Showing posts with label social dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social dance. Show all posts

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Trite Trivia: Dancing Makes You Smarter!

Upon unleashing my curiousity on the google search bar, I managed to come across an article written by a member of Stanford's social dance club.

You can read the article here

For those who don't know, dementia is the loss of thinking, memorising, and attentive ability as a person ages, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.

Social partner dancing requires you to think on your feet, and that's how one can continue to use their brains and reduce the risk of getting dementia. While the article argues that the follows benefit the most from social dancing, I must say that this doesn't mean the leads don't benefit as much as the follows. In fact, in my opinion, leads benefit more, because they have to be able to adapt into the follow's position and movement, and whatever move they had in mind may have to be changed suddenly to ensure that the follow can get into a different position that the lead wants. Follows can also "switch off" their brain while dancing, if they aren't willing to play to the music and just stick to the basics (which is a personal problem when I dance West Coast Swing.) Therefore, in order to reap the benefits of maintaining a healthy brain, experiment more!

I must also say that tap jamming is also a great dance to keep your brains thinking. Some rapid fire decision making scenarios in tap jams include coming up with what technique to implement to the music, what to do in case there's less or extra sounds, and how to save your face in case you trip midway through a flash step. So, the benefits aren't just limited to partner work.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Reflections: Entries on Socials archive 7-12

The Entries on Socials series have been discontinued. I'm archiving them here for future references.

8th July
Say what?! Not another Friday yet and you already have a socials entry here? You got that right, I went to Swouk socials yesterday at Le Danz and swung to some Brazilian zouk beats. I intended to get a preview of how Brazilian Zouk is danced, and unlike salsa where I came in quite prepared (hooray addicted2salsa), I couldn't find any tutorials that taught the zouk, so I had to start entirely from scratch. The only thing I figured out was that the beats to step on were 1 34, 5 78. The rest was a blur. That, and I was pretty uncomfortable with dancing really close hold as my paranoia of stepping on the guy's feet/crashing our kneecaps kept on surfacing. He even commented that I move like a salsa dancer (oh well), and that in zouk, you're supposed to slide a lot.

Looking at the dance from afar, it looks really beautiful. The motions are fluid, more fluid than west coast swing, and the girls have a tendency to look like vines/snakes/ragdolls but that's what makes the dance unique. By the way, did you know that you can also combine zouk with swing too?

Anyway, after that trial session with Zouk I decided to stick with just swinging WCS. Dancing with a pro (like the owner of Mosaic Dance) is really really FUN. They'll actually know how to adapt to your level and at one point even help you introduce some moves into your dancing repertoire or vocabulary. I now have an idea on how the rotating dip feels like, along with a few "ducking under the arm" moves. I also realised how one can combine moves like the reverse whip into a basket whip into an outside turn into asdfghjkl; before one can anchor too. So girls, don't hesitate to go to a social dance when you think there are too many pros, because they can slow down for you, and introduce variations that will make the dance fun. Plus, earning a compliment from them can be a major ego boost.

So anyway, I shall be seeing my WCS 2B classmates on Wednesday to further elaborate my story concerning this swouk social dance, which will include all the movements that I would find hard to describe in words. What can I say, a dancer's language is non-verbal (thanks Captain Obvious)

July 14th
That awkward moment where you accidentally elbow a stranger in the face, feel absolutely guilty about it, and to add oil to the flames, he goes up to you and tells you off, "I know you're a beginner but I really don't like it when people hit my face."

Ouch, major guilt trip.

That pretty much soured my night at salsa socials. Although that managed to help me take my mind off dancing and pretty much do a lot of following with other salseros, (and my frown kinda killed the fun for some guys, oops) I was pretty reluctant to dance salsa for a while. Then again, I was still able to execute some salsa 3 moves, which was pretty cool :) There were also a couple of songs that played during Black Mambo night, and that brought back memories too. So all in all, I guess it was alright.

West Coast Swing socials were pretty okay. Just caught up to more stuff I missed from class (but they were moves that I got to know from dancing in the Swouk socials) so it was easy to catch up, except maybe the whip to double turn. I kept forgetting to spot, and I kept forgetting to step forward more for the basket whip. I'm still pretty reluctant to go off beat in WCS, mainly because if I don't feel an anchor there and I'm already lead forward I'll feel off balance and it'll mess up my footwork. Maybe I should improvise less so I don't mix up the signal for an anchor as well. Sometimes it feels like an anchor on the hands, but if the feet has one pointing in the air and the other being brick solid and not moving to a triple step, and then the guy pulls forward, you're like OH GOD STEP WITH RIGHT FOOT IMMEDIATELY.

I quite like some of the advanced WCS combos that employ torque, but unfortunately not many guys did stuff like that. Those moves that send me spinning around in circles makes me feel like Tatiana Mollman, just for that split second LOL. These moves are now my latest obsession, I got over my craving for dips already because I've done them too many times to count.

21st July
I am in love with yesterday night, it's almost perfect (minus the wardrobe malfunction.) I had a couple of memorable dances from both salsa socials and west coast swing socials. Though I wished I could balance better doing stuff with momentum, I don't know whether being sick had anything to do with that (swollen glands causing less air space in the Eustachian tube on one side? Then again I'm not a doctor...)

What's more is that I had a friend to tag along and try out WCS for the first time too, and I think I got him hooked! I feel like a social dance missionary or something.

I'm glad that the memorable dances had been the first dance and the last dance, it feels like writing a composition. Strong intro, solid ending (with a nice dip to add for that matter!) Anyway, I'm on a drowsy expectorant...I should actually go and sleep.

28th July
I'm. So. Hungover. Because. This. Happened:

In fact, there were TWO birthday dances yesterday! (The other video was on Facebook and I can't embed into my blog) And I had to do the West Coast Swing one before the salsa one, so guess where the salsa footwork went when I got to the salsa dance? Yep, down the drain! LOL. Though actually it didn't look that bad in the salsa birthday dance video, but my hand position was very WCS styled :P

Other highlights for yesterday evening included me giving a "crash course" within socials for my old WCS 1 classmate and a new WCS dancer too. One of the biggest disadvantage in giving all the technical stuff in one single night, is that it becomes really dense to absorb it all. Hopefully they'll get to practice in their own time and remember as much as they can.

At another point, there was this dip that I did, and I had to plank and fall backwards doing it. It resembles one of those trust exercises you do with a partner and they catch you from behind, and I haven't had that experience for a long time (and most of them involved me kicking and flailing about because I didn't trust my partner during the exercise LOL) However, this time around, I actually planked properly and fell back nicely, it's like a miracle or some sort! Then I got dragged backwards a bit and pushed back upright and continued dancing and boy, that felt awesome. What is the name of this dip, seriously?! I also felt like this guy while doing the move:

"Swish swish, clang clang" - Slim, A Bug's Life
Don't get me wrong, it feels kinda awesome to be like a walking stick. Just don't pick me up to hit someone with my body.

Good game, Amanda. Tap class nearly killed your body off, but at least you're alive enough to post an entry here.

4th August
Alongside discovering my mistakes, I've pretty much enjoyed the company at socials. I somehow find myself enjoying the company of the swing dancers more than the salsa dancers though. Maybe because the salsa crowd feels too big and unpredictable, and it's hard to pinpoint the regulars other than the Jitterbugs fellows and a few NTU Salsa En Sync people.

At this point in time, is it also possible to say that I've developed a style? I think the moves I'm doing at invitations in west coast swing socials are becoming predictable and repetitive, even for songs with different feels and lyrics. But I should probably take a look at myself in the mirror as I don't think some of my moves are graceful enough lol.

But anyway, my feet are dying. They've Thai massaged the floor enough to feel like I've given an elephant some spa treatment, alongside a gassy tummy ache right after.

11th August
Last night felt a bit uneventful on the dance floor. In salsa, I did manage to have a more relaxed and open frame for the good leads to lead me around this time, because after asking my dance instructor, I finally figured out what was wrong with my frame all this while. I had been getting them too closed at the back, when in actual fact, they're supposed to be open, like a ballerinas's preparation.

However, this would cause my arms to open outwards too much for WCS train tracks, and I had to adjust a bit to fit into the WCS socials that night. There wasn't anything much for me to catch up on WCS 2 class either, just the ones that I got a sneak preview on the previous revision class that I stayed back for. I also realised different dancers in WCS tend to either swing me out into big steps, so I'm assuming that on some occasion, it's completely ok to take really big steps for added styling.

Other than that, it was kinda hilarious watching my classmate who was tipsy explaining the whip to my university friend who is new to the dance. She sounded really fierce to the poor guy, its almost as if she's gonna whip his ass for messing up!

I currently have a song stuck in my head though. It's Good Feeling by Flo Rida - Wild Ones (Deluxe Version). I can't help but to pop around with my partner during the song's breakdown.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Reflections: Entries on Socials archive 1-6

I have discontinued the entries on socials series. I have now compiled them into an archive for future references.

26th May
I felt that I could've done better on the dance floor last night. Especially in WCS, where I kept on breaking my frame for the whip, and traveling out of my slot. One thing I also realised while dancing both salsa and WCS in the same night is that I find it hard to move back into the basic step for salsa and kept on finding tension from the lead right after dancing WCS.

I should also start finding YouTube videos to link here for some west coast swing styling. It's not fun when one is unable to express your interpretation of the music because of the lack of dancing vocabulary. Gonna keep you all posted!

2nd June
Yesterday's socials also happens to be my birthday (not that it's important for my readers to know, but I'm just pointing out that due to this reason, social dancing was more fun and I got to stay past my curfew.) Yep, this swinging salsera's got her game on, but before I talk about my socials, I'll be a shameless promoter and say I've signed up for this.

Hang on Amanda, you haven't been dancing salsa for more than 4 months and you already wanna perform? Well I figure that I should step up my game first before university sinks in. So yeah. I'm going for it. All I gotta worry about is if there'll be equal number of guys who are interested. During salsa socials I also managed to figure out that not all raised hand signals equate to a turn. Strange, I know, but I break my frame and end up doing turns from anticipating the move. I'm probably thinking too much about doing the pattern rather than leaving it up to the leader's discretion.

As for West Coast Swing, I managed to be more brave with styling, and received compliments on that. Less thinking and more feeling works! That and I got a bonus "private" lesson from my instructor on how to maintain my frame on my fingers. So I'm tensing less now, which also means my arms aren't sore (thankfully. How will I type if my arms feel like I've been suspended on pull up bars for hours?) One of my classmates are also brave enough to add his salsa leads into WCS. Great experimental work, really.

To conclude it legs hurt (wish me luck surviving Tap classes today.) But dang it was fun (and tempting to do this every social night.) It's also a wonder how I'm up now typing this away, I should catch up on sleep. Catch you all later!

8th June
Note to self: RELAX! Even if salsa auditions are coming up tomorrow, RELAX!

I can't remember how many spins I done during the salsa socials. I'm still told to relax, but I'm not really getting how relaxing will help me hold my frame. Perhaps it is one of those things where I need to keep on practicing before I can finally get that feeling where I can balance both a relaxed posture and a good frame. One of the main highlights of the night was dancing with a guy who could style like mad while I let my hands get tossed around, and I'm left with that flabbergasted look. I wonder when will JBugs teach the guys to style like that?

I didn't do much swinging last night. But I did try to do some leading moves with a salsa classmate of mine and it's pretty hilarious. While she was able to follow my signals, I think our footwork was messy, but we still had fun.

All in all, I wish I could spend more time during socials last night because I didn't manage to feel that same level of enjoyment as before (please tell me that this isn't the start of a bad addiction.) I had so many things going on: choreographing for my tap dance recital, my internship, and just preparing for the auditions. Why do Fridays always have to end so soon?

23rd June
FINALLY! A SALSA DIP! And I don't mean the sauce dips for nachos, I'm finally lead to the actual move itself. Speaking of which, the lead was really strong. From close hold, he was even able to guide me to do side steps and double back breaks. How awesome is that?! Another awesome part was I also managed to get to know a few girls during yesterday's socials as well, which is quite a rare occurrence, since most of the time I'm paying attention to the guys instead. This sounds politically incorrect. I feel quite rusty with some spinning techniques though, wearing west coast swing heels forges a bad habit of relying on the heel to turn. That's really bad, I need to stop neglecting my actual salsa shoes.

West Coast Swing didn't fare too good with me either. My shoes were annoying while I was swinging, the strap kept on unbuckling, and my constant paranoia of tripping over the strap spoilt a bit of the fun. I should get more holes punched through it, or safety pin it I guess...While I did have tons of fun styling (especially since being introduced to extensions and the 2A class sneak peek,) I've neglected the basics - the flashlight, train tracks, and anchor, oh my. My WCS instructor's words ring true in my head, "You can never practice your anchor enough." Getting critique from him made me realise where I stand - can look good grooving, but totally messing up the footwork LOL. I love critique, seriously. It acts as a good motivator.

Along with that...I unintentionally showered holy water upon one of my leads. (It was accidental, I swear!) I don't recall exactly how it happened, but I think I was anticipating too much and when it didn't go as I expected, the waters flew. Luckily enough it was with one of my established friends. If it had been with that cute stranger I met, I would've died and not update this dance journal/blog!

To end it all, I have no idea how I managed to wake up at 7:15 in the morning, and I still have this funny churning feeling in the stomach like I have some sort of motion sickness. My fingers are crossed that I don't puke out my breakfast during tap class today.

30th June
WOOWHEE another dip! This time in WCS socials, aww yeah. While I was able to have that adrenaline rush (albeit underwhelming when compared to a roller coaster ride) socials didn't feel as fun because my WCS classmates aren't there, le sigh.

However, I came across a new group of people, one of them did ballroom dancing before, and the rest are there just to hang out. So I showed them the ropes of west coast swing, and boy was it hard to explain all the technical details! So I stuck to teaching them footwork and paying attention to the tension (hah, that rhymed.) I felt that I could do a bit better with my anchoring though, along with the styling, I felt like a dancing drunkard.

Along with that, I also tried shutting down my brain for salsa socials, to try and be a zombie that follows what the guy wants you to do, but I guess that gave the impression of me looking really lost to one of my guy friends LOL. I didn't think I was making that many mistakes as I danced that night as well, but I wouldn't be too sure about that.

It was nice meeting new people and showing the ropes. It helps test my patience, and makes me a bit more confident in being a potential dance teacher too. I'm also quite hungover, but I didn't even drink anything more than Coke.

7th July
Yesterday was a big blur. I only recall practicing a Salsa 3 move with some of the Salsa Swingapore team, and it was really complicated - the spinning has to be really quick in order to execute the move and now I can't remember how the hand gestures are done either.

Was I also mixing up salsa with swing yesterday? I guess so. I couldn't even remember the 123, 567 counts yesterday after swinging and then moving into salsa. This is bad. But I can sort of forgive myself for that because my Orientation Camp left me disoriented anyway. I'll try not to be this bad the next week.