Swing Analogies: A new move is like a new box of legoes

On this recent Christmas morning (er, this post was written a few months ago), I helped my little nephew put together a Lego train, following his aerial training.

It struck me as a great analogy for how I look at moves I learn from others in classes and such.

Legos come in kits—blocks that are supposed to make something on the box when you put them together, like a train, submarine, castle, etc. Let’s say you buy the Starfighter Lego box. It comes with a bunch of standard Lego pieces, directions, and a few unique pieces like starfighter wings, afterburners and pilot canopy. These unique pieces, however, still have the standard Lego male-female plastic velcro hook-up bits.

A nephew first will put the Starfighter together, to see how it works. My nephew specifically would even be curious as to how the pieces would taste. As he puts it together and follows the directions, he’ll begin to understand why it’s put together the way it is, how the pieces work, and how the small parts fit together to make the whole.

He’ll see the small details that went into it, like the little light Legoes that go on the tips of the wings, or the covers to the vent onthe afterburners (he might even notice that the directions spend three times as many pages on small details as they do with big picture pieces.)

Eventually, after he’s played with the Starfighter, allowing it to attack and rain down fiery death on Bob the Builder’s entire construction site, he’ll crash it, and have to fix it again, from memory. Maybe he’ll do it right, or maybe he’ll come up with some modifications.

But more importantly, there might come a day when he will take apart the Startfighter, and use the pieces to make something of his own, and then the next thing you know, Bob the Builder’s construction site is being destroyed by a flying submarine train with afterburners.

We dancers can do the same things with the moves we learn: turn them into flying submarine trains with afterburners.

9 responses to “Swing Analogies: A new move is like a new box of legoes”

  1. I think that’s a really great analogy. Unfortunately, I remember being the kind of kid who really wasn’t very good at repurposing his lego blocks.

    This is why I mostly avoid learning and teaching “moves”, for fear of only building starfighters with them. And when I do learn/teach a move, I try to make them as generic as possible and to experiment with building as many different things as possible with it.

  2. This is my favorite way to teach swing too – to show how the different parts can be broken up and restrung and new stuff plopped on top. Like, here’s a swingout – what if we added a turn at the beginning? Or at the end? Beginning and the end? Lead and follow both turn? Classes that just have long convoluted routines drive me nutty – we need legos to learn social dancing. I think that immediately showing variations on a basic helps keep students from being stuck in their routines.

    I guess that’s what Gregory said too. :) I just think more instructors should help with this.

  3. Also, I’m pretty sure I saw some of my favorite dancers over there in the corner – they’re not playing with lego, but carving things straight out of wood…

  4. Last weekend Bobby and Kate showed us a wonderful X-Wing they’d put together using a box of old Lego they found in the attic. But before I had a chance to play with it properly they put it away on a shelf I couldn’t reach. When I tried to show my partner how I thought thought the X-Wing had been created I found that I’d actually ended up making a Speeder Bike.

    Whilst the Speeder Bike is a useful vehicle and perfectly suitable in a range of environments, I found it just didn’t have the diversity and beauty of the X-Wing and felt a little disappointed with what I had managed to create.

    Luckily, a little later, B&K provided us with a tiny stepladder that enable me to take the X-Wing down off the shelf and study its constituent parts properly.

    Now I can play with both the X-Wing and the Speeder Bike, which is more than I would have been able to do had they just let me play with the X-Wing from the get-go.


    (Good analogy Bobby!)

  5. Marvellous! Every time you get a new one, you can make the shape on the original box or rearrange the pieces and make a different shape. When you’ve finished playing with the new one you can tip the pieces into the ever growing bag you’ve been collecting for years. Great analogy Bobby, I wish I’d thought of it! :o)

  6. Love this analogy. I used to love legoes as a kid! But we didn’t buy kits back then, just individual boxes of pieces as we desired them, and there were no designs to follow (or they were too complicated, so we didn’t). So we just made stuff up – of course, we used real world models like houses and cars and stuff. There was a lot of trial and error – what if I stick this over here instead of over there. Being originally a street dance, Lindy is also wide open to making stuff up as you go along. The music says kick, you kick. And now you perhaps have a new move you can re-use. Creativity is by its nature “outside the box” and not always amenable to analytical breakdown.

  7. Yeah, for some reason I get in trouble with the followers every time I try to figure how a move tastes.

    Lovely analogy. Maybe one of these days I’ll move beyond my Bal-Duplo blocks ;)

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