Don’t get stuck in a run with repetitive and boring styling! Add some variety to your styling by working through a checklist of styling options.
This exercise may feel mechanical and forced, and that’s okay. The idea isn’t to dance socially like this. Instead, this exercise forces you to work through a variety of styling options in order to get yourself thinking about how you can create different looks.
First, take a few minutes to inventory your own styling repertoire. You may only have a move or two in each category: that’s ok! If there are categories that have fewer options, you know where you should experiment in order to discover more ideas.
Your west coast swing styling checklist:
Ribcage isolations, shoulders, upper body angles, and so forth.
Resource: How to rock body rolls
Hitting lines, opening or gathering the free arm, using the arm to trace other parts of the body for followers, and more.
Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Arm Lines
Contra-body rotation, leading your movement with a side, and the like are fun ways to add some style.
Resource: Contra body- Stop looking stiff
All manner of footwork variations will improve your styling.
Resource: Footwork Styling Basics
Accelerated or delayed looks, tilting your head to create an angle, hair combs, etc.
Resource: (we don’t have a great resource) but spotting in turns is important
The anchor step is an easy way to add some styling without messing with you patterns.
Resource: 6 Anchor step variations
Moving your body through isolation is a way to look great on the floor.
Resource: Learning body isolations
Now that you’ve gone through your styling list, dance a song with basic moves (either by yourself or with a partner), and concentrate on working through that list. First find an opportunity for head styling. Then use your upper body. Then arms, followed by hips, and lastly feet. Once you’ve styled with every part of your body, start back at the head and work your way down again.
If you have a larger styling repertoire, you can make this exercise more challenging by prohibiting yourself from reusing style variations. If you did a hair comb on the first run through the list, find a different head styling next time.
A fun way to explore your styling
Try dancing a single pattern like a sugar push (alone or with a partner) but never repeat the exact same styling option. Its harder than you think. As you do this for a while you’ll soon start to force different styling options (even things you’re uncomfortable doing) because of the sheer need for variety. It can be very helpful!
Maybe you know enough about styling but you want to explore different options beyond your own body. WCS offers a bunch of different ways to color the dance.
The key concept for styling the dance is contrast.
If you want to call attention to an element of your dancing, it will stand out more when the parts immediately before and after do the opposite.
7 ways to add contrast to your WCS:
- Adding or taking away weight changes
- Using big or small arm movements
- Dancing at open distance or closed distance
- Rotating into the arm or away from the arm
- Speeding up or slowing down parts of moves
- Leading moves with two hand connections or one hand connections
- Leading moves with lots of spins or moves that don’t spin
Here is how to drill contrast into your WCS: With or without a partner, pick a contrast and practice dancing basics with both extremes of the contrast. Determine what that contrast brings out and what kind of musical expression it creates, and practice applying that contrast to appropriate moments in the music.
Are you visual? Watch this video>>3 ways to add style with your partner
What is the Ultimate Guide to Styling for West Coast Swing?
We’ve created the best resource for styling ever! We have videos walking you step by step through techniques with your feet and body. Then we teach you 3 way to apply each technique to each patter. Finally including 6 fun styling patterns and 3 pdf downloads. Literally everything we could think about to help you with your styling.
Here’s what’s included:
- 18 videos walking you step by step through techniques with your feet and body.
- Footwork, Isolations, Arm Styling and more
- 3 way to apply each technique to each basic pattern
- 6 fun styling patterns
- PDF downloads to help you remember everything.
Improve your styling for west coast swing today!