Creating your own styling

West Coast Swing Online Styling

You’ve been watching your favorite pro and have found a cool styling variation that you want to learn. How do you move it from their body to yours?

Previously, we have talked about how to observe pros to identify styling movements. In today’s drill, you are going to practice recreating one of those movements.

The Drill: The first step in recreating the movement is finding a couple of checkpoints that you need to pass through. Find more than the starting and ending position. Are there specific positions that the body goes through during the move? Identify those. Remember that you can play the video back in slow motion to help with this process.

Once you have identified a couple of checkpoints along with your starting and ending position, it’s time to figure out how to move between those points. This part of the exercise is difficult because there are no universal answers. Although movement is usually initiated in the core, that’s far from a universal rule (especially when dancers are doing unusual styling). The best way to approach this process is trial-and-error. The good news is that you don’t have to discover the exact sequence of the original move; in fact, it’s very likely that you will find your own version of that movement, which is even better than just copying what you see others do.

Even though not every movement will start from the core, that’s a good place to start your experiment. Try initiating the movement from the center, then from the hips, then from the ribcage. Try each starting point slowly several times, and use a videocamera to assess your attempts before deciding that the motion isn’t working. Remember that you are both trying to learn what the movement is, and learn how to perform that movement. Be patient, and don’t jump to the conclusion that your method isn’t right too quickly.

If none of the above starting points work, you can start experimenting with parts of the body further from the center, like the shoulders, knees, feet, and arms.

Remember to be patient with yourself! This process can be frustrating at times, but the advantage of going through this work (as opposed to just having someone tell you what to do) is that you will learn immeasurably more about how your body works. Every time you work through this process, you are developing your kinesthetic sense so that you can pick up additional movements more rapidly in the future.

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