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The Lindy Hop And Skiing Steep Slopes

April 11, 2007

I personally think that you aren’t dancing the Lindy Hop correctly unless you are almost falling down. After all, it is a jazz dance where both partners are expressing themselves. Kinda gets old dancing the perfect basic and other steps over and over without adding much creative embellishment. There is creative and then there is creative.  A lot of Lindy to me looks like it has  been choreographed with the dancers just gluing pieces of different choreography together and calling it creative. I went to a swing dance the other night and it felt as if I had died and gone to hell. Everyone was dancing the moves that they spent $500 to learn, but there was no edge, no rawness, no life, no mistakes-made-to-look good. 

Jazz soloists employ the trick of starting off on a bad note (not harmonically copacetic with the key the band is in) and then “squeezing”, “jumping”, or “twirling” it into a melodious display of individualistic expression(whew, I can’t believe I’m going to let you read that!)

With dancing, almost falling down breeds creativity because you are trying to save your ass and not break something, which makes your moves subservient to something else besides whatever you learned or have stored in your dictionary of moves. If I had one tip to give all the dance instructors and prof-f-f-f-f-fessional dancers (as if they would listen) it would be to practice making mistakes and to practice almost falling down. If you are always falling, you never fall. Does that makes sense to you? It does to me. It has to do with having your edges dug in, having your energy and momentum all lined up.

Same thing with skiing. When your edges are dug in (especially with the new shape skis), you aren’t going to lose control. Skiing steep stuff is a blast because you have to lean out and during the transition between edges you are free falling. At about this point in the arc most intermediates (like me) get worried and speed up and forget to finish their turn by getting up on the edges and slowing down by using the complete finished turn.

So, leaning out and downhill, although counter intuitive, is an important aspect of skiing steep slopes successfully. Like in the Lindy Hop, to almost fall but not, besides keeping you healthy, also liberates the true creativity in you. You will go home happy no matter how much of a Lazy Dancer you are.

An old Lindy Hop adage is you learn and learn and get better and better but you always come home to the basic. The basic can always be improved on. The same during dancing the Lindy Hop, you can get way out there, slipping and sliding and almost falling, but you wanna come home every once and a while. Another aspect that embellishes your creativity and gives it context is the dancing on the edge and then dancing safely back home, tension release, contrast, whatever.

Skiing has a lot in common to this concept. Well executed short, tight turns, is the bases to steep skiing. You may feel like you are falling, but you are always bringing it back home to the short tight turn to slow you down and get your bearings back.

I’m really not that great a skier, by the way, and I consider myself just another dancing slob having the time of his life. His only life.

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From → Just Wanna Dance

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