SWING DANCE
Personal Styling
Kurt Lichtmann
Faculty, Ithaca College & Cornell University, Ithaca NY
"The opinions expressed are my own, and not to be construed as official posiitons or opinions of either above institution."

Personal Styling: Prior experience with other popular dances (salsa, merengue, disco) and additional regional swing forms also affect personal styling (sometimes to the dismay of the self-appointed upholder's of stylistic purity!) Prior dance training in ballet, jazz, tap, or ballroom can significantly influence one's swing dance style. Some of the highly desirable legacies of this prior training are solidly balanced movement, great spins, and a clear understanding of posture.

However, when trying to adapt the particular movement styles, postures and gestures of ballet, or ballroom to swing dance, the results not infrequently appear as parodies of both styles. Chances of this working with a smooth style such as West Coast Swing are greater than with a jumpy style like Jitterbug. (I say, if you like the way it feels and/or looks: fine! Don't let worrying about what some others think stop you from experimenting.)

Partnering Styles: Some swing dance styles (or leaders!) require traditional 100% following. Others expect inter-play among partners. Some offer the follower opportunities to frolic, or even to initiate moves. In the most extreme case, the follower might "hijack" the lead, perceived by the leader either with joyful amusement, or baffled consternation (depending to the degree to which he has be "'90s-ised").

Some women actually prefer a rather controlling lead ("He puts me just where he wants me!") Beyond the enjoyment of be physically moved from place to place, some simply use the received energy to complete the move. Some experienced followers detest this type of lead, since it prevents them from exercising a variety of creative options. They may also feel that a firm lead implies that they need extra guidance with a move they have already done thousands of times. These factors greatly affect the overall "look" and "feel" of swing dance.

Dancers: Stanley Catron & Kaye Popp, age 17, Life Magazine, 1943

Still interested?
SWING DANCE: Origins & Development