HOMEMEMBERSROCK CITY UNIQUE STEPPERS EVENTSLOCAL ROCKFORD EVENTSLOCAL WEEKLY EVENTSOUT OF TOWN EVENTSWEEKLY OUT OF TOWN EVENTSSTEPPING - LINE DANCE CLASSESLINE DANCESHISTORY OF STEPPINGSTEPPIN TID BITS AND INFORMATIONBUSINESS DIRECTORYRCUS CLASS 10-27-16PHOTOS - RCUS DARRELL PARTY & AURORA STEPPERS BALL 03-25-16PHOTO - RCUS BLACK & BLING 12-26-15RCUS CLASS 05-07-15PHOTOS - NORTHWEST STEPPERS PARTY 05-08-15PHOTOS - ROCK CITY UNIQUE STEPPERS CLASSPHOTOS - SPRINGTIME INT'L STEPPERS BALLPHOTOS - Y'ALL CAN'T BEAT US BASH 2015PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 03-05-15PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 02-12-15PHOTOS - BLACK & BLING HOLIDAY PARTYPHOTOS - NORTHWEST STEPPERS PARTYPHOTOS - ERIC GORDON & DIMPLES STEP PARTYRCUS HALLOWEEN PARTY 2014PHOTOS - NW STEPPERS PARTY 10-24-14PHOTOS - RCUS STEP CLASS 10-16-14PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 10-02-14PHOTOS - ANIMAL PRINT RCUS CLASS 09-18-14PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 09-04-14PHOTOS - NW STEPPERS PARTY 08-29-14RCUS STEP CLASS 08-28-14PHOTOS - ROCK CITY UNIQUE STEPPERS CLASS 08-21-14PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 08-14-14PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 08-07-14PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 07-31-14PHOTOT - RCUS CLASS 07-24-14PHOTOS - RCUS 8TH ANNIVERSARY PARTYPHOTOS -STEP CLASS 05-01-14PHOTOS - MINN STEPPERS ALL STAR BASHPHOTOS - NORTHWEST STEPPERS STEPPERS SET 01-31-14PHOTOS - MR. B. 74TH BIRTHDAY PARTY 01-26-14PHOTOS - RCUS STEP CLASS 01-02-14PHOTOS - A WINTER WONDERLAND PARTYPHOTOS - RCUS CHRISTMAS PARTY AT CLASS 12-19-13PHOTOS - RED SHOE LINE DANCE PARTY 12-07-13PHOTOS - MADISON STEPPERS CONTEST 11-23-13PHOTOS - RCUS HALLOWEEN PARTY 10-31-13PHOTOS - RCUS STEP CLASS 09-26-13PHOTOS - WORLD'S LARGEST STEPPING CONTEST 2013PHOTOS - NORTHWEST STEPPERS PARTY 08-30-13PHOTOS - COWBOY THEME AT CLASS 06-13-13PHOTOS - CHI STEPPER.COM PHOTOS FROM ANNIVERSARY PARTY 06-23-13PHOTOS - SUMMER BREEZE PARTY 06-23-13PHOTOS - SNOOP WORKSHOP - 06-22-13PHOTOS - ROCK CITY AT SIS CLASS 06-12-13PHOTOS - PROCLAMATION WEEK 2013PHOTOS - RCUS STEP CLASS 05-23-13PHOTOS - BLACK/LATINO ACHIEVERS BALL 2013PHOTOS - GROWN FOLKS STEPPERS CONTEST 04-06-13PHOTOS - GROWN FOLKS STEPPERS CONTESTPHOTOS - ROAD TRIP TO WAUKEGANPHOTOS - INTRODUCTION OF NEW MEMBERSPHOTOS - RCUS CHRISTMAS PARTY 2012PHOTOS - RCUS MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO LOIS MC COYPHOTOS - LINE'S "N" MOTION LINE DANCE PARTYPHOTOS - MADISON STEPPERS CONTEST 11-17-12PHOTOS - BREAST CANCER WALK 2012PHOTOS - SHU BIRTHDAY PARTYPHOTOS - 2012 MARDI GRAS - LYNN STEPHENSON BIRTHDAY PARTYPHOTOS - WORLD'S LARGEST STEPPERS CONTEST 2012PHOTOS - BIG SLIM WORKSHOPPHOTOS - GRANDPARENTS DAY BANQUETPHOTOS - NWS STEPPERS SETPHOTOS - BACK TO SCHOOL PARADEPHOTOS - RCUS - WHITE PARTY 2012PHOTOS - DINNER AT TGIF 06-24-12PHOTOS - ROAD GLIDERZ MC PARTY 06-23-12PHOTOS - PROCLAMATIONPHOTOS - RCUS 6TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY 06-16-12PHOTOS - EL TENAMPA 06-14-12PHOTOS - RCUS AT SIS CLASS 06-13-12PHOTOS - AMBERWOOD NURSING HOME DEMOPHOTOS - RCUS MISC PHOTOSPHOTOS - EL TENAMPA 04-26-12PHOTOS - RCUS JUNIOR STEPPERSPHOTOS - BLACK / LATINO BALL 04-21-12PHOTOS - RAMI AWARDSPHOTOS - WESTSIDE MIKE AT RCUS CLASSPHOTOS - RCUS AT SALVINOS 03-24-12PHOTOS - RCUS MINNESOTA TRIP 03-16-12PHOTOS - RCUS EL TENAMPA BAR STEP CLASSPHOTOS - JT'S BOURBON ST CLOSING EVENTSPHOTOS - MADISON ROAD TRIP 03-03-12PHOTOS - BLACK HISTORY BUFFET/DANCE 02-11-12PHOTOS - M C SCOTT VISIT TO ROCKFORD 02-09-12PHOTOS - ETHNIC HERITAGE MUSEUM 01-29-12PHOTOS - RCUS CHRISTMAS PARTY 2011PHOTOS - NEW ZION PASTOR 10TH ANNIVERSARY 10-28-11PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 10-20-11PHOTOS - DEMO - CHRISTIAN UNION FALL FLING 10-15-11PHOTOS - BREAST CANCER WALK 10-15-11PHOTOS - LYNN STEPHENSON BIRTHDAY PARTY 10-08-11PHOTOS - Mardi Gras - Milwaukee, WI 10-01-11PHOTOS - WORLD'S LARGEST STEPPERS CONTEST 2011PHOTOS - RCUS - BALLROOM CLASS IN MILWAUKEE, WI 08-30-11PHOTOS - LINE DANCE SET IN NAPERVILLE, IL 08-28-11PHOTOS - BOOKERFEST - 08-14-11PHOTOS - RCUS COOKOUT 07-09-11PHOTOS - HEALTH FAIR DEMO 06-12-11PHOTOS - SUNDSTRAND NETWORK EVENT 07-28-11PHOTOS - JUNTEENTH FESTIVAL - 06-19-11PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS 06-16-11PHOTOS - 2ND SAT 05-14-11 AND BOURBON ST ANNIVERSARY PARTY 04-22-11PHOTOS - SKATE PARTY 05-01-11PHOTOS - RIVER BLUFF NURSING HOME DEMONSTRATION 04-23-11PHOTOS - RCUS CLASS ON 04-21-11PHOTOS - JUNIOR STEPPERSPHOTOS - YOUTH STEPPERSPHOTOS - DAVID JOYCE PARTY AT THE VFW 07-24-11PHOTOS - 2ND SAT 04-09-11PHOTOS - RCUS PROCLAMATION 06-13-11PHOTOS - DANCING WITH THE STARS 2011PHOTOS - JANENE'S MARDI GRAS BIRTHDAY PARTY 03-26-11PHOTOS - BLACK/LATINO ACHIEVERS BALL 02-19-11ROCK CITY SHUFFLE - LINE DANCEPHOTOS- RCUS ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR PHOTO SHOOT 12-13-10PHOTOS & VIDEOS - MEMORIAL PROGRAM FOR BRENDA JONESPHOTO - RCUS BLACK & BLING 12-26-15

The articles shown below are printed for your information.  Each article will show who or what publication posted the information.
 
 

What exactly is Chicago Steppin’ anyway?   02-16-15


Chicago-Style Stepping, (also known as Steppin’) is an urban dance that originated in Chicago and continues to evolve while defining its unique style and culture within the context of mainstream Swing dance. Chicago-Style Stepping has gained popularity, particularly, but not limited to, the urban neighborhoods of America. “Chicago-Style Stepping” makes reference to other urban styles of dance found throughout the United States larger enclaves in cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Chicago-Style Stepping, or steppin’ as it is also known, has its roots embedded in the traditional dance movements of Swing Dancing. It’s birth and unique rhythm was born in the 1970s when Disco and New York Hustle was burning the social dance floor and seen in movies and television across the USA.

The swing dance known as Steppin’ is a part of the Western Swing family. The parent dance “Chicago Bop” may have been more Eastern Swing but Steppin’ has characteristic more towards the west; especially its usage of a lane or slot. Steppin’ has a 6 count basic pattern. This is equal to 1 ½ measures of music in 4/4. Its tempo ranges 70 to 100 Bpm. Its basic rhythm pattern consists of a double and two syncopated triples. The patterns start traditionally on the downbeat of one. The leader’s footwork is normally started on their left and finished on their right. The follower dances natural opposites. Note that the term “Bop” was used to describe the dance form by Chicagoans until the early 1970s. Prior to that time “Bop” was the known term and its origin began sometime between 1945 and 1950 to express music and dance. The dance known as Chicago Steppin’ was Bop and is more likely a derivative of the Jitterbug. No published syllabuses exist for the dance.

 

02-16-15  -  "ONE STEP PRODUCTIONS WEB SITE  (MY1STEPLLC.COM) 


 

skip to main | skip to sidebar

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where's the Men??? - Nov. 15th 2009

Photobucket

QUESTION:…..You probably get this question a lot: How can we get more men interested in this dance, those who really want to learn and master it? There are always more women than men which, I think, is why we've started seeing more ladies learning how to lead



ANSWER:…..Unfortunately, this is the question that I get more than any other question……and I’ve addressed it a couple of different ways, but I still don’t see wide-spread change or progress in this area. But the way that I think is the best way to create a more inviting atmosphere for Male Steppers is one that most women, in my opinion, just are not simply ready to commit to…..I think that Steppin under the “New Skool” mentality has become increasingly selfish beyond the point that dancing is already a selfish activity (meaning you dance for self-gratification, ie songs you like, etc)…and with this being the case new dancers care more about themselves and being seen as the best rather than the collective progress of the community as a whole.

Now, I don’t simply blame the women…I also blame the Male Instructors, Wannabe Instructors & I-Wanna-Do-A-Workshop Fiends (though they don’t have a clue)….Individuals who fail to realize that having a Steppin class or doing a workshop is not suppose to be about them or their ability, but should be focused on the success or growth of their students as dancers…..BUT….for whatever reason besides finally getting attention in the club & the all-of-sudden interest from women, and not to mention the little pocket-money to make them feel like someone, for a change,….They have missed the point.

The reality is that if you are an Instructor and CANNOT produce MEN who are AT LEAST moving toward or going in the skill direction of becoming “good” dancers, moving toward…if not one day matching your own ability or progress, then you are a “Garbage Instructor”, and should shut your class down and stop stealing people’s money today!!! And NO!!!...I don’t care how many women come out of your class…BECAUSE….STEPPIN is a LEAD-based dance, so over time, EVERY woman has the advantage of being as good as her LEAD!!!! That doesn’t make you a “Star Instructor”, because the more those women dance, they will become better dancers simply because they are increasingly learning to relax & FOLLOW based on their experiences!!! Your “instructing” ability may shorten the learning curve or provide her with information that she needs to get better, but the FOLLOWER in the dance is like the person in the passenger seat of a car…they don’t need a license to drive.

The problem is that classes and Instructors as a whole ARE NOT turning out MEN who can actually DANCE & LEAD these Ladies/Followers….and women learning to lead is not an answer to the problem…In my opinion, that’s a gimmick that I’m really not interested in or amused by. This dance is supposed to be a reflection of Male/Female interaction & relationships illustrated by two bodies caught up in an emotional embrace, sprinkled with conversation & laughter, while bound for a moment by musical expression…And you just can’t get that with the woman leading or the man following,….so let’s stop even entertaining it as a viable alternative…

And just for the record….I am not saying that men can only teach men & women can only teach women though several people make good arguments that do support that opinion….But the reality is that if you intend on teaching both roles that you must have the ability & information to properly teach that role to the advantage of your students…not simply teaching “What You Do”, but provide them with those concepts that allow them to dance freely across the board…because the REAL reality is that they are not paying you to teach them to just dance in your class and then go to the club and not able to initiate or respond properly…neither are they intending on dancing only with people from your/their class…therefore whatever the role you intend on teaching…its your job to ensure that you have the necessary skill set & ability to inform and lead by example…so my comment above relates to any Instructor that’s aiming to teach the LEAD role.

SOoooo, back to the point!!! How can we fix it????

Women must learn patience with their counterparts in class, and at the parties. Now I’m not saying that when you are in class that the ladies should expect or accept simply being crash-test dummies for the men…You came to class to learn too & the Instructor should accommodate you on that as well!!! But what you have to be aware of is that a lot of the times that many men shy away from classes & the learning process because of the pressure to do well…RIGHT NOW!!! And Ladies,….I’m sorry, but a lot of you want the men to “make it feel like the instructor”…RIGHT NOW!!! And that man has never danced or seen that move before in his life,….and in reality, he kinda wants to walk off the floor as soon as he sees the move done because of the impending ridicule, his own doubts – because it doesn’t look easy at first, or all the twisted faces that you’re gonna make when he does it wrong.

Ladies!!! I don’t think that you really realize how much we do & how far we as men are really willing to go just to impress you or make you feel good or satisfied with us. We actually care how you feel and that you are pleased with our performances….Why do you think we ask you to come to our basketball and softball games even though we know you ain’t into it like that…..Many of you call us dogs, but do you realize that “your dog” would do anything for you just for a pat on the head, or for you to tell him that he did good!!! Holla if you hear me!!!

So Ladies….we need you to create a “welcoming” and encouraging environment in which to learn…even though some of us are difficult to dance with…..We also need you to invite brothers to COME TO CLASS!!! And there’s another thing…I know that its really difficult to come to a party and not get many dances…let alone “good” dances…But I’d like for you to Stop dancing with Brothers who don’t wanna learn how to dance for real, and encourage them to come to class so that they can learn how to do it right rather than just fumbling along….

Now with that being said, I’m not saying to run out and beat men over the head while you yell out that Dave Maxx told me to tell you such n’ such, or for you to take the opportunity to ridicule brothers who are actually trying or are slower on the learning curve. I’m talking about those brothers who have “no clue” and ain’t tryin to know, but they wanna holla at you so they tell you how they’re doin their own thing…or the classic line in Chicago, “I’m from the west-side” or “I’m old school” knowing good & well that ain’t why ….they just can’t dance. You take classes or put in time to learn to do the dance the right way…insist on Brothers giving you a legitimate dance experience.

Now, on the other hand its classes and their format that keep a lot of men from going…or better yet it keeps them from going back…….NOTE TO INSTRUCTORS!!!!! Students DO NOT come to your class to watch you dance or to tell you how cold you are!!! So stop dancing through your sessions. Students come to your class because they already know you can dance, someone recommended you, or you may be the only game in town…..but either way…YOU must realize that its intimidating enough coming into a class setting to learn something that it seems so many people are grasping faster than you. Now you have an Instructor that loves to dance more than he/she loves to teach, so now rather than just competing with the other students who all seem to be doing it right…now I gotta compete with this guy too. It makes the student even more self-conscious.

A few more points that need to be taken into consideration in formatting classes to attract men is to teach concepts that actually work for STEPPIN!!!

1.....If you wanna do a Salsa class do a Salsa class…..If you’re crossing genres or introducing elements or concepts that are excessive, you run the risk of alienating your students when they dance with people who are not in your class….If it doesn’t work on everybody, don’t make it a principal part of your classes….make it a tip or “extra” move….Guys don’t want concepts that don’t work later when they’re on the spot.

2.....Do Not Shortcut or short-change male dancers…..Men need to learn to dance the Basic Step and how to execute turns & combinations while doing so…Teaching them a rock-step or to simply walk back & forth puts them at a dis-advantage…YES!!! It takes longer to learn, but are you trying for speed or quality performance in the long run…Put your student’s success ahead of your stats!!!

3.....Inform men that when things go wrong on the dance-floor, that in most cases it is their fault – Then show them how to do it right…Plainly….without all the stylish mumbo-jumbo….Tell them to STOP TRYING TO BE AN INSTRUCTOR in class or on the regular dance floor…..talking it out doesn’t make it better……EXECUTING the move properly makes it better…then they don’t have to say….”You was suppose to come or go over there”…There is NO suppose to in Steppin…If you didn’t LEAD it…IT DIDN’T HAPPEN!!!

4.....Teach them to MASTER concepts & REALLY Learn them before going to something else….because if they do not have a good foundation, they will only become frustrated later when more complex elements are introduced.

Make class more about learning & less about show-time, and you will attract men who want to learn…..You can also try some of the promotional ideas that I’ve mentioned in earlier articles which are listed on this site too…but the biggest thing will be creating an environment that’s conducive to making advances rather than just playin around…..





QUESTION:…..What is steppin' music? Is it it's own genre? How is it identified? How do you know when you hear something ripe for steppin'?


ANSWER:…..Wow! This is a unique question…..The best way to describe Steppin must is to point out the obvious elements – a great bass-line is a must, but musicality & REAL lyrics are a major part. Although we do dance to some instrumentals…the staple of Steppin has been emotional expression, so its better to have a song that makes us think or something that we can relate too, whether it’s a fantasy or an old experience good or bad. Steppin music is not bound by any single genre. Actually, that makes Steppin a really unique dance genre….

Unlike other dances that have very specific styles of music, Steppin just needs consistent rhythm to work effectively…..Hip-Hop, R&B. Neo-Soul, Jazz, Pop, some Rock, among others…..I think that the most important element for Steppin music is that it “moves” the soul…it should make you feel something and at the same time invoke passion, not necessarily from a sensual side, but it should really move you to get into yourself and feel creative & expressive…….if it makes your whole body move, and its not to fast then its probably “ripe for steppin”……Now a lot of purist say that Steppin music is just the old stuff or classic R&B, but I think that Steppin music is bigger than that….as long as it moves the soul…..

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Steppin....Whats the Real Deal? - Nov 12th 2009

Written below is my response to a Video clip & Question that someone sent me….the video was a clip from a documentary on Hand-dancing and the footage was done primarily in D.C. Also, a couple of the people featured in the documentary have come to Chicago before to check out Steppin at a couple of different classes & parties….The gentleman that spoke on Steppin made very general comments and may have been from here originally, but was not familiar…by his dancing…with what goes on here. If I’m not mistaken, hopefully soon…Black Mary will be releasing some very old footage from the early 70’s that show the Steppin/Boppin scene in action…..Anyway, this was my response after watching the video……and Also, the question was, Why is Stepping called Stepping?

Also, is this the ONLY Answer...NO! But in my opinion its the best info available from people who were there & are still here to say so....


Garbage!!!.....That guy on there was doing D.C. Handdance, I've seen the entire documentary & don't know him from Adam......True the term Steppin has been used to relate to "Going Out" or being in the street for years even prior to it being used as a term to describe the Chicago Bop. Also, the attempt to try to "intellectualize" the dance by calling it "Step" is also WRONG it is Chicago Steppin...there is no plural or grammatically correct way to say it..its what we do as black people...we create alternative terminology.

Gettin back to the point...there are two prevalent stories here that are supported by the people who were here at the time, who were the dancers & promoters of the day....1...As told by William Barnett, the first Mega-promoter - In the late 60's/early 70's, the dance was known as the Bop...(and each region had their own version based on Jitterbug/Lindy)....the Bop is a dance which is more side-to-side. At that time you also had a movement to what we do now, slightly forward & back that was called the "New" Bop...and the two formats IN CHICAGO can be done together, though depending on the dancer may be very slightly off....

The term "Stepper" came to be used to describe people "Steppin" in & out of the "Set"/party.....The dance was still the "Bop", but over time that name gave way to the new terminology as "Steppers" began calling their intented activity at the party as "Steppin", and thus the name stuck. So, in reality the dance, as done today is really the "New Bop" & the people who do it are "Steppers". There are still Old-Skool dancers who refuse to use the "New" term and still call it Boppin, though it is the same dance.

The other story is given by one of the "Original" Steppin DJ's, Bob Simmons, who stated that when he & Sam Chatman used to spin at the parties that there was a gentleman who would come out and very loudly say..."Play something I can Step to..." Which of course alludes to the way the term was used in those movies/cartoons as an "out on the town" experience....we have to recall that the nightlife experience has not always been a bright spot in American culture, but was seen as a dark, or embarrassing activity....so 'Steppin' out has had a different connotation......In the Black community, we have always had tendency to take negative terms and create a positive or "endearment" term out of it. Bob said that the tendency to use the term "Steppin" became popular along with the other tendency to describe "Steppers" and what they were doing on the dance floor.

Calvin Barnes & another old DJ, Skip Jones told me about a guy who would go to the parties and yell out..."Step, Step..." at certain points in the song.....they couldn't remember what the impact was though it drew a laugh...but thats the REAL DEAL in Chicago......I really don't like that people try to lump all of the "GENIUS" of Black Social dance into the same bucket as the "same thing" when in actuality its not the same...they are different dances, that can't be done together unless you BS to try to make it work.....

In every region, black people created dances which reflected the people, era, fashion, style, slang, demeanor, & preferences of the people in that region...we need to give props & respect their ingenuity instead of ignoring the accomplishment. all too often people take away from the "standard" that exists in our community even in "mistakenly" belittling what we've done as no big deal and thus we have accepted this that will do mentality...when it WON'T DO!!! We need to look a little closer and see the Standard and adhere to it!!!

 

The Bondage of Steppin
"free your mind and your feet will follow"

by: Daniel Land

original article and additional video footage can be found on the Steppers Express website @ www.steppersexpress.com

Is it me or has the topic of steppin been reserved for a select few who find it necessary to make claims or address topics that ten years ago they argued or contested to no end.

For example, steppin is only an eight step dance but not  only an eight count dance which is why I often made the statement that it can be taught or performed with a six count and eight count or any call or count one chose which has been proven even with counts that start with two step three. There are only eight steps to the dance or pattern of the dance that could be taught or performed by rhythm or counting depending on which count one prefer.

I prefer the eight count because eight counts coincide with eight steps and make the most sense. In addition, I know for a fact that steppin is a eight step dance so all the additional counts was created for personal reasons by those who found it convenient if not egotistical to claim a discovered count.

I also made it clear that steppin is not the lindy hop, ballroom or other dance forms that originated in other locations but share a common history with those dance forms based on the African American social experience, including the migration of African Americans during slavery from southern states to various parts of the country where several dance forms were integrated into various cultures, including the cakewalk that later influenced several dance forms that migrated from the south with African Americans. Tap dance was one of the perfect examples and dance forms of reference I often used to show the impact of integrated dance, demonstrating the integration of two differing cultures, Irish Jig and African Dance to bring us tap.

This is why I always stated that one could make reference to several African American dance forms to define or describe stepping and vice versa but one could not define or describe one or the other as one in the same because where each dance form share the same history, each one also carry severl minor difference, including locations that clearly separate or identify each dance form from the other based on the cultural foundation in these various areas.

I could state several facts that I discussed, wrote, shared, debated and argued with several people around the steppers culture to no avail and even now I read these same people making false claims without fact nor substance aside of hearsay.

They want to again erase the part of history about stepping that they themselves flawed. They want to act or appear though if the debate over the six count and eight count had some real substance. They want to take the position that which person taught this way or that way had some depth. They want to act like what happen the past decade concerning counts and all these debates and difference or what was experienced as a result of these debates really did not happen and that all this nonsense was just leading up to a common universal bond and discovery. Well hello Columbus, discover what was already discovered huh? Steppin is a eight step dance best performed on an eight count. Make sense to me.

They want you to believe that the cakewalk originated in New York by erasing the fact that it originated on southern plantations where slaves danced in competitions for slaveowners and received a cake as a prize before the dance migrated to New York and other places along with migrating African Americans.

If the cakewalk is a New York dance by origin. Steppin is the Lindy Hop or one can use two step three in a numerical system that find it illogical as well as a mathematicians nightmare to think that a two can fall before a one and make sense or find solution or resolve to problems or formulas for anything in this society of mathmatical relativity.

The cakewalk was not a New York Dance but a slave dance with Southern origin from plantations. It is a dance form that migrated to New York. If I may set the record straight, the cake walk not only had a great influence on New York but it also had a great influence on other African American dance forms around the country much like stepping has today, including the fact that it had a very entertaining and appealing presence and was the first African American social dance to crossover to main stream white America at a time when anything African American aside from music and slavery was off limits.

Seriously, do we truly believe that we just woke up one day and start boppin? Maybe we do if we believe that New Yorkers just woke up one day and start cakewalking.  Do we truly believe that Chicago is some separate entity from other cities and places where slaves migrated or took refuge from the horrific conditions and circumstances of the south, bringing their music, dance and other talent with them to be integrated into another environment or circumstance no different then steppin is taken to Atlanta, Detroit or L.A. to be integrated with their form of dance. Do these places abandon their style and adopt steppin or do they incorporate their style with steppin to create their own flavor and form of steppin that even though identify with steppin, it has their own signatures attached? Why else would people in Atlanta, Detroit and L.A. and other areas dance a bit different from the people in Chicago no different then the African Americans who migrated from the south to Chicago who dance different from the African American who migrated from the south  to New York. Yet we all identify the dance steppin as steppin even with several minor difference depending on location. As one man stated it is an art form and art form is creative. If you take away the creative flow of the dance and the people who embrace it, you eliminate the progression and evolution of the dance that has allowed it to exist and grow with time.

What if the slaves who cake walked in the south went to new york and everybody cake walked the same? DAH!

Do we truly believe that Steppin aside form all the history and evolution of the African American experience is some separate entity that we created and produced with no influence from our history of music and dance? Do we truly believe that ten years from now this dance will not progress, migrate and grow just as it has from what I and others in Chicago knew it in our youth.

The reality is that steppin like all African American dance forms is a variable of a larger family and group, including the Lindy Hop and others no different then the various people of African descent who were shipped or sent to various parts of the world during the slave trade. Africa is their common relationship and connection regardless of their various languages, complexions, locations, dialects, changes, fusions and claims of difference. They are variables of a larger group with a common history, AFRICA. Add what you want but Africa is and will always be the main ingredient as well as the most dominant factor.

If steppers or people with a real interest in steppin would simply look and learn the history of Afican American dance, they will find that the cakewalk played a major role with African American dance form long before it erupted in New York at stage shows and other venues of entertainment. In fact, one would find that it was as much a part of the slave experience as the inhumane treatment of slaves or the fact that soul food derive from the left over parts of the pig that plantation owners refuse to eat. We can't deny this truth and rewrite the realities behind it, especially if we are to understand our journey and from whence we came.

Yes, steppin is a Chicago dance but a Chicago dance that derived from the African American experience and that experience derive from slavery and the progress and evolution of dance as well as music. It is not separate from the realities and circumstances behind African American dance. It is no different then the Lindy Hop and why these dance forms transformed from the dance forms of Africa to various forms of social dances in America with vague resemblence of what these dance forms once was in custom, tradition and even religion.

Why would one rely on the words of those who refuse to read or study the topic in any meaningful way? Why depend on fairy tales when information is available for one to learn about oneself. I encourage any stepper to read and research African American dance and music for that matter where you will find that much of what you are told or lead to believe about steppin are from people who don't know any more then you do. Yet when you read and find out more for yourself, your information is more reliable if not credible depending on the question of how much you truly desire to understand a dance and art form you claim to love and enjoy.

Sure they can name drop and discuss places where people stepped through generations in Chicago, they can talk about contest and methods to no end. They can even tell you the latest fashions, trends, turns and other modern day factors that surround stepping. Yet, for some strange reason with all that superficial information, they always fail to tell you about the history of stepping past the Worlds Largest Steppers Contest or some folk Tale from days past a certain point in any in depth way. They want you to believe that you can sum stepping up ( with all the history and generations that preceded it to make it what it is today ) in one little article, opinion or view by self appointed authorities and so called heavy hitters who often lack not only the knowledge but the most intricate details of the dance. I am often entertained by many of these people even more by the fact that they make these claims but can't even walk aside from failing to truly know the dance form or the history behind it. If you won't take the time to learn the intricate details to perform the dance in whole. Should I really trust one with its history or that they will attempt to give me or encourage me to seek the truth about that history in whole? Partiality is already obvious or satisfying to those who lack passion to seek more or understand more before drawing conclusions that will impact the future of the dance and those who are to follow us.

You can't learn about steppin in one article or one sentence. The history is to deep. That is like trying to learn African American history in a week. You have to study stepping and embrace it with a passion. You must feel it like you lived the whole experience. It is not simply about the dance floor, footwork, turnes and hand control. It is about history an how that history is connected and related to who you are where you came from and how this dance or African American dance in general impacted your existence and survival, including social and otherwise.

Sure there are those who know about stepping but their knowledge is limited. Many of them did not know what the word meant five or ten years ago and they have not attempted to find out about it past the material rewards. However, I strongly believe that one could learn from anyone even these confused baffled pretenders, including the need to study more in depth about this art form of steppin before drawing all these premature conclusions we so often experience. I seriously believe at the end of the day if you don't do your home work about steppin, you will be as confused about steppin as you might be about God if you listen to others but never read the Bible.

I challenge you to read this article and other articles as always but also go find out about steppin by reading about the history of African American dance and how it evolved to cause steppin to rise up in the neighborhoods of Chicago. This is the only way you will know more about this dance form. It is imperative that you read and study about your history and the influence that dance and music had on your experience as an African American in whole. I assure you that you will not only find out about the dance, the music and yourself in great detail but you will have a different attitude about the entire experience of steppin and life as a whole, including who you listen to or accept as authorities and so called heavy hitters.

Suddenly, arrogance and ego will not be the order of the day and you won't find yourself in selfish arguments and debates equivalent to three or four people of African American descent sitting on a bench debating and arguing about who is a negro, black or Afro American because they to misinformed to know each word describe the same person with the same history from different times. The bop, steppin, call it what you want. When all is said and done. You will have eight steps best performed on eight counts with the same history to prove it.

Peace and God Bless
Dan Land
www.SteppersExpress.com



Peace and God Bless
Dan Land
www.SteppersExpress.com


skip to main | skip to sidebar

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What About Count!!! Oct. 30th 2009

QUESTION:…..What is the difference between the 6-count & 8-count? Which is the real count & which works better? I'm trying to make sure I'm doing the right thing, and I'm tired of being told what I'm not gonna be able to do depending on which one I choose. is count method really this important - HELP!!!!!!

ANSWER:…..
The ideology that making the choice to attend a dance class or work with an Instructor based on whether that class or Instructor teaches using the 6-count as opposed to the 8-count method, or vice-versa, will make you a better Stepper or increase or decrease your ability to dance with other people is a RIDICULOUS SCAM!!!.....And its still being run!!!

Chicago Steppin is a smooth form of swing dance deviating from the Lindy Hop…which also gave birth to the Jitterbug, and then to the regional dance, Chicago Bop, the parent/sister of Steppin. Chicago Steppin consists of 8-Steps…PERIOD…...which are performed in a specific “order and pattern”. There is no difference in the performance of this collection of steps, whether in rhythm, beat, or foot placement when either method (6 or 8-count) is applied to teach the Basic Step or pattern. When searching for an Instructor or class, a student should be in search of the class where he/she is most comfortable, and where the Instructor has the ability to break down the movements illustrated in a way where the student is able to understand what he/she is executing. The student should also be taught to understand the what, where & how of their body movements & placement while completing the movements, not just doing it "because I (the Instructor) said so". NONE OF THESE ACTIONS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH COUNT METHODOLOGY!!! Better yet, it doesn’t matter which or what kind of elements are used as reference points to attach to the various steps. WHAT DOES MATTER IS THE INSTRUCTOR THAT IS TEACHING THE STEPS!!!

In recent months I have had a more than normal increase in the number of students, who regularly attend other classes, attend my sessions and who upon immediately walking onto the floor declare…”I can dance,…but I do 8-count, or I learned the 6-count over here.” My response is not to send them to the Beginning section for “re-training”, but to ask them to do the Basic Step without counting out loud…after which I have 2-3 other students begin to do the steps with them in unison. After a little of the song plays, I stop them all and ask the “new” student to tell me which students were doing 6-count & which students were doing 8-count. No one has ever been able to tell me….and the reason behind that is simple, NO ONE KNOWS!!! The only thing that they are able to see is that they are ALL doing the Basic Step for Chicago Steppin. They are not “6-counting or 8-counting”, but simply Steppin. All on the same beat and the proper corresponding foot, whether dancing on the Lead-side, or the Follow-side. ANY Instructor who claims to know what count method a dancer is using by simply looking at them is a SCAM ARTIST!!!

It is possible to do a “smoke and mirrors GUESS” by watching the student dance to figure if that student bears the characteristics of a certain class or Instructor, and then make a determination based on knowing that Instructor of that classes preference, if it is openly known. Otherwise….it is impossible to determine. Why? - Because Count Method is NOT a factor in learning or teaching Chicago Steppin. Count Method for teaching is a matter of personal choice, not a determination of right or wrong,….and the argument of which is better is pointless.

The true gauge to getting better at this dance form is based on too invariable factors…1 – the desire & determination of the student, with consideration to physical ability or disability, & 2 - the knowledge, experience, and ability of the Instructor to adequately illustrate and teach those pertinent concepts necessary to grow as a dancer. Furthermore, the “1 & 4” steps in the 8-Count Method, and the “2 & 4” steps in the 6-Count Method are exactly the same and are performed the same way, and on the same beats. They are simply executed using different “Types” of reference points. If an Instructor used the alphabet instead of numbers, the system he used would be CORRECT, if the movements executed were properly performed in the correct pattern and placed/executed on the proper beats or rhythms. It’s that simple!!!

Count Systems do not and should not produce different results in developing student dancers; neither should the steps performed look different. What is also a clear fact is that the Basic Step IS the Basic Step and the only ACTUAL difference is that you have a different number attributed to the exact same foot movement & placement, so there is no REAL difference. Therefore, the concerns when a student enters a class SHOULD NOT be the count system, but whether or not the Instructor is competent and can relate to his/her personal preferences and effectively break down the illustrated moves during the session. Students should adequately research their Instructors, and their claims rather than simply accepting them as “Top” or “Accomplished” teachers……because the ability and insight of the theory of the dance is what will truly determine the Student’s path of development.

What is ironic is the fact that EVERY COMPETENT Instructor encourages their students to learn to “Feel the Beat” of the music in an effort to get away from having to continuously count, and to develop a “feel” for the dance. In addition, this “Transformation” allows the student to develop their “individual style” of dancing. Well – if the goal is to get away from counting, then what difference does it make which counting method is used to learn the Basic Steps and how to follow the rhythm of the music. Thus, both methods achieve the same goal!!! The development of the student’s ability, again, larger depends on the work ethic of the student and the skill level of the Instructor to develop that student while introducing concepts for the student to master and grow as a dancer.

Up until the late 1990’s there was NEVER an argument over Count Methods. You just didn’t hear the question….”So what count do you dance on?”, because no one paid attention to them or widely used them, yet they still danced and most never even considered if there were numbers associated with the steps…..and danced with no problem. The entire argument over Count Method started as a marketing ploy among Steppin Instructors to garner students with “claims” that one count was better or more widely used, or that 6-count dancers & 8-count dancers couldn’t dance with each other. In actuality, the problem that existed at the time was not the count methods, but simply the predisposition of Instructors that their personal preferences could exist as standard theory for Steppin across the board.

In other words, in some classes students were taught to execute moves only as they were taught to them, in accordance with the Instructor’s personal likes and dislikes, as opposed to learning the moves in their standard formats…learning to properly lead or follow their partners without a preponderance toward the Instructor’s style. So when students danced at parties and in the clubs with other dancers, whether from other classes or from other eras, they interact properly. The problem was NOT the Count Method, it was the Instructors!!! And some of those Instructors are still pushing these lies because it’s profitable for them to do so.

But getting back to the subject specifically, Can anyone tell me if, when they attend parties, they have ever asked for dances contingent on which count a person learned – if they learned using one, or did you care more about whether or not the person dancing used the proper Basic step, and did so smoothly and on beat. I’ve been dancing since 1994, and have yet to preface asking for a dance with, “Are you a 6-count or 8-count dancer?” or “Do you dance Old School or New School?” – (but that’s a whole other subject). Before 1990, if you asked a Stepper what count they were on, they would’ve looked at you like you were crazy, because it was irrelevant!!!

REAL Dancers were concerned with control, foot placement, adherence to the beat, and the ability to properly lead or follow…not with count method or how many turns you knew. And those are the factors that weighed most in choosing or accepting dance partners, and it is what should be the measuring stick of today’s dancers. Don’t get caught up in the scam by seeking out Instructors based on which count methodology is used, as it is even a personal choice for the Instructors too…each has his or her own personal reasons for choosing which. Besides, some Instructors switch between the two depending on which is most popular & profitable at the time.

Research potential Instructors by asking pertinent questions, and finding out their true ability, experience, and exposure to all the different parts of the dance. Get specifics on where, and in most cases from whom they learned the dance & where they have actually honed their skills – this tells the exposure of the Instructor. If you care that they’ve won contests, ask what competitions they have actually won, they should have proof. BE ADVISED!!! All good Instructors have not won a competition or even competed…..and if they claim to have trained Champions or some of the “Top” dancer’s, get the student’s names and verify it. Some Instructors claim to have taught someone, but have only taught them a few turns or only had the person in one workshop – or the person had been dancing for years prior to ever meeting that Instructor. Also, if the Instructor claims to be a “Master” Instructor, ask “why?” they describe themselves as such, and what accomplishments have afforded them that title….it shouldn’t be because they recently won the “Beginners”, or any other title…or have been dancing just a few years. It should be a “resume” of pertinent accomplishments, contributions, and years of Instructing at all levels…otherwise THEY ARE NOT MASTERS, but may be a good instructor. The term “Master” should not be used lightly…..

If you are a student of the dance in another city, then you should not be basing joining a class because the Instructor is from Chicago. There is no way of knowing if that person was ever a part of the Steppin community here before they moved to your city. When classes started to boom in other cities, all of a sudden people who saw the opportunity to claim their prior residence to claim expertise….but I have seen too many people making the claim who don’t have a clue what the dance is really about. What you should be looking for is an Instructor who has a REAL connection to a “qualified” Teacher or Master of the dance in Chicago, and that makes regular trips to Chicago to keep their skills pertinent to what’s going on, and so that they can develop as Instructors as well. Too many Instructors are making up information and claiming Chicago, when they haven’t been there in 20 years and never really danced when they did live here, although they may know the old dance spots. For Instructors that honed their skills as Instructors before they left here really don’t apply to this situation, but there are literally only a couple of them that I am aware of. These are some of the important points in selecting a class that fits you and will provide you with a competent Instructor to really enjoy this dance for years.

Oh!!! And for the record,.....I teach using the 6-count method, but all 6-count's are not the same....I prefer it because I feel that it is more melodic and easily adjusts to musicality standards whereas the 8-count seems more cadencs-based and with some dancers makes them more rigid than flowing...one other reason is that when I started my class it was more popular and I know that people like to go to different classes so I didn't want them to be confused or feel left out or be told that they couldn't dance because they didn't do the same count.... i also like that the version that I use doesn't count all the steps and gives a "directional order" to tell you what to do in the middle of it all.....BUT....In my classes, we stop using numbers in the intermediate section and start learning to get accustomed to dancing to the song thats playing and making the right adjustments to reflect that artist's mood.

As far as my own development, I was fortunate that I was able to learn the dance from one of the Greats….Calvin Barnes..., using the “original” 8-count method (123,123,12 – which was the frame for the 8-count people use nowadays…NO, it wasn’t created in the last 20 years), and I learned dancing traditional male/female positions. I got into the “follow side” leading option messing around with a few of my peers, but later realized that the Lead needed to be in an “antagonistic position” often for the dance to work properly, so I got into using both directions.

I really took to learning how to follow with Angie Faine & Leanna Richard with tips from many others on how it needed to really be done. Angie also got me into the whole “trouble-shooting” problems thing, and I excelled at it. As far as Walking, Boppin & Slow-Bop….I learned those from Calvin & worked more on the Walking later with Casper, Ice Ray (who I worked on the High Steppin with), Leanna Richard & Pat Evans from the Foxettes with a sprinkle of style from Adrian Haywood & Don Vic. I’ve gotten countless tips and history from an incredibly large group of people who were movers & shakers that were there when steppin was taking shape…. some of whom come out, some who don’t, and some who have passed on.

This is my Steppin education, and I’m proud of it because it is LEGITIMATE and what I learned isn’t Old School, New Skool, or anchored to a count….I WAS TAUGHT TO DANCE!!! And I can get down with the best regardless of where they are from or what they claim….but I can also enjoy a dance with a new Beginner just the same. That is what makes your learning experience good. Learning to enjoy music & truly be able to express yourself…..Look for that in a class & the Instructor who leads it….not someone touting count methodology….because that is simply a waste of time!!! Good Luck in your search!!!


mee
  
SIS NEWS                           JUNE 2009

 
Before We Introduce SIS......
Lets Talk About
Chicago Style Steppin 
 
meeNot to be confused with fraternity or sorority stepping, 'Chicago Style Steppin' is a partner dance whose origins date back to urban Chicago communities during the 1970's. Historically, however, Steppin' can be traced further back to the unique African American social dances of the 40's and 50's. Consisting of two or more partners dancing in synchronization, Steppin' is based on a 6 or 8 count pattern of movement called "the basic." Steppin' is a combination of "the basic" done with turns and footwork to the beat of many musical genres such as R&B, Jazz, Neo Soul, and even Hip Hop. Steppin' branched outside of Chicago to the national stage in 2003 with the release of the R&B mega hit "Step In the Name of Love" by R. Kelly. With the song's explosive popularity came an explosion in steppin' classes, events, seminars and the like being hosted in such major cities as Detroit, Atlanta, New York, Houston, Milwaukee, LA, Oakland, Seattle, and as far away as the United Kingdom. Steppin' is truly an art form that offers the individual an invitation into a unique social and cultural community where all newcomers can have a good time, hear some good music, and have fun!  

Introducing and Presenting

Sistas In Sync, SIS  
 
sss

 
Chicago native and Steppin' instructor, Charnice Simmons (bottom row, left center), has been a part of the Steppin' community for well over 20 years and began instructing 10 years ago. Her teaching expertise and knowledge have yielded invitations from Steppin' communities across the nation.. In Ms. Simmons travels she saw a void, in reguards to female reprensentation, and used this as motivation to form Sistas In Sync (SIS). She felt a group of women could bring a unique perspective on style, grace, integrity, etiquette and history to Steppin'. Each member of SIS was hand-picked by Ms. Simmons for their individuality, personal style, dance and professional skills. Together, this group of 7 women has a combined history of 60 years of Steppin', 30 years of teaching, as well as a unified and dedicated passion to the national steppin' community.
 
MEMBERS
Charnice Simmons
Founder, CEO, Lead Instructor
 (bottom row, left center)
 
Cheryl Powe
2nd Instructor
(bottom row, far right)
Deon Farr
2nd Instructor
(bottom row, far left) 
                     
Melanie Fields
Aministrator, Assistant Instructor
(top row, center)
Sharon Bolden
Accountant, Class Assistant
 (top row, left)
                                                          
 Natisa Dill
Marketing & Promotions, Class Assistant
(top row, right)

Monique Salter
Event Planner, Class Assistant
(bottom row, right center)
 

 
 

Mission

 
It is SIS's mission to promote and educate the dance community across the country about Chicago Style Steppin'. Our organization is built upon five cornerstones: STYLE, GRACE, INTEGRITY, ETIQUETTE and HISTORY. These are the five principles we incorporate into our promotion and education of this beautiful dance art-form. SIS is committed to maintaining the rich heritage, supporting a continual evolution and the advancement of steppin' as an integral part of dance-art community both nationally and internationally.
 


Curriculum

SIS will provide instruction on the fundamentals of Chicago Style Steppin' utilizing the basic steps of an 8 count ~ 123, 456, 78. New students will learn "the basic" pattern and turns. Females will learn to follow their male partner and males will learn to lead their female partner in the dance. SIS will focus on maintaining the integrity of the dance while performing it with style and grace.
 
  

Coming to a City

Near You!
Sistas In Sync is excited to present Chicago Style Steppin' to your city! The instructional workshop series will be conducted by Charnice Simmons, Lead Instructor, and up to 2 assistants. SIS will provide instruction at all dance levels. The bi-weekly or monthly workshop series are designed to introduce the art form of Steppin' in a well-taught, structured, easy, and fun format. SIS looks forward to the opportunity to present Chicago Style Steppin' to you and your city!
 
 To bring SIS to your city log onto
773.250.4368 
Designed by Natisa Dill
 
http://visitor.constantcontact.com/d.jsp?v=001KWySq_ntCSfN-vKICGn3olmmz-n6ugCxuAtlu1dsS5G0N32O_FNsLw==&p=un
This email was sent to vsims43@yahoo.com by charnice_simmons@yahoo.com.
http://www.constantcontact.com/index.jsp?cc=TEM_News_234
Sistas In Sync, SIS | Designed by Natisa L. Dill | natisadill@yahoo.com | 510 685 1961 | West Coast | CA | 94501

***DANCE Etiquette - Why won't he/she play my song?

DJ Please Pick Up Your Phone I'm On The Request Line. REQUESTS. First off, DJing is NOT an easy job.

You have many people with different tastes (R&B, old school, new school, neo soul, dusties, rap, etc.). The DJ's job is not to play every song on your iPod Top 40 playlist, but to set the vibe by creating an atmosphere using music as the base st...
ructure to connect with everybody on the set by playing music for Steppers to dance to by trying hard to please the crowd (although, it is "extremely hard to please everybody"). Therefore, screaming requests at the DJ will not only distracts him/her from their job, but it also frustrates them.  Sarah Teagle    03-17-13

Realize that EVERY song is not gonna be YOUR song. If a song is played you don’t like, sit that one out, take a break, cool off, introduce yourself to someone, buy a drink, order some food, etc. But whatever you do, please DO NOT complain to the DJ during the set. While you might not like that ONE song, someone does and is enjoying it, even if you are not.

And, although it may look like all the DJ is doing is clicking buttons, there is much more going on than meets the eye. He/She is focused and concentrated on how to keep the party jumping by trying to read his/her audience. So the next time you make a request, be KIND. Your song may or may not fit in with the current playlist. If he/she can make it happen, they will play your song. If the DJ does a good job, let them know…or if you really want your song(s) played >** TIP **< the dj in appreciation. I assure you that your song will be played the next time you come on the set.

Suggestion: If the DJ opens the request line before the set, take advance of it and get your songs in and it will already be in the playlist, waiting for you when you get to the set.

DANCE Etiquette: How To Choose An Instructor Part 2

Watch instructors as they dance. By observing how teachers dance – on the sets – you will pick up clues about their teaching styles. Certain techniques may be more appealing to you than others. You'll notice some instructors who are precise and dramatic, while others appear equally proficient, yet more relaxed and conservative in their moves. Also notice how they treat other steppers they dance with; this is how he/she will be as your instructor.  Sarah Teagle   03-22-13

***DANCE Etiquette: Choosing An Instructor | Part 3

Attend a class or workshop conducted by the Instructor. This is a great way to obtain an overview of his/her teaching skills.

Take a private lesson. This is a chance to "test" your potential instructor and get and overview of how you feel about their instruction.  Sarah Teagle  03-25-13

***DANCE Etiquette: Choosing An Instructor | Part 5

You have chosen your instructor and you go to class. 1. You and your instructor should be on time, relaxed, and ready to go! 2. There should be an orientation process (welcoming you with an overview of what to expect). 3 You should have a notepad (this is CLASS, take notes {to help you remember what you learned}). 4. ***VERY IMPORTANT: You shoul...
d be given a lesson plan as to what you will learn (a syllabus). No lesson plan? Well, how will he/she measure your progress? What will be taught and what will I learn?    Sarah Teagle   03-27-13

Side Note: If you still can't decide on an instructor, research your options. Use the Internet and social media, like Facebook, to expand your search for recommendations or websites and online newsletters often contain instructor profiles. Most instructors maintain their own sites or Facebook pages.

respectthegame.jpg

 

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring   09-23-09
Dave Maxx
 I am now doing a regular blog that will include some additional in-depth essays  - questions & topics, in addition to past questions that I've done here on the Dance Doctor Column...so continue to catch me here every week as well and become a subscriber to my blog...CHECK IT OUT!!!.....
 
http://dance-doctor.blogspot.com/ 

Well, Well, Well,......Once again we know that the "Contest Season" is upon us, when in the few days after the contest there is "mayhem & confusion"...and everyone who didn't think you or your friend/instructor won is a hater. And although its a dirty shame,....No One does "mess" better than "US"....and I hope you know what I mean when I say "US". We need to make a real effort at change people...because this foolishness is beyond ridiculous! Simply put, the Stepper's community is becoming the perfect example of "Crabs in a barrel" actions & rejection of standard for doing things properly, and replacing it with "That Will Do" mentality, when it won't....This is nothing to be proud of!!! We as a whole are abandoning the very elements that we claim are what Steppin is all about....Class, Respect, Sophistication, Maturity, True Sexiness, and FUN!!! And it needs to change before we run more people away from this dance than we attract to it.....
 
Anyway,....This weekend we saw it ALL, & I do mean WE SAW IT ALL!!!...LOL!!! We've also heard a lot of verbal noise, some legitimate, and some by people who need to be quiet and learn about...#1...this Art Form....(Steppin, not old school or new school or some hybrid featuring all kinds of things from other styles - STEPPIN), #2....the actual traditions...(not simply our instructors opinions, or what you heard - don't just repeat what the preacher says, you gotta read your Bible for yourself & in Steppin you must look for yourself to gauge if you are on the right page), #3....the actual RULES & GUIDELINES of the dance....(NOT the rules that you wished existed, or what made you holler or entertained you best)...., and do these things BEFORE becoming scholars on things that you haven't taken the time to learn about before running off at the mouth.
 
I've listened and heard a lot. So, before getting into the question that I chose this week, let's take a look at a few of those statements, followed by minor rebuttal.....
 
The contest would be boring if it was done how they're are tryin to do it - This contest started 20 years ago, when most of the people complaining didn't have a clue about Steppin & it was ALWAYS entertaining & EVEN WITHOUT TRIO, which is not a part of ORIGINAL STEPPIN...it was just a great entertainment feature!!!
 
There was a conspiracy...it was rigged...they only had one new school judge up there - Last time I checked, most New Schoolers were still takin classes and have just started doing the dance in the last few years...Where is the experience to be able to determine what is what? How many of them have had the drive to get up there again - even after they don't win? How many call for "special" concessions or more categories just to get better odds to win?....but wanna claim fabulous titles such as "master & top" instructor?
 
We, the contestants, should be able to pick the judges - When many of the contestants are willing to cheat, lie, complain and even step down in category level to attempt to avoid real competition just to win.....WHY THE HELL WOULD ANYBODY TRUST YOU PICKIN A JUDGE!!!
 
They started TOO late and it wasn't organized - On this one I gotta throw Pete under the bus...BUT...I also realize that its VERY VERY difficult to pull off an event of this size while trying to depend on other people to help you, who may not be as clear as they need to be on how to get it done the way you want it, or be as savy as Pete is in handling problems. Its impossible to "clone" yourself and do ALL the jobs and make it a GREAT event that has no inconsistent moments...it just doesn't exist. But to say that the event was horrible is not fair.

Also, what many should realize is the fact Pete is not an Event Planner, he's a Stepper who became a promoter, saw an opportunity and put himself on the line when others didn't,....to make a contest that was DEAD & GONE, come back to life. The event is not perfect, but you have to admit that it is one of the grandest events taking place in Steppin. In addition, it takes a lot of money & personal frustration to make things happen, and just tossing money to get more help isn't always an option when building the event.....I've done events that are no where near as large and have wanted to choke people as EVERYONE around wants to talk or complain to you and only you.....and you know how we are when we think that we are special. In my opinion, this was actually one of Pete's better events, though it did not fulfilled everyone's personal desires.....but with time I'm sure that things will improve.
 
 
QUESTION:
If you haven't done so already, can you publicly address your opinions on some of the events that occurred at this weekend's World's Largest Competition in Chicago? Specifically I'm referring to a few things:

  • The result of the 1st, 2nd & 3rd place category in the New Skool Category. I'm assuming that because of the boos from the crowd, many people disagreed with who took first place.
  • The 1st place winners of the Masters Category.  Many people thought the winners were not "show stoppers", so they should not have won 
  • The lack of "appropriate" attire on several of the contestants.
  • The overall judging of the contest. I heard later that evening that several  "heavy hitters" felt that parts of the contest were not judged fairly or correctly.  I overheard one "heavy hitter" said the contest was "rigged."
  • Any other feedback you have on the overall contest itself.

Although I enjoyed myself thoroughly this weekend, I heard  many out-of- towners say they would not come back to the WLSC after some of the events I described above.
 
 
ANSWER:.....NEW SKOOL Category - MAJOR SIDEBAR....Let me say that I hate that name...it should be ORIGINAL STEPPIN - Open Division, (This would better account for people's styles who fit better with younger dancers). Using those other terms only creates a division that SHOULD NOT exist among Steppers. Not only that, but Steppin has always been something that drew us closer, bridging the gap between older and newer while "welcoming" new & younger dancers into a more mature realm. Steppin has effectively reflected cultural traditions respectfully, while not throwing those traditions on the fire in hopes of changing it all in the name of progress, or to make an excuse for outright changing something and calling it innovation, when its actually copping out.
 
Whether you like it or not, the dance that many New Skool instructors are teaching is a Steppin hybrid, that includes so many "made up" elements that the real dance is getting lost with watered-down BS & personal preferences being served up as legitimate format, and its making the dance sloppy. New Skool dancing increasingly focuses on men never learning to dance, but simply walking around while spinning the woman repeatedly...much like salsa rather than "true' Steppin which is based on foot movements, and not flurries of turns....and women being so attached to basic that they are never let go, or allowed to learn to do REAL footwork instead of those BS routines panned off as footwork. 
 
Keeping the dance smooth doesn't mean that you can't do turns or be exciting...but there is a real difference between turning and repetitive spinning....Claudell Jackson is one of the greatest dancers around and uses a lot of turns, but those turns are in control and tempered along the format of Steppin not based on another dance. And he actual uses footwork to embellish the dance rather than just walking around and continuously turning his partner. I think the misconception is that Steppin can't have turns & still be ORIGINAL...they can be included, but should be developed to go across style lines & be executable regardless of era, body shape or size, where you live or even by who & where you learned, but should rather be hinged on the actual BASIC principles of STEPPIN! Steppin is a 'social' dance which encourages social interaction during the dance & true appreciation of music for ALL who endeavour to enjoy it....
There are too many people putting out all this bogus history & explanations for everything just so they can be heard.....even on things that don't even matter when learning this dance. Old Skool does not mean boring or simple, it has always been more complex & expressive. Old Skool dancers have always done more footwork as well as go on & off the beat more than the New Skool dancers ever have collectively. New Skoolers traditionally didn't know or want to learn how to do things properly, so they made it up or created something else to cover up their shortcomings...or simply, because they thought something was "cute" decided to declare it "policy". Thats what the REAL controversy is!!! 

On the dance floor in the club....as long as you stay in your lane & your partner is cool with all of the changes....innovate all you want, but don't expect to be called a genius for it. And if you intend to teach people or want to compete, you need to learn how to do the dances properly, not make stuff up and call it good enough or make the claim that its your style. Style in Steppin does not mean change the dance...it means to actually be innovative enough to embellish on whats there, without making it something else. And yes, that is hard to do....its not suppose to be easy!!!
If you decide to embark on sharing this ART with others, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to teach them what actually has existed and to tell them if what you are teaching is simply what you like to do, what your instructor likes to do, or is what you made up? Because the cries from the crowd are asking to simply be taught the dance the way that it was developed, so that they can enjoy it everywhere & with everyone, regardless of their assigned era, music preferences, age, or who's class they took on whatever count.
P.S.A....I'm sorry for going so way off topic...but this needed to be said. And if it takes two sittings to read the whole article, thank you for caring enought to read it!!!...And Lil Guy with the camera, if you plaigarize another one of my articles, I won't let it go next time!!!
  
Okay...New Skool Category....Like everyone else at the contest I was amazed, floored, and hollered  when Feo & Candace did that amazing drop! There's only one problem!!! Drops are ILLEGAL in the contest, and on top of that...yes, it is a contest, but I have yet to see somebody do that in a club...well, maybe at a Salsa club, but never in Steppin. The rules clearly state No Dips! No Drops!....Now, judges have been a little lenient on the whole Dipping thing, but that has even been getting out of hand. The cool thing is that they were not disqualified, which, according to the written rules, was suppose to happen. I yelled & booed too, because my emotions got the best of me...but I was wrong and after a few minutes realized my mistake. I was yelling because I wanted my friends to win because they impressed me. Feo & Candace have been rollin me me & asking questions about this dance for a while and I got caught up. Torrie & Darrin brought it....the same way they always have, and being cool under the pressure they were able to get the title that they have been chasing for years. I can't remember what Kirk & Sabrina did. I vaguely recall a questionable turn....but I really can't say what I think about their performance. I just remember her dress & have no comment...not being funny or disrespectful, they are my friends. I just wasn't feeling the dress.
One of the BIG problems that I had this year was in the judging, but it wasn't really the problem of these judges, but past judges who set a bad precedent. While watching couple, after couple, after couple....you had to realize that many contestants determined what they could do & were going to do, based on Youtube.com, personal video collections, tricks they learned at a workshop/class and old contest videos. This was evident when at least 6 couples tried to do Dre's old "Drop n' Kick" move from 2005 (...a year when a lot of the judges were younger in age considering thats a big argument today)...something that drove me & several other well-known dancers nuts, because we wanted to see what "THESE" contestants had to bring to the table rather than carbon copies of whats been done before.
The reason this is a major judging problem is, that when Dre did the move back then.....it was ILLEGAL & it was ILLEGAL this year. And Yes, the confetti in 05' was illegal in ORIGINAL too......it was questionable in TRIO...but it wasn't illegal! Yes, we skated on the rule because it was not addressed....but another group used an embellishment too, although a minor one, and no one complained. But credit us with reading the rules. Getting get back to my point,...the difference between those judges in 2005, and the judges in 2009 is that these judges were willing to stand on the rules and respect the standard....Though they were super entertaining, Feo & Candace fell victim to the year that the judges were called to the carpet to do it right, and although its unfortunate...it is the rules....and you don't start changing rules to accomodate contestants. YOU CHALLENGE THEM TO STEP UP!!! Pete made a good call in making sure that the judges followed the set rules...but contestants were also warned that judges would be sticking closer to the rules than in the past on both format & in doing other dance styles and passing it off as Steppin.....many did not listen!
In the Master's Category....I was particularly disappointed because I expected more from my New Skool counterparts. The only ones that I consider exempt are Dominique & Shareda, because in reality, they have not been dancing long, & the other contestants in this category have competed for years and have won & they haven't won the big dance before.
This category required that you Walk & Step. No one in this category did REAL Walking except for the Haywoods!!! I don't care how you chop it up or create excuses, the New Skoolers flossed through it as if they hoped that the judges would simply roll over and say..."Oh Well, that was good enough because you Step real good". Not one of those dancers had an excuse for not being on point on their Walking....and they ALL live in Chicago, so they had access to people who could make sure they were on point.
On the other hand you have Dre & Margaret who put on a great show, actually one of the most entertaining of the night.....but this contest is NOT judged by the audience!!! Its done so by the judges who are looking for certain things to happen....add to that, that they broke a few rules....They used Drops again, they used Lifts (Both of Margarets feet were off the floor), they used Dips & the unspoken, unwritten rule about blatant choreography (its not written, but it is frowned upon)....at this Level you shouldn't need it! Going back to the judging problem of 2005, that I cited earlier, this is kinda unfair to this couple as well because they did it before and were not penalized, so why would they think it was gonna be a problem this time. Its unfortunate, but it was time for the judges to do things by the rules.
Now several people may still say, Well the Haywoods were not that entertaining. Here's the kicker,...thats the fault of the New Skoolers!!! Because they knew going in that the Haywoods were the stronger Walkers and didn't aply any pressure to force them to really have to go all out to win. Lets do the math...If there are 50 points available for each style, lets assume that the Haywoods got 50 points for Walkin...the rest of the field "winged it". Dominique & Shereda weren't even close, Mike & Alexis and Dre & Margaret danced through it, and Tyk & Danielle were playing the game hurt, and that is legitimate. So lets say that none of them got more than 15 points because they did not do the dance properly. Even if all of them got 50 points for Steppin, the Haywoods didn't have to do as well in Steppin...they just had to do legitimate Steppin, which they did!!! Dre & Margaret, because of the extras should not have been eligible to win, but even if they had been, the entertainment factor was not enough to erase the fact that they didn't Walk well at all. If the Haywoods only got 25 points for Steppin they would still beat everybody. Now, of course this isn't how the numbers went, but you can see how it makes sense.
Now if you throw in the excuse that there were no New Skool judges...my challenge would be that I saw at least two outright New Skoolers in T. Pratt & L.C., and several dancers who have a lotta love for several of the New Skoolers, so that is a really weak argument. The Haywoods were smart and got that Money!!! Once again,....What a lot of dance fans & new dancers don't realize is that the cheers are Great when you're on stage, but you're trying to prove what you can do to the judges, not the cheering crowd....The contestants in this category forgot that! It wasn't a ploy or conspiracy....it was poor planning & dancing to impress fans, rather than doing the job that was at hand!!!
As far as wardrobe for the Contestants, and for a lot of the Attendees - I'm not gonna get into the conversation that a lot of people may wanna see me write about, but you call that how you saw it.....On the other hand,...People PLEASE look at yourself before you leave the house...if you have to question if it works or need to ask somebody what they think, then you should probably take it back or take it off. If you're getting older, and bigger, and wrinkled all over or all "cottaged-cheesed & flabbied up", you don't need nothin on to show the rest of us all that....Dress appropriately!!!
A lot of people may be saying that they would not attend again, but the reality is that the results of this contest are a challenge to prove that you are who you say you are, by getting up on that stage. If you are all that, you should be welcoming more couples on the floor, because if you are really that cold to deserve a WLSC trophy and a check, then you should be able to steal the spotlight & the attention of the judges.
I am not a fan of all these categories, even for Beginners & Out of Towners...I feel that if you are so cold that you should be up there battling against the best, and taking that whoopin till you learn what it takes to win. Dancers should have to dance on the floor with other people and to different music to shut down all of the routines & choreography. learning a routine does NOT mean that you are good, or a champion...It only means that you can learn a routine! I want to see people get better & do better on stage....not find more ways to cop out or complain just to get a trophy. Its not that serious.....the best Legends of this dance don't have trophies, and many have never even bothered to get in the contest, because winning doesn't mean that you're the best.....it means you had a good night, so don't based your whole Steppin Life on a trophy that a lot of people ain't gonna remember anyway.
On an end note, I'm glad if you made to the end of this....I'm really tired of talking about all this, so see you next week!!!

 

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring
Dave Maxx       09-13-09
 I am now doing a regular blog that will include some additional in-depth essays  - questions & topics, in addition to past questions that I've done here on the Dance Doctor Column...so continue to catch me here every week as well and become a subscriber to my blog...CHECK IT OUT!!!.....
 
http://dance-doctor.blogspot.com/ 

QUESTION:.....Considering your statements on counting & learning to dance in your last article.....Is learning the count is still important? Or, are you saying that using numbers as a "reference point", or early "auditory learning tool" is no longer valid? I've always thought that you need to 'know the count' to aid in developing movement memorization, and now it seems that I'm reading you stress that learning a count as not being important.
 
 
ANSWER:.....Even though EVERYONE does not learn to dance using a count, in today's Steppin Era....Most people do!!! Which somewhat causes a rift between those who do & those who don't...or at least leads to a misunderstanding of the learning process because they've entered the dance community via different paths, yet it really isn't important how you learn, but what is important is that the Basic FORMAT is consistent & the same. Much to the dismay of the masses, there are also Classes & Instructors here in Chicago, where they do not use numbers to teach in the traditional format, or according to what people expect...but the FORMAT & TIMING of the dance is consistent.
 
Now, as it relates to students of the dance who are learning in this Era in classes where "Counting" is the "base method' being used to teach the dance......Learning the count is ESSENTIAL to learning the basic. If you go back in my articles you will find that I laid out the level of mastery necessary to move to the next or intermediate levels. In addition, when the student is able to do the BASICS in that manner, they are more apt to be able to "let go" of the numbers.

Numbers are, or rather SHOULD BE, used in initial BASIC drills & in "introducing" the "primary/fundamental" turns and footwork because the student is still early in the learning process, and in most cases will still need "reference" points to relate when/where movements should be executed. The student is moving into an area of learning that is executed with the upper-body, but which is precisely reflective of the action performed in the lower body. Most dancers will need something to help them build a transition, which is the numbers. But, just like in learning the Basic Step....the students must be weaned off of the numbers so that he/she can relate ALL movements to the song playing and everything away from the "crutch/numbers"....its the equivalent of taking off the training wheels on a bike.

This is why its so critical for students to take their TIME & pay attention early on, and to not simply reproduce the fundamental turns & movements introduced, but to "practice & master" the movements so that he/she can make conscious decisions that are also effective and consistent while styled to be reflective of the music being played. The idea of starting students out with a lot of movements, in my opinion, is ill-advised because they are learning to reproduce, not make good or definitive decisions or even understand what they are doing or be able to ariculate the concepts which make up the different "building blocks" of executing those turns or footwork.

The key to this dance is to MASTER the "primary or fundamental" elements & concepts and then learn to transition & bridge those concepts to creatively create combinations and develop styling....but those PRIMARY elements should be explained or introduced with numbers, initially.
 
The student has effectively learned the turns or footwork, when he/she does not count and doesn't need too....just like in Basic they should be able to call out the movements, describe and execute the turns, ALL while holding a conversation and/or sing the song playing.....at this point, they are ready to create bridges, transitions, etc...aka...Combination turns, as well as be able to actually implement footwork moves at appropriate times, but ALL of this is being executed in a logical, controlled, and effective manner.
 
The MOST IMPORTANT element to know & understand is Steppin is the Rhythm of the song....and the rhythm defines the BEAT........
 
 

QUESTION:.....What can I do to get the most out of my trip to Chicago for the World's Largest Stepper's Contest this coming weekend? Its my first time coming out there, and I want to see as much of the REAL community as I can? 
 
 
ANSWER:.....Well, this weekend is a blessing and a curse for getting a well-rounded feel for what is really going on in the Stepper's community because there is a lot going on, and you can't get it all in. But the biggest thing that I would encourage you to do is to come with an open mind, and to clear your head of a "heaven-like" experience. Steppin here is good, but if you expect too much, you're gonna disappoint yourself.
But here are a couple of suggestions..........
 
Don't just go to the World's Largest sponsored events - Steppin IS NOT determined by the World's Largest...it is not the "go-to, include-all" thing going on here.... They do a good job of bringing things together, but at the same time, it is not attended by everyone, so you need to move around to get a look at the community as a whole.
 
Find some additional events & parties to go to - Make the most of your time here!!! I think that every student coming into this dance shouldn't be laying claim to old or new school, but rather should be embracing the dance. To do this you have to go to venues and dance with people that may not include your guide or instructor's preferred venues to hit. Two MAJOR places that I suggest to go to are Leanna Richard's "3rd Friday Set at the 50 Yard Line" - This party is attended by several of the REAL LEGENDS (not us New Jacks) and Stars of Steppin that you have probably never heard of. They play all of the music...do all of the dances of Steppin....and the party kicks off at 5pm - GET THERE EARLY, before you go to the big party at Mr. G's...it is definitely worth the visit...BUT....Here, you MUST follow the RULES of Steppin & Etiquette....Stay in your lane, Dance to the actual song thats playin, This ain't the contest don't do all those turns - At this party you gotta DANCE...and they will let you know if you are wild!!! If you go, tell Leanna that I sent ya over....
LADIES!!! There are several of the BEST female dancers at this party if you wanna pick up some styling tips....
 
Also, go to the EAST of the RYAN late on Friday after the Mr. G's party...its an underground spot, but there is a lot of good dancing & music over there. If you stay through Sunday, Check out my party at the Dorchester in Dolton with Just Us Productions with Mellow Khris on the box...it is an early set, and after that I'll be heading over to 3G's for the Late Show with DJ Eric Taylor & Lady Margaret
 
Check out different classes or take a workshop....BUT Don't go overboard - When you're in the Chi, don't overdose on the classes and get into all the debates and stuff....You're here to have FUN, so do that.....After more than two sessions with a couple of different instructors, you are not retaining anything & just wasting money.....Take the time to see our city and enjoy the weather before its gone.......No I haven't decided if I'm doing a workshop or not, but if I do, it'll be Saturday afternoon......to keep in the know, send me your cellphone number to
maxx@davemaxx.com, and I will text you all the info by Friday evening (If I do it, it will be a humdinger!!!....and yes, it'll include Walking, but I am not sure)
 
If you have the chance to meet some of the popular Steppers that you've heard of, or are a Fan...let them know and introduce yourselfeven if you've done it before!!! - Pick the brains of these people if you have questions, and broaden your understanding of the dance......We DO NOT all have the same opinions or philosophies, but thats OK...take the time to listen and figure out what makes sense to you, and what you see as logical and that works for you.... All of the dancers that I know are very friendly and open to meeting and talking to you....don't worry about what you heard, introduce yourself and find out for yourself!!!...You will be surprised!!!

Don't just buy music from the DJ's....Talk to them - Understanding the music and learning about what you're listening to, and what really is classic steppers music and what is a fad is important to know and learn about....whether anyone really realizes it...the DJ controls the party, and needs to be interviewed to understand what is REAL Steppin music and what is just hot for the next 6-weeks!!!
 
Go to Harold's Fried Chicken - If you don't know or ain't heard, you're missing it!!!
 
Go to Gino's East, Giordano's or Lou Malnati's Pizza - Cause its Chicago Baby!!!
 
.....and last of all HAVE FUN!!!! - Yes the World's Largest is a competition, but this event has gotten away from what it once was, because people see it as a means to be better than someone else. I wish all the dancers GOOD LUCK!....BUT....whether you win a title or not, DOES NOT define you as a person or a dancer. Several people have won who are still subpar dancers who don't have a clue...AND...Most of the BEST OF THE BEST DANCERS have NEVER bothered to even get in the contest because it never mattered to them....so getting in the contest doesn't make you better than anyone else, or a scholar on this dance should you win....So enjoy the weekend for what its worth - Good Fun & Competiton without all of the hating & drama....and thats coming from someone who has a few WLSC trophies in his living room!!!
Email your questions to either Lana@LanaReid.com or Maxx@DaveMaxx.com

 

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring    09-10-09
Dave Maxx

Q:.....With all the variations of the dance being taught, various schools of thought, methodologies, frameworks (and lack thereof), what can a student do to ensure that they can take their dance across the country and be able to roll?

A:.....HHhhhmmm......Tough Question - One of the most difficult things to do as a "Student" of this dance is to figure out what is "legitimate" info and what is garbage. The first thing that anyone should do is ask the Instructor that they are vetting is, WHAT is your philosophy on Steppin, and teaching or learning it? If that person's response claims a school of thought like.....I'm New School, and I teach New School...Be Advised that you most likely will only be able or be more conditioned to dance at new school venues, to faster music, and will ostracize yourself from an entire style of dance. What I am seeing being introduced a lot across the country is a lot of "contest" moves...meaning moves that violate the basic principles of the dance.

If you are learning moves that CANNOT be done in a standard lane-space, then it does not work across the board (Steppin is a controlled dance where you must exist & perform in a contained area)....If you are learning a Basic step that is long, wide, or sends you into your partner’s space, then it does not work across the board (By overextending the Basic in any direction, you are hurting the dance & cutting the Lead Dancer short)....If you are learning "phantom" turns, meaning those that take place without being lead...ie: "I moved out of the way or my spot, so you are supposed to just go over there," then it does not work across the board (ALL Turns/Moves in Steppin should be Lead...there is no telepathy in Steppin, and everybody didn't take the class you took . . . Every dancer has different preferences, but if you learn to cater to the preferences of a particular instructor then you cut yourself off from being able to effective dance with people who don't have the same philosophies) . . . If everything you learn is geared toward fast music, then it will not work across the board (Steppin is NOT a fast dance . . . It’s a smooth dance that can be performed fast, at times).

In addition to simply realizing, what fits into the Steppin framework, also ask the Instructor about his REAL ability . . . If he/she is saying that Steppin came from the Bop . . . can that Instructor show you the Bop . . . is that Instructor aware of and able to perform the other styles of Steppin or are they simply able to tell you about them . . . Ask them if they attend different types of parties and clubs, both old & new school (If that Instructor only goes to one type of venue, then they probably only do one style of the dance) . . . If an Instructor claims to be a MASTER Instructor, but doesn't know how to Walk, and walk for real, what makes them a "Master" . . . ASK QUESTIONS!!!!

There is NO SINGLE WAY to tell what will prove to be pertinent information in Steppin. There are too many people who are using this dance as a means to hustle money, become popular, or achieve their own goals to know one way of flushing out the BS. I have met more people supposedly from Chicago in the past few years, who can't tell me where they went to school here, or where the school is to shake a stick at . . . And I've seen more "Master" Instructors who've been dancing less that 5-10 years than I've ever seen (At 5 years I was dancing 5-6 days a week and wasn't a master). There is a lot a BS out here, and some of it is attached to popular names too . . . The BIG question you must ask, IF YOU REALLY CARE (everybody doesn't) is: Does this fit into the framework of Steppin? Not a school of thought or a count method...Steppin should bridge gaps, not create them . . . And the other thing that I really suggest is that you come to Chicago & go to different types of parties that play different types of music and have dancers of varying age groups. When you can exist in ALL of these environments and have a good time, then you are implementing dance concepts that are legitimate . . . I feel like my answer is a little incomplete, but I hope that this prescription helps!!!

Q:.....I learned how to step through the 8-count method. I've been steppin for about three three years and I have had mostly old school steppers and some advanced steppers tell me that they can tell that I'm counting. (I count in my head and not out loud, especially with advanced dancers or people I've never danced with before). How do I either get better as not to appear counting or learn how to just "dance" to the music? I've also had men tell me not to count, just "look sexy and dance."

A:..... (Immediate Sidebar - Steppers, please stop referring to yourselves as 6 or 8 count dancers . . . It does not matter on any level!!! The idea that it does, is a LIE! And ANY Instructor who says that it matters is a scam artist. I learned using the original 8-ct format, which is 123,123,12...which was reborn in the 90's as 123,456,78. I teach using the 6-ct method because I like it better. I could use the 8-ct method, but I don't like it...better dancers are produced based on the ability, talent, and knowledge-base of your Instructor, not the count method he or she uses. Announcing what count method used tells an Instructor or anyone else for that matter, NOTHING. I have NEVER asked or not asked, not enjoyed or enjoyed, a dance based on the count method that person used or learned with . . . I didn't even know . . . BUT . . . I have done those things based on how the person performed the BASIC STEP!!! Also, certain Instructors teach certain elements that can be seen a mile away, so another dancer may be able to tell where you learned based on some habits, but NO Instructor can tell what count method you're using unless you are giving it away by some other habit that you have.)

Now, to directly answer your question . . . In my opinion, one of the shortcomings of most of the instructional methods out here, is that the entire curriculum that most instructors use is entirely based on counting. The problem with this is, that students learn to dance to numbers, rather than learning to dance to the song that’s playing. This is evident by the fact that many dancers appear to be off beat or NOT dancing to the song that’s playing. These dancers tend to listen to the beat of the song to establish where they will start counting as opposed to listening to the song for enjoyment & expression.

What should happen is that the student learns the BASIC formats using a reference system such as the 6 or 8 count methods, or some other method, then the student should be weaned off those numbers "early" in the learning process so that they can learn how to apply those steps to the elements taking place in the song that’s playing, particularly the main drum beat, rather than reciting numbers. Most dancers prior to 1990, never used a count system at all to learn how to Step . . . they learned by learning the steps or basic format, and then learned where to execute those steps to perform the dance, then, they learned how to style those movements developing a "style." Although this method took considerably longer to get better at the dance, it developed a deeper understanding of the dance as well as an appreciation for it.

All too often people say that they enjoy Steppin because it allows them to express themselves or to enjoy some good music . . . Well, how can you learn, listen to, or appreciate good music when you're counting through the whole experience?!?! I don't see how you can even hear the song really, or truly get into what the Artist is trying to share with you.

How does this all relate to you, and your issue? .....When you are dancing, you "tip your hand' so to speak by your facial expressions, body language, breathing patterns, how you focus you eyes or attention & several other factors . . . When these elements of "YOU" are not relaxed, comfortable, or relating to the music, they tell your partner who may not be counting that you are not really comfortable with dancing or are not really enjoying the "ACTUAL" song but are simply listening to the beat because your dance is lacking "emotional value or expression" . . . in other words, you're focusing on something other than the song or having FUN!!! This effort is usually buried in the desire to NOT MAKE MISTAKES . . . but Steppin is mistake-friendly, but people have become so focused on being "good" or "contest-caliber" that you never get a chance to really "relax."

My suggestion is that you STOP COUNTING, and learn to perform the BASIC step in comfort and without the worry of "messin up" . . . I mess up all the time, and I never apologize for it. This is dancing, and it’s for FUN!!! Listen to the beauty of the music . . . relate to it and allow yourself to be free to mess up and fix it all at the same time without missing a beat . . . This is the true genius of the Steppin genre. Learn to move based on popping your fingers or the main beat. "Moving sexy..." means to allow yourself more freedom, but stay in control while dancing....when the song is pretty be pretty, when its happy & bouncing, move free & happy. Letting go of the numbers is okay!!! Anyone who advises you differently has yet to TRULY understand or even really do this dance the way it was intended. Hope this prescription helps . . .

Email your questions to either Lana@LanaReid.com or Maxx@DaveMaxx.com

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring
Dave Maxx     08-10-09


Q: I followed your advice about asking Brothers to dance. It worked a little, and it didn't work as well as I wanted it too. I don't mind asking a man to dance, but I really don't like getting turned down. It takes a lot for me to even ask, but why is it that a guy thinks he's all that to the point that he can turn me down, its not like I'm ugly or that I can't dance. What do you have to say now Dr.?
 
 
A: Well!!!.....Let me bring you into the world of a man attending a social dance party....At this party, its like most parties...a lot more women than men. Upon entering the party, a Gentleman speaks to a couple of people he knows...stands around a little to soak up the aura & vibe in the room, then sees a lady that he'd like to dance with. After a couple of songs, he sees someone he knows who is motioning to him to dance, and he obliges her. After a couple of more songs he leaves the floor and goes to the bar for his beverage of choice, but while standing there someone comes up and asks for a dance...he puts his drink on hold and returns to the dance floor once again. As he's leaving the floor, he notices someone from the class that he's taking is motioning that she wants to dance...so he "has" to dance with her.....and after he finishes this dance begins to head back to the bar to get that drink. He makes it to the bar and gets his drink and is then approached again by a friend who loves the song that’s playing, so he puts the drink down at her table with her friends and heads to the floor once again. When he gets to his drink, which is a little watered down, he enjoys the moment before finally hearing a song that he likes. He sees a lady that he's really been wanting to dance with and walks over and asks her to dance and is refused. He retreats to an open standing spot and "waits till later". After "his" song ends a lady walks up and asks to dance just as his buddy stopped to talk, he shortens the conversation and accepts the dance request, and again while leaving the floor gets another request after which, he sees someone else from his class that wants to dance. This cycle goes on all night.....at the end of the night , this man had one watered-down drink, danced with 20 women, talked to none of his friends, didn't dance on any of his songs, and got turned down repeatedly all night and didn't complain but took it in stride even though some of the sistas was a lil rude.
 
The BIG question is did this man have a good time or was his "recreation" making sure that other people had a good time?
 
So the next time he comes out he decides prior to coming out that he doesn't want to dance the whole night, but rather just wants to have a couple of drinks, actually talk to his friends, listen to the music, mellow out...then dance here and there. In the process, he turns a couple of women down...its not personal, he was just enjoying "his" moment of RECREATION.
 
What must be realized is that when a guy (or lady) comes out that they can't be held accountable for making sure that you have a good time. It’s not fair, because then they don't enjoy their moment. Asking a man to dance and getting turned down is not the end of the world. We deal with it all the time....we even regularly get to be turned down then watch that same lady who said she was tired dance with another guy on the same song. But we ask someone else.....It may be necessary to ask the guy who you don't know that well, who isn't one of the best dancers or ain't the cutest guy in the room...if you need more dances.
 
BUT!!! The idea or suggestion is not "full-proof"...I can't give you something that’s going to guarantee that you have a good time....every time, but if you're willing to reach out, I'm willing to bet that you will dance more than you have been dancing, but you have to be open to the reality that men come out to enjoy their evening too. Being told no doesn't mean that you are not an attractive dancer or that the man thinks he's all that, it simply means that that dancers "moment" didn't happen at the same time as yours. As more men get into dancing it should get better, but you can't wear-out the men who are there now. 
 
Q: I am an intermediate level dancer, but I find myself getting frustrated when I dance with someone after they dance with a more skilled dancer. I get excited when I see a dancer having a good time, then I want to dance. But when I do, I don't get the same reaction from the lady and it makes me self-conscious and I don't want to dance anymore. We are doing the same moves, but I don't think we look the same? I want the same reaction - the smile, the laugh, the kind look, but it’s not happening. How do I get the same reaction so that I can have fun too?

 
A: One of the most important factors in being a good dancer is accepting that "TIME" is a major factor in how well you execute moves. People who have been dancing & practicing are able to also add "flair" to the way they have been executing moves...they didn't always do it like that...and there is NO SUBSTITUTE for TIME. Skill comes with time!!!
 
Also, another problem that newer dancers have is that they compare their performance and execution of moves to what others are doing......DO NOT DO THAT!!! Dancing is about "individual" performance & expression....meaning that you have to learn to get comfortable and accepting of you and how you relate to the music and the way it makes you feel and want to express. If you are comparing or trying to emulate someone else all the time, you take that ability to self-express away.
 
Enjoy the "ride" of learning to dance...by putting more time into it and having FUN you will put yourself in a position to get better and develop that ability to "pull smiles" as your skill level get s better. If you take it too fast, the smile you're looking for can become smug looks and getting turned down because you lack the skill to properly execute...the best dancers are those who "KNOW" what they are doing and bring it not by how flashy the move is, but by how much control and direction they bring when executing the movements....TAKE YOUR TIME!!!

Email your questions to either Lana@LanaReid.com or Maxx@DaveMaxx.com

 

 

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring   08-03-09
Dave Maxx
I'd really like to THANK everyone who has been reading my column. I really appreciate the feedback, kind words, and those who have taken the time to send in questions. I'd also like to give a BIG shout-out to some of the Vegas Steppers who attended the Step On Unlimited Event in L.A.  two weeks ago. They made me my workshop hilarious & more FUN... while really convincing me that what happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas, so I can't wait to get back out there!!! Also, I apologize for the week off...but my travel schedule was nuts over the last month & exhaustion set in. But let's get down to business....this weeks question and commentary is long, but its something to really look at and think about.......you may not agree with all that I have to say, but at least ponder it and do your part to erase the division that exists.
 

Q: I've been hearing about the difference between old school and new school. What's the difference? Where are the old school people anyway? I've only heard about the Majestic Gents party, and as far as the clubs, just the 50 Yard Line or Club D'Elegance. I'm interested in learning more about the old school, but how?

 
A: There are several differences....
One of the most glaring is "Steppin" age (which generally also determines how you learned), or to better describe it..."How long you have been dancing" - If I'm not mistaken, the Old Schoolers cut off with those who started dancing in the late 80's give or take a couple of the early 90's years. So we're talking about people who have been dancing at this point, at least 20 years. This group tends to be a little more mature, in actual age, as it also includes those dancers who continue to term "Steppin" as "Boppin", whether it be the old or new Bop. (Don't know what I mean?...that means you need to visit an Old Skool set next time you're in the Chi...and its worth the visit) 
 
Also, this Era of Dancer, generally DID NOT learn how to step on ANY count or in a class. They learned from a parent or at the side of the dance floor....by listening to the music, learning the Basic "cadence", and then learning how to develop style and footwork as they became more familiar with the dance. Old Schoolers "by practice" have a serious respect for the primary tenets & purity of the dance and its history....ie: Etiquette (Stay in your lane, wait - its too crowded on the floor, go around the dancing couple not through them, excuse me for over-stepping my lane or bumping you); Fashion (No jeans at ballroom venues, no gym shoes/timberlands, shirt with a collar - not a white tee, remove your hat when dancing, ladies dressed like women going out - not to shoot pool); Conversation (Its a social dance - conversate and have FUN, get to know the person you're dancing with...just dancing doesn't mean you know them); Chivalry (Be a gentleman); Meaningful Music (This style embraces music describing life experiences that generally moves at a pace that allows you to express through movement...though it has its places for showmanship); and, Styling (This dance has always held stedfast to intricate & cool footwork with turns included, its about controlled expression of emotion). Ego (Generally adheres to the thought that it doesn't take all that to be seen....if you do it well, you will be seen and acknowledged but dancing ain't about being a star...its about finding out more about yourself and tuning into the expressions of others).
 
Old Schoolers, tend to embrace "remember when"....the ability to create memories while upholding the cultural & historical value of Steppin, and not its potential to create a reputation or popularity via contests or any other means. To them, it is uniquely seen as an Art Form to be mastered slowly and.....They do not value contest participation or victories in the same vain as newer dancers. They participated for the FUN of it (though they were competitive and wanted to win - it was the joy of competition). They generally see it as a passing accolade that covered one night that could've been a lucky break, rather than a forever standing declaration of talent.
 
New School Steppers are generally those who came onto the scene after the influx of younger dancers in the mid-90's and includes the "children/students" of this era of dancer(those who have come into steppin in the last 10 years). These are the dancers who started to test the flexibility of the dance & created a "new" spotlight on the dance because of their flair...some say that it was the influence of hip-hop and house music because a lot of us from this "Era" identified with those elements, but had an appreciation for "classic" style as well. The whole introduction of "New School" as I remember didn't really come from this group of younger dancers, but rather came from those who learned the dance from this group.
 
It was this original group of "New/Younger" steppers that created a new "focus" in steppin because they quickly became high-profile members of the community,...both because of their love for the dance, but also because they were a sort of "new blood". the energy created by these dancers hit the community like a shockwave...but attention that they generated wasn't really focused on the same elements attracted them to the dance but moreso focused on the "buzz" or "spotlight" that they created. The challenge to dancers who followed after them became, yes about dancing, but the focus had shifted to getting the spotlight & being "known" as opposed to simply enjoying the fun & beauty of the dance.
 
Unlike their counterparts....New Skool Dancers generally learn to step via a class and on a count, but they are divided based on method..the ol' 6 vs 8 thing, rather than simply adherring to the fact that its an 8-step dance not bounded by counts but rather by the "vibe" of the music. In addition, New School Steppin found the need to introduce the influence of other styles of dance into Steppin...particularly salsa and ballroom dance, which greatly altered the the integrity of the dance...although its claimed that there's an appreciation for steppin as an original art form. By introducing these other genres, along with a change in attitude toward the dance....Following the general tenets of steppin became quite difficult, which caused a riff between those who were here already and those coming onto the Stepper "Set".  

(Sidebar)...I'm still waiting for salsa & ballroom to feel the need to inject  steppin into what they do...but I really don't see that happening...Steppin had everything you needed in it, if you were willing to take the journey, however long, to "get it"....
 
In the eyes of the Old Skoolers, the New Stepper had an attitude of "entitlement" based on skill as oppose to a reputation earned over time through actual experience...Steppin became about the move rather than about the music.  This new development got away from the music and focused more on counting steps that it did about relating to the music, more about turns, which were introduced for "flash" value, and less about real footwork. the new elements were exciting, but they threw caution to the wind in relation to what was there already....ie: Etiquette (Staying in your lane is not a staple in this era...its more about as much space as you need which is paramount considering the new turns which don't adhere to small space...and if its a hot song, "I'm gettin on the floor and you get off if you have too, because its my moment to shine...also, because of the influx of trio dance...people just jump in with out even asking...I've even done it...LOL); Fashion (anything goes...its more about the moves than it is about dress...yes, new Schoolers do dress, but its not the same pride of style thats held by the Old Heads...jeans is dressing up); Conversation (Its a social dance - but you generally don't have time to talk because there are so many back-to-back turns...except when the guy is constantly trying to be your "new" instructor on the floor cause he thinks thats impressive); Chivalry (Its just not the same....I don't even think we need to hit this one. Gentlemen at least take your hat off); Meaningful Music (New school music is more about showmanship, so it tends to be faster and includes more instrumentals); and, Styling (This style is about turns, simply put. Footwork is talked about, but rarely "actually" seen...I'm sorry to have to say it, but the men now-a-days don't even know how to move their feet & style...they just walk back n' forth. Its all about the next move, so the dance rarely slows down). Ego (Generally adheres to the thought that I'm trying to be "the best", who is the best, and about who has a trophy...Its ALL about being "known".. A contest is all that matters because 'that will catapult me into exposure' or maybe I need to start a class...although I'm still taking them, or have only been dancing a year, because teachers are popular).

Other differences are that Old Skoolers do all of the dances that make up the Steppin genre at their parties....Steppin, Boppin, "real" Walkin, "real" High-Steppin...even a little Slow-Bop...and I'm not talkin about made up stuff.....New Schoolers usual just do Steppin.....
 
You generally find New School Steppers at Club D'Elegance, Orbies, Klub Karma, the Gent party (though its been around a long time), and now at the 50's Afternoon brunch on Saturdays, etc...while you find the Old Heads actually "In the City" - Some of the groups to look for....New Distinguished Friends, Good Times Productions, Black Mary's Original Old Timers, Leanna Richards 3rd Friday at the 50, The Dancettes at the 50, East of the Ryan on Friday nights, Events by Don Vic & Solomon, Just Us Productions & Bernard Shannon's Men's Hat Club where men must wear a blazer...these are just a few. This is where you will find the "real" Legends of the dance (and that may not include your curent fave instructor or dancer) and see who "doesn't come out anymore, supposedly". The Old Schoolers retreated from the "popular or mainstream" events to be at events and venues that tended to stick to the "original" style of music and the dance.
 
This comparison does not mean that being a New Schooler is a bad thing....but  it has created some questionable elements in my opinion....doing things differently is cool...but we can't sacrifice the original at the same time, all in the name of progress or "changing times".
gettin older doesn't mean that it gets useless...you just gotta learn how to work it.....

Want to hear it from the Old Skoolers? Click here
Email your questions to either Lana@LanaReid.com or Maxx@DaveMaxx.com

 "ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring
Dave Maxx

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring
Dave Maxx     07-20-09
Q:What is your perspective on women's 'styling'? Can there be too much & if so, how much is too much? And, how does it affect the overall dance with a partner? There seems to be a trend here where the ladies are styling so much that the basic step no longer looks like the basic step. And a lot of them really look the same. I'd really like to know your thoughts on this?

 

A:I have always loved watching women dance who can actually STYLE (not re-create a routine) while they are dancing...a few of the best, & my faves are Leanna Richard, Angie Faine, Cynthia Shanks, Darlinda Russell, Charnice Simmons, Jackie Dace and Linda of the Foxettes. What makes these women so unique is that they have developed the ability to reflect the feel & style of the dance that each individual partner gives them, while also finding their own place & relationship with the song that they are dancing to. What also happens...is that they are able to do this within the framework of the lane and the Basic "Pattern" which keeps them in line with spacing, etiquette, etc. In addition they realize their role in the dance....which is...TO FOLLOW!!!....NOT...to know the turn, to do footwork & styling, or to get a workout into a sweating episode,...but rather to reflect and follow what the Lead is doing, AND while performing this task, to be the ultimate embellishment of the dance. YES!!! The job of the follower is difficult and requires an "I'm Every Woman Attitude", but when done properly can be a very beautiful performance to watch.
How does that take place? First of all, the Follower must learn where the prime opportunities are to do Styling....the primary job of the person following is that they be available to perform the requests of the Lead. Which means the Follower should not ever be saying, "Wait, I'm not finished doing my footwork or my special move!" Doing footwork or special moves is not your job, so you have to figure out how and where it goes...its like being on Facebook at work, you can't always do it...but if you do, you must fit it in around your real job...LOL!!! Also, some footwork & special moves are bogus...if you have to announce it, either it doesn't work or doesn't fit. Just like the LEAD shouldn't have to talk you through a turn, you should FEEL where you're suppose to go....you have to FEEL when its time to fit styling or footwork in. Styling should not impead the Lead, but add to what he is doing....so if it is, its too much. If the Lead lets you go, you only have as much time until he reaches for your hand again...NOT wait till I'm done, I got a routine over here to finish. Any Styling, Footwork, Pausing, etc should fit in the the BASIC "directional" framework of slightly up & back, and inside the lane - on your side of the lane.
One of the biggest compliments to any dancer is to see something that someone does that you consider to be worth mimicking or puttin in your own 'bag of moves".....YET...you never want to reproduce that move exactly like the person you got it from. Steppin is about "self-expression", and although a lot of us do the same moves, its more about our own interpretation of that movement than the move itself. If you do everything exactly the way someone else does it, then all people see is the person you got the move from, especially if they are popular...they never get to see YOU. This is something to keep in mind when learning or picking up new moves take a little of it and then "WORK" on the move to make it yours and so that it can reflect you...otherwise you and whoever else liked that move all look the same. The Ladies that I mentioned above ALL have different styles...and are all very smooth, but while they do a lot of the same moves, they all have their own angle by which they perform them....Take Note of that in your practice & prep for the dance floor.
Q:I live in an area where there are only a handful of decent or intermediate male steppers now. Most of the females here have to travel to attend sets/parties/workshops in order to get dances with better steppers in other cities. How can an intermediate female stepper get "up to speed" with the likes of Lady Margaret, Sherri Gordon, Candace Hinton, Sarah Teague, Sunshine, etc (sorry if I left other female "heavy hitter" names out. These are the first names that came to mind.) if we only have beginner/intermediate men locally to dance with?

A: PATIENCE...PATIENCE...PATIENCE...PATIENCE...and more PATIENCE!!!!!!! What is wrong with dancing and growing with the men who are dancing on the level you are dancing at? Learning to Step, and getting better at it is not a race!!! Furthermore, by disregarding the men in your community, eventually you work your way out of the minds of the men who one day will not be beginner/intermediate...then the question is what do I do to get a dance? It becomes a cycle. You say that you have to travel to dance with better dancers, but you have to stop looking over the fence to the yard thats been growing a little bit longer than yours. What makes those other dancers better is only the fact that they have been dancing longer. 2 out of the 5 women you mentioned above have been Steppin over 10 years, and a couple of them have been doing other forms of social dance since they were kids. I remember when ALL of them started dancing, and they were NOT great dancers or dancing with the best dancers right out of the gate...they developed their skills over time dancing with the men on their level and then drew the attention of better dancers.

You get better at this dance not simply by dancing with the best people, but by dancing more often. Getting better at Steppin is rooted in repetition and practice...not in WHO you dance with. What you should realize is, that there are more "regular joes" than there are "stars" in Steppin. I know the whole world is probably considered a "heavy hitter" as soon as they start a class or get in a contest...but even with that there are only so many 'better than average" dancers. With that in mind, it means that most of us are going to spend the majority of our time dancing with the regular guy. If thats the case, you need to spend as much time as possible dancing with the guy thats learning...who may not always indicate properly what he wants, may turn a little off, may misguide at times, or have little habits that you have to figure out...Dancing with this partner actually makes you better because its a challenge that makes you pay attention! The more seasoned dancer isn't gonna make those mistakes and is gonna put you exactly where he wants you....there is no real challenge there beyond paying attention, which you learned to do with the average dancer. This takes off some of the pressure & its FUN to have the experience because you can easily realize what he wants & now have the ability to contribute in that dance because you understand better.

You have to ask, how many dances are you gonna get with a great dancer?...not many...Therefore it is imperative that you dance with the men who are growing and developing so that you can learn to better respond to that "regular"level of dancer (which can still be good) because that is who you spend more of your time dancing with. Getting a dance with someone "heavy" is a treat, but not a requirement for getting better. Steppin is a male/lead-centered dance, and you have to be committed to the men in your community in order for it to grow & create a larger pool of "good" dancers, otherwise you're just going broke (travel expenses) to lay claim to whats going on somewhere else and only gettin a couple of dances in in the process.
Email your questions to either Lana@LanaReid.com or Maxx@DaveMaxx.com

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"      07-15-09
featuring
Dave Maxx
From Lana Reid's column "Whats Lana Saying This Week dated  07-15-09
Q:Why are there so many Brothers that want to lead the dance but don't want learn how to follow when dancing? Do you think that in learning to follow that you will improve the rhythm and timing for you and your partner?

 

A:As learning to Step has become more popular, its become increasingly enticing to cut corners to becoming a better dancer. I call it "Microwave Steppin"...short on the fundamentals. For instance, a lot of men are now told that they don't need to learn Basic, so you end up with a bunch of guys who can't really dance, but who can pull out 1,000 turns at the drop of a hat. The reality is that most women don't wanna be turned 1,000 times or be the person "doin all the work" during a dance, while the Lead is just pacing back and forth...BUT...Women deal with it because they want to dance. The truth is, that learning to "Dance" AND "Lead" is harder to do and takes more time, so its a road less travelled...BUT, it turns out better dancers that don't need a lot of turns to remain interesting and, who can really actually enjoy the ART of dancing along with their partner, and not just walk around.

On the other hand...learning to "follow" does not Guarantee that a man is going to be a better lead or dancer. Many of the BEST male dancers DO NOT follow....though some do, most of the Legendary Steppers that I know follow very little. But what they did do was to allow TIME to be their best teacher which has allowed them to grow over time, and which is something that "new" dancers tend to reject because they "want it all now". Men who don't have a desire to follow can be just as good or aware a Lead as men who do learn that Art. Reasons for avoiding it range from its not always seen as macho -to- not being interested in Trio dancing, which is really why most of the men who do it learn in the first place. In reality, its not practical to learn to follow unless you want to Trio or are an Instructor.

Now, in my opinion, learning to Lead & Follow does open up a better understanding of the dynamics of the dance because you should naturally develop an appreciation for and better relate to the role that the other person plays in the dance...it also makes for more FUN...but there's no guarantee that its gonna make timing or rhythm better. I have danced with guys who follow terribly and lead the same way. I am convinced that it will help you make better transitions while dancing and it helps to cover mistakes. Learning to Follow is like learning more about anything else, you now have more options to get things done...it may even open your eyes to some things and help you make some improvements, but you can't see it as a key to making you better. If that were the case, we'd be all playing basketball at the pro-level cause we do some new drill.
Q:What is your opinion on Brothers that talk a good game when it refers to the Art of Steppin because it is an art indeed? To be more clear, Brothers sound real good when talking about the Craft but when you see them dance they don't look appealing at all.....What do you think is the motivation for such behavior?

A: Going back to the basketball thing....Brothers traditionally talk a good game all the time (...and it doesn't matter what the game is). But how many men have taken the time to be diligent and really apply themselves to be good at it.....to develop a good jump-shot, dribble with both hands & hustle on D'. Very few!!!...cause when I was playin, I was trying to figure out on many days if this Brother really meant that he could play basketbal...not shoot marbles. I mean did this man not realize he was a "busta".

The Steppin Game has a lot of the same issues for Brothers! Like basketball, we (Brothers) are expected to be able to dance, but a lot of the times our egos get in the way of us really putting in the hard work it takes to be impressive, and dance lessons isn't the desired way to get there for men. We aren't wired to think of dancing as something that you need lessons for...or for that matter that we need more than a few lessons if we agree to go.

Then you add to that the pressure of performing for our Sisters (who ain't always easy to please - makin faces of displeasure & turning down the Brother who ain't that sexy or popular) and it gets that much harder. Add to that the Super Instructor who tells you about a hot new short-cut, all the while tellin you how great you look (especially if you're a clone), or giving you info that doesn't work across the board, and its off to the races. And don't forget the Brother "doin his own thang" who created his own method, cause he mixin' it all up. Pick a reason!!!

I believe that every Brother desires to be a good dancer and not just talk a good game, but Brothers need to be encouraged and allowed to "slow-cook to perfection" rather than "flash-fried to crispy oblivion". We all desire to satisfy our dance partner's hunger for enjoyment and social interaction, but some things need to change to take away the pressure and instill the FUN of being able to enjoy each other on such an artistic level as this. We have to get back to "Steppin to Enjoy" instead of "Steppin to Impress". Because, just like in basketball...most of us will never be 6'5", have a 50-inch vertical leap, or rain from three without regard to who's playin D' or wear a championship ring....We gotta put in the work to be fundamentally sound and in control for the FUN of it!!!

When Brothers are shown that this can be FUN and not be a constant contest to be acknowledged or accepted, but appreciated...then I think that you'll see more Brothers less concerned about being top dog and actually LOOK GOOD dancing....because what makes it appealing is watchin a Brother comfortable is his skin, cool & in control!!!
Email your questions to either Lana@LanaReid.com or Maxx@DaveMaxx.com

 

"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring
Dave Maxx    06-29-09
Q: How will you know when you have your basics down and are ready to move to the next level?
 
A:To answer this question directly,....A Beginning Student is NOT ready to move to the next level until they can perform the Basic Step, Primary Turns (Right, Left, Half), and have learned to keep their weight forward over the balls of their feet and off of their heels. Also, they should be able to perform all of these movements WITHOUT COUNTING, (whether 6 or 8 makes no difference - basic step, is basic step), and while able to hold a conversation and not get side-tracked.

There are several reasons that its necessary to learn it this way.....BASIC Steppin "alone" is simply a foot-based exercise, but that is simply "the beginning". Once you get over this hurdle, it'll be necessary to take your focus off simply performing steps and adapt to the influence of someone else...you'll be in the position where you have to lead or follow, and need to focus your attention there....all while your feet need to react on "auto-pilot"....responding to the rhythm of the song being played....NOT repeating numbers over and over.

Dancing is an emotional experience. And therefore, the purpose of dancing is to enjoy the music...its tones, breaks, pauses, instruments and voices...how do you do that and count at the same time? One of the GREATS...Ice Ray says, "You can't dance to a song that you don't know!" Yet, that doesn't simply mean not to get on the floor because you don't know the words.

You always hear how Steppin allows you to enjoy the music and express yourself....you can't do that and count over and over. Music changes and adjusts as it flows and our dancing should do the same if we take the TIME to learn the little things that set a good foundation for us to really get better...learn the steps like you learn a song a little at a time and it will be so much more enjoyable.

Getting to the "next level" in Steppin seems to be the primary goal of every Beginning student, so much so that they miss the FUN of learning to dance and of really getting their "fundamental foundation" set. So much focus is put on "Getting Your Game Up"..."Dancing in the World's Largest"... "Getting Known & Being a Heavy-Hitter"..."Not Ever Making Mistakes"...etc. Many people try to figure out what makes Chicago natives look so smooth....we took our time, learned the basics, and learned the songs so that we had something to express and the tools to express it.

P.S. And don't just learn the NEW songs...Steppin was built on the CLASSICS, and that’s where your REAL skill as a dancer is challenged. Anybody can dance fast all night, but to slow down and develop style....to learn to express yourself to music that has passion is what separates the dancers from the Steppers.... Hope this prescription helps!!!

Q:Where do I get women's comfortable, but sexy stepping shoes?

A:
One of the problems that Steppers face is that we need good equipment that allows us to follow the rules...and one of those rules is to look good...not just look nice, but to be "razor sharp" at all cost. The problem with that is that there are no "qualified" shoes that serve that purpose and allow us to follow that rule. generally you "luck" up on a shoe that’s comfortable or your favorite, but that pair doesn't set off the alarms. Standard Ballroom and Salsa dance shoes provide some of the best support and comfort levels available when dancing. The down-side is that they are not "Stepper Sexy" and they cannot be worn outside because they have suede soles. Unfortunately you have a choice to make in this area...which is more important for you: comfort or fashion. Jimmy Choos & Santana's are off the chain, but they were made to be looked at and not be functional on a dance floor. One thing I do suggest is "dance sneakers" when you're practicing and doing classes. They offer a lot of support and your feet can handle hours of dancing while wearing them and not be worn out afterwards.


"ASK THE DANCE DOCTOR!!!"
featuring
Dave Maxx
I'd like to thank everyone who expressed their excitement and sent well-wishes through the week on me joining Lana's weekly newsletter. I really appreciate the support. I'd also like to thank Lana for being interested in getting more information out to the dance community about Steppin so that dancers don't have to continue to "shoot in the dark". I hope that the information that I share here is helpful to your development as a Stepper and assists in making your dance experience more enjoyable...so let's get to work!!!
Q: How do you politely tell your dance partner that he/she needs a tic tac?

A:Wow!!! This isn't one that I expected, but here goes.....The one way that I can think of to politely remedy this problem isn't to say something, but to offer a solution to the problem rather than to simply point it out. Offer that dance partner a mint, and if they turn it down...offer them an alternative; gum, candy, etc. Being politely forceful in offering should get them the message without creating an embarrassing moment.
Q:Is it proper for a man to wear a hat on the dance floor?

A:
In one word...NO!!!! A man should NEVER ask a "LADY" to dance and then be disrespectful by keeping his hat on during the dance. His hat should be removed and placed on the table if the couple is dancing/steppin, or if they are Walking, the hat should be given to the Lady who holds the hat during the dance...its actually sexy to see that done. All too often we throw common courtesy to the wind. You don't see men stand when women enter a room anymore. Guys don't make sure that they walk curb-side when walking with a Lady. And men don't even give their seats to women that they know that are standing. Steppin is a dance based on ETIQUETTE...ask for a dance, stay in your lane space, hold the lady this way, apologize when you bump someone, so GENTLEMEN, Please remove your hats on the dance floor...its not cute!!!
Email your questions to either Lana@LanaReid.com or Maxx@DaveMaxx.com
From "What's Lana Saying This Week? "   (June 21, 2009)

==============================================================

Footwork or Just Steppin

New schoolers say that during the dance, when you break away from your partner how imperative it is to remain on the count.


Old schoolers have said just feel free to dance and when you return to the count, it's the lead's responsibility to find out where you are.  This allows more freedom and creativity.


I came to learn that the more you understand the dance and perform it for the pure enjoyment of its art form, then you will develop your footwork skills become a DANCER.  Therefore, dance to music that has meaning to you, dance to music that sounds good to you, dance to music that makes you feel good.


I honestly feel that footwork is a feeling, like when you dance at home in the mirror or cleaning up, which is your comfort zone and what you feel your best.  This is what you want to put in your foot work.


Old skoolers tend to let the music count for them, allowing them to dance on whatever beat they choose.

When you put yourself in to the music everything else falls into place and your creativity juices are that much more plentiful!


Until then, you will just be STEPPIN’ ….. That’s not a challenge!

What's your perspective?  Let us know unitedsteppers@gmail.com



Yes. Dancing is good for health…part 2

Dancing is a good form of exercise. We dance to enjoy and relax. Dancing is fun. Dancing to your favorite tune is what you would most desire. We may dance for pleasure, but dancing has health benefits too. What are they?

Dancing has physical and psychological health benefits. Physically, you are more fit, and psychologically more cheerful and self-confident. It is beneficial both for the young and the old. It is therapeutic in nature. Dance to your favorite tune and keep good health as well.

How Dancing is good for Health
  • Dancing is good physical exercise. It is good way to burn off excessive fat. It tones up the body
  • It makes you feel energetic and vibrant. Listening to good music and dancing to it can be exciting
  • Psychologically, it is relaxing. It makes feel good. Your mood improves. It can make you feel good if you are depressed and lonely
  • Old people feel young
  • Dance reduces stress. You forget your days tensions when you dance
  • For those who are figure conscious, it is good form of exercise
  • It improves the muscles and coordination
  • Lowers risk of coronary heart disease
  • Strengthens the bone hips and those of the legs
  • It can decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and many other forms of
  • Dementia among the elderly
  • It enhances the blood flow to the brain
  • Maintains flexibility
  • It increases stamina
  • Relieves you of toxins through sweat
  • Reduces blood pressure and lowers cholesterol
  • One develop strong social ties, which is good for psychological well-being
  • It motivates you
  • It improves posture
  • Your are more confident

United Stepper News

================

Dance Tips....

Tip # 1
To avoid bouncing, do the dance like your walking and let your natural sway come out.

Tip # 2
Powder  or dance wax on the dance floor does help with the turns and all that.  But at the end of the night, your shoes and for some women, your legs have powder all on them.  Some club owners don't want you to put powder on their floor because if someone slips and falls guess who will be sued???  So some peoplehave suggested to me packing tape.  That's right you put that clear packing tape on the bottom of your shoe and you will spin like a top.  I know because I have some in my Steppin' Bag. (LOL)

Tip # 3
Turning
To avoid getting dizzy when executing turns, make sure you always spot.  Spotting entails finding one object to focus on throughout the completion of your turn(s).  This will keep you from becoming dizzy or lightheaded when you are put through several turns on the dance floor.


Wikipedia Definition:
A technique used during turns. The dancer chooses a reference point (such as his or her partner or a distant point along the line of travel) and focuses on it as long as possible. When during the turn it is no longer possible to see it, the head flips as fast as possible to "spot" the reference point again. This technique guides the body during the turn, makes it easier to determine when to stop turning, and helps prevent dizziness.

send us your tip..email it to "unitedsteppers@gmail.com"



Milwaukee Dancers Got Swag?

Touch on those Intangibles - "What I would like to put in my cart is a pleasant greeting from club members and Men asking more women to dance at each set. Actually a smile, a greeting, a nod or Hell, even a dance from anybody at the parties would be nice. LOL!!! I have found that people can be so nasty and rude at times and so unpleasant to one another and that’s really sad. Come on People we come to step and have FUN! Let’s leave our unpleasant attitude and issues at HOME!! Let’s step and have FUN!! LOL!!! And if you are not a regular, forget about IT!! Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the music for the rest of the night, because you are not getting a dance!!! LOL!!! If you are not a familiar face, a regular, or if you don’t look Beyonce” or, if you are not dressed to impressed, or if you are not dress hal! f naked, or if you are not cool, you really are not getting your step ON!!! LOL!! Forget about IT, it isn’t happening!!!! LOL!!! I noticed in the past 30 years of going out to the parties occasionally, that men or women don’t want to be on the floor with someone less than what I just described. You find that Men and women will dance with the same people over and over again and it really gets boring watching them!!! LOL!!! However, women are not as discriminating as men. Men can be azzholez!! LOL!!! Why not Spread happiness to each other and ask other folks to dance once in a while. Give a person a chance, they may surprise you. I know steppers are serious about their craft, but loosen up it’s only a dance. This should be a fun experience for everyone. Let’s not take it too serious. Spread happiness and love, LETS STEP!!!" I've seen exactly what is mentioned on the dance floor at virtually every event I've ever been to. Of course, the way ind! ividuals act really is no different id it's a steppers event o! r anothe r type of event. If CHANGE is the operative word both men and women must realize it's the 21st century and it should be quite alright to ask anyone to dance regardless of their gender or status.



 www.unitedsteppers.com FOR MORE


Monday 2nd, March 2009

A Gentleman or a Gorilla Stepper?

A Gentleman Stepper is one who leads that woman to the dance floor and is very gentle when he starts the dance off with the woman. A Gentleman Stepper becomes in tune with his partner, reading her, getting a feel for what she can do.

A Gorilla Stepper is one who snaps at that woman to get her to dance. His opening position is extremely fancy and rushed. A gorilla stepper trys to execute every move he's ever known or just saw from a DVD, within the first two minutes of a dance. He misses the point of being in tune with his partner. He executing moves that HE wants to do rather than gage what she can handle.

Send us your comments - unitedsteppers@gmail.com

Dance Tips

  1. Stepping is about footwork... Original footwork, Nothing else!
  2. Floor Etiquette is so essential on the floor when social dancing. Therefore your must always be aware of your surrounding to best protect you and your partner. Apologize and Excuse yourself when you bump into someone rather it's your fault or not. This practice can only make more of a pleasant night out.
  3. Dance with confidence in yourself
     

Send us your comments - unitedsteppers@gmail.com

.

Monday 9th, March 2009

Are you a Clone?

An instructor can instruct, but it is up to an individual to add his/her own style and its too bad if his/her own style doesn't complement the instructor.

If an instructor knows he/she has provided quality instruction and attention this shouldn't matter (I think) unless the instructor is out to make stepping clones. I've seen people and I can tell who they are stepping like, there is little originality to their step.

Send us your comments - unitedsteppers@gmail.com


Featured Article

Enter supporting content here