Connection is not the goal

As partner dancers, we focus a lot on connection. I mean, a lot. It’s like we obsess over it. We constantly strive to connect with our partners. We aspire to have great connection. And we desperately want to dance with others who have great connection.

This, of course, is not surprising. Connection is critically important to a successful partner dance. We need to be able to feel our partners throughout the dance to spontaneously create, improvise, and express the music together. (more…)

The Intermediate Plateau

When I started dancing (way back when), I remember being completely enraptured. I was in college and learning Lindy Hop, and I was obsessed. I couldn’t get enough of this dance that allowed me to move – with another person, no less – to jazz music. I wanted to get good and get good fast, and I seized any and every opportunity to dance, learn to dance, and watch the dance. I lived and breathed dancing, obsessed with it, consumed by it. I even hopped on a train from Philadelphia to New York City for a weekend of workshops to get more of it.

And then, at some point, my enthusiasm waned. I was less obsessed, I was less consumed, and I was less passionate. I was a little more critical – of the dance and myself – and I enjoyed it less. It was as if the rose-colored glasses had come off, the shiny veneer now a little stained. (more…)

Come Together: Answering the “why”

This is part of Come Together, a series about defining, building, growing, and sustaining our dance communities.

In order to build and sustain a community, there must be a reason for people to join that community and stay. Like any business where customers have a choice of how to spend their time and money, a dance community must offer some value to the people it aims to serve. (more…)

Words, words, words: “frame”

Words matter. The language we use to teach and talk about West Coast Swing influences the way we understand it and the way we dance it. This series will look at some of the terms we use in our community, with the aim of clarifying them for greater understanding and learning.

Before I learned West Coast Swing, I was dancing other partner dances – Lindy Hop and the competitive ballroom dances (both Standard and Latin). There were lots of times when my teachers would give me feedback and instruction about my frame. They told me to mind my frame, keep my frame, don’t break my frame, tighten up my frame, and other such things. And I would struggle to meet their demands, not knowing exactly what I was supposed to be doing but having enough of an idea to at least try.  (more…)

Come Together: The role of leadership

This is part of Come Together, a series about defining, building, growing, and sustaining our dance communities.

In our last entry in this series, we looked at what defines a successful community. As I have worked to build my own community in San Francisco, I’ve looked at a lot of other communities and spoken with a lot of community leaders. At one point, a leader of another community told me I would need someone else to work with me because I wasn’t charismatic enough to build a community. She was wrong in that I was able to build a community without some sort of “personality” by my side, but it’s also true that the community here is not like hers. So I became more interested in leadership – what it means to be a leader, what we do as leaders, and our role in creating community.  (more…)