Monday, December 13, 2004
Thoughts on Connection: Part I
Wot wot? An actual dancing related article (versus just something about the dance community).
I only mention it because it's come up prominently in our last few lessons.
To preface: Sheri and I do not teach a particular "style" of Lindy (Hollywood, Savoy, Hip-Hop, etc.) particularly because, well, there are many others more qualified to teach authentic stylings. Our strength is in our social dancing ability (leading and following a variety of styles) and our ability to combine many styles to strengthen musicality.
Background check: Sheri learned primarily from PBDA during her formative years but after that attended many workshops and social danced many times over with lots of people. I started much the same way minus the group lessons.
Thus our tagline:
Is it Savoy? Hollywood? Hip-Hop? Ben and Sheri say "Yes!"
I guess you could call it "Fusion" Lindy, or perhaps "Mutt" Lindy.
Without knowing it we learned to dance by dancing with lots of different people with lots of different styles. So that's why when we teach, we teach what we call "Foundational" Lindy with the main point being ..don't sacrifice connection for styling while you are learning this gorgeous dance.
With that in mind, the metaphor we've been using lately for connection is the egg-toss or water balloon toss. Remember those games? You and a partner had to toss something precious back and forth without breaking said something precious? And after each successful toss you had to back up a step?
Do you recall how you tossed and caught the balloon? Or perhaps do you remember how the people who WON tossed and caught the balloon? (And I'm not talking about the people who hucked the balloon overhand where the balloon took like 6 bounces and didn't break, know what I'm saying? yeah those games were rigged I swear).
I'm talking about the legit pros ... the cradling of the water balloon, the going with the water balloon, and slowly applying force to stop the water balloon.
That's the ticket.
And how about tossing the water balloon? You don't just sharply hurl it. You slowly underhand it, your arm gaining speed from a dead stop, using your body to create the energy for the throw.
Same is true for really nice Lindy swingouts. Except now we're talking about a continuous throw and catch of the water balloon back and forth.
Lindy Basic Count 1:
When you start your throw, don't yank. Don't suddenly pull. We start from zero and gradually accelerate, using the whole body to create energy instead of just in the arms and legs.
Lindy Basic Counts 3ish through 4ish:
We do not come to a sudden stop. Follows, be the water balloon. If the catcher is not there to cradle in the balloon, the balloon keeps going. If the guy doesn't apply force to cradle in the follow, the follow needs to keep going. Leads, to cradle in, make contact at 3ish but do not apply force. If you try that with the water balloon, the balloon will go splat and go find someone else to dance with . Make contact, and slowly apply force and ooooh ahhh you're basic will be soooo Mr. Smooth. You're not even changing the direction of the balloon/follow. You're applying force opposite the direction of the balloon to slow it down. The same goes for your basic.
Lindy Basic Counts 4ish through 5ish::
Here, think continuous catch and throw. Leads apply force to eventually stop the balloon... err.. follow and then redirect it back. Continuous energy and motion.
Lindy Basic Counts 7ish through 1ish::
And here, you should feel the same extension as you did on Counts 4ish through 5ish. The water balloon is getting away and you need to slowly apply the pressure until there's a stop and then bring her back in again.
Basically, it comes down to.. being gentle enough to repeatedly catch and throw a water balloon means you can be gentle enough to have a real mean but very comfortable swingout at any speed. Otherwise the water balloon will splat, metaphorically translating into hurt shoulders, arms, sides, etc.
And that's basically it. In a future writing I will discuss a bit more detail about the physics of it. For now it's sufficient to know (and chant if you like):
Follows: be the water ballooon.... ... ooohmmmmm
Leads: treat her as if she's the finest water ballooon around ... ooohhmm
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