Ballroom WCS versus non-Ballroom

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#21
Oh no- I'm sure I must be guilty of that. :oops:
As someone who learned ballroom before learning WCS, I watch WCS dancers and think "why don't they have any style?"
Could you or anyone give me a couple of examples of "WCS style" vs. "Latin style"?
I'd rather not be the sore thumb if I can help it!

Thanks!!!!!
Hmmm let me see if I can describe it. Part of it is being too big and sharp with the styling, particularly when not called for. Feet that are too fast. Too much hip motion. Being disconnected from the music and your partner. Dancing on top of the floor instead of being grounded. On top of the beat instead of having that laid back, silky feel like you have all day to get from 1 to 2. In general, too flamboyant.

When you watch WCS dancers you think have no style, look a little more closely. Look at how connected they are to each other and the music. When they do some kind of styling, it's very purposeful and with the music and their motion, not just sticking their arm out because it's free.

Watch some youtube videos of invitational winners, and you'll get some very good examples of what you should do! However, the best way to dance better and in the right style is to take lessons from a good WCS teacher.
 
#24
A few questions here, let's see if I can get to it all.

Things I learned that were "wrong" according to Benji:

a) Well, really, the main thing is that on the Sugar Push, just to take an example, I would step "3 tap 4" rather than a triple step, and ladies who learned a similar style to what I did would similarly do a tap step, crossing behind with their left foot on the tap step. Not doing the tap step was really screwing with my muscle memory. One of his big points is that, other than during turns, the partnership should spend as little time in "neutral" as possible, there should always be tension or compression in the partnership, as much as possible, and those taps steps and crossing behind puts the partnership in neutral.
Since WCS uses mostly "loose coupling" open position/hold, the
(coordination of) footwork of partners is simply not that
important. Good connection can be maintained even when the
partners are doing quite different footwork, and instructors
often teach this.

I'd be careful about using descriptions such as "as much as
possible," since this invariably has dancers over-doing the
deed.

b) No contrabody. I.e., hips and shoulders always line up, like panels, they always face the same direction. They don't have to be parallel in the coronal plane, but their axes should always point the same direction. The way I learned it, WCS was treated like a Rhythm dance with lots of contrabody. As Benji put it "No contrabody, only contra-partner"
I would suspect that he was just trying to have you reduce
any over-usage of contrabody movement, as ballroom dancers
are often apt to do. It's practically impossible to move
fluently without using contrabody action, which includes
the wind-up for turns and spins.

Many of the top WCS dancers have Latin dance background,
and many WCS pros recognize the value of "ballroom" technique
in dance in general.

c) Not that it's really a big deal, but he put a big emphasis on the starter step. I would normally start out with 2 triples in closed position into a throwout, but other than DW, that seems to freak out ladies around here, who expect to start in open position with a sugar push. Benji put an emphasis on embracing before the dance started, rocking from side to side to get a feel for your partner, and then essentially doing two triples where the throwout really happens during the second triple.
The starting method in WCS is far more flexible/varied than
in ballroom, partially because of the "loose coupling" thing.
Few WCS instructors even teach the "same" starter steps, and
most have their own preferences.

As to what changed in Two Step, just changing from counting SQQ to 1&2 made a big difference to me. I haven't had a chance to dance socially since then, but we'll see if that throws a monkey wrench into my dancing. Also, I always thought of 2Step as a dance for pop ballads, kind of slow, and I come to find out that Buddy's default speed for a 2Step is in the hustle range of bpm for me.
There are apparently at least two flavors of NC2S, one deemed
Rhythm WCS that uses 1&2 and one deemed Smooth WCS that uses
12&, with the former more fast/bouncy and the latter much
slower/smooth. The Country folks use the Smooth style.

With respect to the comments on WCS and Hustle learned in ballroom studios versus more specialized venues:

I'm kind of getting confirmation of the idea that it's hard to be really good at both, partly because of how ballroom studios teach the dances, and partly because, as I have found in my own experience, ballroom dancers tend to learn a bit of many dances, while westies, salseros, and other more focused dance groups tend to go more deep.
As one gets more experienced with all the various aspects of
dance and movement, one will figure out what the important
similarities and differences are between various dances, or
at least in the ways that one wishes to do them.

An important thing to realize is that instructors often
don't really do what they teach, so sampling many schools
and instructors is a good thing.
 

toothlesstiger

Well-Known Member
#25
I spent some time finding videos of other instructors from the westie side of things, and so far I'm finding Benji may be out there on his own, to some extent. To be fair, he said that in recent months he had been rethinking and reworking his teaching of WCS.

A little off my own topic here, is there a competition that decides the US Champion in WCS? Is that the most prestigious competition? My web search doesn't give me any clear answer.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#26
I spent some time finding videos of other instructors from the westie side of things, and so far I'm finding Benji may be out there on his own, to some extent. To be fair, he said that in recent months he had been rethinking and reworking his teaching of WCS.

A little off my own topic here, is there a competition that decides the US Champion in WCS? Is that the most prestigious competition? My web search doesn't give me any clear answer.
When looking at videos, pick people who win on a regular basis and have been for years...Mark and Sharlott, Kyle Redd and Sarah Van Drake, Robert Royston, Robert Cordoba. I think it's fair to say that Benji is out there a little, but that's not to say what he teaches isn't valid.

The biggest deal competition, the WCS Mecca if you will, is the U.S. Open. It just happened, and it takes place in Los Angeles, I believe.
 

toothlesstiger

Well-Known Member
#28
No, it may not be the best thing to model my dance on, but when someone throws out "eleven times champion" it helps to have more context. :)

Also, with respect to what Benji taught, again, I'm not trying to say that what he taught isn't useful, it certainly is, but getting context beyond what I learned in the ballroom world was definitely helpful.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#29
I would highly value anything Benji said, not only because he is a "champion," but because he is so close to the source. Or at least that was his foundation.
As several people have pointed out, "Swing" teachers value individuality much more so than some other teachers. Blair's West Coast 101 is not the same as Laure Haile's "Western Swing," and it's not the same as what most people learn. But I have found it to be very useful in my social dancing.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#30
It's not so much a matter of modeling after their competition dancing as determine whose lessons are most likely to be valuable and current, as well as whose dancing you like and feel like you can relate to. I have found many, many youtube videos (and, unfortunately, so have my students) from so-called "professionals" who are teaching incorrect or outdated styling, technique, and even patterns.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#32
"professionals" who are teaching incorrect or outdated styling, technique, and even patterns.
How about people who teach who don't dance in time to the music?
I say, they should give their students their money back.

I'm not a "Westie," but the places I dance: Cowboy Country in Long Beach, Stoney's in Vegas, and Bushwhackers here in Portland seem fine with what I do and how I do it.

Reading most of the Westie comments I see, they still seem geared toward learning moves, rather than really getting into the music. I wonder when the basics/less is more revival will hit.

But I'm curious... can you sketch out one or two of these?
incorrect or outdated styling, technique, and even patterns
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#33
But I'm curious... can you sketch out one or two of these?
I'm not sure I can articulate it, to be honest. The latin styling I mentioned above, for one. Bounciness that applies to country but not WCS. One move that comes to mind that's outdated (not that no one does it, but it is outdated) is where you lead the follower for an underarm pass, catch her tummy, send her back, catch her and send her forward, catch her and send her back. Styling has changed since I started WCS "for reals" 12 years ago, but I don't know how to describe the difference. I just know it when I see it.

I do want to be clear that I am not a WCS professional, and while I do teach beginners, that's where I draw the line...I get them through the basics, and then I send them on to a more qualified teacher. I'm not a competitor, either. But my husband did for many years, and I spend a lot of time with serious WCS dancers, have taken lessons from respected WCS pros, dance it weekly, etc. I just don't want to seem like I'm making myself out to be more than I am.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#34
where you lead the follower for an underarm pass, catch her tummy, send her back, catch her and send her forward, catch her and send her back.
Bwaaah! I used to do this one all the time back in the truck stop days!
I've been sticking to pretty basic stuff since going to Downey, but am thinking of bringing out some old stuff, and stuff I see in the old texts and movies.

I thought your post on latin stuff, which looks out of place in WCS, was excellent. And, hey, I certainly make no claims about how good I am. But I know what I know, and want to learn what I can from other people.
 

Mr 4 styles

Well-Known Member
#35
But I'm curious... can you sketch out one or two of these?

there is an old school move called the investigator try to find that you will laugh hysterically and it will get you slapped if you try it
incorrect or outdated styling, technique, and even patterns
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#36
Couple of things you see pretty frequently in "Rock Around the Clock" are:

a kick forward, step, step forward on what we now on counts 1 & 2. It's a syncopation on that first beat;

another one is what is called "Wheeling;" that would be similar to doing "sailor shuffles" but moving it around the point where your hands meet.

MOST of the dancers in the film are 40s era "Lindy" dancers. The two variations I listed are included in Lauré Haile's description of "Western Swing."
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
#37
One move that comes to mind that's outdated (not that no one does it, but it is outdated) is where you lead the follower for an underarm pass, catch her tummy, send her back, catch her and send her forward, catch her and send her back.

Styling has changed since I started WCS "for reals" 12 years ago, but I don't know how to describe the difference. I just know it when I see it.
.
Your are confusing 2 separate entities.. What you described is, a " variation ". Standard patterns used in dance ( no mater the genre ) are variations.. " Style " applies to 3 things .1.. Music.. 2... Personal style.. 3.. the Indigenous format, grounded in a select few variations that, established that" format ".

Patterns in many genres ( even basic ones ) go out of favor," Old " , pattern wise ,doesnt mean they have no value . And,how far does one go, before the original format completely disappears ?
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#38
Your are confusing 2 separate entities.. What you described is, a " variation ". Standard patterns used in dance ( no mater the genre ) are variations.. " Style " applies to 3 things .1.. Music.. 2... Personal style.. 3.. the Indigenous format, grounded in a select few variations that, established that" format ".

Patterns in many genres ( even basic ones ) go out of favor," Old " , pattern wise ,doesnt mean they have no value . And,how far does one go, before the original format completely disappears ?
I'm not confusing anything. I was responding to someone who was responding to my earlier post about how some teachers teach outdated steps and outdated styling. The OP asked about how a ballroom dancer can fit in with WCS dancers, and if you want to blend in, it's a good idea to eschew old school patterns and styling. That doesn't necessarily mean the dance should evolve so far as to be unrelated to its roots, but it doesn't need to stay exactly the same, either.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#39
THE preceding chapters of this book describe the groundwork movements of the dances of to-day that it is considered will live for several more seasons. New Variety Steps are, however, being constantly introduced, and these must be known by the ambitious dancer who wishes to be "up-to-date."

My advice to the reader is not to perform the "new" movements continuously to the total exclusion of the "old" ones. Use a judicious mixture. Fashions come and fashions go, but they move in a circle and the "old" movements will soon become the "new" again. Dance all your dances with all the variety you know of, and avoid monotony.

from the 1920 Hand Book of Ballroom Dancing
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#40
I guess I should say something in clarification here, because these discussions have a tendency to drill down on one point and take it out of context. I'm not saying you should never do "old" steps. I'm just saying, if all you do is outdated steps and styling, you're going to stand out as old fashioned. For someone who wants to blend in and "dance like a WCS dancer," I would make sure I was taking lessons from someone who is up to date on the evolution of the dance. There are lots of WCS dancers who still dance the way they did 25 years ago, and it's fine. They've been around forever, and they don't care. They don't win contests, but they're more about social dancing anyway. I, personally, wouldn't take lessons from them because that's not the way I want to dance.

One of my ballroom students took some group classes from a very nice lady, but she teaches steps that are outright antiquated. There are two issues with this beyond just sticking out as being outmoded: 1. these steps are not designed to really practice and showcase the best technique (frankly, they're awkward) and 2. he would try to lead them at socials and the girls couldn't figure out what he wanted. He is a pretty decent leader, although he's a beginner. He doesn't have this trouble with modern syllabus steps, for the most part. I don't want to get into descriptions of these steps because they're ballroom and this is a WCS discussion. I'm just giving an illustration of why it's a good idea to keep up on what's current.
 

Dance Ads