Swing – Social vs Competitive

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Well, now the fun and excitement of the festival is over and we’ve all done our Showstoppers and so it is clearly back to the grind.  Kid T has not forgotten the comments we received at the two Showcases and she is back to her mission of acting on that feedback.  Since most of it involves little technique things, that is our focus.

We started with Viennese Waltz and the obvious thing there is just for me to stretch more, keep my head weight over my right heel while looking to the left, keeping my head up and my frame wide and up and engaging my core to make it all happen.  Yes, that was quite a run on sentence.  Try reading it without a pause and you’ll know what that part of the lesson felt like.  I’ll have to learn how to breathe while keeping the core engaged.  Oh, yes and I also forgot rotating my center slightly towards the side where we have a connection.

I will say that I’m starting to feel the difference when my head and shoulders slump a bit.  Only because it gets so damn tiring holding them up, that I just want to relax and be comfortable.  But the good news is having something tangible that I can feel and now I just need to keep get better at recognizing when I’ve lost that feeling and try to get it back.

Then, we come to swing.  I love swing music.  It tends to be bouncy and happy with a nice beat and you naturally feel like moving every time you here one.  The judges said something about wanting to see more leg action because maybe my triples get a little lazy from time to time.  Well, it really isn’t that lazy because it is still a lot of work but it is the difference between good social swing and a swing that the judges are looking for.

The concept she was trying to teach me was to settle into one leg.  Apparently, this is not exactly the same as standing on one leg.  Its close but there is a little more you need to do to get all your weight on that leg and it does something to your hips and then you do the triple on the leg with no weight which helps create the look they are going for.  Of course, you get to the end of your triple and you have to settle into the other leg and repeat the process.  Big time stage 2 awkward use.

Then, we started getting into certain steps.  The first was just a basic throwout which she wanted to improve on with this whole settling concept.  There was some bend at the hip that she was naturally doing which was supposed to come from this settling stuff but it wasn’t really working for me.  I did finally grasp the concept when she told me to get all my weight on one foot and then the triple goes backward which did kind of create what she was looking for.

But, things started to go a little off track when she tried to relate that concept to a step we do in our little routine – the Twin Cities.  At one point, she’s telling me that it is just like a throw out.  Now, if you are going to relate two things to me, then you better be sure there are no logical inconsistencies for me to grab on to.  In this case, the move she wanted in the throw out is a triple step done on one foot.  The Twin Cities move is two walks that replace the rock step so you are changing weight.  To me, they aren’t the same and I really, really couldn’t find the common thread she was trying to weave together.

It did get very frustrating.  To her credit, she kept trying and at one point said something like “I’m don’t know if I can explain this differently”.  I’m thinking “too bad, because I’m pretty sure I can’t understand it any differently”.  She then finally hit on something common which is that both start with my full weight on one foot and then the other foot moves backwards.  I know that about the Twin Cities so I really couldn’t figure out what she was asking me to do differently but I guess we finally got there.

We did a little more working on forward poise and connection and I could finally feel a little bit of what she was talking about.  Not sure I can remember what I did to make it feel that way but it is a start.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I find these little concepts to be maddening.  It isn’t a huge difference but it is the little things that matter.  The problem is that it is very hard for me to figure out how to move my body to make it happen just from a verbal description unless there is something concrete to latch on to.  “Settling” just wasn’t cutting it as much as weight changes.  But, even with a guide, I still am never sure I’m getting it unless I get some feedback and then the challenge is figuring out what I did to make it work and how to train myself to be more consistent.  If there is something I can clearly feel, it is easier because I can try to replicate the feeling.  But when we get into various shades of grey, it just becomes a confusing mess.  Its Goldilocks all over again.  No, that was too much rotation.  No, that was too little.  Yes, that was just right.  I guess to give myself a little credit, I was frustrated but stayed with it and at least we made a start.  It is a small start but that proverbial long journey always begins with a single step (well in this case, it is a triple step, but you get the gist of what I’m saying).

I know this is also coming in Cha-Cha and Mambo.  Something to look forward too (he says with a heavy dose of sarcasm)


  1. Re: Swing — “Big time stage 2 awkward use.”
    Me too …, Swing is back in the picture now that I’m doing Scholarships again. I do a 1/2-way decent social swing, but that isn’t going to cut it competitively. My Swing never seemed to look right until my coach pointed out that Swing, Cha Cha and Samba are syncopated dances … hit-hit Bam, hit-hit Bam, but I’m dancing one dimensional (hit-hit-hit). As you say, it’s the little things that can change the entire picture!

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