Coloring with Footwork Activity

West Coast Swing Online 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 booming energy until the bridge, when everything suddenly sounds muted, or a song may be contained until a build into a new phrase. One of the ways to acknowledge these differences is through the amount of activity in the dance, and the easiest area for either partner to modify is the footwork.

The Drill: With or without a partner, practice dancing your basics with quiet feet. Whenever possible, turn your triples into single weight changes—for instance, with a drag-step or a step-hold. Avoid any ball changes on the walk walks, since those tend to create movement. Keep your feet on or skimming the ground as much as possible: no kicks! This will make the dance seem much less energetic.

Caution! Do not take this drill as license to eliminate your triples in your regular dancing. This is an exercise, and to make the most of your practice time you can take out all of your triples. In the wild, however, and especially in competitions, triples are still a key element of the dance. A good rule of thumb is to only replace one triple rhythm in a pattern with a single; the other triple still needs to occur in order for the swing character of the dance to be visible.

To add energy to your dance, practice dancing your basics with more footwork. Instead of plain walk walks, use a kick-ball change; this both adds an additional movement (kick, ball, and change instead of just walk walk) and uses a kick to raise the energy level of the dance. If you have practiced a triple footwork variation like &-kick-ball change, throw that in on your triples. The goal is to have as much footwork as possible.

You can practice dancing these styles to a song like Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break.” Dance with quiet feet during the verses, and energetic feet during the chorus. (N.B. Quiet verses and loud choruses occur in many pop songs, so this is an easy way to put contrast into your dance on a regular basis.)

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