Commentary

West Coast Swing student outing at Mexicue

On Saturday, July 9, 2022, I held the second part of a West Coast Swing musicality workshop at Dance Dimensions in Norwalk, CT. Some of these students had attended the first part of this series, while others were starting their musical journey with this workshop. This workshop focused on accenting the first beat of a musical phrase, exploring movements to fit ostinato sounds in songs, and how to hit major breaks in a song. I was so proud of how the students attempted to explore each aspect of the class—making their dancing look more musical and creative. 

Group Picture at Liberty Swing 2022

WOW! Liberty Swing 2022 was an amazing event. It offered multiple levels of workshops by some of the nation's top West Coast Swing professionals, competition divisions for all levels of ability, and many hours of social dancing. This was the first event that I attended for which I was not part of the event staff in the last 22 years of teaching West Coast Swing, so I was able to experience this grand event from the same perspective as my students. Here is my brief review.

Swingin' Into Spring Group Picture

Our SwingShoes group had an awesome time of taking workshops, social dancing, competing, and bonding at Swingin' Into Spring 2022. After waiting three years for a local dance event, our dance community finally had the opportunity to experience all the benefits of taking workshops, dancing with other people, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some the highlights of the event. 

COVID Two-Year Anniversary

On March 12, 2020, I hosted my last West Coast Swing class before the COVID pandemic completely shut down our dance lessons for six months. During the interim before our return, I hosted video socials on Zoom every Thursday night, where members of our dance community played West Coast Swing Bingo. While we couldn’t dance, we maintained our social connections.

I am so proud of our West Coast Swing dancers for the commitment they had to learning the International Rally West Coast Swing 2021. We started learning the choreography in August and continued through September. At first, I was not sure if we would be able to complete the choreography because I thought its multiple parts and repetitions might confuse the dancers. However, the dancers were dedicated and achieved more than even I had expected. 

Vaccinated-Only West Coast Swing Dancers Without Masks

What a difference a week makes. During the last week of May, all of our West Coast Swing students had to wear masks during their classes. They have been using masks since we reopened in September—9 months. However, on Thursday, June 3, our class was able to dance maskless and resume social dancing because all of the students were fully vaccinated. This allowed us to make our classes into a vaccinated-only environment. 

I have been taking a class in differentiation at University of Bridgeport this semester for my master's degree in Education and teaching certification. Differentiation is "the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom." The following video was done as a class project to exemplify a creative way to demonstrate my understanding of differentiation. I demonstrate how West Coast Swing can be understood and taught using rhythm, spacial (body), spacial (directional), temporal, and visual methods. I hope seeing this video will help dancers find their way to understand the dance while also helping teachers explore the various ways to connect with their students. 

West Coast Swing dance class in Norwalk, CT on March 18, 2021

Last Thursday, we had a "full house" at our West Coast Swing beginner dance class in Norwalk, CT. That means that we had 20 people total, 19 students and me. This represented the capacity limit specified by the State of Connecticut for Dance Dimensions imposed in June 2020 (SwingShoes resumed classes in September 2020). 

Last year, on March 12, we experienced our last class before COVID-19 shut down businesses around world. Workshops, dance events, and social dances came to an immediate halt. For months, most people stayed at home except for an occasional walk near their homes or for grocery shopping. During this time, I heard of people who had experienced the disease firsthand, either getting it and recovering or who had passed away.

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