Here's the mini version which I just blurted out on the FB. Sexy edits to follow. Of course you should use your own judgement - if you think it will be terrible for your self-confidence then DON'T! But most people will be fine.
And, you know something? I was one of those people who said that I would never compete! Oh, how times change!
I think competing is a great idea! It's is mostly a way to take a snapshot of where you are at a certain time, and helps you to think about aspects of your dancing that you might otherwise not. Competing and not making finals, or making finals, or placing - none of those really mean you are a "good" or "bad" dancer. But it does give you a sense of what you might be able to do better (even if you place first!)
If you do compete, you should: A) dress up! even for prelims! B) get your friend to take a video of just you with the best camera you have access to. C) Ask judges for feedback - yaay for FREE mini private lessons from the biggest badasses around! (Be sure to ask considerately, this is a favor you are asking for, even if it is commonly granted.) D) Do not assume your results and FREAKING BE THERE for when they do finals. E) And this one is the hardest: try not to take it personally but more as a learning tool.
The lowest pressure way to start is with a Jack & Jill. You won't know which partner you get and you won't know the song - the comp will be based on a moment in time. One last really big DO: you should *always* greet whomever you get as a partner with complete delight and be totally gracious for any interactions with them over the whole weekend. Remember, *you* can affect people very powerfully at this sensitive time, and being able to compete graciously is a sign of somebody who *really* belongs in the finals!
In the dance world, sooner or later you’ll hear about dance events – from your friends, during announcements at dances, or even that table of postcards – what ARE these things anyway? What’s the difference between an “Event”, a “Workshop”, and an “Exchange”, and how do you know if you want to go?
Well, firstly, there are local, regional, and national/international level events. This refers to the size of the event a little, but most likely has to do with how wide its draw is. In general, the bigger the event, the higher level of dancing, and the more people to interact with at your own level of dance, no matter what that is.
Usually when people use the words Event, Workshop, or Exchange, they are referring to something larger than local (but not always). Perhaps a Workshop is the most likely of those to also be local. Following are descriptions that refer to regional and larger events.
An Exchange is from Lindy Hop. In its current incarnation, dancers dance all night, sleep part of the day, and play the rest of the time! Generally “hosted” by a city’s scene, you’re typically registered to be housed at a local dancer’s house with a group of other dancers and you all go around and do shenanigans together. That scene packs plans for some of their most fun dances, late night dances, and activities in town into one weekend and tries to get all its friends in other cities to come dance! An Exchange may have competitions but typically doesn’t have classes, being more focused on fun. Be sure to go to the late night dances! They are the most fun of all after your 3rd or 4th wind and some mild delirium!
When you’re registering for housing be sure to say if you have pet allergies, or strong preferences regarding smoking, food, or late night or early rising. You’ll have way more fun!
Be prepared to “go with the flow” – you will be late to some things, but some of the most amazing experiences happen here! If this sounds utterly terrible to you, you may want to rent a car so as not to depend on others for transportation.
A Workshop weekend will offer classes, have dances, and late night dances, and may be hosted like an Exchange, or held in/registered to a hotel. If you don’t have a lot of friends in the scene already, it’s highly recommended you stay at the hosting hotel, with new people if possible! Go to the classes and befriend everyone in the classes. Tell all of the people you liked dancing with that you liked dancing with them and suggest that you dance that night at the dance. Ask a group of people to dinner – that’s low pressure and can strengthen ties in your new little community. If you notice someone who’s doing it naturally, see if you can combine groups! The more people you know, the more fun it’s possible to have, and the more people you love dancing with you’ll have a chance to dance with in general. It’s generally considered good to have high-level teachers of a few different personal styles. Try to take a little from each of the teachers to get a feel for whose teaching style you click with or whose dancing style you like.
Other planning tactics include taking the same style (/teachers) through the whole weekend; or the same style as your scene, so you can work on things together when you get home; or choosing someone who has a similar body-type to you to study with.
An Event (or a Dance Weekend) is a general category (like “dog”) that can mean a Workshop (“Poodle”) or an Exchange (“Labrador”) or something similar that doesn’t really have all the features of either, like a weekend of dances at a hotel that has a large draw and possibly competitions, but perhaps no classes (“Labradoodle!”)
page on Facebook – if there are no classes during the day maybe join or set up a local outing. If it’s drivable, make plans with your local community to ride share down, save gas, and strengthen your local community ties. (Just do a check-in with yourself and make sure you think you can be in a car with those folks for 3 (or however many) hours!) Be housed if that is an option, unless you’ll just hate staying with people. It will help you integrate into the community. The more connections you have, the more likely you will be to have fun and to get the dances you want. Bring lots of changes of clothes (including dress-up clothes for Saturday night), deodorant, and your dance shoes! Check in with your host if you should bring an air mattress or extra bedding. Consider taking Friday off of work to get there Thursday night – they will already be gearing up for fun; and DEFINITELY take Monday off. Seriously, for reals. This one you should do. You WILL want to be up all night Sunday and you’ve just spent the whole weekend short on sleep. You’ll want to sleep in and have a leisurely brunch and recover, perhaps with other cute people. DO IT.
Now you’re ready to dance, dance, dance! (Not responsible for excessive amounts of fun… oh, wait… yes, I am!)
Gazing into the Abyss: Visual & Kinesthetic Attention, Communication, & Connection in Various Dance Positions - OR - Looking at My Dance Partner
…if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.
People often wonder how much it is appropriate to look at our dance partner. We may have concerns that it would come off as “creepy,” but want to build connection, demonstrate interest in what our partner is doing, or just want to get more information about what’s going on with our partner.
This article addresses these concerns, discussing each dance positions’ default gaze and suggestions for experimenting with gaze variations to build excitement and communication. We extend the concept of gaze to include attention, giving our body orientation greater relevance, and playing with the concept of a kinesthetic “gaze” that not only feels great but also gives us more information about what our partner is doing and asking for!
Following we’ll go through each of the basic dance positions in which we’re touching our partner, identifying our default gaze, and how we can extend that kinesthetically, and what variations we could try!
Dance Position (Embrace):
Close, Body-to-Body, or Zero-Arms-Length (0) Position.
Our default gaze will pass over our partner’s right shoulder, because our feet are offset with our
Our gazes look over our own arm in the direction we’re traveling. To look at our partner here can More Here
Closed, One-Arms’-Length (1) Position.
Closed is also an offset dance position with our right feet pointed in between our partners’ feet, making it comfortable to have a default gaze looking out “our window” over our partners’ shoulder.
Open, 2-Arms’-Length (2) Position.
These are general terms for the distance of the position. There are also the specific variations
Breakaway, or Apart Position.
Breakaway is the easiest position to experiment with gaze in. Its gaze can vary from soft overall More Here
In closing, the question of how much it is appropriate to look at our dance partner depends on our dance position, our own comfort, and our partner’s comfort. We now know each embraces’ default gaze; can include the attention of our body orientation or kinesthetic “gaze”; and can experiment with some interesting variations to build excitement, fun, and communication!
By Karen R. Smith
This is the uncut version of the discussion panel with renowned blues dance authorities Damon Stone & Barry Douglas, taking place on May 19, 2013 at Seattle U-Studios.
It starts in with a dance-intense question from the audience but then we go back and hear their histories! This is followed by both dancing and historical queries.
It's particularly interesting to note that these two greats have historically had some differing ideas about technical aspects of the dance, and that they address these differences of opinion as not being central to the dance. They note a lot of similarities in what is important - the "soul" of the dance - as well as some regional differences. As the discussion develops it's great to see their growing rapport and camaraderie.
By Karen R. Smith
When you first start dancing, it's easy to absorb new knowledge and feel like you are constantly improving. However, after a certain amount of time, you may hit a plateau - a place where your learning curve tapers off, and you feel like you're not learning as much, not getting better - you may even feel like your dancing has gotten worse! As this phase may last weeks or even months, you may even start to wonder why you're doing this anymore.
Don't Panic! A plateau is simply a place where your perception and understanding of what should happen has surpassed your ability to execute it. Although uncomfortable, it's actually a very good place to be, a place where you are developing sophistication in your understanding of the dance - and what you may perceive to be "not getting any better" may be perceived by your dance partners as major improvement! And eventually, whether gradually or suddenly, your experience of the dance will catch up with your understanding.
A Place Called the Plateau / Was Where Everybody'd Go - DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
By Karen R. Smith
A quote from the latest offering from genius movement specialist Eric Franklin, The Psoas, Integrating Your Inner Core:
"Once the psoas is activated, the flattened abdominal wall coveted by so many fitness enthusiasts, dancers and bikini-wearers happens all on its own."
Doesn't it make you want to train your psoas? Delightfully, the book contains no crunches at all, and nothing that makes you want to die by working your abs. Apparently, that "I want to die cause I'm working my abs" feeling is the feeling of not being able to use your psoas. Thank you, Eric Franklin!
By Karen R. Smith
Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you're perfectly free.
-- Jelaluddin Rumi
Rumi was a 13th century mystic poet who expressed his love for the Divine in terms of romantic love for the Beloved.
The general theme of Rumi's thought, like that of other mystic and Sufi poets of Persian literature, is that of union with the primal root from which he has been cut off and become aloof – and his longing and desire to restore it. Creative love, or the urge to rejoin the spirit to divinity, is the goal towards which every thing moves.
Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry, and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, these arts helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine, and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. It was from these ideas that the practice of "whirling" dervishes developed into a ritual form. The ritual dance represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Divine. In this journey, the seeker symbolically turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth, and arrives at the Divine. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey, with greater maturity, to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination with regard to beliefs, races, classes, and nations.
(Adapted from Wikipedia By Karen R. Smith.)
It’s called “chroming” and is named after the type of leather.
1. Shoes (close fitting, non-wiggly, comfortable. Little sole is best. Consider if you need arch supports.)
2. Suede (Can be thick or thin. Thin will be easier to cut. Thick will last longer. My thin suede lasts about a year of hard wear.)
3. A dremel tool (if needed)
4. An exacto knife
5. Industrial strength rubber cement (aka barge cement)
6. Leather scissors (if leather is quite thick, not always)
7. Stiff wire brush to scuff up leather (your dance studio probably has a few around)
1) Grind soles smooth with dremel tool. (I find that smooth grooves that the leather can fit into are fine, just chrome over.)
2) Cut leather so that there is a good (perhaps an inch) margin of overlapping leather past the sole of shoe.
3) Go to someplace you will not suffocate or become high from glue fumes.
4) Scuff leather and/or shoe bottom with wire brush.
5) Apply glue to both leather and shoe. (I find it doesn’t matter which side is out, leather or suede. If the suede is out, it will get mashed flat on the dance floor anyway. It has more binding surface with the suede in.)
6) Let dry for 15 mins. Reapply to both. Let dry a bit more.
7) Unite shoe and leather.
8.) Pound with rubber mallet to encourage bond and smoothness if desired.
9) Take home and let dry overnight under something heavy or with something that encourages the glue bond (like binding it somehow; putting the shoes in a pair of old socks works well).
1) Cut off margin of leather. You want it to *fully* cover the bottom of the shoe or the shoe will unexpectedly stick while you are dancing.
2) Touch up the glue around the edges of the leather. If this is not done the free leather edge will catch on the floor and your suede will come up off the shoe very soon.
3) Bind (or weight) the shoe as it dries overnight again.
1) Check to see if you need to touch up and do so if necessary. Wait to dance in them if you do! It will be worth it!
2) If they are ready, dance, dance, dance!
By Karen R. Smith