Our Week 1 classes of West Coast Swing in Norwalk, CT were very successful on Thursday, April 2, 2015. We had 6 total newcomers and about 30 regular dancers. It was great to have a full room of familiar and new faces. I love when newcomers arrive and are greeted by the friendly faces of our dance community. I also enjoy seeing regulars who are returning from either their winter hiatus or injuries which have sidelined them. Also, teaching full classes is exciting.
The Beginner West Coast Swing Class
Our beginner class had a full line of Leaders and Followers. We started with learning the rhythm of the dance which we sing as, "Walk, Walk, Cha Cha Chaa, Cha Cha Chaa". I have found this to be the quickest way to get the rhythm of the dance imprinted. We quickly introduced the Sugar Push, the Right Side Pass, and the Left Side Pass which all have the same rhythmic qualities.
Once the basic framework of West Coast Swing was established, I explained that the dance can be understood rhythmically (as we had been doing), spatially (left, right, left-right-left, right-left-right), or temporally (1, 2, 3&4, 5&6). Most teachers/students usually gravitate towards the temporal way of learning because it allows refinement of what occurs on specific counts. For example, Followers walk forward on count 1, but they move backwards on count 4.
By the end of the beginner class, all dancers were able to do the Sugar Push, Right Pass, and Left Pass. Leaders were stepping backwards on count 1 which initiated the followers momentum forward. Followers learned to move from one side of the "slot" to the other within a 6-count framework. Partnerships understood that if the Leader stayed in the slot, the Follower would do a Sugar Push; but if the Leader moved out of the way, the Follower would do a Right or Left Side Pass.
Best of all, the entire class was able to enjoy a good social experience while learning some of the fundamentals of West Coast Swing.
The Intermediate West Coast Swing Class
Our intermediate class is a great learning environment for dancers who are already able to dance West Coast Swing socially, but need more vocabulary (Leaders) and recognition (Followers).
For this class we worked on transitioning from regular hand-hold to handshake hand-hold. While leaders were trying to keep a simplistic sequence of patterns in their memory, they were simultaneously changing their hand-holds. Surprisingly, changing hand-holds while doing these patterns resulted in some high cognitive loads (brain fry). I think it was interesting for leaders to realize that the simple act of changing hand-holds disrupts their premeditated thought processes and revealed that further practice needs to be done to master this secondary level of dancing (Level 1 is doing basics, Level 2 would be doing basics with hand changes).
The Followers were given some simple styling during the handshake Sugar Push which rotated their bodies. It was enough of a splash of color for this first West Coast Swing class of the spring series.