I have been running PLU’s ballroom and swing program for ten years. I also own Dance To Connect where I specialize in West Coast Swing and Weddings. My studio offers west coast swing four nights a week. Over the years I have immensely enjoyed choreographing and working with many of my former PLU students helping them with their first dance once they become engaged. And now I am so looking forward to working with all of you and teaching you all about confidence, connection, rhythms, frame, movement, foot positions, dance positions, and the characteristics of each dance.
Before we start I must share with you my blessing and my curse. I was born an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). We are born with an over stimulated sensory system. There are 20% of us in this world, with 50% female 50% male and 70% introvert and 30% extrovert. We understand and realize very well that the other 80% of the world is unaware and does not understand our differences. There is finally a movie out. A documentary with Alanis Morissette who is also an HSP. We are not on the Autism or Aspergers spectrum as many people think. If anything we are polarity to those. We are born with an abundance of empathy and organically absorb the emotions of those around us. All six of our senses are amplified with intensity and on high alert 24/7. Our senses can become overwhelmed easily. We are very sensitive to fragrances, bright lights, seams in our clothes, dripping faucets, startling noises, the moods of others and on and on it goes and is different for every HSP. The overhead lighting is off sometimes when I get overstimulated.
Each class starts with a circle to discuss your lesson plan and answer any questions. I will demonstrate previous class material. Then we will run solo drills apart from partners, then connection drills together, and ultimately put it to the music. Please excuse yourself for water or restroom during a time when your partner is running solo drills. Please refrain from cell phones in my class unless it’s an emergency. This class is about learning to connect to the partner, their movements, and the music.
You only have one name to remember. I have forty per class and I make it a priority to know all your names. Being an HSP makes it easier as it is one of my blessings. Using name tags accelerates my ability to memorize in a short period of time. It is also my system of keeping track of who is here so I don’t have to use ten minutes doing roll every class.
Learning to dance takes two people. If you joined my class with a partner then I remove you from partnering people up as leads and follows. I always have more females than males so some females get to be leads. I pair students according to height ratio. Being here for class and partner are very important. When you miss a movement class there is no homework for me to give you to catch up to class and we do a lot in each class. If you are going to be absent you need to communicate this to your partner before class starts so they are in the knowing they have no partner for that day. Although we rotate and dance with all classmates we learn the patterns with our partners.
If you are going to be absent please text me at 253-350-7553 with your name and message. Thank you.
Final and grade…
Your final will consist of a practical and written test. Your grade will depend upon attendance and effort more than performance. All of you will learn at a different pace and rotation helps to even the playing field. Your partner is relying upon you so please be here unless you are ill. Three or less absences and you can achieve an “A”. More than three absences and you can receive a pass.
What my ballroom students will learn…
Three ballroom dances, including their characteristics, rhythms, staying on time to music, foot positions, dance positions, and the connection of frame between the partners including a lead and a follow. You will learn the difference between the smooth progressive dance of waltz and the Latin box dance of rumba. I let you all vote on the third dance of choice being tango, foxtrot, cha-cha, nightclub two step, country two step, or east coast swing. I will post the syllabus for the third dance once it has been determined.
Ballroom Leads: You are in charge of memorizing the syllabus and initiating each pattern, learning to lead from your solar and cervical plexus, holding your frame, keeping your rhythms, staying on time to the music, learning to overcome, adapt, and accommodate your follow, and navigating the partnership known as floor craft
Ballroom Follows: You are in charge of following the lead of your partner and not anticipating what they are going to do. There is a map and legend and it is your job to learn the legend, wait, and then respond accordingly to what has been requested of you. You are responsible for keeping your rhythms, holding your frame, spotting through your turns, and staying on time to the music unless your lead is off time. If your lead is off time, then so are you. It is more important to stay connected and keep in sync with your lead than it is to struggle with them in order to stay on time to the music.
1. Box Step
2. Turning Box
3. Follows Natural Turn
4. Parallel Breaks
6. Walk Around Turn
7. Cross Body Lead
8. Rumba Rocks
1. Box Step
2. Turning Box
3. Follows Natural Turn
4. Progressive Basic
7. Reverse Turn
8. Promenade Twinkle
East Coast Swing
1. Basic Step
2. Follows Reverse Turn
3. Leads Reverse Turn
5. Walks with Kicks
6. Head Loops
7. Shoulder Taps
8. Combo Turn
West Coast Swing & Salsa
What my West Coast Swing and Salsa students will learn…
The first 10 weeks we work on learning the four basic patterns in West Coast Swing, its characteristics of stretch and anchoring, its third foot dance position, compression and resistance connection, and its standard double and triple rhythms. The last four weeks we will work on learning the characteristics, foot positions, and single and double rhythms of salsa.
WCS Leads: You are in charge of memorizing the four patterns, initiating and allowing the follow to stretch, keeping connected through resistance or compression, anchoring in place, holding your frame, keeping your rhythms, learning to lead from your solar and cervical plexus, always straight back on the a& landing on the down beat 1, staying on time to the music, and learning to overcome, adapt, and accommodate, your follow.
WCS Follows: You are in charge of memorizing the four patterns, creating the stretch, keeping connected through resistance or compression, anchoring in place, holding your frame, keeping your rhythms, and spotting though your rotational steps known as turning. You are in charge of following the lead and not anticipating what’s next. There is a map and legend and it is your job to learn the legend, wait, and then respond accordingly to what has been requested of you. If your lead is off time, then so are you. It is more important to stay connected and keep in sync with your lead than it is to struggle with them in order to stay on time to the music.
West Coast Swing Syllabus
1. Left Side Pass
2. Right Side Pass
3. Push Break
Follows will learn how to turn to the right and to the left in all four patterns. Leads will learn the importance of clarity and timing within their request for their follow to turn.
2. Side Step
3. Inside & Outside Turns
4. Water Falls
5. Cross Body Lead
Universal Unit System
The UUS is a visual training tool for learning rhythms, upbeats and downbeats, and the space between the notes known as “&a”. It teaches the dancer to break every movement into increments of two beats known as a unit of music to dancers. The dots represent weight changes, a slash represents the opposite (a non weight change), while the &a represents the space between the down and upbeat. A slash could represent a hold, as in rumba, flight, as in foxtrot, brush, as in tango, or a develop’ as in waltz. So although the slash may represent many things, the key is that it never makes a weight change. The large dots are for the up and down beats. The small dots are used when a dancer is syncopating. Syncopating is when the dancer is making more weight changes then there are allotted beats. Observe my examples below.