16 April 2007

Weekend of Dance

Couple of Swing Dancers

Boogie Nights had a mini-weekender thing in Edinburgh this weekend which I went along to. I know it has been a while since I've really talked about dance on this blog; suffice to say I'm still dancing and loving it but feel less inclined to blog about it than I once did; but I just felt inclined to post a little about this event.

The first workshop was with Nigel Anderson. He went back a little to basics with keeping simple footwork patterns (a step per beat) and insuring that that is the basic step you do as the foundation to build more complex footwork on. For those of you that know Ceroc (which is a company with a particular style of Modern Jive) you'll know that they teach virtually no footwork. I've heard argued, a few times, the merits of teaching a step-per-beat footwork pattern in Jive and how it helps beginners have some build a framework. I can see the benefit though part of the reason I love Ceroc is its simplicity and accessibility. I think making it initially complex would put many people off. We had some nice moves to begin with that focused a lot on a close hold frame and using the connection. At times I wondered, however, later on how much of some of the moves we were learning I'd use. We learnt a Backhander but it was basically the swing version with a lot of momentum and space used. Indeed quite often, later in the workshop, he talked about elasticity in the dance, moving to the full extent of your frame and using the momentum almost to the degree that I assumed we were learning Swing. This isn't a bad thing but I'd say my style is leaning more towards a constrained, West Coast Swing or Tango feel and they go for a more restrained dance. However I'll try integrating some of that stuff when faster tracks come on and see how it feels. He finished with American Blues which felt too much like ballroom and not enough like blues to me.

The evening party started with a Swing Rueda, which basically involves dancing to a caller's moves and switching partners on the fly. Nigel was teaching and calling this and he did a fantastic job; it was really good fun and really got the people on the floor involved. I think doing more of that sort of stuff at the beginnings of parties would make me less likely to turn up late. I'll skip a bit ahead in the evening's events to the cabaret which was really interesting as it was a sort of history of dance with Nigel talking about the styles that emerged (and why they emerged) and then them performing a quick piece. I was especially impressed that most of it was just unplanned freestyle on their part and the number of dances that Nigel knows. I did feel their dig at Ceroc (when they got to the eighties) as a bit unjustified especially given the heavy Ceroc background of the audience. Anyway it finished with an impressive solo routine from one of the West Coast Swing teachers and went back to freestyle.

I had a really good time in freestyle; it feels like it has been a long time since I last was at a party event (it hasn't really been that long) and there were a lot of people there I haven't dance with in a while so it was great to get some dances with them. There were, however, nearly twice as many women as men there and at the same time as feeling overworked (I didn't get many breaks) I also felt sorry for all the women that seemed to be sitting out often. I worked hard to get around as many as I could but I missed quite a few that I wanted to dance with or never got around to a second dance with many I wanted to.

The highlight for the weekend for me was Catriona Wiles West Coast Swing workshop. It went back to basics, like WCS classes are so prone to doing. I felt a bit sorry for those down from Aberdeen or up from London who are more experienced WCS dancers and were, perhaps, expecting a more intermediate level class. It was highly beneficial for me though taking some fundamental moves and going into much more detail about WCS techniques and concepts. It was pretty tough going (and a few of the things taught were in opposition to things I'd been previously taught) but I feel I got a lot out of it. At the end I thanked Cat for the class and she said I did well but I tend to place myself quite far away from my partner where I could just angle slightly to be out of the slot and be closer to my partner (on, say, a Left Side Pass).

Finally, in case there are people waiting for computer games updates that, for some reason, read through this whole post. There is a track I love dancing to: Louis Armstrong's A Kiss To Build A Dream On; and it occurred to me recently that I have heard it used somewhere before. It was, of course, the opening to Fallout 2. I wonder whether my love for that song was based on my love for that game. Anyway for those of you that haven't played the game I found the intro on YouTube.


Yliander said...

sounds like a fab weekend of dancing!

Gary said...

It was :D. It's making me look forward to my next one too :).