"Women Have No Choice But to do the Right Thing"

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Generalist, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Consider this if your plan is to lead the woman's steps when you dance West Coast Swing.

    This is also the level where SHE can feel when she will be allowed to take liberties with the lead and extend her syncopations if they FIT THE MUSIC. It is also a point when the MAN discovers that he gets credit for the move, when she hears something in the music and is ALLOWED to interpret what she hears.
    Skippy Blair
    twnkltoz and Signature like this.
  2. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Active Member

    While connection is very important, timing and bodywork/footwork are essential to achieving superior dancing. An experienced dancer can improvise through a lot of movements, but the excellent ones not only improvise but are highly aware of where their feet and body parts are as they move about. They move and stop in very clear fashions and place their weight just right. This can't be done without having thought and practiced movement in concious fashion (beforehand).

    The typical reaction one has with an unfamiliar partner that has had concious training with connection, timing, and bodywork/footwork is "wow, he/she _knows_ what he/she is doing." The reaction one has with an unfamiliar partner that just subconciously improvises is "pretty good, he/she _can_ do this."
  3. Signature

    Signature Member

    Steve,
    I like the Skippy Blair quote, but I think the level Generalist and I are discussing is a bit different than the level Skippy Blair is discussing. If a follow is sufficiently skilled to feel when she should/shouldn't do a syncopation, extension, etc., the follow has already been introduced to alternative timings, turns, etc.

    That degree of control is only needed/useful when leading a follow who hasn't done a particular move much. With a new follow, that may be most moves. With a pro, it's only useful for the weird stuff. I still might use that degree of control if I'm doing something the pro isn't likely to expect, but I'll also throw in plenty of ordinary moves for the pro to take liberties with.

    Partner Dancer,
    You're absolutely correct. Those elements are all part of superior dancing.

    Again, I think Generalist and I have been discussing a different level of dancing. (At least I have been.) We're discussing the ability to get a less-experienced follow to execute alternative timing without the follow stumbling or being yanked.

    If I'm dancing with someone near/above my level, my expectations are far different than if I'm dancing with someone who may not be familiar with a reverse whip.
  4. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Active Member

    Ahhh, my kind of leader ;). I feel bad sometimes when I am in a class/workshop with good leaders. Yes, I do my best to learn what is being taught, but if the lead is there, I dance what is lead. Period. And while that is what the leaders think I should do, the result is sometimes that the guys are having to work very hard to learn something and when it comes to the action part, I actually turn that part of my brain off so that I can follow properly. Sometimes a leader who knows he hasn't quite gotten it will say, "help me out here" and I will be my best to fill in, give him the feeling, back lead a little, whatever might be helpful, but if I'm not asked, I follow.
    j_alexandra and Signature like this.
  5. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Active Member

    The learning/improvement process is usually not a smooth (hopefully upward) curve but a course formed from a series of ups and downs. IOW, to get to the "next level," one often has to step backwards to rework the way one does things. This (has to) happens throughout, not only at the "superior" stage.

    Hence, it's not necessarily "good" that a follower just fumbles through footwork/timing to accommodate the lead of the new moves/mechanisms of a leader, as it may just be a false sense of accomplishment (for both).

    For example, beginner followers often manage to move "better" than those who are at the next stage working on basic, cleaner, turns because they just use natural instinct to move the whole body as a unit while cleaner turns require both whole body and isolated body actions, which is often "klunkier" in the learning stage while the new instinct is being developled.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Item 5. of early Western Swing /West Coast Swing cue sheets for AM teachers (yes, both names are there and they are from the first half of the fifties) is "Swing Rhythms (three variations)."

    When Laure' Haile did her Dance Notes, she specified that "All steps learned to this point should be done in all 3 rhythms."

    This was "Bronze" level.
  7. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    So glad WCS has died down around here finally.
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    The only problem that exists in SWING is when someone decides that there is only ONE WAY to dance it. There is never only ONE WAY to do anything...
    Blair 1978

    I have to say that I'm glad that there are some women around here that understand West Coast Swing.
    And some of them will be dancing for decades, if life doesn't get in the way. And, I'm also glad that they still play songs that have some swing in them at CW places.

    Most people sort of demonize the Murray studios, but looking at what they were teaching in the 50s, and actually seeing their students dance Western Swing / West Coast Swing in 1954, I think they would change their opinions as I have.
    Larinda McRaven likes this.
  9. Signature

    Signature Member

    You seem to be trying very hard to make a point, but I'm afraid that I'm missing what you're getting at.

    On the social dance floor, the primary "accomplishment" that most of us are trying to achieve is an enjoyable dance. If that's the primary goal, there is no "false sense of accomplishment." Either the two partners really had fun, or they really didn't.

    Another goal is to practice. As a lead, it requires a certain amount of practice until I refine the leads and timing to where I can reliably get follows (including those who are less skilled) to execute the move. Some moves take more practice than others. If the follow merely "fumbles through footwork/timing," then it's a clear indicator that I haven't mastered that lead yet. It's a learning experience. Again, there's no "false sense of accomplishment."

    In a competition, there's no points (to either partner) for fumbling through a move. The judges don't reward that. Again, there's no "false sense of accomplishment."

    What point are you trying to make?


    I get the point about dancers (as part of their progress) having to take a step back to rework the basics. Their dancing probably will be less smooth during that transition.

    Even within the less smooth transition period, they will do better with a well-executed lead (which clearly defines the steps, direction and timing) and poorer with a lead that's so vague that they have to think about the timing (in addition to the fundamentals that they're trying to rework).

    What point are you trying to make?
  10. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    LOL! But like DF threads, no dance truly dies, right? We just set them to "ignore" status.

    Seriously, I'm surprised. WCS seems quite strong here (Chicago). Not that I can dance it very well...
  11. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Perhaps if it were still 1954. That was 60 years ago and has no relevance on what is happening today.
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    That's like saying that what Frankie Manning did when he was dancing at the Savoy has no relevance to Lindy Hop today.
  13. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I disagree that AM had that much influence on WCS.
    stash likes this.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    There is no written documentation I know of that anyone other than Murray studios in LA (and Portland!) were teaching it in first half of the fifties. Other studios, like Veloz and Yolanda taught "smooth swing" which may have been WS/WCS; but, it's possible that, like Sophisticated Swing, it wasn't slotted.

    If you want to talk about what is on film with the LA Lindy dancers led by Dean Collins, I can tell you that Skippy Blair agrees that they were not doing West Coast Swing. Also note that they themselves called what they were doing Lindy, and that Dean himself "hated the idea of West Coast Swing."
    Laure' Haile joined Murray in 1945, after Murray had a list of things to teach, but no "breakouts" of the steps, and they were already teaching "smooth swing."
    The films that clearly have WCS use next generation dancers, not the older generation, and there were about 2 - 5 years where LA Murray studios had been teaching WS/WCS.
    Alma Heaton, who had Western Swing in his books starting in about 1956 managed a studio for Murray before he got a position with BYU. So he probably learned the dance while with Murray.

    If you know of any substantial documentation of the dance in the 40s and 50s, I would be interested in seeing it. That excludes just about any web site I can think of, and I've been looking for 8 years. Aside from that, I'm willing to follow all new leads.

    One thing I'll agree with, is that the early on insistence that patterns be danced using different rhythms (when possible), and the diversity that it creates, has been lost to many dancers, and that is unfortunate.
  15. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    I think he's talking about partners who let themselves be dragged through a dance, and then convince themselves that they danced it. The example I'm thinking of is someone I danced with recently who basically made herself a passive object that I was permitted to move from point A to point B. She didn't fight or resist any leads, but it was clear that she had no concept what she was doing.
  16. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Active Member

    The point is really pretty simple. Without really consciously thinking through what one is doing, oftentimes what _seems_ to feel good and right using (previously developed) subconscious sensing is exactly "wrong."

    The discussion started with interactions in group class, not while in the midst of social dancing. One major focus of taking classes is to improve one's dancing.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2014
  17. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Active Member

    Exactly. Happens way too often.

    It's even more hilarious when the newbie decides to "teach" a partner who is clear about what is happening (but is experienced enough not to bother to be the instructor).
  18. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    This is a common mistake with beginners.

    It's daunting to force or coerce these ladies to do the anchor step. Most of the time I just pretend that every move is whip timing and let the ladies do whatever they want.

    Beginners will resist timing changes in Foxtrot also. They will refuse to do slow-quick after they get into a mindset of slow-slow-quick. There are similar problems with tango.

    I would be very interested if a knowledgeable lead could start a thread on how to deal with follows who resist timing changes.
  19. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    Actually, the beginning leads seem to be just as resistant to timing changes, if not more, considering they're the ones having to lead the changes. Exceptions to this, of course.
    j_alexandra and danceronice like this.
  20. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Let somebody else dance with them.
    Bailamosdance likes this.

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