These are great Chrissy, thanks! I know this is about swings but wanted to
share my chain teaching, in the walk through or in basics. I talk about
ladies (ravens) shaking hands and saying hello (make the connection!),
gents (larks) slide right into the lady's (raven's) space to greet the
person coming to you. This gets the receiver out of the travelling person's
path. Stepping forward can cause a "traffic jam" and change the lovely
As far as the swing I think there is alot already covered here. I stress
not leaning back but making a strong connection and being supportive of
your own body. The other thing is walking forward in the swing, it is not
moving backwards or hopping sideways (i know you all have seen this) ending
your teaching with the correct process is important too as we tend to
remember the last thing we see.
On another note : someone said the (raven)woman grasping the upper arm
instead of behind shoulder....as a woman who dances both roles, some often
grasp so hard it bruises, which again says we must be in our own balance.
men (larks) and those that dance that role, I offer apologies for all who
have done this to you, clamped your arm, or expected you to hold them up.
On Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 9:37 PM Chrissy Fowler via Organizers <
Thanks Steve, for your thoughtful post. It really
resonated with me.
Lately I've been repeating something that a local dancer and friend
brought up, namely that we're all taking care of each other on the dance
floor. (Or at least that's an ideal.) Which connects to your point about
gracefully adapting your own style to everyone you meet. I sent your post
on to the rest of our board. Such nourishing food for heart and mind!
A couple of things from me as a caller:
I find myself regularly mentioning that there are many paths to swing
nirvana (or to dance nirvana in general).
I also exhort people to pay attention (to one's partner, but also in
And from me as an organizer:
Several years back, our series featured a "tip of the month" at every
dance. We made a poster each time, and we also spent some time introducing
it at the dance, partway through the first half. Sometimes with a demo.
My recollection is that the Tip of the Month was inspired by BIDA signage,
but I really can't say for sure. We were definitely trying to raise the
overall "level" of dancing. Our organizing team spent considerable time
discussing and coming up with all sorts of tips. Later, we were asked to
contribute them to the DownEast Friends of the Folk Arts (DEFFA)
newsletter. This thread reminded me of those tips, so I found the file.
Bit dusty, but entertaining. And still relevant to our series. Could be
it's time for us to bring those tips out of storage, freshen them up a bit,
and share them with our current dance regulars. I've attached a pdf for
everyone's amusement. (My personal favorite is the Wayne Gretzky analogy -
our hall often resembled a mosh pit full of NFL hockey players and I
brandished a hockey stick and wore a Bruins jersey when we introduced that
one. EF Shumacher contra dancing in the afterlife is a close second.)
But if I were making new tips, I'd add something about grace.
And taking care of each other.
Cheers to us all for our good work!
*** ** ** *
*Dance Calling* | *Transcription* |
*Belfast Flying Shoes *
<http://www.chrissyfowler.com> | westbranchwords.com
<http://www.westbranchwords.com> | belfastflyingshoes.org/blog
*From:* Organizers <organizers-bounces+ktaadn_me=
hotmail.com(a)lists.sharedweight.net> on behalf of Stephen Moore via
*Sent:* Wednesday, June 19, 2019 2:17 PM
*To:* Jerome Grisanti
*Cc:* Marie-Michèle Fournier via Organizers; A list for dance organizers
*Subject:* Re: [Organizers] Tips for a swing workshop
I’ve been reading these posts about how partners should hold each other
and I think a central point is missing. My comments are really towards the
active dancing experience, no so much a single topic workshop.
Grace needs to be the central idea when we dance, and especially in a
teaching opportunity like a workshop.
A good dancer dances with some grace, which for me means that she/he
dances in a way to fit the other person, to be comfortable with the other
person. As experienced dancers, I bet everyone of us can pretty accurately
read a dancer as we get closer for the first time and do the right thing.
And bam! A good swing happens. There are just so many variables that having
a standard rule just doesn’t seem feasible to me. Or even necessary.
I dance with lots of different people. I make a practice every month to do
several dances with first time dancers, or folks who are new to our hall,
and I love doing it. I do it so that they’ll have a good experience and
want to come back. And it is always easy to find at least one nice thing to
say about how they’re dancing versus just pointing out corrections. I
wouldn’t line up with a new dancer and say, “Now, THIS is how you hold each
other for THESE reasons.” (I do hear other guys try to recite a manual to
beginning dancers.) What I do is take them in arms by seeing where they go
first, and maybe doing that. And then as the dance progresses I might make
adjustments so they’re comfortable, the communication happens, etc. It
really isn’t that difficult to find that spot, and I don’t want to get them
into a position where it’s clear they’re not comfortable. Good dancers just
simply pay attention and make it good, and not worry about enforcing some
preconceived notions. And the beginning dancer adapts, and then hopefully
the next person down the line reads her and then makes it good again.
And these things even out. Not unlike a walk through that’s confusing, but
then when the music begins the dance just flows. In my experience beginning
dancers are so much more comfortable even by the second half of the evening
(which they might stick around for if people have been kind and graceful
with them during the first half.)
The other thing that makes this conversation curious is there are no
beginning dancers reading this thread. I would bet there are no difficult
dancers reading this thread, or clampers, or arm-wrestling allemanders. If
the purpose of this is to make the dance experience good for everyone, with
a special focus on new dancers, then we’re not really getting closer to
that objective by trying to describe with great accuracy the perfect hold.
I’m 5’10”, she’s 4’ 11”… no wait, my next neighbor is 6’2” and pretty
seriously outweighs me; hold on, here comes one of my favorite, regular
partners and she likes to move in close and swing fast; next one really
likes the forearm hold; some ladies are delighted by the basket where we
both have our hands on the backs of each other (great, strong hold); I also
like to two hands swings if there’s room.
I’m know that we do need to be aware of ways of dancing that are not safe,
are not comfortable, and find ways to communicate that. But doing that
isn’t helped by getting out the recent edition of *Popular Mechanics for
Dancers*, but rather with gentle suggestions that encourages safer, more
pleasant connectedness with their opposite.
Grace- So my interest is in the other person having a great time not only
with the swing, but with a prompting for the progression if that’s a good
idea, or moving her back to where she needs to be right now, or with a
joke, or moving in a surprising way if that makes her smile and laugh. And
I need all that kind of fun helpfulness from time-to-time myself!
Grace can be taught if it’s a central part of the conversation. If you
raise awareness of it.
I think you all get my point, and it clearly makes me an outlier to this
conversation, so I’ll now step away!
Lenox Contra Dance,
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