Dance in the Line

Line Dance Culture

Do line dancers need to use their arms? September 26, 2012

Filed under: The Dancer's Body — linedancenow @ 2:22 PM
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When we start attending dance classes it can be frustrating realizing how little control we have over our bodies. We use out bodies to perform actions all day, why can’t we do the steps the instructor is calling?

When we start walking as toddlers we had to learn how to use the different parts of our body together to master walking. It was also the same with driving. After years of driving we don’t have to think about which pedal to press to stop or go anymore.

As we dance more we gain awareness of how to move our bodies to music. As line dancers we tend to focus on our lower body, but the really great dancers use their entire body, either for movement or for control.

When I started line dancing two years ago, a friend teased me that my arms hung beside me like a Riverdancer. Even though this was true I had enough trouble controlling my feet and figuring out which direction to turn, I didn’t have time to think about my arms.

However, if we observe other dancers we’ll notice that most of the graceful dancers, at the very least keep their arms bent at their waist. This helps because our upper body isn’t being pulled down, we are holding ourselves up. It also helps with steering and makes our turns graceful.

And in the cases of the real Riverdancers, they use their upper bodies for stability as they move their lower bodies. Just like how we may firm up if we are carrying a baby or a fragile package.

Once our feet know what they’re doing, we can take our dancing to the next level by concentrating on another body part. This can also make line dance class more interesting when the instructor is teaching a dance we already know.

Have you gained greater awareness of your body since you have been dancing? Has anyone pointed out a change since you’ve been dancing?

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Milestones in Dancing September 24, 2012

Filed under: Dance Talk — linedancenow @ 12:11 AM
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Do you remember playing video games? In a video game you have to conquer challenges on the course to move up a level. Didn’t it feel great when you finally beat the course and moved up?

It’s like that with dancing, there are different levels. The obvious is in line dancing you have beginner, intermediate, and advanced line dances. Beginner dances are short (32 counts or less) and generally have simple turns in one direction. For example you face the front wall for part of the dance and then you turn left for the rest of the dance and then you start again. As dances become more advanced they get longer, have more turns, and have tags and restarts. As you continue to dance, your ability to keep up with these challenges improves.

There are other milestones to celebrate growth as a dancer. The first one for me was when I learned most of the regular dances we dance at Round Up. It took me about a year to do this. It wasn’t easy. I practiced a lot on my own and with a friend and I learned to read the dance step sheets.  If you think it’s hard trying to figure out how to move your body in class with an instructor telling you what to do, try making sense of an intermediate line dance on your own. (There is also YouTube to help.) At first it’s hard figuring out which way to turn and where you need to end up. It’s like trying to find a new place using Mapquest directions. Just like everything else, with practice it becomes easier.

But there were other little victories along the way:

  • Not getting distracted by other dancers, particularly people dancing near me who didn’t know the dance.
  • Not getting distracted by crazy night club lights flashing in my eyes.
  • Receiving compliments about my progress, especially from the more experienced dancers I admired.
  • Growing tired of easy dances. (I have a friend who calls this graduating.)
  • Liking the easy dances again because I learned the value of taking small steps and could shift my weight better.

Another cool thing is realizing someone is following you. In the real world stalking is frowned upon. But in dancing it is the ultimate compliment, because out of a giant group of dancers, you sparkled and someone thinks or knows they can rely on you to help them enjoy this dance. Ultimately that is why we’re all out in the dance floor. It’s fun, it makes us happy!

After a year of dancing, I asked someone I admired who had been dancing for six years when you stop feeling like a beginner and she said you never do because there are always new things to learn. So I’m not quite sure yet how many levels there are and what other challenges there are to conquer but I think that is part of the allure.

You can view step sheets at iLinedance.com.

You can view dance videos at iLinedance YouTube Channel.

What are some of your milestones?

 

What Makes Line Dancing Different from Social Dancing? September 1, 2012

Filed under: Dance Talk — linedancenow @ 3:39 PM
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If you dance at a night club you will likely find both styles and the difference can be like the battle between Coke and Pepsi people. Some prefer one over the other and others think it’s all good.

According to the folks at Wikipedia line dancing is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows without regard for the gender of the individuals, all facing the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time. Line dancers are not in physical contact with each other.

Couples dancing also known as social dance is a major category or classification of dance styles, where sociability and socializing are the primary focuses of the dancing. Social dances can be danced with a variety of partners and still be led and followed in a relaxed, easy atmosphere.

With social dancing you have a partner and someone is the leader and someone is the follower. But this occurs with line dancing also. Think about it.

  • How many dances can we perform from start to finish without making a mistake?
  • How many dances do we remember how to begin or when to begin?
  • How many times do we mix up steps from another dance or end a turn facing the wrong direction?

Line dancers rely on each other on the dance floor. And if we know a dance well, we may help those who don’t know it by dancing next to them or calling the steps.  We watch others to learn a dance, refresh our memory, or pick up their impressive styling. There is a lot of leading and following going on in line dancing.

So what are the differences between line dancing and social dancing? I think it comes down to the following three things:

  • Memorization
  • Physical contact
  • Control

Social dancers learn patterns that can be performed to any song with that style (two-step, east coast swing, west coast swing, and cha-cha). Social dancers share their personal space with their partner and learn how to read each others movements. They find the physical contact energizing and like either being in charge or being led and not having to concentrate as much on the steps.

Line dancers have to learn steps to each dance and are energized by the challenge of learning “ALL” the dances. They find it relaxing to dance on their own, and concentrating on steps frees their minds of daily clutter.

Dancing requires an awareness of your body and an ability to move it to the rhythm of the music. With line dancing you can get away with focusing on your lower body, although the really admirable dancers use their whole body and you know who these people are. They capture your attention on the dance floor.  Social dancing requires fluidity of your whole body to be in sync with your dance partner. To make the connection you use your arms, torso, neck and head in addition to your feet as.

I prefer line dancing for many of the reasons listed above, but I have learned some social dancing and can participate in couples dances. It is a personal goal of mine to be able to dance with an awareness of my entire body. Maybe once I’ve achieved that I’ll take on the challenge of letting someone lead me.

 

 
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