Dancing to smooth music

West Coast Swing Online Styling

One of the easiest ways to show musicality is to adjust the “volume” level of your dancing to the music by modifying your footwork. Most dancers understand that you can make the dance quieter by taking out weight changes. But, fewer dancers know how to modify their weight changes to make their dancing quieter.

In this drill, we’ll work on dancing triple rhythms with lower volume. This technique is extremely useful when you need to keep your triples (e.g., in the middle of patterns or in competitive situations when you want to show solid technique) but still want to express the quieter elements of the music.

The Drill: Find a space where you can dance your triples, and put on a quiet song. Stay With Me by Sam Smith is great during the verses and has a clear beat; if you are comfortable keeping time without a bass section, you can try Jasmine Thompson’s version of Ain’t Nobody.

As you triple to your song, concentrate on two things. First, keep your heels close to the floor. You should still be rolling through your feet, but the foot articulation will be less pronounced than normal. The smaller range of motion makes the triples look quieter. Because you have a smaller range of motion to articulate through, you will need strong ankles in order to keep from stepping on a flat foot or rolling through the foot too quickly. Practice to develop that ankle strength!

Second, let your steps be light. Although you are doing full weight transfers, you don’t need to add any extra force to the step. It is easiest to feel what you are going for by trying to do the opposite. Imagine that you want to create a loud, staccato accent: you would put a lot of energy into the foot as it made contact with the floor. Do the opposite of that: let the foot receive your weight without making an impact with the floor, and transfer your weight with as little force as necessary.

Both of these techniques require good control of your center in relation to your feet, and it’s easy to either fall into the receiving foot or to be sluggish when developing that control. That’s normal: just keep practicing! As you get better at determining how to use the minimum energy necessary to transfer your weight, you’ll find it easier to keep your triples quiet.

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