BLUES DANCE SYLLABUS 11.4.10 - ithacadance.com

Heat Levels Characteristics
1 Space between partners (closed position), slow foxtrot moves, leans, slides
2 No space between partners (close position), weight shift leads, rhythm patterns, dips
3 Add to above: body rolls, hip & torso leads, hand placement options, dips with body rolls
4 Add to above: tandem position & waves, flirtation drama, deep dips with waves, further hand placements

PRELIMINARIES

A. Connect to the Earth - Relax the hips and knees a bit as if you were just about to sit. Your center of gravity lowers. Feel your weightedness. Feel how the floor or ground feels to the bottom of your feet. You feel relaxed, but you have energy and awareness. This is a "playing readiness" posture. This is part of Blues Dance's African roots. You are in a way receiving energy from the earth in this manner. Push off the floor into weight shifts - a step has a full change of weight to the new side.

B. Connect to your own Body
- Relax your shoulders. Rotate them a bit to relax them. Relax your neck muscles. Let your head be free to move. Your default free arm position is roughly parallel to the earth, so it can move expressively, a little or a lot. Free hand is relaxed, not in a "dance claw." Elbows are in front of torso, "never" behind.

C. Connect to your Partner

Psychologically:
Relax into your partner; look at your partner at the start of the dance Smile. You don't want to stare at your partner the whole time. But at least check in!

Physically:
In both closed and open position, there is energy away from each other, as your are both sitting back a bit. There is a big difference between choreography and lead-follow partner dance. The leader is essentially choreographing stream of consciousness, but knowing enough in advance to communicate to the follower. The follower waits, listens, responds. But we are not just leaders and followers! We are dancers - expressive, fun, even artistic at times. Whatever part of you is not touching your partner is free to move any way you wish. Ladies: wait for the lead. Better to be late than early. If he is not dancing to the music, dance to his rhythm. If the guy is a totally baffled newbie, you could try offering to backlead for a bit. Guys: be kind, not rough, but have firm, smoothly generated, well-defined, rhythmic leads, that don't come in at the very last second. Your partner needs time to respond in rhythm.


D. Connect to the Music
-
Relax into the sound field: What are the main components? What are the instruments? Relax into the rhythm and rhythm patterns.
How to respond to what you hear. Shift weight every other beat to start Then we will explore partial weight shifts, and up/down movement.
MOVEMENT

Stance
Feet - about shoulder width
"Turn out" - toes pointed out about 10 degrees
Arms, hands - piano readiness level
Alignment (axis) - raise rib cage

Direction
Up: tension, hips forward, back arched
Down: relax, hips back, springy
Weight Shift
From center area (Qi Gong: Dan Tien)
Down to ground and push off ground
Push up and over to shift weight
Full weight shift
Subdivision of weight shift (2,3,4 segments)
Side to side
Forward and back

Rhythm Patterns (to start)
Even slows
Slow quick quick slow quick quick
Slow slow quick quick slow slow slow quick quick slow
Slow slow double-slow
Double-slow quick quick quick quick

Loosening
Hips: circles, lifts, figure eights
Rib Cage: side to side, front and back, circles
Shoulders: side to side, front and back, circles
Knees: weight on one side, in and out, roll
Head: side to side, fornt and back, rolll
Arms: up/down, in/out, relax/extend

Body Waves
Push off the ground
Energy spirals through our body below to above, in to out
Watch fish swimming and unersea plants moving
Energy naturally moves this way in us unless we block it

Dips & Leans : windup, entrance, exit: rhythm
Sit Dip
Outside Partner Dips
Close DIps
Dips to the floor
Connection: hands on back of shoulders, forearm under armpit, Follower has R arm wrapped around leader
Playing in the dip
Double dips, Lyrical dips
Front, Side, Back Leans
Leans that are not physically led
Follower's body waves in dips and leans
Follower's free arm, hand, and foot play

Connection (and Stances)
One hand, shakehand
Two hand, two elbow, two shoulder
Closed, VAR: hand drop
Close (chest high vs. heads touching) Follower: turn head
Bunny hug aka grizzly bear
Close with 1 or 2 hands behind (shoulders, back, hips)
Titanic
Tandem, tandem offset, tandem reverse
Outside partner: right, left
Skater's position, Conversation position
Cross body Position

Leading/Following
Extra muscle tone needed to lead new direction or rhythm
Every weight shift must be led, even in patterns
Tighten core muscles a bit before each weight shift
Follower must tighten a bit in response
Leading down/up, support follower (don't just push down)
Leader's Hold: firm enough to do the job,
   if in doubt, more is better than less.

Swing Moves

Hand Connection: Gliding or Rotating Pivot
Outside Turn, Inside Turn
Multiple Turns
Leader's Turns
2 handed Turns
Stops and Reverses
Right Couple's Pivot
Push Break
Extension, Compression

Contrasts
close - open
up - down
slow movement - quick movement
linear - circular
compressed - extended

Footwork
Steps
Partial Steps
Kick Ball Change
Triple (Chasse) Steps
Step 'n' Slide

Pivots, Spins
Windup, tighten, chest high, punch back
Drag non-weighted foot
Spotting

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