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One2Swing Daily
Friday, September 16, 2005

Tips For Musicality And Styling
So the last few weeks I have been spending time looking for a new job. This means lots of site interviews, phone interviews, and talking to recruiters.

(By the way I start my new job next week. Feel free to ask me how it's going in a few weeks).

So for phone interviews, some of the tips that recruiters have given me to sound "more appealing" on the phone are quite interesting.

Not to mention a few years ago I also was helping my mother-in-law out with recruiting and sales and came across the same tips in my training on how to sound better over the phone.

And to save a lot of you some trouble, you can also just watch the movie "Boiler Room" a few times too (awesome movie!).

Over the last few days I came up with something interesting. Before we get into that, I need to first share with you four of the more helpful tips of sounding better over the phone:

1. Smile a lot. It comes through on the phone.
Smiling will make you sound more cheerful and happy and fun. Even while talking over the phone (even thought he person can't see you) your body and voice will embody your smile.

2. Act As If
"Acting As If" and really "Believing As If" will result in your body physically reacting stronger. And eventually you won't be "acting" anymore but you will "become" that kind of person.

3. Be Active. Motion Creates Emotion.
By being more active, you will sound more enthused on the phone. In the case of the phone interview, stand up and move around. By moving around a lot you will sound more animated then if you are just sitting down.

4. "In the beginning was the word"
Interesting take on a quote from the bible, but when you vocalize and say things, it's more powerful on the body then just thinking them and your body physically will react stronger.

So Ben, what does this have to do with dancing?

Glad you asked. Do any of these questions sound familiar?

"So yeah what can I do for styling?"

"Can you teach me some musicality?"

"What do I do for those last few counts on the basic?"

"What do I do when the lead leaves me out there .. I hate that ..what do I do? I feel so silly sometimes when he does that."

Musicality and styling is really being more expressive in your dance. The two main points to more musicality and styling are:

1) Practice letting your body be more expressive to music.

2) Relax and have fun .. the less nervous and self-conscious you are, the more relaxed you are, the more you are giving your body and soul a right to just let loose and in return your body and soul will become more expressive.

Yes I know ..easier said than done ... but now we can use the tips above for being expressive on the phone to being expressive with music.

1. Smile a lot. It comes through in your dance.
Smiling will make you sound more cheerful and happy and fun. Even while talking over the phone (even thought he person can't see you) your body and voice will embody your smile.

Well, obviously in dance they will see you smiling. And that in itself is a good thing. But the key is smiling will also be expressed through your body. It will give your body a chance to relax and "do its thing" so to speak.

Not to mention the more you smile, the more you'll have fun, and the more your partner will have fun. And the more he or she will smile. It can be a bit difficult dancing with someone who is too nervous, too self-conscious (or too into themselves) to be enjoying the partnership of the dnace.

For those that know me well, you know this is what I find most attractive in dancers... that they are having a lot of fun. I mean sheesh.. look at Sheri and her smile. We be talking HUGE !!!!!!!!!! ( see Figure 1)




Figure 1: Big Smiles


2. Act As If
"Acting As If" and really "Believing As If" will result in your body physically reacting stronger. And eventually you won't be "acting" anymore but you will "become" that kind of person.

This rule plays into the first rule very well. Act as if you are the most fun dancer in the world, the best dancer in the world, or whatever. More importantly, act as if your partner is an awesome and talented person to dance with. The idea is that the confidence will come through in your dancing and soon enough you will become whatever you were previously acting. Same with your partner.

Now granted if you're "acting as if" you are the best technical dancer in the world, that still won't work without a lot of practice and dedication.

However, if you're "acting as if" you are the most fun dancer ... that is much easier to feel and accomplish. MORE IMPORTANTLY: act as if your partner is the most fun person you've danced with that night. In many cases you'll find that both of you will end up having a fun, enjoyable, and expressive dance. ( see Figure 2)




Figure 2: Expressive Dancing

As an end note on this tip, Frankie Manning himself gives the same advice. He tells the leads when you dance with a lady, you are in love with her for those three minutes and that she is your queen. In other words: act as if you are in love for those three minutes. Act as if she is a queen.


3. Be Active. Motion Creates Emotion.
By being more active, you will sound more enthused on the phone. In the case of the phone interview, stand up and move around. By moving around a lot you will sound more animated then if you are just sitting down.

We take a bit of a different road on this one in that this tip gives us a good way to practice our musicality and styling.

From this tip we developed an exercise we do in many of our "Musicality 99" classes (not quite "Musicality 101" but even more elementary than that ... see?). We have people get up and dance to swing music. By dance, we mean "club dance", like by yourself like you'd do at a club. Or in the shower. Or while driving the car.

The idea is when you simply just dance, you let your body "move" to the music how it wants to, and this is how your body will express itself ..and voila! The first steps of musicality and styling. Not only that but it will also train your ear and body to get in tune with swing music progressions. You can train your body and your mind. Why not spend time training your ears?

So when you are in the shower, or cleaning your domicile, or in the car, put on some swing music and just dance! ( see Figure 3)




Figure 3: Car Bopping



4. "In the beginning was the word"
Interesting take on a quote from the bible, but when you vocalize and say things, it's more powerful on the body then just thinking them and your body physically will react stronger.

This rule can be implemented in two different ways.

One interesting way to implement this is to sing along or hum along OUT LOUD to whatever song you are dancing to. If you have the vocal talent for it, skat along with the music as if your vocal chords are another instrument. As you vocalize out loud, your body will have a stronger expression with the vocalization.

NOTE THAT THIS is something you will want to do mostly off the social dance floor as a way to practice. Meaning do this when you are by yourself in the shower or car (see previous step) OR when you are practicing with a partner. We personally encourage our students in class to do this during class as well. On the dance floor it will more likely than not be a bit annoying to your partner unless you know that partner really well in which case both of you should sing! ( see Figure 4 .. alcohol optional)




Figure 4: Singing Together (and other extra curricular activies)


The second way to interpret this tip (the more common way) is that it is a method to "Act As If". We basically mean positive affirmations here and in conjunction with "Acting As If" you may find some surprisingly good results in helping you be more expressive, relaxed, and fun when you are dancing. And remember to not just "Act As If" you yourself are fun, but if need be "Act As If" your partner is fun and you'll find some great things will happen. ( see Figure 5)




Figure 5: In The Beginning Was The Word


Cheers!
Ben


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Current Discussion:

Gabe @ said on 2006-12-28 00:04:01
I could not agree more with your tips. I have found every one of them very useful in having an
awesome dance. I am particularly fond of scatting along to the song. Judging by the reactions I get
from follows not very many leads do this. Scatting keeps my mind on the music and in a predictive
mode where I become a follow to the music.

Cheers!



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