As my drum teacher, Clyde Lucas hugely influenced my style, mindset and technique as a swing dancer. He was very fluid in his movements, very controlled in his playing, and very creative overall. He has indirectly helped me realize it’s not about the artificial flashiness that comes from aerials or floor spins, because that only comes after working to become incredibly good at dancing. If you’ve seen me dance before, I tend to dance a lot like he played. I don’t always dance with a lot of movement, but I can dance well, staying controlled and creative at the same time (I say this not to toot my own horn, but because I’ve heard this so many times from other people that I feel confident in taking it as truth). I actually think that a dancer that can do that is already way ahead of the many dancers who know how to do a lot of moves and aerials, but don’t know how to use them.
So, just like drumming, I’ve realized that being able to dance a really slow song well brings one to the next level of dancer. Movements have to be way more precise in a slow song, because speed isn’t there to cover things up. Yes, dancing fast takes skill too, but it’s harder mentally to skillfully dance slow. It requires the patience to have control over your dancing.
Control is huge in terms of dancing well. You can know all the moves in the world, but if you don’t have the basic stuff nailed, it’s worthless. It really is. The moves are cool, but when the music gets fast or slow, you’ll get all out of whack and mess up your partner in the process. Better to nail the basics first.
Then there’s the idea of minimal dancing. Again, like drumming, this is mostly a style issue, but for a beginning dancer, it’s not a bad thing to strive for. I’m speaking mostly for the leads at this point. Especially at the beginning level, it’s a good idea to not move more than you have to as a lead, to help avoid miscommunication with the follow. I know a lot of leads who move way too much, which can confuse the follow as to what she’s supposed to do. Every movement in dancing is important, and can signal a lot to one’s partner. So, if the lead keeps movement to a minimum, every signal is amplified to the follow, making it easier for both sides. Plus, stylistically, if you have dynamics in terms of movement, there’s so much more you can do with the music! But again, it all comes down to the idea of QUALITY of movement, not necessarily amount of movement.
I owe these observations mainly to studying drumming under Clyde. It just struck me as pretty darn cool that a lot of things that are really important in drumming carried over pretty directly into dancing as well.
Currently listening to: Eh, I don’t feel like it. My brain’s kinda fried as it is right now, and I don’t have any immediate songs in my head. Okay I lied. Pink Panther. Go listen to that.