“This will be a no-holds barred, all air-steps allowed social dance competition open to all.”
What happens when your competition expectations, strategy and plan match the contest description but not the music provided? Do you scrap it, dance your plan, or adjust accordingly? It’s a tough call and I sympathize with competitors that find themselves in this situation.
Since I coach some of the Coloradans featured in this video, I had the opportunity to speak with them about their strategies and perhaps what to do in the future. They’re also not the only ones that perhaps planned for a more intense finals than what was provided as evidenced in the Hellzapoppin’ Strictly shown below. This statement isn’t meant to criticize any one dancer, but to use these videos as a discussion point for this post.
It’s also very true to say that I’ve been in their shoes. Here’s me relying on choreography, dancing over the music, and having little spontaneity inspired by the music. This is what I get for practicing sequences outside near Denver’s dancing statues.
The first thing I’ve learned is that it isn’t enough to rely on your flashy steps, big tricks and bigger aerials. Lindy hop is about dancing and you need to constantly work on your skills as a partner and solo dancer.
This leads into dancing into and out of your flashier steps well so they don’t look like isolated chunks. This is the airsteps versus aerials mentality. Airsteps have a rhythm, breath, a flow whereas aerials don’t to not flow as well. If people don’t necessarily “see” your swingout coming, perhaps you should treat your tricks the same.
You’ll also want to up your musicality and improvisational game with comps featuring chorus-long spotlights or slower tempos or less energetic songs that might shout for choreography or airsteps.
Also, be sure to thoroughly read the contest description. The description above includes – “all air-steps allowed social dance competition.” Unless your scene is vastly different than my scene, airsteps aren’t a regular part of your social dancing. My airsteps are either called (long-format competition), followed by a certain pattern (mini-routine), or part of a choreography (how I survive Camp Hollywood’s Pro Lindy division). For even better strategy-making, I’d research past competition videos to calibrate your expectations.
Even then, you might want to decide to just dance how you want and not give a care what the judges or anyone else thinks. You gotta do you, right?