This year started in Stockholm Westie Gala. I realized again how much there is still to learn. I deal in this blog mainly west coast swing, but the similarities may be find somewhere else also 😉
Go classes get ideas!
In West coast swing I have not ever come across in to the fact that other teachers would not be welcome other teachers’ classes. ❤ it! It’s an insane experience to go a teacher’s class, which has decades of experience in that dance, and still understand new dancers. How someone will be able to get most of people to understand things we are doing to do, just in few sentences. It should be the aim of all teachers, regardless of the dance we teach. Each teachers should sometimes go other teachers’ classes to get new ideas and thoughts on their own curriculum. Being in rotation, and perhaps even in the opposite role … I’m sure you find quite a few things you might be able to take advantage on your own teaching, at least I did. Maybe attitude ”They will steal my patterns, or otherwise benefit from the things I teach.” prevent some teachers to let other teachers to come their classes. It’s funny, we have Youtube full of patterns, just pick up the bests. There is nothing wrong to collect ideas what kind of things can do. But thing i’m not so fancy about, is when someone writes a script of your course, and repeats it word-pattern-voice of complete a copy on their next class (sometimes that has happend ). Copying is the best feedback on a job well done, but it is quite embarrassing if someone happens to be in the both classes. …
Know your history!
It’s great that events in Europe will also introduce a ”old school” teachers, teachers that has dance and compete longer period of time and seen dance change. We have amazing pros, but it is useful to dancers to get another kind of view to this dance, sometimes we forgot that there has been this dance before nowadays top pros. I realized when,Mario talked how west coast swing has change/ evolved in past decades, how young dance this really is in Europe. The majority of European (even the top pros) west coast swing dancers probably start this dance in less than 10 years ago. Sure, there are always exceptions. But the point of all this is that we are missing tens of years of experience in this dance, we haven’t seen changes in it and experienced the effect of different styles. It is just awesome to hear and see examples of how dance have changed over the years, I think I can understand the current dance and the newer styles better now. We all have seen or heard some videos or stories dancing in 80’s or 90’s, but may not notice how big part those are of a journey where we are now. When you are able to understand the past you can bring the best of it now. Although we have a lot of new cool patterns, styles of dance, however I hope were can also keep part of the older elements in our dance. So dance will remain as diversity and pleasant to many age groups.
Style vs. technic!
Sometimes west coast swing from another country/area looks different that yours. Why? Differences of teachers, teaching styles give different look and feeling of wcs. A skilled teacher will understand the pros and cons of various techniques, why something works better and something else not, how this technic or style has developed. High-quality dance technique is always good, the styles of dance is different things, even though how unique or cool it is, it is still a style. I hope we do not end up never in that weird discussion what is the only right style of west coast swing, Hopefully basic elements will stay quite same, regardless what part of the world you dance. And styles just keep spicy things up, not trying to create ”a new dance”.
The judge weekend training is exactly what Europe (and elsewhere also of course) need more. The mere fact that you know how to dance, and you have just done well in comps does not really make you a good judge. Unfortunately, there is people who judge a dance competitions ( can be small or big events) just by gut feeling, and if a competitor asks feedback, you can’t or don’t want to give it. Good judge should have good understanding what, and how to judge, of course everyone has still their personal opinion what to value more, that is ok, but the basic lines should be clear. Judges have a pretty big power on what direction (any of) the dances develops. If the judges rewarded crawl on the floor / funny shows, ignoring the partner dancing, technic or the timing, that is the direction where we will push this dance. Competitors practice those things which gives us good placements, and preferably little bit bigger than the previous winner. This is not criticism of anybody, but probably everyone has sometimes thinked after awards, ” why that couple win, was that a good (partner)dancing?” Sometimes connection between, what has been judged and what everybody says will be judged don’t seem to match.
Social dancing vs. competitive dancing!
Intensives of social dancing and competing were just awesome, give a lot of things to think. Social dance and the competition dance, there is quite big difference, even in wcs J & J, which is based on the dancing with the drawn partner, unlike many other competition dances. Sure, many of us are so-called mixed users, and practice both sides. 🙂
Social dance is about the feeling, the fact that your partner have a nice dance, in which case you are likely to enjoy too. In competition it is more about looks, how technically good dance looks, how do you sell it to audience and judges. So it is not just a good technic that always bring success, which is understandably frustrating from those who practices a lot.
Your priorities defines how or what you practice. If you are competition oriented you practice skills what makes your dance look good and help you get better results. Social dance oriented dancer practice those things what makes social dance succeed and feels the best for both of us.
You will grow where you want, as long as you give yourself a chance to practice and succeed.
If you want to be successful in competitions does not make you less of a social dancer. On the other side, if the competitive success does not come / or you don’t even want to compete, does not make you lousy dancer. Of course people talk more about competition results, it is easy. Social dancers are a little trickier to ranked, different people value different things. The fact that the dancers are valued on the basis of competition results, in social dance floor seems to me absurd. Great dancer is able and willing to dance with all levels of dancers. If you treat your partner with respect (regardless of competition level) and try to make always the best dance of the night for her/him, there will be line of partners waiting to dance with you. Today foolishly treated beginner partner could be in the future one of the most desirable competition / social dancer, and you can be sure that he/she will remember how you have treated them.
As long as you appreciate all the dance partners, you will enjoy dancing without the compulsion to do anything, you will realize how awesome dances and dance partners there is.
In Westie Gala there was mixed J & J comp. Dance competition with the drawn partner, newcomer or novice dancer competing with intermediate or advanced dancer. It was so fun!