Swing Discussion Boards > Patterns in swing

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Swingolder, Dec 17, 2004.

  1. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    I am taking an intermediate east coast class at a studio. We have been learning about one new move a week. Last night, instead of teaching us anything new, he strung a lot of the moves together into a "nice" pattern. So we do a tuck, CBR, sliding doors, inside turns and other assorted things, but in his order. He says that it is really good to be able to go out on the dance floor and have a series of moves that make you look good. Well, I thought we all looked like robots, doing the same thing in syncronation.
    I am also disappointed that he never addresses anyone's techniques. Even if someone is doing something completely off, he just stands off to the side and lets us continue to practice.... it is like he wants to keep everyone happy so they will continue on with the classes.
    The problem is that I am really having fun in the class, the other students are all great and I don't know where else to go to learn more east coast. I am just disappointed that we aren't learning what I want to learn.
    My dh and I take have already taken private lessons for west coast and now are doing so for salsa so can't afford more privates.
  2. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Some studios teaches swing in this manner. I've been in such a class once. It was very structured, had bronze/silver/gold syllabus' (syllabies? syllaby? what? :?) , everything was about feet and arms. It was not ECS, we don't have that over here in Europe, but it was som six count swing. And I remember even remember the sliding doors move. Nothing at all was about lead and follow, bounce, posture, body etc. In my oppinion, this is no way to learn how to swing.

    I looked around for the booklet, let's see: Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. :shock:
    Rock'nRoll Study Notes :lol:

    I understand your dilemma. You like it there, and enjoy it. But you're right about doing a pre-learned sequence of patterns is not really dancing.

    But in defence of your teacher, for beginners a pre-learned sequence of patterns can be a place to start. But as soon as one's able to, this sequence should be broken apart and be replaced by fitting the patterns to the music as you go along.

    My advice for you is, if you have time and resources, to find a real swing community doing Lindy or WCS, and not a class that's part of a more generic dance studio (as I assume you're doing right now)
  3. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    I support the community approach. I've learned the most going out to social. Classes have been very beneficial and I'm lucky that they weren't just pattern or moves classes.

    But part of the reason my classes work is because we have a fantastic instructor who welcomes feed back. On occasion we've built on moves until we had a pattern (and yes leads expect the follows to move and the follows anticipate), but more often then not, students email the instructor and let him know what we want to work on.

    As a result we might spend a month working on connection or musicality, another month might be syncopations, we're lucky that he's so open minded.

    Has anyone spoken to your instructor about learning technique or lead/follow instead of patterns?

    And I believe it's syllabi....kind of like catus and cacti.
  4. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    Your right, before I quit the class, I should talk to the instructor and let him know what I think and what I would like to get out of the class.
    I go dancing frequently where a lot of younger dancers swing, a lot of lindy or a fun, really swinging east coast. Although I could never move like a 19 year old, I think this pattern dancing is so stiff and old. I initially took east coast from a member of this young group, but now he is teaching only lindy and balboa (could never do that balboa!). I like east coast better.

    I will contact my instructor and talk it over with him.
  5. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Ya gotta learn the footwork . . . you gotta learn some patterns . . . all the while working on your technique.

    If you think you can choreograph better, then do it!

    There is a whole lot more more to choreography than just putting patterns together, and one of the most important thing to do is to phrase a group of patterns - ala a routine - with the music. Phrasing for a routine is not as difficult as phrasing on the fly, which you will also need a good course in music to do!

    If you like the place, continue the classes . . . he has to be in charge and keep a balance with everyone taking the class. If you want individual attention - take private lessons - then you are in charge!
  6. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    I don't want a routine, I just want to go out and social dance and have fun. This isn't for any competition where we are trying to choreograph to a particular piece of music.
    I don't necessarily want the indvidual attention. It is the leads who don't really 'have' what he is teaching but us follows who know the script and do it anyway! He could maybe see that if he would walk around a little!
  7. love2swing

    love2swing New Member

    In the beginning classes at my studio, the instructors do this quite a bit. However, they do spend time addressing how to lead the moves, technique, etc. What I have found is that beginners want to know how to do cool things that look flashy, and my fiance is horrible at remembering what he knows how to do so he appreciates the combinations of moves as ways to help him remember what he can lead. As the people progress, there is not so much an emphasis on combinations of moves but rather technique, lead/follow, phrasing, etc. As for why he's doing it in an intermiedate level class, I don't know. You should ask him about it- maybe he has his reasons, or maybe he's just unaware that this isn't what everyone wants.
  8. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    I may have been given my dh more credit than he deserved. We were out Saturday night and he started that pattern that we had practiced for the whole hour on Thursday and he couldn't remember it!!!
  9. luh

    luh Active Member

    i had same experiences with patterns in a ballroom class. I think patterns are good for couples, which always dance together and where the man can't lead.
    For all others: learn the steps, and than start dancing. make up you own moves. combine for your own. it is really not as hard, and if you lead correctly it looks way cooler, then if you do the same pattern over and over and over again. Another advantage of not dancing patterns makes you more compatible to other partners, and you don't want just to dance with one person. Swing is a "changing-couple-after-almost-every-song" dance. :eek:
    It helped me always a lot when the people who teached me told me were to go with my arms, so that my partner knows where to go. And I can tell you, it's really cool when you start making you own moves up!!
  10. Alias

    Alias Member

    Ha Ha! Here is the english dance terminology/glossary/vocabulary/dictionary question again, about "moves" and "patterns" of which I have to guess the meanings.
    As far as I understand reading this topic and others, a move is the thing that lasts typically 6 or 8 counts or beats in swing dance (and would last 8 counts or beats in salsa) and a pattern is a sequence of moves, and I'll take this as a definition.
    If I'm right, a move can be indentified with a pattern made of this one move, a sequence of patterns is also a pattern, and as I wish to better understand Flat Shoes, I would like to know if by "a pre-learned sequence of patterns" he meant "a pre-learned sequence of moves (that is a pattern)" or exactly "a pre-learned sequence of patterns" (in fact some instructors build the hour pattern as a sequence of short patterns (made of a few moves) that you work alone for a little while), in any case what he wrote is correct (and I agree with).
    If I'm wrong, tell me please (as I will often want to talk about moves and patterns).
  11. luh

    luh Active Member


    I think I used both terms too.
    If i got that right:
    move: anything which isn't basic step
    pattern: fixed sequence of moves.
    Important is the fixed. that's why lots of teachers like to teach that. So students don't have to keep steps in mind and to remember how to get into those. They just can do patterns. "fixed sequences of moves"
    if it would be just a squence of moves, and it would change everytime, it wouldn't be a big deal for teaching that any more.

    I actually prefer it if i can make up my on combinations (sequences of moves unfixed). And not to teach those. People should learn (from my point of view) how to do moves, and learn a bunch of those, and than start dancing, meaning, making up there own combinations, or if they prefer it, just move, basic step, move, basic step....
  12. Alias

    Alias Member

    I agree with you, luh, as you'll see in my next long post that I've been writing meanwhile (before I read your's).

    I think I understand what "fixed" could imply.
    For the time I will still define a pattern as a sequence of moves (that is that's what I mean when I write it) granted that a specific pattern is a specific sequence of moves.
  13. Alias

    Alias Member

    As far as I'm concerned, I prefer an instructor who teaches only moves with a different pattern for each lesson, with a few explanations (the less the better) and a lot of music (the more the better).

    Only moves, because as long as I don't hurt my partner and the others around (and I don't) and do the pattern (and I do), I want to keep my freedom in the way I dance (I will play by myself some personal footwork and style), otherwise stated the teacher has decided which moves we do (so we don't have as leaders to choose the moves to do, one thing less to think about, you can think more about other things) but I want to be free in how I do the moves.

    Hey I am not a puppet, and according to me a concept of swing dance and salsa dance is to give logical rules for the moves (allowing a leader and a follower to dance together) and then let the freedom in how to dance (style) so that each one can dance its own way, this is not Ballroom which is more precise in many elements of posture and movements and dictate them (set the style).

    And one can rarely justify technically one way of dancing instead of another (in fact you often have one instructor say one thing and the other the complete opposite), getting short of arguments some instructors will invoke aesthetic but that's not valid because it's a subjective point of view and not an objective one.

    Only moves with just a few explanations (the less the better), because I understand quickly the move or which move is to be done, and because (as how to do the move) I prefer to try by myself and think by myself in order to find solutions for improving my performance of the moves (if needed), I find some students so scholastic (they can't do a thing by themselves but wait for the teacher to tell them every thing).

    With a few explanations (the less the better) and a lot of music (the more the better), because I want to have more time to try and dance, that's the way I improve.

    A different pattern for each lesson (as combining the moves is an approach to real dancing), because moves are far more important than patterns.
    The patterns taught in studio are only a way to learn new moves and experiment different sequences of moves (and you have to break yourself the pattern into moves if the instructor doesn't), to improve the way you do the move, to memorize doing the move by repeating it.
    What is great in partner dancing in dance venues is improvisation upon the music (in particular combining the moves in improvisation upon the music and the partner, and of course tuning the way you dance and lead upon the music), and not executing a pre-learned pre-programmed routine or long pattern or choreography.

    As a conclusion according to me a leader has to take lessons to learn the main moves and understand the rules of this partner dance (such as what moves can he lead to the follower in this particular dance), and perhaps some spirit of the dance, then it's up to the person himself to dance his own way with a personal style and communicate with the follower within the moves he combines, let us be creative inventive imaginative!
  14. Alias

    Alias Member

    I edited my previous post (above) as quoted above, so the new reader of the post will have a post which formulates better, and the others can focus on the quotation above.
  15. randomMysh

    randomMysh New Member

    Hmmmm...my favorite kind of class is the kind that focuses on technique, technique and more technique. I don't like learning steps, that's for the leads! I'd rather have an extra class on lead and follow instead. :)

    Having said that, I think there's a value in sequence teaching classes for beginners. It's one thing to learn a move, it's something else to get used to the idea of stringing them together. Actually, I once had a class where the instructor gave possibilities of what can follow this or that step so that the students didn't have to figure it out on their own. The problem was, the newbies who were in the class got confused, and as far as they were concerned, the lesson was a waste. So it really depends on the level of the students. The thing that makes it really tough for the teacher is that usually just because the class says "intermediate" or "advanced", it doesn't mean that the students will be at the specified level, and they have to work out some sort of a compromise to fit everyone. Nobody will be entirely happy, but hopefully everyone will get something out of it.

    I'd suggest chatting up your instructor after or before a lesson and ask about his philosophy of teaching. What does he see as the benefits of the teaching style he has chosen? What does he think you as a student should focus on while taking this kind of a lesson? You might be surprised by an underlying motive that you didn't even think of. Or maybe s/he might reconsider the approach and throw something in that would make you happy, too. :)
  16. blue

    blue New Member

    As a follower, this is exactly the kind of class I don't like. Classes that teach a pattern where the leaders don't have to think about to choose moves - seldom makes them learn how to lead the move. This leaves me two choices:
    1) Not moving unless led. Many leaders will not be able to finish the pattern - if the lead of one move is missing, we are gone. They will think I am a terrible follower.
    2) Doing my steps by myself. Quite a few leaders will like this. They do not know they do, though, because they do not know they are not actually leading the moves. Every now and then they realise I go by myself, though, and then they scorn me for it. The worst thing about this approach, though, is that the leaders I would very much like dancing with will probably decide for myself I am not a following follower, and so they will not ask me to dance later.

    More advanced dancers are hopefully able to handle this is a better way. I don't know, I am not there yet. I feel being a follower in a pattern based class is "damned if you do, and damned if you don't". The more beginner level of the class, the less I like the pattern based way of teaching.
  17. blue

    blue New Member

    I couldn't agree more.

    I think this sounds like an excellent way of teaching beginners - if paced for beginners. Not pattern based teaching of beginners will take longer until they can dance a whole song using more than four or five moves - but when they get there, they will have understood the moves and learned how to combine them. The dance will be theirs, not just a pattern somebody taught them.

    A pattern based class might be more easy to "fake" for people who are not really the level of the class. I have difficulties in seeing this as something good. Maybe it is better to realise you don't belong in this class, and go to those a level below instead.
  18. Alias

    Alias Member

    In swing dances (and salsa dances) there are a few basic steps that allow to do almost all the moves (in WCS and Lindy you can learn figures with specific steps but that's another story), and as a follower you'd better know them in order to be able to follow almost any move, this is not the same concept as in Ballroom where you learn the steps for each figure.
    One learns these basic steps in beginners or low intermediate class, then the moves are about the lot of combinations of arms and hands connections between the leader and the follower.

    The leader is the one who has to learn the moves (with the possibilities with the arms and hands) and will have to manage them on the fly.
    The follower can improve the technical execution of her own movement in some various moves in class, and in a pattern she knows what will happen so she can try footwork and movements with her body.
  19. Alias

    Alias Member

    What is meant more precisely by "technique" as focused in a class?
  20. huey

    huey New Member

    I guess technique would focus on the "how" rather than the "what" questions. For example, how do you lead and follow a tuck turn. How do you start it, how do you end it, etc.

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