Boot camp and beyond


Not likely to be of interest to non-dancers
9 November 2006 (Thursday), 11:24 pm
Filed under: Dancing, NaBloPoMo, Outside boot camp log

Last week’s class was about holds and how those can add interest and variety on the social dance floor. I should have written down the main patterns we tried, because I’ve forgotten them all. Thus I’m recording this for myself. At tonight’s class we were working on rhythm.

Zap ba badidah za za zapidah

That’s the basic rhythm of 8-count Lindy hop: 1 2 3 (swung)and 4, 5 6 7 (swung)and 8. After warming up, we were working on variations where 5 was a hold with the weight on both feet, followed by four swung eighth notes:

Zap ba badidah HA didahdidah

We did this first with a tuck turn (rock step triple step, pivot around on right foot and land on both feet, then shuffle to the left after the pause), leading into a barrel turn (with the hold on 5 not led — after stepping rather than triple stepping through the turn, I had to choose to land and hold it — and again shuffling left on and-7-and-8), then a circle (fully led) and ending with, most fun and challenging of all, a kick ball change hold where the lead led it by leaning back on the kick, leaning forward so I’d step and hold after the ball change, and then shuffling either forward or backwards. The shuffly bits were giving me problems: the idea is to stay pretty low to the ground but it’s such a hoppy rhythm. One of the other follows in the class said that in the Steven & Virginie workshop earlier this fall Virginie had recommended focussing on the hips, not the feet. That helped a bit, but what I really need is practice. After putting all that together, we tacked on a swing out with a hold on the seven:

rock step triplestep-through-closed swing out land/slide-into-a-slight-lunge-with-the-right-foot-back-and-hold-two-beats

Zap ba badidah za za pah

We also played with trading off our own rhythms with a partner: first scatting alternating bars of 8, then scatting while mostly doing swingouts with rhythmic variations we were scatting at the same time. Linking two bars was a challenge, because once my feet had done something funky on the first one I’d want to either revert to a (silent) eight count basic, or do the same thing.

I’ve been in a few workshops now where we sing the footwork at each other, and (apart from messing up the 2 bar thing) it no longer freaks me out. It was a lot of fun, in fact, but it still sometimes feels like standing on the edge of a cliff. On top of the leap into the rhythmic unknown, I was dancing in stocking feet because I couldn’t find my flat dance shoes and the heeled ones felt dangerous on the first tuck turn. Before heading home after the lesson I danced one song, because it was Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Mac the Knife, and I love the bits where she invents the lyrics:

“Oh what’s the next chorus

To this song, now

This is the one, now

I don’t know

But it was a swinging tune…”

As my partner and I experimented at playing off the music and off each other’s improvisations with a moderate degree of success, I was thinking, “I know what you mean, Ella. “

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