Monday, March 28, 2011

Swing Out and Bear Down!

We got home from Tucson, Arizona last night. It was an incredibly lovely weekend. Fancy and I must offer thanks to everyone who made sure this was such a wonderful trip: Aelynn Heinrichs and Rain Bidleman for handling all of the location, promotion, travel and housing; Kadie Pangburn for putting both of us up in her lovely home (she's also an amazing photographer!); Gayl and Howard Zhao for lending us dance space in their home (Gayl also owns the Dance Loft) and all the students and other folks who were so warm and welcoming.

We taught four classes on Saturday:
Beginner level Lindy Hop - We broke down our basic and then threw out some work on freespins and tuck turns. In-the-moment Leading and Following were secret objectives in this class.
Charleston Chews - We were tacitly teaching Newton's laws of motion until the point when I went and mentioned one of them vocally: "an object in motion stays in motion."
Adventures in the Groove - this is the class on lindy hop improvisation that I wrote a long time ago. I don't get to pull it out at LindyGroove too often since we have so many new folks and it takes an amount of teacher/student trust to teach this class. I'm not going to describe the class here. If you weren't there you'll just have to be there the next time we teach it.
Putting it Together: Style - Eyes up! We taught a couple of stylish examples and then discussed what makes dancers more interesting to watch. Also, if you can't sing, sing loud!

After talking with students there are a few general topics of discussion that I'll leave with. Here are some questions to consider:
relax - with a lower-case r. So many students bring their nerves with them onto the floor. What's the best way to deal with dance anxiety?
Leading and Following - Is it important to use less effort? How does one find the easiest way make this dance happen? What does your partner bring to the equation and waht are some good ways to honor that?
Dogma - what's the point of learning different ways to do things? Why should or shouldn't we experiment with different paradigms?
LOVE - we snuck the word agape into the class at some point. It's a good thing to have. That's not a question.

For those in Tucson, I'll have to recommend the amazing Yoga Oasis studio! Darren Rhoades is a yoga rock star and he's in your town. Classes are dirt cheap. There's so much to learn there. Check it out!

Also, I suggested watching a few videos on The YouTube. Here's one that I'm sure the students didn't write down:

ASSSSCAT! - Here's one take on improvisation. This ain't a dance clip, but it shows the power of Yes And!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The things I learned when I was away - flipside

This is an excerpt from my other blog, Glow in the Dark Thoughts:

Here are some things I learned from Lindy Hop that have influenced my Improvisation:

1) There is someone with you, whether you remember it or not.
2) It's better to play with the person with whom your are dancing than some other person about whom you may be wishing.
3) When someone does something you don't expect, it's way more fun to accept it and perhaps augment it than it is to put up defenses.
4) What's the point of fear? It's not like there's a bear on the dance floor.
5) Listening is more than hearing. Using my senses is an important way to tune in to the world around me, not to mention the person with whom I'm dancing.
6) Everyone was a beginner at some point.
7) There's always more work to do.

These are just several notions that come to mind after more than a decade of dance.


This is to say that it's worth it creatively to explore the world around you. If you do something fun, it can't help but carry over into all of your creative endeavors.

I'm sure there are thoughts about how my return to improvisation has enriched my dancing. Not to mention my more recent exploration of yoga. I'll have to let those thoughts simmer for a bit.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Clip hunting

Fancy and I trade clips from time to time. This is some stuff I found while hunting.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Too Hot to Handle.

Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor tearing it up.

Project Bandaloop - holy mackerel!