The Differences of the West Coast Swings

Now I know I have spoken a lot about ballroom and very little about West Coast Swing (WCS), so I will give you a brief run down of what WCS is so you a general idea of what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t know what WCS is, it is a Swing dance, hence the name, that came from Lindy Hop and/or the Jitterbug. East Coast Swing and eventually Jive also were born from these dances, but we won’t go into that dance. WCS, just like all the other swing type dances, has a set of triple steps set in the basic patter. In WCS’s case the pattern goes walk, walk, triple step, triple step (or 1, 2, 3&4, 5&6 for those who are more musically or mathematically inclined). But WCS has something very different from the other partner dances that makes it completely unique, and that is its connection and anchor step. Compared to the Latin dances or the other swing dances, WCS has a very elastic connection. It goes from extension to compression and back again throughout the entire dance. The anchor step is your last triple, or 5&6. This step lets you settle back into the extension of the connection, and allows you to be steady and prepped for what ever is coming next. I will include some links down below so that you can see real WCS in action.

Now, with that being said, there are varying ways that pros go about teaching West Coast, and varying ways that people go about learning West Coast. One way some people learn is by learn a few basic moves, such as pushes, tuck turns, hammer locks, whips, and passes, but mainly learn the technique that goes behind the connection and the anchor step and how you use them to make a flowing dance. Another way people learn how to go about dancing is learn figures, or patterns as we refer to them in the WCS community, and more figures, and very little technique in the beginning. Now there isn’t inheretly wrong with just learning patterns and building up your knowledge base of moves, however WCS is still dancing, it is still an art form, therefore there is still important technique to do said dance properly.

The biggest problem I have, is that, particularly in the Ballroom Dance community, people think they have ballroom technique so they don’t need to bother with learning WCS technique. This makes me want to rip out my hair. Ballroom technique can help you learn the technique for WCS, but it is not the end all and be all of dance technique. The conection is completely different, and there is nothing like the anchor step in ballroom anywhere. It’s kind of like saying, just because you take draw means you can paint. No! Sure drawing helps painting, and sure the ideas of composition change, but dry and wet media react differently with the surface to which you are applying them too. You still need to learn painting techniques if you want to be a good painter.

And there is huge problem with people just wanting to learn patterns and no technique. However, this dance without the proper connection or anchor step is not West Coast Swing. That is what makes this dance different from all the rest. Those two concepts are what disinquishes West Coast from East Coast swing, or from Jive, or from lindy hop.

If you just want to learn this dance for fun, fine! Have fun with it. But don’t come looking to me if you expect me to praise your technique. I have no problems if WCS is just a hobby on the side of ballroom. I know a lot of people do that, but don’t get upset about something we might point out if you ask us for help or arrogant about something you don’t know about.

If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comment section below!

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i_IzBEunOE <– This is a video of pro Participating in a Strictly Competition. Strictly’s are usually with a set partner, but dancing to an “unknown” song, meaning it is all improve or lead follow. There is no set routine, you just kind of go. In this particular instance, the pros decided to mix it up and dance with people who aren’t their normal partners. My favorite couple was Benji and Tatiana. 🙂 Enjoy!

 

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Class update

Hi guys!

I don’t really have anything to show you this week. I worked a bit on the painting, but I did not make a whole lot of changes to the entire thing. I need to fix the transitions and then maybe before the mid term is due I’ll show you the finished product. Digital media is going slow still, but I hope to finish up the project by Sunday night, so that I can show you guys next week. Photography is great, though nothing quite yet to show. We developed our first role last week and we will be doing contact sheets Monday, and possibly be doing more developing as we have another role due for Monday!

I hope to have more to say next week!

Painting Continued

Hello everyone! I hope you all have had a good week. So yet again, I am still further in painting than the other two studio classes that I am taking at the moment. In photography we shot one color roll so far just to make sure our camera’s work. I knew mine did but I had to shoot it anyway. I had the film developed at a CVS and they totally messed it up. The paper they used was fogged, meaning the pictures, though taken with a working camera and with sa person who is used to taking photos on full manual, looked under exposed. This made me incredibly angery, but I’m moving on. Also I learned the lense I used for this role is meant only for my digital camera. It causes a vignetting around the image. Lesson learned there. If you would like, I can make a serpate post about those two errors.

As for digital media, things are going slow. I am really not used to creating a whole new image out of nothing with photoshop. What this project entails is taking 5 scanned objects and turning them into a completely different composition. We need 3 of these compositions, meaning 15 total scanned objects. We have a critique next Wednesday and I am worried about it. I am really at a loss of what to do. But hopefully this weekend I can figure it out.

Okay, on to my painting class. On Tuesday we had to turn in the sketches that I had posted on last week. We also started on the 18×24″ canvas on Tuesday as well. I started out taking vine charcole, which is meant for use on canvas and paint, to get the general sketch out on the canvas. Then my professor came over, approved of my small scale sketch as told me to make the shoes on the canvas much, much bigger in order to really activate the canvas and the compostition.

ART 009

 

This is just the start out the outline I did in vine charcole. You can see all the renditions I did before I was satisfied with how it looked as a sketch. Next we started on the cartoon. Now this isn’t the normal type of cartoon you would normal think of in the newspaper. In painting, cartooning is laying on a layer of black paint, and only black paint. Now you may say, “Well, what’s the point of adding only black? Wouldn’t that that just make your canvas one giant blob of black that would destroy your sketch?” My answer, no. In cartooning, you dilute the paint, acryllic in this case, with medium. Medium is a viscus fluid that thins the paint and evenly distributes the pigment. Using only water to thin the paint would not distribute the pigment evenly. We cartoon the image in order to let the white stand out when we paint over the cartoon. It gives the white paint a chance to pop, instead of blending in with the white canvas.

ART 010

 

This image is of the beginning of the cartoon I did for this project. You can see a greyscale come out. This is from strict black paint, with only medium added. Today, I finished the cartoon and I started to add the first layer of paint to the image. We started out with figuring out where our blackest blacks would go, and then moving up the greyscale from there, all the way to the whitest white. I had a basic idea of where I wanted to go. As you know, I really do love putting movement, or the idea of movement in my art work. So I really wanted to explore that in this painting. So I really let the brush strokes come through. I tried not to blend them together, and just let the paint and the brush dictate the movement in the painting.  I think I am really starting to get that down in the painting. I still need to work on the painting a bit more. I think we are still working on it through next week, so we shall see where I decide to go with it. Below is where I left off today before I left class. Let me know what you think in the comments!

ART 011

Painting Sketch

Hello everyone,

So far I have gotten the farthest in my painting class over the other 2 art classes I’m taking. Our first project consists of using only Black and White paint with the available use of the grey scale. The subject matter are shoes or feet for this project. We needed two sketches by Tuesday and I had decided to paint ballerina feet in point shoes.  Image

The actual dimensions of the sketch are 3×4 inches. Now as my professor describes a sketch, this is an incomplete idea. In no way will this be the final image when I blow it up on a 18×24″ canvas. But at least the basic idea is down. I at least want the foot and shoe in a more impressionistic style of paint, but I have no idea how I want to treat the background yet. Maybe after the critique on Tuesday I will have a better idea of what I want to do with that part of the painting. This will be the smallest project we will have. With each consecutive project, the canvas size (and sketch proportions) will get bigger and bigger.

Thursday I hope to post more of what’s going on in this class as well as our project in Digital Media. For my photography class we won’t be getting into the darkroom for another 2 weeks, so I probably won’t be posting much about that class for a while.

First Week of Classes

Hello everyone!

I hope your Septembers are going well so far. I just wanted to give you a new update of what is going on in my artistic/school life. I have now had my first day of class of all of my classes as of 3pm today. I have to say, I am super excited for this semester. All of my studio classes, though seem challenging, seem to have a great energy and seem like they will push all of us to further find out voice through different medias. As suspected, I am currently most excited for my Photography and Digital Media class. The digital media class seems so fart to be the most challenging out of the studio classes, as this will be an entirely new experience, even more so than painting. Hopefully by next week I will have some works-in-progress to post here. I will definately have something from my painting class so get excited for that!

I will also be teaching a newbie ballroom class this year in my club. I will be teaching our freash crop of newcomers the Latin style of dance. They will be learning Cha-Cha, Rumba, Jive, and may be introduced to Samba by the end of the semester. If anything interesting pops up in that class I’ll write about it here as well.

Until then, have a good week!