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…)

A hierarchy of needs (part 2)

In last week’s post, I outlined a hierarchy of needs for West Coast Swing. The idea of the hierarchy is that competency at higher tiers is dependent on first developing competencies in the lower tiers.

The hierarchy provides a framework for understanding the sequence of skills required to achieve a musical partnered dance. It also provides us with a useful way to look at expectations and evaluations of competitive dancing.  (more…)

A hierarchy of needs (part 1)

I often talk to students about setting priorities. It can be hard to know what to focus on, especially when there’s so much to work on, and so many things we want to accomplish.

The thing is that certain elements need to be in place to achieve other elements. For instance, if you really want to be musical with your partner, you need solid partnership skills. And in order to have solid partnership skills, you need to have an understanding and control of your own individual movement. So the more musical you want to be, the more you need to understand partnership and your own movement.  (more…)

What your partner really wants

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of balancing your partner’s experience with your own in partner dancing. Because we’re partner dancers, it’s not enough to just think about ourselves. It’s important to be mindful of how our partner feels as much as we think about our own enjoyment. (At least, if you want people to enjoy dancing with you and ask you to dance…)

While sometimes people focus more on their own enjoyment, I find that a lot of the time things can go the other way: people can be overly concerned with what their partners want. They really want to please or even impress their partners, and they worry about boring them, displeasing them, or disappointing them.  (more…)

Come Together: What is community?

I’ve been a member of different dance communities for over fifteen years, but since I started Mission City Swing in San Francisco four years ago, I’ve been giving a lot more thought to the idea of community – and what makes for a “good” or “successful” community.

Community is a funny thing, in that there are so many ways to define it. The dictionary definition of “community” is essentially “a group of people with a common interest or characteristic living in a particular area or living together in a broader society.” When I think about how we use the word “community” in our dance world, it can apply to the people who go to a particular venue or studio (the Mission City Swing community), the people who live in a particular area (the Bay Area community), and the people all around the world who share an interest in West Coast Swing (the general community, distinct from the zouk community or the blues community). Community transcends levels, because it is about being tied together by a common interest.  (more…)