West Coast Swing Dance
West Coast Swing Dance
Swing is a generic term that describes many forms of dance: East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Lindy, Jitterbug, Jive and Shag to name a few. Many styles of swing can be danced to similar styles of music. For example: East Coast Swing, Jitterbug and Lindy can all be danced to 50’s and Big Band music. Jazz and Rhythm & Blues is predominately West Coast Swing, yet Shag and Jive can also be done to some styles of Jazz or Rhythm & Blues. West Coast Swing is also danced to 90’s music (hip-hop and techno) as well as Disco music. Most swing dances cover a circular space, but West Coast Swing and Shag are referred to as Slot dances and remain in a narrow space (visualize a railroad track or diving board). Before we get started let me remind you that Swing is done primarily in an Open Position. Remember to remain with a firm body and tension in the lats and easy resistance in the arms to allow quick response to your partner. Allow your elbows to have a spring-like action to avoid jerky movements. Never extend your elbow to a straight on locked position. WEST COAST SWING West Coast Swing, simply defined, is “compression and leverage in motion”. Let’s begin with a few exercises to help you understand compression and leverage prior to learning the patterns and steps. Stand with your feet together, facing your partner in a two-hand hold. Allow your partner to lean in, and counteract this by leaning in yourself to balance her weight. Both partners should transfer all of their weight to the balls of their feet. Her weight should be predominately on the backside of the leader’s fingers at this point. This is extreme compression. Send your partner’s weight to her heels by applying a bit of pressure with the palms of your hands and by taking your own weight away from your partner. Both partners’ cupped fingers should support the weight at this point. This is extreme leverage. Rock back and forth from compression to leverage several times to understand the feeling of West Coast Swing. Followers, remember to keep your arms and fingers relaxed, yet toned, to avoid feeling heavy to your partner. When in leverage the leader should still have control and be able to swivel the follower on her base from left to right. Now, place the follower in leverage and have the leader take several steps back. Leaders should then stop - the follower will naturally continue to step forward until compression has been established. From compression the leader can now walk forward several steps; the follower remains in compression. As soon as the leader stops, the follower should continue back until leverage has been attained. West Coast Swing is based on 6-count passes and 8-count whips and is danced in a “slot” or linear orientation, as opposed to circular. Imagine dancing inside of a railroad track, allowing the leader to step up onto the rail in order to let his partner dance by. Avoid any circular motion around your partner at all times. Most of the time the follower will remain either facing her partner or down the slot away from her partner. An important note is that the “slot” is in relation to your partner and is moveable in relation to the floor. Therefore, if the leader moves to either the left or the right then the follower should remain in alignment with the leader. In other -words, the follower should remain “slowed” in relationship to where her partner is located.
West Coast Swing Dance
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