Weekly Note
#3 -   October 24th 2011
This Week's Note
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Know Your Music
I hear DJ's tell attendees, "you can dance swing to this, so don't complain." Well, yes. One can dance swing to anything that's 4/4 time. But I can also dance a Rumba, a Cha Cha, a Salsa to any 4/4 song too. It doesn't mean it feels good. It doesn't make it right. Dancing with the Stars may have confused the general public regarding what music matches what dance, but we trained dancers don't have any excuse. 

Until swing is separated out from Abstract in both club form and competition form, like they really should be, here are some songs to help you learn to identify the differences...

One in a Million - Ne-Yo
Heart Attack and Vine - Tom Waits
 Drive Time - M People

Soft Abstract:
5:19 - Matt Wertz

Hard Abstract:
Take it Off - Ke$ha

Enjoy the journey of identification! This is just a taste. I'll be offering more in the future, so stay tuned...
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Contact Katherine
Katherine Krok Eastvold
PO Box 61555
Santa Barbara, CA 93160

Dear Reader,

My, my, my... you are all having a lot of fun, aren't you? It really does sound like it. It's been an exciting week... and here's why:


1. More than 100 emails were read within the FIRST HOUR of Weekly Note #2's release. I was RIGHT when I said you were hungry! (Don't ask how many were opened within 24 hours of the release... It'll scare you!)


2. I've been named the "foremost leader in preserving the essence of swing," or something of that nature, by a number of sources... (Yikes! + Amen! = Whoa.)


3. I've had a flood of emails, most indicating gratitude, but more importantly, thoughtfulness... I'm being asked EXCELLENT questions. I can't answer all of them all of the time, but it's shown me how insightful my readers are, how well you learn, study and recognize the differences... and how ready you are to dance again.


It all comes down to this: WE ARE WAKING UP! The veil is being lifted from our eyes. And we are able to understand the dance floor, the music and hopefully very soon, the teaching once again.


Buckle up, everybody. The boat is a-rockin'! But no one will get hurt... the goal is freedom. The goal is DANCE! 

                                                      Love & joy! -KKE

Swing is Swing
swing-life-mag "Swing is Swing." This is a famous line that Dean Collins used to say when asked about what the different swing dances were and what he thought of them. Back then, Balboa, Lindy, Jitterbug, Smooth Lindy and West Coast Swing were all becoming more defined as their own dances.  But they all shared certain things in common. I call them the Tenants of SWING. See if you can identify the dance characteristics that all of these videos have in common... and enjoy watching real swing dancing for a little while!

West Coast Swing
Mary Ann Nunez & Benji Schwimmer
Jack & Jill 1st Place

(West Coast Swing and Shag)
Michael Norris & Ginger Pickerel
Famous US Open Classic Division Routine
 1998 (brought the house down!)

Lindy Hop
Teams Division Winners - The California Rolls::2009 US Open Swing Dance Championships
The California Rolls - US Open Swing Division Winners 2009*

Makes you want to get on the dance floor and dance doesn't it? I have to confess, after watching so many videos of Abstract for last week's Weekly Note, I had to remind myself of why I'm still in the game... and so I just had to do a Note on swing as a reminder for myself...

...and it worked. My feet are movin' and tappin' under my desk. Swing IS Swing, isn't it? No matter what the charming and charismatic Nissies say, no matter what the exhausted and checked-out teachers say, no matter what the scoreboards tell us, WE know what swing is, don't we? 

If you still have those dusty ol' tapes from back in the day, get 'em out and play 'em for yourself. If you don't, start looking up dancing in the 1990's on YouTube or in your Swing Club's video vault- it's a pretty safe era for swing dancing, no matter what video you find.

Enjoy the JOY of dance everybody, and look forward to seeing if you figured out my Tenants of SWING before ever announcing them.

To the Dance!
-Katherine Krok Eastvold

*2016 NOTE: The video I wanted to use for the Lindy Hop section was of the California Rolls' 2009 Team routine, which had won the US Open's entire Team Division with a standing ovation that made history. Unfortunately, the poor quality video above captured the spirit, but not the technique - but it was the only video available at the time I released this Weekly Note.

Thankfully, I've since found two incredible videos of this routine that have since been posted that give you such terrific views of the routine that you'll be able to see them do the following with ease: 1. demonstrate excellent swing technique across the board and 2. demonstrate the tenets so powerfully, we can't look away. 

There is much to learn from this routine, and now these videos will allow us to do so! Enjoy...

International Lindy Hop Championships

Camp Hollywood

Rearview Mirror
Last Week's Note: "Soft vs. Hard Abstract"
I'm impressed at how quickly everyone picked up the differences between Soft & Hard Abstract Improvisation. Wow. A little disturbing maybe, but you got it.

Now... Something I didn't mention last week was that BOTH video examples I used placed TOP 5 in SWING contests. One even placed FIRST! Why is this?

I demo and describe the reasons in my SwingIN!s much better. It's hard to do it here. But I'll do my best with one of the biggest reasons...

The judges are being fooled. Abstract moves SO much more than swing does... that should be a red flag for a judge, but unfortunately, they usually end up "not seeing" the real swing dancers on the floor. WCS movements are much tighter, much more subtle. They require you to actually take time to look at them, and that's hard to do in a sea of wide and huge movements.

In early 2008 I watched a Novice competition with 90 couples. The event director had the judges cut it down to 10 finalists (crazy and unfair in it's own right, but it makes money, doesn't it?) and so the judges had to watch a huge division and quickly choose only a few.

I watched prelims and I watched finals. All 10 finalist men were doing 4 count "push-pulls" instead of push-breaks. Why? There were plenty of guys out there in prelims doing great 6 count push breaks.  But they were hard to find.  More movement occurs in a 4 count "push-pull" than in a 6 count "push break."  And with 90 couples on the floor....

A sign of bad judging? Of course. The judges being used were not only working for free, but half of them had never competed in a swing contest, and the other half had never even reached Intermediate. 

NOTE: I'm a huge fan of using the BEST judges in Novice, because our new dancers watch who makes finals and change their dancing accordingly... it's part of the reason, I believe, we're burning through new dancers in only a year nowadays- they simply can't figure out what dance those finalists are doing... because it's not what they are learning in class...

Anyhow... this event was in 2008. A sign of what was to come? Exactly. When I saw that, I immediately stopped telling my students to compete there. Good leading, good following, good posture, good Timing, Technique and Teamwork were obviously no longer valued. 

Is this happening everywhere? Much more than any of you would feel comfortable believing.  It's worldwide.  But it's not too late.  As a judge, I now simply look out on the floor to see 1) Who is doing West Coast Swing and 2) Who is keeping a beat. They are easy to find. They are dancing in a nicely confined slot. I look for the controlled and small movements... and then I see swing. Right there, I can easily eliminate the majority of the dancers depending on where I'm judging. 

It's time to save the dance. It's time to take judging seriously again. It's time to hire real judges again. And it's time to ask our judges why they no longer put swing above Abstract, when we are awarding Swing points and saying it's a Swing contest.

We need credibility again, folks. If our better dancers are tired of doing push breaks and underarm turns, then I would kindly invite them to enjoy another dance... and stop ruining ours.

About Katherine
A Champion dancer who fell in love with West Coast Swing in the early 1990's, Katherine has owned her highly successful studio, become a finalist in both Classic and Strictly at the US Open, written articles for numerous magazines in the community since 1997, choreographed top 5 routines, been on the board for Boogie by the Bay and traveled to over 38 states. 

She is not afraid. She loves beauty. She loves truth. And she believes it's knowledge that can bring a dancer more joy than they can imagine on the floor.
Want to know more about Katherine? Read her biography here.

Copyright  2016
Katherine Krok Eastvold