I break it down into simpler chunks. For example, a theme from last night’s (10/7/15) lindy hop class might be moving your partner or delivering the momentum asked for. Another practice theme we talked about with one student was that your count 5 or 7 kick could be placed anywhere, so we devised an exercise on the spot.

Absorbing all the information gained from a group or private lesson can be difficult, so consider taking small chunks to enable your learning. Good luck practicing!

Q&A About Private Lessons

A lot of people ask about private lessons either because they don’t know how they work or that they exist. Let’s start with the basics.

What is a private lesson? It’s a lesson where you, the student, and/or a partner get a certain amount of time with a professional dance instructor. It is a time dedicated to only you and your partner if you bring one.

Teaching in Bucharest
Teaching in Bucharest

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My Best Worst Moment

I was reminded of this moment when Jerry Almonte shared the ULHS Semi-Final video on his Facebook page and wrote “Also, nice to see Kenny show up for one of these things finally.” This could be taken two different ways. First, that it was my first ULHS in New Orleans. Or, the fact that one of my most ignominious moments was not showing up for my Jack & Jill Finals at ULHS 2008. The latter is where the story is at. Continue reading

Dance With Abandon

Some point after the Showdown Finals, I was talking to a highly regarded lindy hop instructor. I don’t remember the conversation word for word, but his thoughts stuck with me. It had to do with how the lindy hop scene cycles through phases. There’s wild abandon, refinement and too much refinement. He thought Delilah and I were toward the former, though not lacking in refinement. This was great to hear because I feel that is close to our ethos.

I also think he put words to what I’ve been feeling about the lindy hop scene in general. One of our most viewed international events is ILHC. Typically, major events are trend-setters, a glimpse of where the overall scene is heading. And I was bored. I wanted to be blown away, emotionally drawn in, and I was bored. There were many technically great dancers, but I wanted something more visceral and it felt intellectual. Continue reading

Fast Dancing Tips

This past weekend, Delilah and I competed at the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown in New Orleans, LA. We made it all the way through semi-finals (seen above) and finals where we lost to the admirable Christian Frommelt and Jenny Shirar. This is the second time we’ve found ourselves in a high energy fast dance contest and I wanted to share some tips with you. Continue reading

Uniquely You

I really enjoy watching this video. It’s musical, Skye and Ramona are so into it, their dancing is uniquely them. And, I think, that is why I like this video. They have this great partnership on the floor, but Skye and Ramona are killing it their own way together.

Skye slung low, Ramona riding high. Look at them miss that handhold at 1:13. Random big kicks. Ramona adding a personal touch on a turn. They’re having fun in the moment doing their thing. Now that’s great dancing and you can do it to. Just discover who you are in the dance.

SFS 2015 – Performance Recap

Performing my and Delilah’s Mr. Ghost routine is sometimes a scary proposition. We performed Saturday night at Southern Fried Swing and my mind is trying to interfere with my muscle memory. I’m calculating swingout numbers and can’t remember which one I’m on. Darn routine has too many swingouts!

Fortunately, all the practice hours pay off. The routine is even more ingrained in my system and feels almost as natural as social dancing. What has helped this muscle memory? Continue reading

What Song Do I Play Next at Southern Fried Swing 2015

Classic DJ struggle – what song do I play next? I was in this flow of buildling tempo and keeping the energy high, but for my last song, I was going to pull it down. The songs:

St. Louis Blues (Take 2) – Benny Goodman (145)
Swingin’ at the Semloh – Jimmie Lunceford (171)
Texas Chatter – Harry James (183)

My original final song was “The Basement Blues” by Noble Sissle & His Original Swingsters. I wanted to bring it down to a comfortable range to get more dancers on the floor for my final song. As I was looking around the room, I noticed a dancer sitting out that looked either tired or bored. It was right before midnight, so it could be both. With 30 seconds left, I wanted a Call to Action. I really like “The Basement Blues,” but it wasn’t going to cut it.

“Revival Day” by Lavern Baker it was. It has a strong “2,4” and it calls to the dancers. Listen to lyrics. It’s asking questions. Call and Response. “Have you ever felt as though you want to shout? C’mon and let those feelings out.” Dance floor’s getting filled. It was the better choice at the moment.

lavern-baker

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