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?

 

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?

 

The Looking Glass August 4, 2012

Filed under: Dance Talk — linedancenow @ 3:19 PM
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Observing yourself is helpful for improving your dancing.

I discovered this by accident. I was out-of-town with co-workers for a conference and they didn’t want to go out after dinner and I didn’t want to walk around by myself at night. I went back to my hotel room and did what I would have been doing if I was at home. (Although, I would have been out dancing at a club with friends and not alone in my room at home.)

I left the curtains open to enjoy the city lights and danced to the line dance songs on my iPhone (75% of the music on my iPhone is probably line dance songs see Are You Addicted to Line Dancing? for more clues that you are addicted to line dancing). As I danced, I noticed my reflection in the sliding glass doors. It was a little scary seeing myself dance at first, but it was worth it.

I broke down the dances and practiced them in small pieces over and over. (This is also helpful to do if you get home after line dance class and can’t remember the whole dance.) I had no idea the impact this was going to have but the next time I went dancing I received many compliments on how much I improved. After that I took advantage of window reflections, picture frames, and mirrors in my house and even at work.

I do, however, make the disclaimer that I don’t think looking at yourself in the mirror ALL the time is beneficial because when you are observing yourself eyes are fixed on one spot. For example, if you turn you are still looking at yourself and not the new wall you are facing.

To really get an accurate picture it is helpful to record a video of yourself. Nowadays with digital cameras and cell phones this is easy to do. You can prop your camera up on something, use a tripod, or ask a friend to record you. If you can get someone whose dancing you admire to dance in the video with you, you can compare and contrast their movements with yours. You can also keep track of your progression.

Above all dancing is just meant to be fun, so don’t think you have to do these things in order to dance. These are just some things that my friends and I have found beneficial for improving our dancing.

Do you have tips to share on how to improve your dancing?

 

The Dance Family July 3, 2012

Filed under: Dance Talk — linedancenow @ 12:21 AM
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The interesting thing about being a regular at a dance club is that there are other regulars. And whether you realize it or not, they become part of your life.

We have certain people we dance by on the dance floor. Maybe it’s the people we rely on who know the dances, or we like their styling, or they are the people we have been attending dance classes with. Over time, we get to know each other and the depth of the relationship can range from saying hi to each other at the bar, to sitting together at the club, to celebrating birthdays together, to becoming friends that even do non-dance activities together such as attending concerts, going out to dinner, and going on road trips.

Dancers get to know each other in different ways. I like to watch how others dance and I will compliment them or ask for tips. Friendships develop with the people we regularly sit near as we protect our sacred shared territory from ‘outsiders’. Some people are more outgoing and they initiate conversations. They are warm and friendly and greet you with a hug and a kiss. Others may see that you are new and will try to help on the dance floor because they love dancing and want you to love it too.

There are some people you may be in the company of a few nights week for YEARS and never speak to them. But if they’re not at the club for a while you miss them. Or you may not even realize they are missing, yet when they return it hits you that something wasn’t quite right before but now it feels like the family is back together again.

When we dance we come together–whether it’s two, ten or fifty of us. We are connected. A bond forms as we spend time dancing, because we all share passion for this crazy hobby that slowly takes over our lives.

 

My Fantasy Line Dance Playlist April 11, 2012

Filed under: Dance Talk — linedancenow @ 9:35 PM
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Wouldn’t it be cool if we could make our own playlist of dances? We could pick our favorites and dance until we’re out of breath. These are my favorites. Would any of these be on your fantasy playlist?

Bobbi with an I by Rachael McEnaney – Someday I’ll stop confusing the kicks with Askin’ Questions.
Alabama Slammin’ – Another example of Rachael’s awesomeness.
Barefoot and Blue Jean by Lisa Johns-Grose – Cool song, cool dance and Lisa always posts amusing things on Facebook.
Slingin’ Mud by Guyton Mundy & Will Craig – One day I’ll be able to do Guyton’s arm movements.
Swingin’ the Line by Vikki Morris and Something Crazy (Why Wait) by Wes Smith – It’s just fun to be spinning around and around.
Moves Like Jagger by Bracken Ellis Potter – I can’t stand still when I hear this song.
Stuck Like Glue by Lisa Spangler – My very first favorite dance. This was the first one I practiced at home.
Big Ole Flirt (Nothing to Lose) by Andi Mucklow – It keeps me humble, I still don’t really know this and I fake it.
Put You In A Song by Peter Metelnick & Alison Biggs – Another one of my original favorites.
Shake it for Me by Larry Bass – My current favorite dance.
Singalong by Kenny Henley – Kenny should have a line dance genius shirt.
Wipeout by Susan & Harry Brooks – Forward sailors??? I finally almost have it!
Stronger Peter Metelnick & Alison Biggs – It’s new, fast, and hard. What can be better?

What songs would be on your list for line dance bliss??

Thanks for stopping by,
Cherrie

 

How I Started Dancing April 8, 2012

Filed under: Dance Talk — linedancenow @ 3:51 PM
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Leotards, tights, tap shoes, ballet slippers and spending two hours every Saturday at the Turning Point dance studio in North Miami – this was my childhood. As I neared the teenage years and wanted to try other things I still practiced on my own and choreographed my own dances. One of my dances was to Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul. I’ve always enjoyed dancing.

The next opportunity to dance came in ninth grade. I met my closest high school friends by chance. We all landed at the same lunch table on the first day of school. We were a shy bunch and for the first few months Thursdays were the only day we actually had conversations because we would talk about what happened on 90210. Everything changed because of PE. We were assigned to choreograph a dance and perform it in class. Five of us met at Debbie’s house one weekend and created a dance to Janet Jackson’s Escapade. The dance was the catalyst for the many weekends and sleepovers that we shared throughout high school.

The first time I visited Round Up was about six years ago. I went with a friend from work and for days prior to going we cracked jokes about meeting cowboys there. I wish I could remember what I expected Round Up to be like. I didn’t listen to country music then and I had never seen Urban Cowboy to know anything about line dancing. What I do remember is seeing everyone dancing and wondering how in the world they knew the steps to so many dances. I tried mimicking the dancers movements from my bar stool to see if I could figure it out, but it was a lot to absorb. Every song had its own dance!

A few years later, the firefighter calendar signing brought me back to Round Up. My cousins were visiting and we squeezed this event into our busy schedule of sunning ourselves at the beach and consuming large amounts of cheesecake. At Round Up we partied on ladies night and watched the firefighters strutting across the dance floor. I also learned a dance that night. It was for Kid Rock’s All Summer Long. Even though I danced when I was younger it was a challenge to get my feet to do what they were supposed to do.

I started going to Round Up more often after that and then I started listening to country music because I wanted to be familiar with the songs for the dances I was learning. And that is how I started dancing.

Cherrie

How did you start dancing?

Dance Recital-That's me on the right

 

What Did I Do Before I Started Dancing? March 17, 2012

Filed under: Dance Talk — linedancenow @ 12:00 PM
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I often ponder this thought because of how much time I spend dancing. And most of the time when I’m not dancing I’m thinking about it. I know I’m addicted, but there are far worse things to be obsessed with, right?

So here it is- what I did before I started dancing.

Golf: I’ll be honest I didn’t even consider this a real sport, but a guy I liked taught golf and invited me to his class. Much to my surprise I actually enjoyed golf. Every week on the driving range I became more aware of how to position my body to use the club to make the ball go where it was supposed to go. (It didn’t work out with the guy but we ended up becoming good friends.)

Painting: In one of my classes the teacher said that with practice anyone could learn the techniques for painting. I started to see this was true. There is so much room for creativity. You can paint impressionist scenes like Van Gogh or bright, happy characters like Britto. This is one of my paintings, it is an interpretation of Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night using a scene from a place near where I work.

Photography: I’m the bossy photographer who likes to make people pose. This involves making cousins pretend they are swimming in a wall sized painting of the ocean or kiss an astronaut suit statue. It’s important to stop and capture the moment though, don’t we all like to look back and remember the good times?

Dancing captures a little bit of each of these activities. It involves an awareness of your body similar to golf. Devoting time to practice to improve your technique and developing your style as with painting. And as we gather together to dance every week, sometimes I like to take a step back and admire the scene, my friends dancing beside me.

What did you do before you started dancing?

 

 
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