Blog Updates for West Coast Swing and Hustle
West Coast Swing & Hustle Showcase in Norwalk, CT
I'm a little late in posting this. We had the most amazing time choreographing for the Choreographer/Student Showcase at the Crystal Theatre in Norwalk, CT last Friday, July 29, 2011. Here's some of the story.
Routines at Disco America
Last weekend we performed all three of our routines (two of them debuts) at Stardust Dance Weekend. This weekend we will be putting the new routines to the test in competition format at Disco America, one of the premier Hustle events on the east coast.
Last Saturday (just over 24 hours ago), Anna and I debuted 2 of our new routines during the Stardust Dance Weekend. We performed with two other couples: Nikolai Shpakov & Tatiana Keegan and the legendary Billy Fajardo & Katie Marlow.
We were the third couple to perform. We opened with our new Hustle routine. I think the audience liked the black and red costumes and you could hear audible gasps when we showed our first lift. We rocked out our routine with drama, speed and power. It was a good start to our new competitive Hustle routine of 2011. We'll be competing it for the first time in one week at Disco America in PA.
2 Weeks to Go!
Anna and I have been working on two new routines to supplement our West Coast Swing routine - a Hustle and a Cabaret routine. Our debut performance date this year is June 11, 2011 where we will perform all three routines at Stardust Dance Weekend in the Catskills.
The New Hustle Routine
One of our new routines is Hustle. For us, this might be the hardest challenge. When we picked music back in January, we knew that it was going to be a musical routine and a test of endurance. The song we picked was Ke$ha's Take It Off which is at 125 beats per minute. We liked the song for its party style energy, strong lyrics, and interesting compositional texture. During our first rehearsal, back on January 14, 2011, we choreographed a solid 45 seconds - which is a good amount.
Erik Novoa makes West Coast Swing the final thought on WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show (guest hosted by Mark Oppenheimer).
On Thursday, April 28, one of my students (thanks Doug) texted me to tell me about a radio program about dance on 88.5. Since I was home, I tried to tune in on the internet but could not find the program about dance. It wasn't until I brought my wife to our local train station when I was able to tune into the car radio and heard the radio broadcast.
WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show was being guest hosted by Mark Oppenheimer. The show entitled "The Elegance (And Pleasure) Of Dancing" was a full range discussion about dance in America. It was so interesting an poignant that I raced back home to hear the final moments at home. Simultaneously, my student had texted the phone number of the radio station to me, perhaps as a subtle suggestion to call in.
Counting out-loud while learning to dance
There are many ways to help a person achieve a new motor skill such as dancing (especially partner dances like West Coast Swing, Hustle or Salsa). Discussion of rhythm, spatial movement and arithmetic methods are usually combined to create a complete package for someone to understand the new skill. As a teacher, I call it, "picking the lock" of the dance student's brain. I have found out-loud vocalization to be highly effective to get people dancing as quickly as possible.
The act of expressing your physical action through a vocal process is a sophisticated mental game. If it is done, it actually accelerates the learning process and prevents the body from memorizing incorrect movement during the early stages.
The article illustrates that owner, Erik Novoa, values his dancers even when they have an economic downturn like unemployment.
Review: Hustle and West Coast Swing classes and party in Norwalk, CT
In January of 2010, the Norwalk Citizen wrote an article about our Hustle and West Coast Swing lessons and party at Dance Dimensions in Norwalk, CT. The article featured one of our prominent and long-standing members, Pam Ross. It described her journey into her first West Coast Swing class and how she was impressed by the regular people, wearing jeans, dancing to contemporary music.
Your Brain on Dance
One of the joys of being a teacher is figuring out how a student’s mind works. If I can understand how a student learns both generally and specifically, I can become a more effective teacher. The exhibit called The Brain at the American Museum of Natural History is an indispensible tool for both teachers and students alike. For me it was a game-changer.
Saying "Hello" to the Host
I've been professionally teaching dance classes and hosting dances in both West Coast Swing & Hustle for the last decade. I have started to notice a trend that many people go to a party or class and do not say, "hello" to the host. I have seen this both at my own dances and at others.
I'm just wondering if people have fallen off the "my mother taught me good manners" wagon? So let's review the appropriate way to enter a party or class:
Pre-Payment for Dances
Many events, both national and local, offer pre-payment discounts for their functions. In the days of yore, people would send in a registration form and a check to hold their places. In the 21st Century, events use online payment methods such as PayPal to over significant discounts from the "at-the-door" rates.
What astounds me is that most people don't use the pre-payment offers, especially the "early bird" rates, and wait until the last possible moment to sign up, even though they are 99.9% certain that they will be attending a function.
The best part (sarcastically said), is that many people will pay significantly more just to have the "option" not to go - just so that they are not financially bound.