What is rolling count in west coast swing?
Simply put, rolling count is a way to represent the space of time between beats of music.
One of the key moments in the growth for WCS dancers is when they realize that the &a count is at least as important as the beats of the dance. The &a is the key to dancing through the beat and not merely marching on the beat.
Attack – Duration – Release
Musical notes are not instantaneous events. Every note has an attack, a duration, and a release. When beginners dance, they don’t yet have the body control to replicate all three elements. As a result, they arrive on the beat and stop, waiting until the next beat. The entirety of their dance is attack, and it feels choppy.
In dance, the way we move beyond choppy movements is by paying as much attention to what happens between the beats: the &a counts. In WCS, we begin teaching dancing through the beat through rolling. We use both rolling count (counting the music &a1&a2 to emphasize the flow into the beat) and rolling through the feet (so that the body’s movement continues after the attack).
Why should you care?
Good dancing is matching movement through space to movement through time. The best west coast swing dancers are those who fill the space in the music with movement in perfect harmony. This is dancing through the beat: continuing the motion to fill space and time with movement, not just ‘on the beat.’ The better you get at filling the entirety of the time with your movement through space, the better your dancing will look and feel.
At higher levels, rolling through the feet is but one way to create fluidity. The movement of the center, arms, hips, feet, and even head can show the duration and release of the movement. These elements allow movements to blend into each other. When they are applied through the connection, they create the elasticity of the dance. Skippy Blair is the key resource for rolling count. You can find her lots of great articles on her site.
Struggling to make your dancing musical?
Perhaps you hear the beats in the music very well. Timing is not an issue and neither is leading or following patterns. Maybe you can hear music but just feel ‘stuck’ in being able to connect your movements to the music. While there are many layers to west coast swing musicality there is one concept that ‘unlocks’ the connection between your patterns and the music. Its called counting straight 8’s and its something that all great WCS dancers use. WATCH THE VIDEO>> Counting Straight 8’s it will help you make your dancing musical!
In west coast swing, there are three common ways to count music: straight count, rolling count, and swung count. This article will discuss straight vs. rolling counts. Check out Straight vs Rolling Counts It will help you understand a key difference in why good dancers look the way they do.