“I feel that my aim is to become a good swing dancer and to get there I think the only way is to have your technique fine-tuned”
Jonny Howe has been dancing for around 15-years, attends swing dance classes and workshops regularly and has been taking fantastic photos of Lindy Jazz events and its dancers for as long as we can remember! In June Jonny talked to Joo-Lee about his photography, dancing and… a balanced diet, read on to find out more.
Jonny has always had an interest in photography, saying he frequently takes pictures at family events and is often asked to help out at family weddings. He tries to take his camera with him wherever he goes, just in case “the shot” appears. Being a dancer helps his photography as it allows him to follow the music and movement of the dancers with ease.
According to Jonny capturing the essence of a dance on camera comes down to patience, knowing the music and taking plenty of shots! “I think by watching the dancers you get used to the movement of them, of how they come together and then go out again and so you know that sometimes they’ll move around and it’s really just waiting for them to”.
Jonny started dancing Modern Jive, with a hint of Salsa and West Coast Swing along the way, and travelled to out of town venues to learn. When Lindy Jazz started swing dance lessons in Durham he saw this as a good opportunity to dance locally.
Initially he found changing dance and music styles a bit “frustrating” and “tricky” because of the difference in technique, music and resulting musicality, “when you move into a new dance, you don’t know quite how to move your body and how to move your partner, you can’t quite fully express yourself and you feel you’re not totally dancing to the music”.
Despite this Jonny now feels he can transfer the skills he’s learnt, particularly in lead & follow where he says “you realise that you can lead your partner with a lot less energy and a lot less force, it’s more straightforward”. He also says swing dancing “seems to be a more relaxed style of dancing”, where you give your partner more freedom.
Jonny has spent many a Saturday and Sunday at dance weekenders, including DJam, dancing with people from different areas of the country and even world. He says this has inspired him to try new things and not to be scared, “you see that you can be more extrovert and just let the music take you in a different direction”.
Although he attends lessons and weekenders regularly, Jonny began to get frustrated with his progress and so embraced the help of the Dance Doctor. He says this has been a great way to perfect, amongst other things, his swing out technique and connection, “you get a better feeling for the dance with your partner. You can feel the transfer of energy between yourself and your partner as you’re dancing”.
How does Jonny feel about receiving feedback from the Dance Doctor? He says it’s is all part of the learning process. It’s given him the confidence to dance with other advanced dancers, helped him to feel more comfortable ‘free styling’ throughout a full song and not be conscious of dancing incorrectly, as he can adjust his technique.
A Balanced Diet
Jonny feels that private lessons are great as a starting point and alongside regular classes. He says private lessons have given him “insight into the technique and the correct feel of the dance” and the class environment provides time to learn variations, practice, glean inspiration, and generally relax and enjoy being around other dancers.
Jonny says there’s “not a magic formula and it does take time to sink in before your body starts remembering how to move”. His winning formula seems to be a combination of regular classes, private lessons and weekenders, or a balanced diet!