We hear the same things so often from people who wish they could dance but have not yet given it a try.
“I have Two Left Feet…. I have no rhythm…. I am the world’s worst dancer… it’s impossible to teach me to dance ……
My response is simple. It’s about making the decision to turn up to your first class with an open mind. If you have already decided that you’d be no good then you are not giving yourself the chance to try something that you might come to like a lot. You don’t know unless you try!
Learning to dance takes time but it won’t be long before you’re having fun if you allow yourself to relax, enjoy and see what it’s about. To enjoy the experience, my advice is to follow the instructions but don’t be tempted to do anything that is distracting or unhelpful to yourself. I see so many new beginners looking at their feet so that they can assess their progress. It’s very distracting if you are busy assessing yourself whilst trying a new skill at the same time. You will learn much more easily if you allow yourself to follow the class without checking if you’re doing the right thing. Everyone makes mistakes and you will, too, so just keep moving as it doesn’t matter.
One thing everyone needs to realize is if you think everyone is looking at you, think again; they are probably worrying about the same thing as you and are too worried to be looking at you!
You will never know if you can dance if you don’t give yourself the chance to try. Everyone was once a beginner and most of these beginners are now enjoying the fun of dancing to fantastic live bands and having the most amazing social life. Imagine how you’d feel by this time next year, when you, too could be dancing like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Anyone can enjoy social dancing. This kind of dancing will not require you to do the splits, spin on your head or even memorise a routine! You just need give yourself the chance to take your first step, and that is to try a class.
Your first visit to Lindy Jazz is free so you can check it out for yourself. Try one class and if you feel OK about it, then maybe try a course so you can give yourself the chance to make progress.
How many times have you learned an amazing new technique or move in a workshop and said to yourself: “That’s incredible! That’s one I’m going to keep using forever….”
As for me? Honestly? I have no idea. It’s happened a lot – but I keep forgetting them. Which is a little ironic…
Too many times, I rush out of a workshop, and straight into the next one… before the first one has fully “taken” – and no matter how well taught – how great the material – it’s vanished from my head. In a well-intended attempt to provide as much for its students as possible, a camp has quite simply made it much harder for me to retain what I’ve learned.
In other words – after decades of going to dance camp after dance camp, experiencing workshop upon inspirational workshop, from teacher after wonderful teacher…. from which I’ve remembered far too little… I’ve come to realise some key things about workshops:
An hour for a workshop is not enough.
Practice it right away, or lose it.
Recap videos are useless once you’ve forgotten the workshop
Small class sizes are great
For DJam 2018, we’ve decided to put a big focus on providing a truly transformational learning experience – so we’ve made some key changes to the core workshop format.
Each core workshop will last an hour and a half, so you really will have time to learn, absorb and practice the techniques and ideas that are being taught.
Each core workshop will be followed with half an hour of practice / consolidation time, so that you can make the most of what you’ve learned. Practice with your partner, or with others in the workshop. Work with your fellow students – they may have had insights that will help you – and you may well have insights that will help them.
The class sizes will be smaller and more intimate. This lets the teachers give a lot more personal attention to the individual students, giving them the help that they need to make the most of the material.
In this way, and by choosing some truly wonderful teachers that we love learning from, we hope to make DJam 2018 the best learning experience it can possibly be. I’m so excited for this event – and I truly hope it helps make DJam the perfect event for people that truly want to focus on transforming their Lindy Hop or Balboa, and reaching the next level in their dancing.
So you’ve been attending beginner classes on and off for a while and you’re wondering when you can join the Intermediate Class? Here is everything you need to know!
I’m often asked by dancers if they can join the Intermediate Class as the class time suits them better or they have previous dance experience in another style and therefore consider themselves to be able to pick up new steps quickly or they feel it’s been some time since they’ve started beginner classes, and although these are all valid reasons, there are certain skills and qualities that I look for before inviting dancers to join the Intermediate Class.
It is worth noting that progress is not always related to the number of weeks or months that you have been dancing in the class. Progress usually relies on both attendance and engagement, so if you turn up to class regularly and engage as fully as possible, then your dancing will improve quickly, whilst if you attend class sporadically, you have to leave early and you rarely dance with other students, then your progress will be slower. It is important to really focus on building your basic Lindy Hop toolkit, so that you don’t struggle or hold others back in the Intermediate Class.
What do I need to know about joining the Intermediate Class?
When joining the Intermediate Class, you will be joining a group of experienced dancers who have been working on their dancing for a while. They are also keen to keep improving all the time, and although you can expect everyone to be very welcoming and encouraging, please bear in mind that when you rotate partners all of you will affect each other.
If you’re interested in joining the Intermediate Class, then practice, attendance, an openness to teacher feedback and enthusiasm are key. My advice would be to stay back after class to practise with other dancers and to ask for feedback from your teachers as regularly as possible to build your foundation before moving to the Intermediate Class.
The focus of learning to dance at Lindy Jazz is personal development; to build our skills, confidence and to gain more joyful dance experiences. Our focus is not social status so you will find that we are not concerned about which ‘level’ we might be. Within the Intermediate Class, you will find that some dancers are more advanced, more skilled and more experienced than others and everyone has different aims and learn at a different pace.
What skills or qualities do you look for when inviting someone new to join the Intermediate Class?
Every scene or community runs classes in their own way, and at Lindy Jazz, we have some expectations of what we’d like to see before you join the Intermediate Class. These skills are taught at our weekly classes and weekend workshops, and we encourage you to attend these classes before jumping into the Intermediate Class.
1. a clear and consistent pulse (or ‘bounce’)
2. relaxed arms & shoulders that ‘stretch & release’ without over-extending
3. a ‘free foot’ when shifting weight
4. triple step footwork with ease
5. Charleston footwork with ease
6. an open attitude to feedback
7. a positive response to mistakes e.g. joy instead of stress
8. regular attendance at intermediate and beginner classes – every week if you can
9. regular attendance at weekend workshops – at least once a month if you can
10. regular practice – staying back to practise social dancing every week and practising your drills for 5 minutes every day if you can
When I see dancers meet most of the above expectations, I will invite them to join the Intermediate Class. Sometimes, I may invite them to join the warm up drills at the beginning of the class and then to observe the rest of the class, sometimes, I might ask a lead-follow couple to stay with each other instead of ‘rotating’ for a couple of weeks until their basics are secure.
Every class is different
Please remember that there are no set rules in the ‘world of Lindy Hop’ and that every class is run independently so the expectations as explained in this blog post are created as a guide for classes at Lindy Jazz. Having said that all Lindy Hop communities are united along similar key philosophies which are joy, fun and friendship through social dancing, so keep dancing!
Join Lindy Jazz classes on Tuesdays at Gosforth Parish Hall NE3 1YT
19:30 Beginners’ Class
20:45 Intermediates’ Class
21:30 Social Dancing & Practice
Join Lindy Jazz classes on Wednesdays at St Aidan’s Church Hall DH1 5BL
If you’re new to the world of swing dancing, you may have heard other dancers talk excitedly about DJam, an international swing dance camp. But what exactly is a dance camp? Are there tents and campfires, and most importantly, do the dancers actually go camping? If you love camping then I am afraid you won’t find log cabins and singsongs (well, not at most dance camps anyway); a dance camp is usually just a weekend of learning through structured classes, with social dancing in the evening to enjoy your new-found skills.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, it’s time to talk about DJam! A blissful weekend of dancing, learning, meeting new people and having fun, DJam is a swing dance camp held in the stunning Beamish Hall Hotel in County Durham each year.
Most dance camps are attended by experienced dancers. That’s because experienced dancers know that to improve their dancing a lot, they need to start learning from world-class teachers and dance with a wider range of dancers. They know that if they only ever dance with a small group of people and never venture outside of their local class, their dancing progress will plateau. As organisers of DJam, we also teach a local weekly class which attracts a regular influx of beginners so we know the worries that new dancers have when thinking about improving their dancing and how they don’t feel confident enough to come to DJam or come on their own. So I’ve summarised some information here to help all new dancers to get a flavour of DJam. At the time of writing, we have just 10 places left in the Lindy Hop beginner level ‘track’. So…..what is Lindy A? What is a track? What happens at DJam? If you’re a new beginner, read on……
At DJam, there will be several tracks meaning different classes in different styles. Once you’ve decided on your track eg Lindy Hop, the next thing to do is to choose your level and Lindy A would be the beginners level where no previous dance experience would be required. Your teachers will know that everyone in your group will be new and possibly nervous! DJam teachers are hand picked not just for their dancing and teaching skills but also for their warmth, friendliness and care for new dancers.
The teachers and the DJam Team are very approachable and will be happy to answer any questions about dancing; even if the questions may seem basic, for example, what to wear to the evening socials, how to ask for dances, what time the cabaret or competitions are on, what’s for lunch, anything!
When you arrive at Beamish Hall at the start of the DJam weekend, you’ll be made to feel welcomed by the organisers & volunteers. You will be given lots of information and introduced to other beginner dancers, who won’t know others either so they’ll be just as nervous.
The DJam schedule is packed with daytime classes, evening parties & various social activities. You can choose to do as little or as much as you want. In addition to your own track, meaning your set of Lindy Hop beginner classes that you have booked for in advance, you can also drop into taster classes. Taster classes are designed to give a little taste of other styles of dance and a whole host of interesting topics, for example. Blues, Balboa, Shag, Aerials, Swing Music. You don’t need to book for taster classes in advance. Once you’ve arrived at DJam, just take a look at your schedule and see what looks the most interesting to you.
Your Lindy A classes will consist of a small group of dancers who will learn ‘from scratch’ – how to dance, what to do at social dances, how to understand the etiquette of social dancing, how to move well, how to dance to swing music, how to lead, follow and dance with people you don’t know etc. In short, your dance skills and knowledge of dancing and swing music will be transformed and you will feel a lot more confident when you next go dancing.
You can choose your ideal ticket from a number of options and we call this a ‘pass‘, so you can come for just Saturday or just two days or make the most of it and come for the whole weekend or even stay over at Beamish Hall Hotel. The DJam team, the volunteers and I will make sure that you feel included, enabling you to make the most of this opportunity.
As the deadline for booking is fast approaching and there are only 10 places left, book now or contact me, Joo-Lee, for more information.