Swing Analogies: stews and ransom notes
Your dancing “voice” is not so much like a voice, it’s more like a stew.
Sure, it’s a voice in that it’s a unique tool you have for expressing yourself. However, using the word “voice” also implies it comes naturally, and is always present, even in the early stages of dancing, two things that are almost never true for swing dancers. So, I’d probably describe it more like this: developing an improvisational swing dancer’s dance style is like making a stew.
A dance style is often a combination of personal taste and influences/inspiration from many other sources, much like a stew has a combination of specific ingredients in specific amounts. And by it’s nature, a stew is a blending of ingredients, a melting of flavors. Some in whole chunks, some liquidized and subtly omnipresent. I think many dancers could see their dancing style in a similar way.
Some dancers think a dance style can be developed quickly, but in reality it can take years to create a recipe that balances all the flavors well. And even then, sometimes when you try to make it, it just doesn’t come out right. (This always happened to my grandmother when she used anyone else’s stove but hers.)
For the most part, people rarely finalize a recipe. They often try new ingredients (or new varieties of old ingredients), get rid of old ones, and play with the cooking variables.
So, now I’m just hungry.
Your dancing should not be a ransom note (assuming your goal is to become an individual swing dance artist)
One of my favorite recent analogies comes from swing dance instructor David Rehm, who noted that some people’s dancing is a ransom note: they’ve taken one move, style and all,directly from one source, and another move, style and all, directly from another. As a result, watching them dance is the equivalent of reading a ransom note, with no unifying theme or movement.