Practicing Rounds of Musical Styles

West Coast Swing Online Musicality & Timing

When social dancing, you will usually switch among musical genres every song. Competitive dancers can expect that their songs will also rotate through the various genres—generally blues, then lyrical, then contemporary.

Because the musical styles will change every song, it is important to be comfortable switching between genres. A great way to build that comfort is to practice in “rounds.” When you practice a skill to music, dance straight through a round of musical genres. That way, you’ll gain comfort in applying the skill regardless of the musical style.

The Drill: For this drill, select a skill that isn’t linked to a particular musical style. You can use techniques that you will modify from style to style (for instance, shoulder isolations might be used in a variety of genres with varying degrees of intensity), but don’t choose a technique that only makes sense in a single musical style.

When you practice to music, don’t dance to a single song. Instead, dance to a round that goes through the standard musical genres for WCS. Competitive dancers can use the typical prelim format of blues, slow lyrical, and then fast contemporary. If you are primarily a social dancer, you can adapt that round to your scene’s typical music rotation.

As you dance through the round, think about how your execution of the technique needs to change in order to fit the musical style. Some elements, like timing, might work the same but feel different because of the different tempos or musical phrases; other elements, like body shapes, may actually require a slightly different performance.

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