The following list has been supplied by Skippy Blair. It is not a complete list, but has been abbreviated to include only definitions pertinent to West Coast Swing Dancers

WEST COAST SWING -

(1) A highly stylized form of Swing that is identifiable by two main characteristics: (a) it is a slotted dance distinguished by its love affair with syncopations and musical interpretation (b) The follower does a "Walk-Walk" travelling forward on counts "1" and "2" of each pattern. (2) In the 1950's, this dance was called "Western Swing" - "Sophisticated Swing" and sometimes simply "Slot Swing" in the Chain Studios. Many studios still use those names today.

(3) West Coast Swing was declared the official State Social Dance of California on October 1st, 1988.

Teaching Note:
West Coast Swing is an evolving dance that is consistently "up-to-date! Today, this dance requires a "50-50" partnership. It is an "educated" dance where the "follower" needs to know as much about the dance as the "leader."  West Coast Swing is one of the few that reflects the social attitudes of the day: Although HE is the leader and sets the tone of the dance, SHE has the freedom to interpret the music and use syncopations in patterns that he might not even know (or care to know). This "Partnership" can be compared to Jazz musicians, where one person goes off on a tangent while the other players keep the beat. West Coast Swing is literally a "High Tech" GAME played to music.

Historical Note: The name "WEST COAST SWING", didn't surface into mainstream Swing Circles until the middle 1960's. In 1958, with the opening of the Skippy Blair Studios in Downey, California, "Western" Swing" was not a saleable item (Nothing Western was popular in Downey in 1958). We told the Chamber of Commerce, and anyone else who would listen, that "Western" really meant "West Coast". Jim, editor of the Herald American remarked: "then why don't you say that?" The new ads advertised West Coast Swing (1958). When the GOLDEN WEST BALLROOM opened in Norwalk, California, "West Coast Swing" was on the Marquee as the Dance being taught every Wednesday night. (for 13 years - 1967 through 1980).

 

BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
Dancers will have neither the skills nor the elements for creativity until they have learned the basics, which include a solid foundation of partnering.  After someone knows the basic dance forms, they can begin to find their own personal style, diversify and create if they want to.  First you learn the alphabet.  Then you construct sentences.  Then you make poetry.

 

ACTION-REACTION -

(1) In Partnership Dancing the "ACTION" of the leader is felt and reacted to by the follower.

(2) In West Coast Swing the primary lead takes place on the "&a" before count "1" of the next pattern. The reaction of the follower is to land on the beat of the music for count "1." 

(3) Action/ Reaction also takes place if the follower does an unexpected syncopation which takes more time than the leader expected.  It is then the leader's responsibility to react in a way that both compliments, and accommodates that action.

 

ANCHOR (or ANCHOR UNIT) -

(1) An Anchor is NOT a foot position and not a Rhythm. It is a partner connection in West Coast Swing, achieved when both partners place their CPB (Centre Point of Balance) behind the heel of the forward foot.  

(2) An Anchor is danced on the last two beats (last Unit) of each basic, fundamental Step Pattern in West Coast Swing.  

(3) A feeling of body leverage that balances the resistance of both partners.  

(4) Each partner is responsible for establishing their own individual anchor.

Historical Note: The term "ANCHOR" was coined by GSDTA in the early 1960's to clarify the difference between the "resistance" desired at the end of a West Coast Swing Pattern, and the lack of resistance caused by the 1961 version of a "Coaster" Step. This is one of the major milestones that changed the face of West Coast Swing. 

ASSIMILATION PERIOD -

(1) The time it takes for the mind to absorb, and the muscle memory to execute, that which has been taught. (Can be several days, weeks, or even months according to what has been taught.)

(2) The "mileage" (practice time and absorption time) between lessons.

(3) The name that many teachers use to describe the "5 or 10 minute" (observed and assisted) practice session - usually half-way through the class hour.

Teaching Note:
This "observed practice" is a planned time slot for the teacher to recognize general areas of development that can be stressed, following a planned "Assimilation Period." 

BREAK (Hitting the Breaks) -

(1) In dance music, musical "Breaks" sound as if someone had actually stopped the music. It may sound like the music stops, but the beat continues. Musical Breaks usually occur toward the end of a major phrase

(2) "Hittin' the Breaks" is a phrase that became popular in the early 1970's, but gained more popularity in the 1990's as more and more dancers studied the music and started learning how to "Hit the Breaks."

(3) "Breaks" in the Music are the strongest and therefore the easiest parts of the music to hear.

Teaching Note:
To choreograph a "Stop" (Pose) at a Break Point adds both interest and drama to the performance. However, it is also exciting when a musical break lends itself to an appropriate move that both complements and counters the stop in the music. Concentrate on timing before teaching someone how to "Hit the Breaks." Many dancers have learned to hit the breaks before they clearly understand timing, phrasing, pulsing and centering. 

BODY LEAD - 
A Body Lead starts in the hand connection, but moves from the back of the shoulder, producing an even, firm, controlled lead that does not pull or yank.
A bent elbow on a leader, usually indicates an arm muscle contraction, which identifies "arm leads" as opposed to Body leads.

 

 BALL CHANGE -

(1) A TAP DANCING term which means to make a quick weight change on the Ball of one foot, followed by an accented, loud, FLAT-footed landing, on the OTHER foot. The Free Foot is in the air as the dancer assumes a momentary "pose."

(2) This term is used in the Universal Unit System® only in TAP dancing and MODERN JAZZ.

(3) The Rhythm of the move is a "Delayed Double" and can be called as a "Hold & Step-Step" or a "Kick & Step-Step," etc.

Teaching Note:
Sometimes erroneously used to denote a "Kick & Step-Step" or a "Hitch Kick." It is important to know that every "Kick & Step-Step" is NOT a "Ball Change." However, every Kick & Ball Change IS a "Delayed Double".

(see: DELAYED RHYTHMS, HITCH KICK)

 

CRITICAL TIMING -

(1) When a dancer is ON TIME, not just at the start of a pattern - or on the Breaks - but on time ALL of the time, all the way through each pattern.

(2) Except in rare circumstances, Critical Timing requires a Rolling Count.

(3) The CPB transfers the weight precisely on the beat of the music. Simply having the foot hit the floor, in time with the music, does not qualify as being critically on time.

(also see: ROLLING COUNT, DOWNBEATS, UPBEATS)

 

COUNT - ROLLING COUNT (Rolling Triple) -
 (1) Rolling count breaks each beat of the music into 3 separate parts: "&a1 &a2 - &a3 &a4" (through 8 beats of music). Musicians call this a "Dancers Count." They refer to this form of playing music as: "Swingin' it" - which has to do with the "feeling" of the music and the dance and not a particular KIND of dance.  Rolling Count is the secret to an upper level performance of almost every dance.  

(2) Rolling Count produces what we call "3 dimensional" dance, in that it provides a separate  "count" (the "&" count) that belongs to the CPB.  This allows the CPB to move slightly BEFORE the step takes place on an "a" count.    A Rhythmic, Rolling Count helps develop the dancer's ability to coordinate all four body zones into their performance.  It also allows the dancer to progress to his or her own highest potential, therefore, not limiting the dancers progress.

Author's Note: It is important to note that saying a Rolling Count, leaving out the "&" will not actually produce a Rolling Count in the dancer.  Saying:  "1-a2 - 3-a4" etc.  will still produce straight count in the dancer's body.

 

COUNT -  MUSICAL COUNT -

(1) The MUSICAL COUNT refers to both Level ONE and Level THREE descriptions of counting. (see above).

(2)  It is counting the actual BEATS of MUSIC in a specific tune: "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8." 

(3) Every piece of music has a specific number of BEATS in each measure, based on the Time Signature of the music: ( 4/4 time for most Social Dances.  3/4 time for Waltz.  (see Waltz).   There is also a specific number of beats of music in each Step Pattern, in every dance.

Teaching Note:
(A) It is important for the student to know when we are counting beats of music in the MUSIC - or counting beats of music in a STEP PATTERN. When possible, use the full range of "COUNTS" - including the "&" and the "a" counts.

(B) It is also important to count actual "BEATS of Music" and NOT Foot Placements. Example: Triple Rhythm in 4/4-time can be counted as "&1&2" (Straight Count) or as "&a1&a2" (Rolling Count) - but should never be counted as:  "123" - "123."

(C) Each Dance Rhythm takes only two beats of MUSIC, with six possible steps (counts) in those two beats of music.
 

CHASSÉ (Pronounced Shah-say) -

(1) A "Side Together" using two beats of music, stepping once on each beat.

(2) A Chasse' is DOUBLE RHYTHM.

(3) Step to the Side in 2nd foot position on count "1" and bring the feet together in 1st foot position on count "2."

(4) Chasse' means "to chase." The closing foot chases the moving foot.

(5) In International Dance terminology, a Chasse' refers to a "triple" (3 weight changes), a "side together side."

(also see: FOXTROT, SLOW DANCE)

 

CENTRE POINT of BALANCE (CPB) -

(1) The Solar Plexus is the "Centre Point of Balance" from which all dance movement projects.

(2) To locate your own CPB try this exercise: Stand with your feet together. Isolate your hip or abdomen or derriere, or even your head, and push any one of them about 6 inches to the left or right or in any direction. You will find that you can still maintain balance. If you move your Solar Plexus even 4 inches left or right - you will find that you must move your foot, because you have relocated your own centre (CPB).  

(3) Although Martial Arts and other disciplines speak of Centre of Mass and Centre of Gravity, the above exercise will tell you why we chose to coin the term "Centre Point of BALANCE."  The CPB is crucial to the Dancer.  

(4)  A popular TV phrase in body shaping these days is "strengthening the Core."  Their description of "Core" is the same as our "Centre." (CPB)

Teaching Note:
The more accomplished the dancer, the more you are able to observe the control that comes from the Solar Plexus.  Every well executed move originates from the CPB.

(see:  CORE, UNIT FOOT)

 

CENTERING -

(1) Individual "Centering" is the ability to maintain perfect balance by controlling the "Centre Point of Balance" (CPB) in relationship to the "Unit Foot." The CPB moves prior to the weight change from the "sending" to the "receiving" foot.

(2) Couple "Centering" is the ability to connect the CPB of both partners - to each other.

(also see: FLASHLIGHT TECHNIQUE, POINT of CONNECTION)

 

CAMEL HIP (Boogie Hip) -

(1) A projection of the HIP to the SAME Side as the "Weighted" Foot.
(2) Lining up the Left Foot with the Left Hip while the CPB stays centred. (3) If the "FOOT" steps "LEFT- RIGHT," the "HIP" will move LEFT RIGHT. A Camel Hip is used in dancing a Shorty George. (4) CAMEL HIP is the opposite of CUBAN HIP.

 (see: BOOGIE WALKS, CUBAN HIP, HIP CONTROL, SHORTY GEORGE)

 

ETIQUETTE - (Dance Etiquette) -

(1) Correct Social Interaction at a place where people dance. Good manners should prevail in any social situation.

(2) MEN: If you ask a girl to dance and she does not do well, cut back on your level of difficulty.  A dance should start out with something very basic and progress only at the rate that she seems to be able to follow.  It is unacceptable behaviour to "instruct" her on how to follow you, or criticize ANY part of her dancing.  If she does something other than what you led, smile and take credit for the pattern.  No matter what - Be a gentleman.  

(3) WOMEN: Accept a dance gracefully. Good, bad or indifferent, make those "3 minutes" memorable.  In class, or out, it is unacceptable behaviour to "teach" someone something unless you are the teacher and he is the student. Even then, do NOT teach on the social dance floor.

Teaching Note:
(A) There are many people who get frustrated with classes and fear asking someone to dance because of the criticism that follows. There is an old saying from Studio days: "Behind every man who can't dance, is a lady who told him he couldn't dance ."

(B) On the other hand, there are many female dancers who "dance scared."  They look hesitant and not sure of their dancing, because of constant criticism.  It is the responsibility of the teacher to also teach dance "manners."

(B) Seasoned Teachers respect these same rules.  A "New" teacher will often offer assistance to casual dance partners in an effort to "give" them something. Frequently it is NOT considered a gift - and really not appreciated.

 

FOLLOW (Following) -

(1) The act of moving a fraction of a second later than the leader, and yet still be on time.

(2) "Following" is accomplished in different ways for different dances, but certain concepts remain the same. Reaction to a "Lead" is the act of following.

(also see: LEAD)

 

FLASHLIGHT TECHNIQUE -

(1) A "Centering" technique, particularly helpful in WEST COAST SWING, for learning flexibility in the dance.  

(2) It also teaches the Follower to stay Centred to her partner, even at a very BASIC stage of development.  The same technique relates to many dances.

Teaching Note:
Have both partners imagine that they each have a Flashlight in their CPB, and that each of them should keep that Light focused on the CPB of the other partner. This basic technique adds control and form to even beginner Dancers.

(also see: CENTERING)

 

MUSIC (Social Dance music) -

(1) Any Music in 4/4-time or 3/4-time that is danceable. There are specific pieces of music that fit specific dances.

(2) There is also music that encourage dancers to dance.

(3) Some music is considered fun to dance to socially but is NOT acceptable for competition.

Teaching Note:
Many dancers can only dance to specific tempos. It is important that dancers learn how to stretch their abilities to include faster and slower music. They need to be able to enjoy themselves socially in ANY dance situation. Being happy wherever you are is a desired "ability" in itself.AUTHOR'S NOTE: The question arises many times where someone asks "Is this a Cha-Cha or a Rumba?" It is important to know the differences, but it is also important to know that many songs have a "crossover" sound. In the real world, the music will not always sound like it does in class, or at a competition. YOU are the dancer. Socially, do what you feel. There are times when you will see a CHA-CHA, a MAMBOLERO, a SALSA, a RUMBA and a WEST COAST SWING all being danced on the same floor to the same music. SOCIALLY, Who Cares ? Enjoy what you do! HOWEVER, it is important in Competition to have music that not only pleases the dancers, but is musically sound for the competition being danced.

(also see: DEE JAY, TEMPO)

  

MUSCLE MEMORY -

(1) What the Muscles "remember" and can do "on their own." Education and practice combine to make a dancer "OWN" a move. It is possible to understand many techniques that we are not yet capable of performing. Sometimes what we have learned intellectually has not yet become part of our muscle memory. Practicing a new technique that requires changing a former discipline requires "retraining" the Muscle Memory.

(also see: ASSIMILATION PERIOD)

 

OPPOSITION (Law of) -

(1) The Law of Opposition tells us that "Every ACTION has an equal and opposite REACTION."

(2) A Push meets with a Push. A Pull meets with a Pull. Pressing Down pushes the body Up

(3) This "Law of Physics" is one of the fundamental Rules of good Dance Movement.

(4) The Law of Opposition is sometimes stated in dance as "Matching the Resistance."

(also see: ACTION, CPB, MOVEMENT, PRESS, REACTION)

 

PHRASING -

(1) All music is made up of different kinds of phrases that join together to make a complete song or musical presentation.

(2) A "Mini" Phrase ( in 4/4-time) is one "Set of 8" beats of music.

(3) A Minor Phrase can be 16 beats or any smaller amount than 32 that completes a musical thought inside a Major Phrase.

(4) A Major Phrase is a specific number of "Sets of 8" that have combined to form a "Chorus," "Bridge," "Verse," or any other Musical grouping that is a complete musical thought. (While most dance music in 4/4 time phrases to sets of 8, occasionally there is an extra four beats or two beats within the phrase.

Teaching Note:
(A) Standard Basic Phrasing (the easiest form) is 32 beats of Music (4 "Sets of 8").

(B) Standard "Blues" Phrasing is 6 "Sets of 8". Most songs today have "mixed" phrasing (random sets of 8 that are other than standard.) There is also music that has "irregular" phrasing where there may be sets of 8 - then maybe 4, 2, or any mixed numbers. ALL Music phrases to some specific Musical Skeleton. Learning how to hear and break down the phrasing in a piece of music allows the dancer unlimited creativity. This is vital information for a Competitor, Teacher or Choreographer.

(also see: MEASURE)

 

PATTERN  -  (BASIC PATTERN, FLOOR PATTERN, RHYTHM PATTERN, STEP PATTERN - VERBAL PATTERN)

A. BASIC PATTERN -

(1) The Foundation "Step Patterns" in any given dance.

(2) Basic Dance Patterns include the basic Rhythm Pattern, various directions (Step Patterns) and the "Essence" of the dance.

(3) A Basic Dance Pattern is synonymous with "Step Pattern" and/or "School Figure."

Teaching Note:
A little extra time spent on Basics always saves time, energy and money.

B. FLOOR PATTERN -

(1) The Pattern as it would appear if it were stationary.  A Waltz Box is first demonstrated as a Square Box that does not move. However, once the dancer understands the diagram, it is pointed out that the box is danced with a gradual TURN and is not actually danced as a SQUARE. 

B. RHYTHM PATTERN -

(1) A combination of two or more Rhythm Units where no direction is stated or needed.

(2) The RHYTHM PATTERN refers to the number, kind, and order of Rhythms within the framework of the whole Pattern.

(3) The actual "sequence" of "RHYTHMS" that go to make up the weight changes of any particular Dance.

For Example: (4) The "Rhythm Pattern" for SALSA is "Double - Single - Double - Single" (8 Beats of Music - 2 Beats for each Rhythm).

(5) The Rhythm Pattern for SWING is "Double - Triple - Triple "     (6 beats of Music). WHIP RHYTHM is "Double - Triple - Double - Triple" ( 8 beats of Music).  

(5) Rhythm Patterns can be identical for several different dances.  The difference lies in the Direction, Foot Position, Style and Essence of the dance.  The Foundation Rhythm in any given dance, uses the most Primary Rhythm for that dance.  

Teaching Note:
Counting "1 2 - &3 4 - 5&6 " is a valid "Rhythm Variation" for WEST COAST SWING, but dancers develop a better "Pulse" and better body control if they FIRST master "1 2 - 3&a4 - 5&a6" - which is the Basic. Rhythm of the dance. Learning any advanced rhythm does not eliminate the need for continuing to use the basic rhythm of the dance.C. STEP PATTERN -

(1) A combination of the Rhythm Pattern, Direction and Foot Positions. 

(2) A "School Figure" - Any identifiable "Named" Pattern is a "Step Pattern."  

(3) The smallest Step Pattern in any dance, danced to 4/4 time music is four beats of music.  (contains a starting rhythm and an ending rhythm).

D. VERBAL PATTERN - (Verbal Call)

(1) The Verbal Call is: What we "SAY" to describe the pattern being danced:  "Walk-Walk" and "Step Three Times." - "Side together Forward and Side together Back." 

(2)  A variety of verbal calls can work for calling the same pattern.  We can "call" by counting - by direction - by accent, or whatever the teacher wants to emphasize at that moment.

 

PATTERN EXTENSION -

(1) Any Pattern can be extended by adding an "Even," "2-Beat" Rhythm at the end of the pattern. A "6-Beat" underarm turn in Swing can be extended to 8 beats by adding a "California Shuffle" (Step Point & Step Point) onto the end of the pattern.

(2) Some patterns can also be extended by inserting, within the pattern, a series of Double Rhythm Units. A "Continuous Whip" is simply an extension of a Whip. Counts "5-6" have just been repeated to extend the pattern.

Teaching Note:
In this last instance, the extension actually created a new pattern. Knowing the "Elements of Dance", which includes extensions, gives birth to a wide variety of new variations in EVERY dance.

 

PADDLE TURN -

(1) This term refers to a form of turn that centres the CPB directly over one foot while the other foot executes little "pushing" movements that keep the body turning.

(2) There is a "Lilt" of the CPB that allows the CPB to stay over the weighted foot. There is a lilting Movement Unit of "Down - Down."

(3) Paddle Turns frequently start with a "Pivot" and then move into a paddle turn.

(4) The Count is 1&a2&a3&a4, etc. with the centred, flat foot being on the beats of the music and the "paddle" foot being on the "a" counts.

Teaching Note:
Paddle Turns are best executed when the CPB stays solidly centred over the FLAT foot. Very little weight should be placed on the "pressing" foot, which stays slightly back and side of the centred, FLAT foot.

(also see: PENCIL TURN, SPIN)

 

 ROLLING COUNT -   (Rolling Triple) -
 (1) Rolling count breaks each beat of the music into 3 separate parts: "&a1 &a2 - &a3 &a4" (through 8 beats of music). Some musicians call this a "Dancers Count." They refer to this form of playing music as: "Swingin' it" - which has to do with the "feeling" of the music and the dance and not a particular KIND of dance.  Rolling Count is the secret to an upper level performance of almost every dance.  

(2) Rolling Count produces what we call "3 dimensional" dance, in that it provides a separate  "count" (the "&" count) that belongs to the CPB.  This count is owned by the CPB.  It allows the CPB to move slightly BEFORE the step, but precisely ON the "a" count, prior to the beat of the music.    A Rhythmic, Rolling Count helps develop the dancer's ability to coordinate all four body zones into their performance.  It also allows the dancer to progress to his or her own highest potential at a faster rate, therefore, not limiting the dancers progress.

Teacher's Note:  It is important to note that saying a Rolling Count, leaving out the "&" will not actually produce a Rolling Count in the dancer.  Saying:  "1-a2 - 3-a4" etc.  still produces a straight count in the body of the dancer.  SAYING the "&" count inspires the CPB to respond correctly, on time, when stepping on the "a" count..

Author's Note: Using the "a" count in a Triple was originally referred to as a "Syncopated Triple by GSDTA.   The reference was made by Skippy Blair in 1958 with the opening of the Skippy Blair Studios in Downey, CA..  This was an important discovery and announcement of the Universal Unit System. Samba and West Coast Swing were the only dances (in the 1950's)  where GSDTA taught THAT count in both Samba and West Coast Swing.

 (also see ROLL the COUNT, COUNT, ROLLING & STRAIGHT)

 

RIM WHIP (Wayne's Whip)

(1) An 8-Beat Whip that became an overnight "must do" move in West Coast Swing in the 1990's.. WAYNE BOTT developed this particular move for competition, and describes it as FOLLOWS: The Follower executes a standard Whip Pattern of "Double - Triple - Double - Triple". The Leader leads the Follower into a 5th Foot Position on Count "6." On count "6" she is released to continue her travel on the "Rim of a Circle" on "7&8." The Leader's "Matador" Style begins on "5" with the upper body twisting toward the Follower through count "7" with the lower body catching up on "8."

Authors Note: WAYNE & SHARLOT BOTT, Huntington Beach, California, are two accomplished dancers who put their hearts and their talents together and created a style that has made an impact on the Swing dance circuit. That elongated style has been emulated from coast to coast. As GSDTA representatives, they have been responsible for teaching many "Elements" classes and Judging sessions that are qualified through GSDTA and NDDCB.

 

SWEETHEART (Promenade) -

A Dance Position where the Lady is on the man's Right side with her right hand connected to his Right hand behind the Lady's right shoulder.  Her Left hand is connected to his Left hand at her left shoulder.  The arms are rounded and the hands are lifted to shoulder height or a little above (Sweetheart can also be on the man's left side.)

(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)

 

SUBTLE TRIPLE -

(1) Those TRIPLES that FEEL like a Triple in the dancers CPB, but are danced with little or no movement in the feet.  An observer does not see or hear the three weight changes, but the dancer feels the movement and a "practiced eye" can see it take place.

(2) Many "West Coast Swing" and "Nightclub Two Step" dancers use SUBTLE TRIPLES as a form of styling.  (3) A "Dig Step" that is slightly stronger than a "Tap Step", has become a "Subtle Triple."

STARTER STEP -

(1)In Swing Dancing, the 2 TRIPLES that signify to "Get ready - Get set" before the "GO" that starts the pattern.   VERBAL CALL: "Step 3 times and Step 3 times" to a count of "1&a2 - 3&a4"  

(2) The STARTER STEP is only 4 beats of MUSIC.  

(3) The pattern, or body movement, that prepares the dancer to start dancing.  In SWING, this four beats of music allows the dancers to determine the tempo of the music and prepare to dance.  

(4) The more accomplished Swing Dancers seldom "step out" the starter step. They merely move their torsos a little forward on counts 1&a2 and she moves back on 3&a4, while he anchors in place. Having established the feeling of the beat of the music, they then move into an appropriate pattern in the dance.

HISTORICAL NOTE:  It is important to note here that the discovery of the "4-Beat" STARTER STEP changed dramatically the way Swing is taught all over the world. In today's dancing community, it is difficult to find dancers who remember when WEST COAST SWING counted the "Rock Step" or the lady's "Walk-Walk" as counts "5, 6."  (That was in the early 50s and remained for many years after that)    GSDTA curriculum started every pattern on counts "1-2" starting in 1958.   Every WEST COAST SWING pattern today starts with the Lady's "Walk-Walk" on counts "1-2."   All over the world today, almost all  teachers of Swing teach a Starter Step prior to the first pattern.

Teaching Note: (2006)
As the world started adopting the fact that the follower should start FORWARD, following a starter step - Starter Steps have been changing to place the follower into a position that allows her to travel forward on count "1" of the first pattern. 

SPOTTING -

(1) The act of focusing on one spot as you pivot down a straight Line. The body rotates at a different speed than the head. The head stays riveted, facing one direction while the body rotates. At the last second, the head snaps around to face the original spot.

Teaching Note:
An exercise to learn "SPOTTING":  Stand with both feet together facing a mirror. Keep the eyes focused on your face in the mirror. Slowly rotate the body to the left as far as you can. (little tiny steps in place make the rotation easier). When the body can no longer revolve without moving the head, STOP the body and rotate the head all the way around to face front. Finish the move with a fast rotation, allowing the body to catch up with the head. This exercise develops flexibility, control, and facilitates learning to Spot.. 

SENDING FOOT - RECEIVING FOOT

(A) - SENDING FOOT:  (1) (1) The foot that presses into the floor to project the body (the CPB) in the direction that the dancer wants to go. Use of the 3-Toe Base is crucial in developing a good Sending Foot.

(B) - RECEIVING FOOT: (1) The foot that receives the weight from the "sending foot". (2) How the receiving foot "collects" the body weight depends upon the dance being done, the direction of the move, and the rhythm being danced. Examples: Triple RHYTHM usually receives the body weight on the ball of the foot first.  In Rumba, Cha-Cha, Mambo and Salsa, all steps are received ball of the foot first. Single Rhythm in the Smooth Dances generally steps heel first. (3) When correctly mastered, control of the sending foot results in the transfer of weight (the CPB) happening on the precise beat of the music.

Teaching Note:
The connection between the sending foot, the CPB and the receiving foot needs to start on Lesson one.   "Walk Like a Dancer" is an excellent article on this subject. 

 (also see: CPB, PRESS, 3-TOE BASE)

 

TUCK -

(1) A term that covers many different moves that have essentially the same basis for execution.

(2) In SWING, any kind of TUCK (East Coast, West Coast, Imperial, etc.) can be done if the lady turns left before turning right. Example: SHE counts "1-2, 3&a4" (turning left on 3 and right on 4) and completes the pattern with counts "5&a6".

TRIPLE RHYTHM BREAK -

(1) The name of a pattern in West Coast Swing. This "4-Beat" Rhythm Break is danced in a one hand, open position, with the Lady at the end of the slot.

(2) He steps "Left &Right Left  -  Right &Left Right", staying in place while he leads the lady into a "Right & Left Right  -  Left & Right Left. The Count is: "&a1&a2 - &a3&a4" He swivels the lady to her Right on "&a" before "1" and to her left on the "&a" before count "3".

Teaching Note:
This is an excellent basic pattern for teaching any form of Swing. It teaches the man to lead the lady from his centre, rather than arm leading. This pattern also teaches the lady how to press her foot down into the floor, in order to swivel, keeping the knee pointing in the same direction as the foot. This action teaches both partners how to "centre" over the "UNIT FOOT" in order to make the Triples feel more comfortable and controlled. This is the first pattern taught in the GSDTA curriculum in all forms of Swing.

(also see: PRESS, TRIPLE RHYTHM, UNIT FOOT)

 

TIME PLACEMENT -

(1) Knowing the actual Counts where the weight changes are taking place. (2) West Coast Swing Syncopations are almost all taking place on the "a" count rather than the "&" count. Seeing that count on paper, or hearing the count as you step, makes you more aware of "Time Placement".

Teaching Note:
Try not to tell a student how long to "hold" a specific step. Rather, tell them the count where the weight change takes place.. Here is a poem that clarified the problem at a Teachers Intensive:

Please don't tell me how long to hold the beat.

Tell me where the COUNT is, so I can place my feet.

(also see: BEAT, COUNT, SYNCOPATION, TIME VALUE)

 

TIME (DOUBLE TIME - HALF TIME - 2005) -

(1) "Double Time" means dancing twice as fast as the music.

(2) "Half Time" refers to dancing only half as fast as the music. There are very fast pieces of music where a dancer can dance swing by counting only the Downbeats.

(also see: TIME, SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE TIME)

 

UNIT FOOT -

(1) A LEFT UNIT keeps the CPB centred over the Left foot for two beats of music. A RIGHT UNIT keeps the CPB centred over the Right foot for two beats of music.

(2) At a Basic level learning the concept of "Weight over the Unit Foot" will produce better centred "Triples" that look more professional.

(3) A Left Triple keeps the CPB over the Left Foot. A Right Triple keeps the CPB over the Right foot.

(4) A Double Rhythm Unit splits the CPB to alternate or vary the placement of the CPB within the 2 beats of music.

Teaching Note:
Basic students who learn how to use the UNIT FOOT in relationship to their "Centre" (CPB) reap great rewards when more advanced material is performed. This concept trains the dancer to think in terms of how to move the body, rather than where to place the feet. It is the Body that dances. Foot placement is the underpinning that supports the centre.

(also see: TRIPLE RHYTHM)

 

WEEDS -

Why have the word "WEED" in a Dictionary of Dance ? By popular request. A "WEED" is something we plant in the minds of students when we give them anything less than the best we have to offer. We are guilty of "Planting Weeds" when we:

(1) Count patterns by counting steps or moves instead of beats of music.

(2) Teaching Patterns without relating the pattern to a beat of music.

(3) Assuming people "Just want to have Fun" - People DO want to have fun, but they also want to learn.

Teaching Note:
This little poem prompted the request for this clarification.

Be careful of the seeds you Plant:

No matter how much you water the seed -

If you PLANT a weed - you GROW a weed.