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Here’s eight great reasons why the upcoming workshop with Peter Flahiff & Lauren Smith has many of us buzzing. The workshop details are all on our website but the summary is:
What: A day of Collegiate Shag and a day of high level Lindy Hop workshops, with top visiting international instructors. Register for either day or the full weekend.
When: Sat 28 July – Collegiate Shag (basic knowledge assumed)
Sun 29 July – Lindy Hop (for intermediate/advanced swing dancers)
Where: Forever Dance – Level 1/432 Church St. Richmond VIC 3121
Online registrations close Friday 27 July.
Watch Peter & Lauren’s super smooth style.
Anyway… we hope we have convinced you to consider. See you at the workshop.
Swing Patrol Melbourne
You know what? Originally, I wanted to be an English teacher. I like to think I would have been pretty good at it.
I was inspired by several incredible teachers of my own (Connie Cutler, Linda Munson, Kathy Watson, Kathy Altaras, Larry Thompson…) to teach English for high school or university students.
Then I got side-tracked by swing dancing and I’ve been doing that for a couple of decades. For many years there at the beginning, I felt like a failure because I didn’t go down the path I had originally planned on…
Funny thing, though: I think I’m still teaching a language. I still feel like I’m helping people communicate better with each other. I think I’m being given the chance to share a communication skill that works best with people who are interested in a conversation between interested partners, rather than reciting a monologue at each other. Or just showing off a list of words and phrases.
To the teachers who impacted my life, as listed above: THANK YOU. You gave me a great life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if my life has impacted anyone else since learning from you all, I want you to know…it comes directly from you. I would not be here without you.
This is my Standing-On-My-Desk moment, saying “O Captain/ My Captain”
–Peter Flahiff (June 2018)
I love working with new dancers and teaching beginner level classes, probably more than teaching any other level. I love introducing people to the amazing thing that is swing dancing, and showing them that swing dancing isn’t just for “good dancers,” but something they too can do, and do well. I deeply enjoy breaking things down in a way that makes swing dancing feel comfortable and approachable. I love teaching functional technique and giving my students the tools to help them continue learning and growing. It is so rewarding to work with students of any level and see that spark of understanding, that epiphany when a difficult concept suddenly clicks.
Teaching the next generation of dancers is one of the greatest honors I have as a teacher. It is a privilege to be someone’s first look at what swing dancing can be. It is a huge responsibility to teach the fundamentals that each new dancer will use and base most of their future learning upon.
My job as a teacher is not to keep myself at the top, as an eternal fountain of learning. My job is to build, to equip, to empower, to encourage, to coach. I know I am doing my job well when my students some day surpass me. I hope ALL of my students become better dancers than I am. This starts with my beginner students. I try to teach them everything I wish I had been told on day 1, and prepare them for life-long dancing.
I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to work with so many new dancers. I learn so much from them everyday. Every beginner class reminds me of the raw joy I had when I first learned to dance. It reminds me that what we do is magical. It gives me perspective, and keeps me humble.
I love dancing with all levels, but my heart will always be for the new dancers. I want to be the teacher who shows them how amazing this dance can be, who encourages them to keep coming back, to keep dancing in ANY style, and to keep learning. My youngest student is 14 and my oldest is 92. It is never too early and never too late to start something new.
— Lauren Smith (2017)
Early in my dancing, every form of partnered swing dancing was a wonderful and exciting new mystery. I was lucky to learn in the Southern California scene where dancers not only did Lindy Hop, but also Balboa and Collegiate Shag. In fact, some of the best Bal and Shag dancers lived and danced in So Cal at that time. I was lucky to dance with and learn from them both in classes and on the social floor.
Like many newer dancers, I thought hard-hitting, high-energy shag was the only way to dance Collegiate Shag. I would leave the floor winded and sweaty, and my knees and ankles were always sore the next day. I’m so thankful for the dancers who showed me another way of dancing Shag, a smooth way, and more comfortable way.
When talking with the original dancers, who we affectionately call “the Old Timers,” they all described Shag as they danced it in the 1930s and 40s as “smooth” and “elegant.” Yet, that’s rarely what I see on the dance floor.
Collegiate Shag is one of my favorite styles to teach, not only because it’s a lovely dance style, but also because it’s still somewhat unknown and misunderstood. I love sharing that Shag can be smooth, comfortable, and danced all night long without pain or lethargy. One of the best compliments I’m paid is when female students come up to me after a Shag class exclaiming that this class was the first time they’ve danced Shag and their boobs didn’t hurt! Haha!
Fifteen years ago, Balboa had its renaissance, when the global dance scene decided to find out how Balboa was danced and what it looked like originally. That time has come for Shag. Working on my Shag dancing has been such a great project in recent years. Long time dancers often stop exploring new styles and ways of moving. It’s difficult to feel like a beginner again. For me, it’s been a fantastic exercise in efficiency, rhythms and timing, subtle following, and working on continuing my momentum and flow. I’ve loved having to work on new ideas and ways of moving, and exploring new dance moves and history.
Love dancing Shag? Come ask me to dance!
— Lauren Smith (2017)
“Loud does not equal good, folks. And consistency is not a virtue if it is consistently bad.”
This is so true for both music and dance! The same applies to excessive styling and embellishments. It’s no longer musical if every beat and note is stylized or loud. Intentional, dynamic changes and stylings allow the music to speak for itself and be an equal partner in the performance.
If no note is ever left to sound on its own or a dance basic left as simply the basic footwork, you have to wonder, what’s wrong with your basics? Is there something wrong in your basic technique that you’re trying to hide by adding so many stylings?
Just some food for thought.
— Lauren Smith (2017)
“So far as Louis Armstrong playing in his later years…he’s come under a lot of false criticism (from) those that really don’t understand what he was playing… They want him to play with the same type of *velocity*. See, a lot of times we confuse velocity with technique. Velocity is just the ability to play fast, or jump octaves or something. The highest level of technique is Nuance.
You really are a master of technique…when you don’t have to play a pile of stuff; all of that stuff is implied in what you play.” — Wynton Marsalis
I feel that this is applicable, with the obvious adjustments for form, to swing dancing as well…
— Peter Flahiff (2017)