Posted by: Corina Paraschiv | January 2, 2009

Rhythm and Musicality : Swingin’ It!

Here’s a very fun activity we did in one of our swing workshops.  If you’re into swing, you can try this with a partner though it will feel very awkward at first, I can testify of that!

So we started by just “speaking the beat”.  One after the other, the lead would speak a beat for 8 beats and then the follow would immediately continue with the next 8 beats and so on and so forth.  The trick though was that you couldn’t just make your own rhythm in an isolated manner – to help partners learn to listen to each other, we had to build on the previous rhythm given by the partner each time.  Then we added a level of difficulty: the feat.  The feet had to move in sync with your spoken beat.  That helps you think of impro moves when you can add in variations to your step.  And styling.  It’s often easier to think in ta-da-da-taaa ta-da then in numbers for a lot of people.  Once that was mastered, we put on music and started dancing.  You basically do swing outs, and every time you end up in that open position the lead does a solo improvised by still speaking his beats, and then they complete the swing out by bringing the follow in and spinning again, and then as they open, the follow does an improvised solo by speaking the beat and so on and so forth.

I thought it was a lovely exercize!

I discovered, too, that self confidence was extremely important.  It didn’t really matter what it was you were attempting, and doing.  If you looked confident then anything went – even if you screw up, no one would know since it was impro.  The less confident ones however had a rougher time being creative – without the ability to try something new, they were unlikely to get passed that bump and learn styling more easily.  So don’t worry and don’t be self-conscious.  Everyone looks the same when they start out improvising stylings — that is, clumsy.  With practice you’ll soon gain the confidence and skills to add your own signature to your dance!


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