New to WCS..

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Shane McSter, Jun 28, 2013.

  1. Shane McSter

    Shane McSter New Member

    Hey ya'll, if the this question has been posted already, please feel free to PM me the link and remove this thread. I couldnt find the topic on this forum and really want to see what some of ya'll think:

    We have been ECS and 2Step'n for a few years, not pros or anything, but we would like to move into the realm of WCS dancing and are looking for a cheap alternative to learn it. I do have a mac mini hooked to our big TV in the living room, and we have been tryin to follow along with some youTube vids, but really are not having any luck. I have done a little bit of research on DVDs, but have no idea which ones actually any good and I really dont trust the reviews on their websites or even amazon.com's as even those can be BS.

    Anyone have and suggestions for YouTube videos that teach WCS from the basics, or has anyone actually had any success with DVDs and if so, which ones?

    Thanks a mil!
  2. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    This is something I paid attention to a number of years ago, but sadly I'm no longer up to date. That said...

    The best instructional video I've seen for West Coast Swing was put together by Mary Ann Nunez (who is one of the gods of the dance). Most instructors at that time were making video that were just their usual beginner instruction, but filmed. Mary Ann's actually took advantage of the video format to enhance the lesson experience.

    Mario Robau Jr. has a number of dvd's available, which cover the basics, and his web site features on-line lessons as well. My recollection is that the on-line lessons are going to assume you already know the basics, so that might be for later.

    My feeling is that if you want "real" WCS, you're going to need to look to that circuit, rather than ballroom/country crossovers. Jordan and Tatiana are outstanding dancers, and really know their stuff in the classroom, but I don't know how well it translates to video. I'd have hopes for videos by Miles Munroe and Tessa Cunningham as well, but again, I haven't actually seen them.
  3. Shane McSter

    Shane McSter New Member

    Ok, thanks for the info.

    Free:
    So far I have not found much in the way of free online videos that I could learn from for any of the instructors you recommended.

    DVDs:
    Jordon and Tatiana seem to only have more advanced stuff on their site, (pls let me know if they have more basic DVDs available elsewhere) -
    Both Mario Robau & Mary Ann do have beginner DVDs, but Mary Ann's website is not something I can see myself ordering form and I can't find her videos on amazon. As for Robau, his website is not bad and the 1st DVD is on Amazon, however the review on it really seems staged... I just ordered it anyway though.

    I would like to get a few videos from different instructors to see which works best for me though-

    Any feedback on 'Ben Morris' or 'Sean Trautman' WCS DVDs?
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If you are new to WCS, and don't know who Skippy Blair is, it would be worth your while to learn.
    No one else has done as much to dissect, document, and explain this dance as Skippy. And you can find a whole lot of her stuff on line.

    Some of the folks here can remember when I asked if it was worthwhile to go to Downey to study with her. She made a big impression on me when she was here in Portland and actually talked about dancing TO THE MUSIC!
    I now have gone to two of her West Coast Swing 101 Intensives, and have two of her dvds:

    West Coast Swing 101, and
    West Coast Swing 22 Foundation Patterns.

    I'll probably buy the reissue of one of her older "tapes" as part of my research.

    Here's a link to outtakes from the 22 patterns dvd.


    I recently posted this link from someone else who went to her intensive.
    http://waynetothemax.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/skippy-blair-mini-intensive/

    I was not exactly overwhelmed by the look of the dvd material when I first saw it. It looked...stilted, overly controlled, etc

    I think in the above YouTube clip, Sarah better represents what Skippy is after, but then Sarah is one of the main people in Skippy's group.

    One of my friend's where I dance delights in collecting stories of women complaining about my dancing! The worst he's had to say since the 2nd Intensive was that someone said what I did was...different, but interesting.

    And, full disclosure, Skippy doesn't teach exactly what has been taught traditionally. But it all works together really well.

    I wish some of the younger women I've seen recently would get away from the - to me - crappy, showy styling they are using, and learn good basics!

    I haven't seen Mary Ann Nunez's dvd(s), but here's a story.
    At my first Intensive I had her as a partner at one point. I had no idea who she was. She blew me away before we took our first step and Skippy had to stop the class.
    I looked here..
    http://www.wcsvideos.com/video/2259/
    and - oh, yeah.

    Mary Ann is also in Skippy's group - GSDTA.
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I would say no to Trautman, based on the fact that he teaches the Sugar Push as the first, and basic pattern of WCS in his book "Picture Yourself Dancing."
  6. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    (a) I haven't the foggiest idea who Trautman is -- which means he's probably not someone who is part of the National WCS scene. I took a look at a preview he has up on youtube. His movement isn't obviously "professional westie". It's certainly possible that he's an outstanding teacher anyway -- there's more than one way to do it. But I don't immediately see any reason to guess that his instructionals are better than average.

    (b) Ben Morris, I do know -- he's been on the national scene since he was a teenager. Haven't seen him teach, but have more hope(?) that his material is based on swing as it is danced at the top level. Took a quick look at an instructional video on youtube, and... well, average again, I guess. Maybe impressing me is too expensive to produce.

    Looking at Trautman's site, it occurred to me that you might look for something from Michael Kiehm @ starlightdance. His website store also has something from Ronnie and Brandi -- I'm a big fan of Brandi's teaching in person, but again I don't know how well it translates to the little screen. And I don't know if that shop is going to do you any good, given that was part of the criteria.
  7. Borazine

    Borazine New Member

    West Coast Swing has a very distinct and flexible connection between partners. In my experience, most people have a hard time with it in the beginning and take a while to get the feel right. Therefore, I think it would be exceptionally difficult to learn from videos. I strongly recommend that you look around for some affordable group classes in your area. That being said...

    Like Danceelf, I'd never heard of Sean Trautman. I see nothing obviously wrong with what he's posted on Youtube, but based on his website it looks like he's a country dancer who dabbles in west coast swing. I'd really recommend that you learn from someone who's active in the WCS community. Mary Ann Nunez, Ben Morris, and Mario Robau would all be good choices. Skippy Blair has been influential in the development of WCS for decades. I would expect her instruction to be more, shall we say, old-fashioned than the others, but that probably doesn't matter too much at the beginner level.

    And what would you recommend as an alternative?
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Skippy Blair has written that Sugar Push was listed yers ago as the first item on a list of "things to fix" in West Coast Swing instruction.

    "Unfortunately, it has frequently been taught as Pattern #1, (too early for
    anyone to learn compression.) Without compression, the pattern is either too
    rough, or no compression at all. Net result is that the pattern itself has recently
    been being labeled dull & uninteresting, by the newer dancers."
    http://www.skippyblair.com/wcs.htm

    I'm not the only you agrees with the dull & uninteresting observation.

    You will find Skippy's list at that same url.

    Laure’ Haile, who was the first one to write out "Western Swing," had the Sugar Push as #4. But then after that you were supposed to practice all the material using different combinations of rhythms before going on.
  9. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    I see people have mentioned Mary Ann Nunez and Skippy blair;
    Ive repeatedly seen free 1/2 hour lesson videos of them on:
    http://www.globaldance.tv/
    Now you never know what day they willbe on but the play list is on all day.
    You can't download them.
    Try this site too:
    http://www.howtodance.org/
    This site literally has 100s of WCS videos including lesson:
    http://www.wcsvideos.com/
    Ive many other links
  10. Shane McSter

    Shane McSter New Member

    Steve: Wow! thanks so much for your in depth responses. We went ahead and ordered a bunch of videos last week, havn't received them yet, but when we do I will post my results.

    I looked for where to order Skippy Blair's WCS 101, but Trautman's WCS 101 kept coming up... we went ahead and ordered it as his teaching reviews seem really good on Amazon. Plus we got it on e-bay for $14, cheapest one yet.

    We figure we really want to have the basics down, hence, so long as these different teachers dont contradict eachother it should help to have a broad perspective.

    Group classes: We have steered away from this approach (well and I have not found any WCS group classes either, but if they are anything like the line dancing ones we occasionally attend they would likely not do us any good anyway), but we are really strapped for time as well.

    The youtube vids: Thanks a mil to everyone who posted them, we have been watching a bunch and so far prefer Nunez.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Navigating Skippy's site is... a bit muddled right now. Think they (someone?)have been working on it for some time and it looks like they have some issues. But here is a url.
    http://www.skippyblair.com/products.htm

    I wish some of these young gals who seem to see their partner as just an excuse to be on the floor and do their own thing, would more accurately mirror MaryAnn.
  12. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    YouTube has many WCS instruction videos, but would not rely solely on those. Does your community have a local club, they generally charge very little for group classes.

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