So you've done a block or two. Now what?
So you’ve successfully done a block or two, and you’re starting to feel good about your dancing. You have a few moves under your belt that you’re confident in, and you’re looking towards what’s next for you on your dancing journey.
So where to from here?
It’s always a good habit to stop every now and again and take at yourself and your dancing journey. Asking yourself questions like ‘what’s next in store for me?’, ‘what can I improve?’ and ‘how can I challenge myself further?’ are excellent self-awareness and self-development tools in any application, dancing included. If you’re already doing that - fantastic - you’re on the right track!
However, dancing is often more about feeling than knowing - so knowing for sure when you’re ready to progress your dancing is a tricky one.
To be clear - there is not ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to swing dancing, but there are a couple of common guideposts to help you on your way.
Practice outside of the classroom
A swing class or workshop is a wonderful bubble where we learn how to move and express ourselves to a particular style of music. It’s a glorious hour that is so different from other sorts or social and physical activities.
It can be tempting to leave what you learn there, in that room, only revisiting it only once or maybe twice a week when you go to class. However, as we can all relate to, we tend to forget things we don’t practice regularly, and that slows us down in terms of advancing as a dancer. Practice.
Even simple things like practising your triple step while you wash the dishes does wonders for your muscle memory and the speed at which you can pick up new routines or dance moves.
Put yourself on the social dance floor
Arguably, the best way to progress and develop at a swing dancer is to take what you’ve learned in classes and try them out on the social dance floor. Lindy Hop, blues, balboa - swing dance is first and foremost a ‘social’ dance. It was made to be danced to live music, surrounded by people in a crowded bar or dance hall.
Putting yourself on the social dance floor is the nearest thing to a ‘cheat’ in swing dancing. There is a clear and obvious difference between new dancers who have started going along to social dance events and those who have not. If you want to fast track your progression - go dance to live music! Yes it’s scary the first time you do it, but you’ll soon be kicking yourself you didn’t start social dancing sooner!
Talk to your teachers
If you’re thinking about moving up a level in your dancing, or simply want advice on how to get better there’s no need to suffer in silence. Your teachers are there to help you, and they’ve watched your grow as a dancer, so who better to seek advice from than them?
In the early stages of dancing, it’s often a matter of building your dance vocabulary that is the limiting factor. Like learning a language, you need to know the basic verb forms before you can start building complex sentences. Dance is very much the same, so often its a case of sticking around until you’ve learned enough to build on from there.
At a higher level, the question moves from whether or not you know how to perform X variations of a swing-out, and transitions to one more focused on your energy and how you move your body, your position in space and your connection to your partner. Again, your instructors are the ones best placed to offer you advice on how to get more out of your dancing and get to where you want to go.
Remember, dancing is a journey and we’re all at different stages of it, going at different paces. At Sugarfoot Stomp we want everyone to get the maximum fulfilment and joy out of their dancing, do matter how far along their journey they may be.