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.
Here is your checklist:
- Head styling: accelerated or delayed looks, tilting your head to create an angle, hair combs, etc.
- Upper body: ribcage isolations, shoulders, upper body angles, and so forth. Read our body roll article here.
- Arms: hitting lines, opening or gathering the free arm, using the arm to trace other parts of the body for followers, and more.
- Hips: booty rolls, contra-body rotation, leading your movement with a side, and the like.
- Feet: all manner of footwork variations.
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.
Need some help? Watch this video>> 5 ways to style your anchor step
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.
Here’s another 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 coloring 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.
If you’re visual…. Watch this video>>3 ways to add style with your partner
I hope that helps give your some ideas to jazz up your west coast swing. If you really want everything we have to offer about ladies styling in WCS we have a great course. Its called “The Ultimate Guide to Ladies Styling” for WCS. It had 18 videos, including 6 fun styling patterns and 3 pdf downloads. Literally everything we could think about to help you with your styling.