Shaping the Anchor

March 30, 2016

Because the anchor occurs at the end of every WCS pattern, the anchor is one of the best places to learn style variations. A common variation is to add dimension to the dance by moving your anchor ...

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Styling

The breath can be a powerful cue for movement. Breathing creates dynamics within your body: the expansion with the in-breath, the power of the exhale. In this exercise, you will practice using the ...

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Styling

One of the common “looks” of beginner dancers is that they dance square to the slot. In their eagerness to be ready for the next move, they get to the end of the slot and stop their movement. More ...

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Styling

Swing Your Arms

April 15, 2015

West coast swing tends to have subtle arm movement. In general, the arm doesn’t draw your attention unless there’s a specific accent…or unless the arm is frozen against the body. In this exercise...

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Styling,

Look at the Ceiling

March 11, 2015

Dancers have a bad habit of watching their feet while they dance. It’s easy to look down when thinking, especially if you’re thinking about footwork variations. Unfortunately, looking down projects...

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Styling,

Hold Your Angle

January 21, 2015

In order to overcome the look of “flat” dancing, beginners are told to add angles to their dance. By rotating their bodies, they show off an extra dimension in the dance—which creates more intere...

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Styling

Mirroring Your Partner

January 7, 2015

The third option for styling as a partnership is to mirror your partner. While this is the method of “team styling” that most people think of first, it’s actually a risky choice because there’s a l...

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Styling,

Why do we practice body isolations? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think…and the real answer is important for not just your dancing, but also your life! As dancers, we are intro...

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Styling

Lengthen the Neck

October 22, 2014

Posture is arguably the most important technical element of dancing: not only is good posture essential in order to move your body properly, but it is also necessary for creating good-looking lines...

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Styling,

One of the easiest ways to show musicality within your basics is adding level changes to your dance. In this exercise, we’re going to practice adding level changes during spins. Being able to chang...

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Styling

Ten years ago, picking up a style variation from a pro would require booking a private lesson, buying an event tape, or watching really carefully from the first row of the ballroom. Now, you can fi...

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Styling

If you want to look like the pro dancers, you need to learn how to control your momentum. When the pros dance, every movement looks like it blends into the next. By contrast, amateur dancers often ...

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Styling

Rondes, or leg sweeps, are great ways to add style to your dance. Because they are delayed single rhythms, they can replace your stationary triples (like anchors) very easily. In this post, we’ll p...

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Styling

You’ve seen the pros suddenly break out into a freestyle dance and immediately start mimicking each other. Whether you want to “break it down” for a few beats or want to respond to your partner’s d...

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Styling,

You’ve been practicing your body isolations, but it’s not quite as fluid as you want yet. How do you develop smoothness through your movement? The key to smoothness is control, and control of your ...

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Styling

Styling Hitches

February 26, 2014

Last week, we looked at the mechanics of hitches. In this post, we’ll show how the hitch motion can be accentuated in order to add a specific look to the dance. There is a meta-lesson in this exerc...

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Styling

Reflect on Your Style

November 27, 2013

Have you watched a champions Jack and Jill and been amazed at how different everyone’s dance looked? West coast swing is one of the few partner dances that encourages its dancers to develop their o...

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Styling

Dance to the Corners

October 16, 2013

If you have ever wondered why great dancers seem to pop against the backdrop while your dancing looks flat, this exercise is for you. West coast swing is a slotted dance, and so we emphasize keepin...

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Styling

Variety in WCS

August 14, 2013

Just how much variety is available in west coast swing? Well, let’s take a simple left side pass… We can embellish the pattern by adding turns for the follower (e.g., inside roll) or leader (e.g....

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Styling

Signals to End Play

July 31, 2013

In Getting Out of Play, we suggested ending play in an anchor as a safe way to signal that you’re ready to resume the dance. This post will build on that idea by looking at the signals that play is...

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Styling, ,

Not all musical accents are the same. The notes in “How Long Can a Fool Go Wrong?” demand a sharp, hard movement. Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” calls for a longer, softer, drawn out movements. Lea...

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Styling,

Developing your own style is a challenging task. Most of us look to pros for inspiration on what our dance can look like. This exercise will help you move from inspiration to imitation, so that you...

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Styling

You can get into play and you can return to the normal dance. Now what? This is the part of the process that is different for everyone. In short, you need to develop your repertoire of movements th...

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Styling,

Getting Into Play

April 10, 2013

Now that you know how to get out of play, it’s time to get into it. Play is a temporary break from the standard WCS structure. So, you can indicate that play is starting by departing from what woul...

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Styling,

Getting Out of Play

April 3, 2013

Because play occurs within the WCS dance, it is important to be able to get out of play and back into WCS. Just like gymnasts begin learning tumbling skills by practicing how to land safely (and ho...

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Styling,

West coast swing, unlike most partner dances, encourages play between the partners. The leader can give the follower the freedom to do whatever she feels at a given point in the song, and the follo...

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Styling,

Coloring with Rotation

February 20, 2013

Another way to add color to the dance is through rotation. Increasing or decreasing the amount of rotation in a pattern can dramatically change the feeling of a movement. In general, changing the a...

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Styling

One of the things we notice about music is how energetic or quiet it is. Some songs are relaxed; other songs have a driving club feel. Great songs switch between these options; the song may have a bo...

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Styling

Learning Body Isolations

January 16, 2013

Body isolations are movements of body parts independently from the rest of the body. Dancers can use body isolations to bring emphasis to their movement: popping the rib cage on a hit, dropping the...

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Styling

Coloring with Width

December 5, 2012

A third dimension of patterns that can be modified is the width of the slot. Wider slots feel more relaxed as the pattern drifts from side to side. Dancing in a narrow slot creates a tight, crisp l...

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Styling

Coloring with Length

November 28, 2012

Another easy way to add color to the dance is by changing the length of the slot. Although it is easier for the leader to control this aspect of the dance, the follower can request a longer slot or...

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Styling

One of the easiest way to color the dance is with level changes. Any pattern can be danced at different heights: low, normal, or high. By changing between levels during a pattern, the dancers can m...

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Styling

West coast swing gives dancers more liberty to change the look of the dance basics than most other forms of social dancing. Being able to modify the look of the dance within the basics is an import...

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Styling

Contra-Body Movement

March 21, 2012

Contra-body movement simply means that the shoulders and hips are rotated in opposite directions. For a simple example, walk forward while letting your arms swing. You should feel most stable if yo...

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Styling