Swing Dancing – why should you dance?

Dance Classes, Thursdays, in Williamsburg

New Dance Classes Start Nov 7 – FREE CHILDCARE!!

Learn to partner dance by taking Lindy101 – and you don’t need a partner to learn, in this class.

Lindy101 registrationLindy101 specializes in teaching people with 2 left feet – we’ll help you feel like you can actually dance, have the potential to dance and eventually have the confidence to get out there, without us telling you what to do. How long will this take you? Lindy101 is 6 weeks. We also teach Lindy201 and Lindy301. Take them all. Or stop at Lindy101 – you’ll learn enough to dance at a wedding, a prom, or take a lady out on the dance floor at your company party. If you have always wanted to learn to dance but aren’t sure that Lindy Hop is what you want to learn, take this class, anyway. Lindy101 is a great place to start because we focus on Lead and Follow and the very basic fundamentals of musicality – rather than lots of moves. And it is very athletic looking/feeling and even humorous – so it is less formal than other dances – mistakes are actually GOOD! Mistakes just make Lindy Hop more interesting to watch; mistakes make the dancers laugh and smile more.

What IS Lindy Hop? Lindy Hop is the 40’s swing dance using jazz movement; developed on the streets of Harlem, NY.

WHY should you check out our new Lindy Hop Swing Dance class?

  • If you have just moved here, you’ll make some new friends; we have a wonderful inclusive group.
  • Because it is a family-friendly, wholesome class and open to singles, couples, and teens.
  • Because we are offering child care for FREE this semester – check out WilliamsburgFamilies.com for their special, this month.
  • Because live bands just love to play for swing dancers and Lindy Hoppers.
  • Because much of the movement is based upon what is being said in the music;  you become much like a jazz instrument – part of the music, itself!
  • Dancing is a social and acceptable way to hug music and listen to people’s rhythm – you think I am joking? I am not.
  • Dance teaches you to feel more comfortable talking to others at events or nightclubs.
  • Knowing how to dance is an essential requirement at weddings.
  • Dancing burns calories, tones muscles, increases flexibility and improve posture.
  • Dance is therapeutic – our fast-paced life doesn’t often give us enough time to release our tensions. Dance helps relieve stress.
  • Dancing has the magical ability to touch the human soul.

What is the pre-requisite of Lindy101? You simply must be able to stand or walk. If you have experience or a partner – COOL, but we assume you are a beginner and single – all are welcome. SOOOOOO…if you have always wanted to learn how to dance, if you have ever had a difficult time doing the moves “right,” if you need to let off some steam, if you need to grow a bit of confidence, socially, if you really need a date night and cannot afford a sitter, if you want to make new moves out of your “mistakes,” register here!

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Friends Dance Together, Practice Together, and Hang at the Social Dance Longer

Fix Lindy101 - Lindy Revival of WilliamsburgAfter taking the 2013 Summer basically “off” – Stewart Pittman and Wendy Craighill, and the entire Lindy Revival of Williamsburg is raring to get back on the dance floor. We have swing danced in Norfolk, danced in Yorktown, danced in Downtown Merchant Square of Williamsburg, and a few have even taken classes in Richmond. We are dying to dance at the Williamsburg Community Building, again! We are also willing to say that we are a bunch of geeks. Seriously, we LOVE to figure out how a dance move works, how to improve a system, and love to fix broken things. This September 12th, we start a new session of classes and we have changed a few things. These changes aren’t saying that Lindy Hop is “broken” in Williamsburg; we just aim to make it better and better.  Some things our group of volunteers has learned: we need/like a greater variety of music, more DJ’s, a drop-in lesson before the bigger dances, and we are MUCH more committed to the scene if  we volunteer, if we sign up with a friend, and if our friends expect us to be there, each week. Because of these lessons, when the September 12th class starts, it will start with a few changes:

  • SERIOUSLY DISCOUNTED Group Prices
    • May be any combination of Lead/Follow ratio
    • Must sign up in a group of 6-8
    • Must sign up and pre-pay, via PayPal
    • Pricing this semester, only
      • $45 for Lindy101 (for entire group- yes, you read that right!)
      • $90 for Lindy301 (for entire group- yes, you read that right!)
  • The Practice Dance is back!
    • Free dance from 8-9pm, each week
  • The Last-Thursday-of-the-Month dance will be bigger and better
    • You bring a donation to help pay for rent/insurance
    • We’ll bring a guest DJ
    • We’ll bring goodies, theme it, and have a free drop-in lesson for your dance-curious friends

Stewart and I have missed dancing with you, Williamsburg. Find your group of friends to register for classes with – and we’ll see you in a few weeks, ya hear?

Leave a comment »

And The Survey SAYS:

 

The results are in from the survey and 1-on-1 conversations that I have been able to have. Decisions have been made.

 

Lindy Revival Survey

I know your names (and something personal about you)- AWESOME! I hope that this feels like a home and where people care about you as an individual and a contributor. That, certainly is our goal.

Sequences are tough but most are doable. PHEW (and also part of our mission).

Most of you like US to do the teaching, but would like more opportunity to receive feedback from each other (but only when the teacher says to – there was some grumbling about “letting the teacher teach” – I have to agree and disagree. If your partner ASKS for feedback and you want to hang with them (quietly), diverting traffic around you, during rotations – GO FOR IT. If they aren’t asking for feedback and I am not requesting that you give it to each other – probably just stick to learning and practicing).

You would like Lindy301 to be a longer class (with workshop opportunities) and allow drop ins – got it, a VERY CLEAR MESSAGE – every advanced student would like that.

The local community doesn’t want to fund a weekend dance. All dancers REALLY want a weekly dance, after classes (and in MOST cases would rather give up the classes and pay for a dance, than lose everything). Almost every person wanted to have a benefit dance to help fund those weekly dances (with the low-end pricing $10).

Everyone, except one, wanted to contribute – learn to teach, perform, or be part of a steering committee. THAT rocks – and I don’t feel like I am on an island anymore 🙂

 

 

 

All-in-all, the responses were NOT what we expected. Which, incidentally, is exactly what we WANTED – you to allow us to look at the scene in a different way and come up ways to keep Lindy Revival going.

 

The decisions are: to have 3 workshops in the month of June and no classes/no dances for the summer. That is as many decisions as we’ve made. The workshops, their attendance, the 2 dances that we have left and their attendance, and the 1-on-1 conversations (with a “steering committee” of volunteers that come forward) will help us fill in the rest of the blanks.

1940s dress Vintage Lindy Revival Dance See you in a few hours for the Memorial Week Vintage Dance! Remember – your attendance COUNTS – so be counted – we’ll see you soon on the dance floor! www.Lindy101.org

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

Come On! Let the Swing Music Evolve

One of the common reasons a dance scene divides is music. ARG! Why? I guess it is intolerance. It could be that each person, as he evolves thinks that he knows better than anyone else what swings and what doesn’t. But, whether you swing dance at The Lindy Revival Dance in Williamsburg, or somewhere else, music controversy continues.

I guess MY personal problem with this is that the things that move me don’t necessarily move others. I really love groovy, moderate tempo Big Band. And I love alternative and some hip hop. What makes a song swing isn’t the beat, or the tempo, or even the era that it was created in. And it doesn’t even have to have 4:4 time or 8-count phrases. What makes it swing is totally personal, for every person on the floor. Do they enjoy the music and does it make them want to move, dance, groove and enjoy? Then – it swings for them.

It is especially difficult for the organizer of a scene to listen to the music complaints, because each complaint is different. (too fast, too slow, wrong era, not swing, etc. etc.) and the DJ (or the promoter, for that matter) will never please all the people all the time. Okay, if every person could bring one song, every night and play it – what a beautiful world it would be. HA! But, because that cannot happen, at least simply, let’s try instead to realize that SOMEone is REALLY enjoying this song. Let yourself enjoy watching them enjoy it. Don’t force yourself to dance to something that doesn’t swing for YOU, because you not enjoying a song is a bit obvious to the person you’re dancing with and anyone watching you. And your discomfort may make your partner assume it has something to do with them, not the music. This certainly isn’t going to make you a better dancer or your dance partners enjoy dancing with you. Sit it out and enjoy someone else’s enjoyment.

dance 2

 

“I mean, let’s be honest. What truly defines a “danceable” beat? Some established standard that someone says is correct, or what you feel in your soul when you listen to a song? I expect you don’t need me to answer that for you.” Jordan Hawker

 

As a teacher, it is my responsibility to challenge and inspire, and as a DJ, it isn’t my responsibility to force people to like something they don’t like. I want to move you, regardless of your or my expectations.  In fact, we need to stop subscribing to “convention” and decide what we OURSELVES enjoy and want to dance to. That is how we can grow as dancers, and if we do that, Lindy Hop will evolve with us! Lindy Revival of Williamsburg is in our second week of the semester, tomorrow (and we have room for you!). Come evolve with us. www.Lindy101.org

 

2 Comments »

Tips for parents – how to teach your child how to belong (for dancers)

Oh, yeah, this is a blog about dancing… but are my children and Newbie dancers different? Personally, I see many similarities. Let me tell my story, first.

I had a conversation with my sensitive 3-year old and later his pre-school teacher, about his hurt feelings. He is being “shut out” by the children in the classroom and he explained it to me by saying that they were mean to him, pushed him on his bottom, and won’t let him play with them. Oh, my heart breaks – I want everyone to embrace him with open arms and love him as much as I, but that won’t happen, now or later. And this is HIS battle, not mine. All three-year olds can be selfish and act in non-rational ways, but I want my child to enjoy pre-school and to feel like he belongs.

new dancer

I am uncomfortable – because I want to control his environment and teach the other children. And I want to “fix” him. What is my job as a parent? What kind of an adult do I want my child to grow up to be? I want him to be humble, but have enough self-esteem to approach new situations. I want to him to feel good enough but not too good for anyone or anything. I want him to be curious and open to new experiences. Healthy self esteem is so important and he has to learn now or have a lot of pain, later. Who is it hurting right now? ME. Of course he is hurting, too, but I can help that by telling him why he is special and giving him unconditional love. But the world isn’t unconditional. Can I fix him for the world? I think so. I can tell him that because those other children have been playing together for a long time, he is the newcomer. He is going to have to approach, probably more than once or twice, in an open and friendly way, in order to be looked at as a possible friend. He needs to smile and share. He needs to offer conversation or ask a question of them, not wait for them to be curious about him.

So, in fact, this blog IS about you, the Newbie dancer. Remember that YOU are the new kid on the block. You must continue to smile, initiate conversation and do the asking. They WILL accept you – dance is that kind of environment. We are an eclectic group and love the stories of how you came to us. Who you have become. Why you love dance. We may even be interested in what you else you do – but probably not as much as why you are a … dancer.

dance 2
Finally, let’s go back to discovering the answer to why you chose to come out and learn to dance, to begin with. Hopefully you chose Lindy101 – Lindy Revival of Williamsburg because you trust us to respect you and build your skills. You love music. You came to make new friends. You came to find out if you could be a dancer. You can. We’ll see you Thursday, Tiny Dancer – a new class session begins. Register, today!

Leave a comment »

Don’t be a Lindy Hater

In my experience as a promoter, there’s one fundamental truth about haters: you can never fully escape them. The only way to live a 100% hater-free life is to never stick your neck out and never create anything because, as the saying goes, you simply cannot please all of the people all of the time. This is particularly true with the arts – because art is so much a matter of personal preference, some people will find something to criticize about even the most perfectly staged venue, the greatest variety of music speeds and artists and eras, the  most inexpensive priced door pricing, and the very friendliest of hosts. So what IS a promoter to do? Well, I have found I cut my losses earlier, have become a little thicker skinned (only a bit – I can still cry about some haters, unfortunately), and teach those that are coming into the scene how NOT to become a hater.

haters gunna hateUnfortunately, many of the things that make a dance susceptible to haters are issues on the dancer’s opinion, not the paying regular students. But fortunately, for you, the student dancer, what is predictable is avoidable. So, if you know what is predictable in a dancer’s growth and metamorphosis, perhaps you’ll avoid the predictable. Let’s explore the most common things dancers hate about dances they attend. In the process, you’ll get equipped with things you can say to your alter ego, as you become a dancer so that you can avoid becoming a hater or hater-proof your own dance scene, if you become a promoter, yourself.

  1. Dancers hate modern music
  2. Dancers hate any organized ANYthing – even a birthday jam (unless it is theirs-ha!); they don’t want to be told what to do
  3. Dancers hate anything that smacks beginner friendly – they want fast music (only music that THEY like), no instructions, no choreography, and lots of fabulous dancers to dance with

As a beginner you love all the above. You love to be told what to do and when to do it and to hear counting in the background. You love choreography, performance, and music of all types (especially the recognizable, modern music).  So, how can you, possibly, avoid this “maturity”? Awareness is key, but I think the easiest way to avoid forgetting the passion and excitement of the beginner, is to stay on the front line of your dance scene. The promoters are the ones that realize you have to stay friendly to every level of dancer. Volunteer, dance with the newbies, enjoy every dancer – clumsy, no rhythm, big, short, or mousy. ALL of them. Enjoy where they are. Talk to them. Dance with them. Introduce them to others. Teach. Promote. Carry flyers around with you. Smile 😀 at everyone – and you’ll love Lindy Hop…  Forever

2 Comments »

Rebecca Brightly – 10 Things Chopsticks Can Teach You About Lindy Hop

From Wendy: Today, I am borrowing from one of my favorite bloggers – Rebecca Brightly. She writes about approaching your learning from a different angle. It was just TOO good to not pass along. Read on:

“In my Asian husband’s famous, not quite politically correct style, he declares, “You hold your chopsticks like a Chinaman!” For the last two years, I’ve fastidiously worked on my chopstick technique. Recently I’ve had quite a breakthrough, mastering a particular technique that’s made me stronger and more dexterous. I first picked up chopsticks as a child. Initially I was quite clumsy, like any American.

Now, a mere 20 years later, I am triumphant. My pride is thick in the air. I’m savoring this moment of transitioning from boor to expert. My effort has paid off. Naturally I feel a strong urge to blog about it. As you may or may not have noticed, learning any skill has similarities to Lindy Hop. Chopsticks are particularly similar in how stupid they make you feel if you can’t do it correctly the first time, and how much patience it takes to feel natural.

Allow me to explain. Behold…

10 Lessons Learned From Using Chopsticks

  1. Discomfort is a natural part of the learning process. I’ve had many frustrating meals while dropping the simplest pieces of food. Especially when trying to fix a flaw, the discomfort may be almost unbearable.
  2. A little practice here and there is better than none at all. My chopstick use is intermittent. Nonetheless, I work on improving my chopsticks skills every time I use them.
  3. Listen to the people who know what they’re doing! Even if you are resistant like I am, file away the information so you can work on it next time.
  4. Watch and mimic the people who know what they’re doing. My Korean friends may not know this, but I always sneak glances at their chopstick hand when we sit down for a meal. I repeatedly adjust my own chopsticks to try to match theirs.
  5. Real friends won’t make fun of your efforts. The rest don’t matter.
  6. Patience, determination, and attention to detail will take you a long way. You can’t rush the process simply because you desire to look like you’ve been doing it your whole life.
  7. One the other hand, too much determination will lead to starvation. Perfection is unattainable, and you do have to eat at some point. Nourish yourself to sustain your reserves for learning.
  8. Using proper technique slowly will help you far more than using sloppy technique quickly. If it takes me a few seconds longer to pick up my food, so be it. Creating a mess by trying to be fast shows impatience and overconfidence. Plus it’s embarrassing.
  9. Test your learning by changing the circumstances. Good technique can be adapted to different types of chopsticks, different types of food. If a new circumstance breaks your method, you may need to continue working on it.
  10. Finally, use the right tool for the job. As I sat struggling to pick up the last few mouthfuls of rice from my bibimbap, hand cramping like crazy, a Korean friend said, “You know, we use spoons for that.” It was a revelation.

We can’t be working on Lindy Hop all of our waking hours. Why not pick up a pair of chopsticks (or some other deceptively simple skill) and remember what it’s like to be a beginner? Engage in the learning process from a completely different angle. You may be surprised at what you discover!”

2 Comments »

Why did you come to this dance, anyway?

It always amazes me – the STORIES! I love each and every student and dancer that happens on my swing dance scene (or gets dragged to the dance). I love hearing their individual life stories, how they heard about us, where they came from, why they are there, and if they are enjoying it or stressed out about it. I love being the first one to touch each customer – I either get a phone call or a registration email. Then, I converse with them about what to expect, what not to expect, and encourage them ( as the hostess, I do a lot of encouraging over the course of a student’s tenure ). Whether the call comes from an individual or a couple or a teenager, I help get them there that first night.

Hopefully that first night, I get to fit the name with the face and recall the conversation. Then the real learning about them begins. I love how all those individual stories come together in one room – and make another story. A room full of individuals – smiling, laughing, enjoying the friendship of someone 30 years older or younger then they, and … dancing.

belonging to lindy hop sceneAt the end of the day – at least in MY scene (Williamsburg, VA), they come to belong, fit in, and make friends. That might not be the original reason that they happen in. But it is what makes it “feel” good, friendly, and like “home.”  That belonging is what holds them through the uncomfortable parts of learning, eventually making them part of a community, and makes them encourage others to come. Belonging feels good.

That is the long of this short post. If you want to have a better time at the classes and the dances… stop worrying so much about dancing well and start BELONGING. Start learning about the individuals. Sit a few songs out and sit with the lonely guy, sitting by himself. Ask the newcomer to dance and then go sit down with her and talk a spell. Pitch in at clean-up time and hang out on the steps. Asking about someone else usually leads to them asking about you.

See the magic of transparency in a dance community. We care about the scene, each other, our city, and the Lindy Revival of Williamsburg. We want to infuse Williamsburg and Hampton Roads with a love of dance, encouraging non-dancers to work through the tough times of the learning curve.

We have a monthly dance the last Thursday of the month – come dance with us. If you want to learn how to dance and you have two left feet, this is the place for you. If you already dance, well, but you want to learn how to Lindy Hop, sign up for classes. If you want to belong to a community of people that care about each other, Swing Dancing, and hang out with new friends – you have found a home. We care about … YOU. Register, today.

Leave a comment »

Why Should You Learn a Routine?

Routines are composed of moves, moves are composed of steps; and steps are composed from rhythm. But WHY learn them? Because you want to develop coordination and control. Because you want to be able to have a lot of muscle movement memory stored.

Watch the latest routine taught in Williamsburg, here!

As a new dancer, be open to learning the step of a dance routine. Before dancing, I had no idea how much memory was required for becoming a successful dancer. Not only must a dancer be able to execute several dance steps, he or she must also be able to remember the steps in a set order to the actual phrase that it was intended for (usually routines are set to a particular song, at least to begin with). These tips may help you memorize dance routines, more easily.

Watch Your Dance Instructor

wendy teachingChoreography is generally taught, one or two moves at a time, starting over and over from the beginning as they add combinations. Watch your dance instructor as he or she demonstrates the steps. Good dance teachers will stand in front of the class, facing away, so that you don’t have to mirror the moves or combinations. (If your instructor only teaches verbally without actually performing the steps, you may want to look for a new instructor.) Wait until the teacher has completely finished demonstrating before trying the steps yourself. The reason that I say this is that some dancers follow right along with me as I am demonstrating.

Know the Names of the Moves

Every dance routine can be broken down into a series of familiar steps and combinations. Good dance instructors urge students to learn the names of moves as well as the technical movements of that step. If you are familiar with most of the steps in the routine, you will be able to memorize combinations, faster.

Listen to the Music

Dance usually combines movements with music. When a choreographer creates a great dance routine, the chosen music selection is vital to the success of the dance. Go buy the music and listen to it, when you aren’t in class. A piece of music is almost always selected because it possesses tempo changes and more complex musicality. Listen for similarities as step combinations are often repeated each time the chorus of a song is played.

Finally, practice makes perfect. Your ability to learn routines quickly will improve over time, as your mind will grow accustomed to forming associations. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it seems to take you a little longer than others to learn the choreography. Practice will bring about improvements in all areas of your dancing, which will make it easier to learn complicated combinations.

If you feel like you dance the same core moves over and over and are “boring” to dance with, a routine is the answer. If you feel spastic or feel like you cannot think quickly enough, a routine is the answer. If you are hesitant and unsure, a routine is the answer. Why? A routine forces you to dance musically. It forces you to dance on time, with clean transitions from complicated combination to complicated combination. Routines WILL make you a better dancer. Consider them drills – sign up for classes, in Williamsburg, today!

Leave a comment »

Let Me Be Annoying

Today I am going to be annoying. Sorry. It isn’t my job and I don’t like to be annoying, but, I do want to reiterate the things that you don’t like hearing that I say so often you think I am picking on you. I am not. I just want to give you the LONG statement for my short criticisms.

Lead follow

  • When I say “be blond”, as a Follow, what I mean is focus on connection, music, and specifically – lagging behind your partner. Receive; don’t backlead.
  • When I say “ask a white name tag to dance” or “you must do the asking”, as a new student, what I mean is that you MUST ask up. Likely the “white name tags” and the better dancers have been dancing a long time, have a lot of friends and won’t do a lot of asking.
  • When I say “Follow” or “Relax”, what I mean is breath normally, lag behind your partner, and try not to listen to me call the moves.
  • When I say “listen to swing music” or “buy a practice CD”, what I mean is that you have to listen to the same music, a lot. Count, hear where the breaks are, listen to the ending and where the end DIP would be, listen to the phrases and learn to hear what AABA really means.
  • When I say “hang in there”, what I really mean is that dancing is a process. You will never be a perfect dancer. You DO need to stop judging yourself and others. You need to find joy in the process, the friends, and the fact that it is Thursday night – a year ago you didn’t know the Lindy101 existed and now it is a highlight of your week, even if sometimes it is embarrassing, humbling, or frustrating. Here is someone else’s blog on dancer’s frustration: http://dancefullout.com/2012/01/dance-frustration-2/

Lindy Hop is a passion of mine and it  may never be for you. That is okay. I love you anyway. BUT… as my student, you must let go of perfection and competition and learn to love where you are and love the rest of your friends where they are. We are a community that loves and supports each other, the Lindy Revival movement, and the historical awareness of the era of all that SWINGS! Register for classes (they start on January 17th, 2013). http://lindy101.org/?Registration

4 Comments »