Other posts in this series:
- Independent students and the I-go You-go game (part 1: a class structure)
- Independent students and the I-go You-go game (part 2: I-go You-go)
- Independent students and the I-go You-go game (part 3: graduated challenges and application)
- Independent students and the I-go You-go game (part 4: Teaching ethos and goals)
Last night we taught a group of complete beginners their first lindy hop class ever. And the first time they danced to music with a partner, they STARTED THEMSELVES WITH NO COUNTING IN and they were ON TIME!!!1
They also started at the beginning of the phrase.
ERMAGHERD LERNDY HERP
We did the class structure like this:
1. Big apple warm up (teacher leads, and makes sure there are a few of the elements of the steps in the warm up; emphasis on starting new moves at the beginning of phrases)
2. the I-go, you-go way of teaching the rhythm (teacher leads, students ‘respond’: 8 counts of clapping rhythm, students come in immediately after and echo that same rhythm. Begin with clapping, then move to using different parts of the foot (as in a tap exercise), then adding in direction for steps (eg a rock step), then moving bodies around floor)
3. play I-go, you-go with a partner (as above, but now they are calling and responding for a partner) without music
4. I-go you-go with a partner with music (and we ask them ‘is it easier with music? why?’ -> because the band keeps time, they know when to start and stop, etc etc)
5. learn to do closed position
6. learn to glide without rhythm or music
7. when they rotate we point out that each partner is a different size and shape, so you can’t just approach your partner with Barbie arms; you need to adjust your embrace. And we demo’d how to talk to your partner about adjusting, and they all tried that a few times.
8. glide with music, but no set rhythms (though they do tend to start adding in rhythmic elements)
9. glide with rhythm to music -> this is where they pwnd all and we didn’t need to count them in!
At about this point we paused to explain about spending a bit more time grooving before they start to move (we had demo’d this but not articulated it yet). We explained grooving as making friends with the music, making contact with a partner (do you hear the music the same way? how do you know? etc etc).
10. grooving again with music -> they are social dancing
11. questions from them: how do you change direction? how do you know which foot to start on? how do you know what your partner is ‘leading’ or ‘calling’ in terms of rhythm? etc etc. This is where I used the phrase “You listen with your skin” in closed instead of watching with your eyes in open. I will never forgive myself for this hippy-ness. I’m sorry.
12. They dance on all this stuff.
By this point they’d been dancing hardcore for 50 minutes. We didnt’ count them in once.
We would ordinarily have introduced another specific shape or two by this point – promenades, circles, whatever. But we had a rowdy group. They were actually enjoying mucking about by moving and traveling the floor, etc.
13. We introduce crazy legs/cool breeze in the knees as a new rhythm. They add it into their dancing.
So they’ve done a loooot of social dancing in this class, the rhythms are tight, and they’ve also learnt nice partnering skills (and connection), they can count themselves in on time on phrase, they have swinging timing rather than straight, etc etc etc.
It was a very fun class. They had a lot of fun, and so did we.
- My Baby Just Cares for Me – Nina Simone
It’s a goody for pointing out the role of the bass, plus the piano actually sounds like step step triple step, there’s that little delay/break that makes them stumble, then learn to listen to the music more, etc.
- Blip Blip – LCJO
Warm up song, because it’s energetic, hi-fi, vocals and fun for the very first song.
- Easy Does It – Big 18
- Stepping into swing society – Ellington 1938
- Easy Going Home – Hodges 1953
At the end, to get them experimenting with varying crazy leg/basic rhythm stuff, and to make them laugh.
- Keeping out of mischief now – Louis Armstrong all stars 1955