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Thread: Documenting Modern Jive Moves/Patterns using the Universal Unit System

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    Re: Documenting Modern Jive Moves/Patterns using the Universal Unit System

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    Can you let me know what you'd like me to demonstrate?
    1. The difference in dancing on upbeat and downbeat in an MJ context and why one 'looks' better

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle
    It looks 100 times better when you start on count 1 as opposed to count 8 because you are then dancing on the downbeat and not the upbeat.

    2. Some common MJ moves and how you would teach them as body-led rather than arm-led.

    3. Pulsing and why it matters

    In fact, if you were just to put up a sample of the kind of MJ class you might teach incorporating these concepts then that would be cool.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    I've been away in Madrid while this thread has been developing - it snowed!

    And now I'm back I see there's been a lot of navel gazing about something that's so simple. This probably comes from asking for advice from someone who has never taught MJ or even seen a MJ class.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    Ok...I have some questions...about how MJ is taught in Australia/NZ?
    Although I don't teach in Australia or New Zealand it seems that teach in a completely different world from Alan - so here are my answers to his questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    1) Do you use a Starter Step in MJ?
    There is no "starter step" like there is in WCS. However, I always start the routines I teach by stepping the follower right in the one of the eight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    2) Is MJ taught as body led or arm led?
    I teach a bit of both. For example, the Manhattans are completly body led, the Tumble Drier is a bit of both but mostly arm led. It simply depends on the move. However, I have noticed that many MJ classes teach a back-step with an arm lead when they should be teaching a step forward with a body lead: this seems to work for them but it does lead to partners being a long way apart, bad posture and many dance floor collisions - some people seem to like those events
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    3) How is MJ counted? 1& 2& 3& 4& or 12 34 56 78?
    I don't count at all when teaching MJ moves. I talk people though the moves with emphasis on the words that come on the counts. The only time I count is when I'm teaching musicality and when I do that I number the eight counts with their correct number in the phrase 12345678. Apart from when I'm talking about 8 bar phrasing which I count 12345678 22345678 32345677 (&) 42345678. In my opinion counting the beats in the bar isn't necessary for people to learn the moves. Knowing what to do is much more important so you should be telling them what to do - but you need to know what beat they're on and start them in the right place in the bar, usually on the one of the eight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    4) What beat do you start on?
    As I said above, in the lesson it's the one of the eight. In freestyle it doesn't matter so much so long as you step the lady right on the odd counts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    5) How do you pulse the dance?
    If pulsing means emphasising the beat I emphasise every beat as the basic of MJ is that you step on every beat. To do otherwise would mean that stepping right would have more emphasis that stepping left - it would be like asking marching soldiers to stamp harder with their left foot than their right, very tiring!
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    6) Is it mainly danced Rotational or Slotted?
    I think MJ is mainly slotted. There are rotational moves where partners walk around each other and there are travelling moves like the triple-step. But, in the main, the moves are slotted. However, the slot can be rotated in freestyle to use the space available.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    7) Do you know of any other differences I may not have mentioned in the teaching of MJ in UK and Australia/NZ?
    There are many ways that the teaching of MJ differs within the UK. This is probably true in Australia and NZ as well.

    As I said above, I do not believe that Skippy Blair should be telling MJ teachers how to dance MJ. I believe that we have a lot to learn about the teaching of dance from such a great teacher but we have nothing to learn about what makes great MJ or defines MJ. If Skippy Blair studied MJ and come up with a teaching method it would be fabulous - however, what it looks like is that Alan has had a chat with Skippy and decided that MJ should be taught differently based on that conversation.

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    Re: Documenting Modern Jive Moves/Patterns using the Universal Unit System

    I'm left wondering myself if this proposed level of technical complexity in teaching is completely missing the point.

    As Rocky says MJ is so popular because it is easily accessible. You can actually go from a standing start and in just a couple of lessons you can be equipped with enough moves and knowledge to get out on the floor for the bulk of the night and have fun.

    Granted, once you've got beyond this then I agree that many of us forumites might be searching for something more as we push our dancing into new and hopefully more expressive areas, but in my view the vast bulk of MJ'rs would simply be turned off by the prospect of more rigour and structure. I can't imagine this would be in Ceroc's interests since their business requires increasing numbers to be turned on and not off.

    Alan - I commend your enthusiasm and I'd personally be happy to see your outputs since from a selfish perspective if they produce the goods they could help me in my own drive for improvement. However, I'm not of the opinion that the Universal Unit System is going to spark a revolution in MJ.

    Agent 000
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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    However, I have noticed that many MJ classes teach a back-step with an arm lead when they should be teaching a step forward with a body lead: this seems to work for them but it does lead to partners being a long way apart, bad posture and many dance floor collisions - some people seem to like those events
    Why "should"? I agree that body-leading forward would help avoid those problems, but so does body-leading a step back.

    PS - what's a Tumble Drier? (in an MJ context)

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    Why "should"? I agree that body-leading forward would help avoid those problems, but so does body-leading a step back.
    I think Andy worded himself badly and meant "the man body leads a step back for the lady by stepping forwards himself", but I could be wrong.

    PS - what's a Tumble Drier? (in an MJ context)

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin View Post
    I think Andy worded himself badly and meant "the man body leads a step back for the lady by stepping forwards himself", but I could be wrong.
    No - I think I worded myself badly, because I understood the same thing as you. My apologies.

    Question still stands though.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin View Post
    Aha. Thanks. Is Lisa still dancing, btw? I haven't seen her for ... at least eight years now, I think.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    Why "should"? I agree that body-leading forward would help avoid those problems, but so does body-leading a step back.
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor should have written View Post
    I have noticed that many MJ classes teach leading a followers back-step with an arm lead (often with a semi-circle of the leaders hand ) and a leaders back-step when they should be teaching leaders to step forward with a body lead keeping the hand level and applying compression into the followers hand: this leaders back-step seems to work for them but it does lead to partners being a long way apart, bad posture and many dance floor collisions - some people seem to like those events
    .....

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    Why "should"? I agree that body-leading forward would help avoid those problems, but so does body-leading a step back.
    *mutter*

    I meant 'body leading a step back while stepping back oneself'. I think I just failed my communications degree.

    *mutter*

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    I meant 'body leading a step back while stepping back oneself'.
    In the above situation your body is leading nothing. Body leads come from the centre and require your body to move to lead the lady. If you're doing what stray says above our body is doing the opposite of leading and you have to arm lead even more to compensate - especially if you're waving your hand.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    In the above situation your body is leading nothing. Body leads come from the centre and require your body to move to lead the lady.
    I think it's possible to body lead a step back and also step back.

    I won't say it's easy.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    I think it's possible to body lead a step back and also step back.

    I won't say it's easy.
    I can't see how that would work To effectively body lead something your centres need to be travelling in something like the same direction - if you're facing each other this won't work.

    Of course, if you're both facing in the same direction a body lead is completely possible, as in the sway, especially if you both step back with the same foot.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    I can't see how that would work To effectively body lead something your centres need to be travelling in something like the same direction - if you're facing each other this won't work.
    It is possible. Many body leads do not necessarily involve a following motion from the Leader. The fundamental basis for body leading is initiating the movement from your centre, so in the example above, your chest would start to move forward to lead the Follower in a step back, but once the lead is given, all you need is to maintain connection and you can step any direction you like.
    In the same way, hand/arm leading does not require the hand to go all the way with the follower to convey the lead; Once the initial impulse is given via the connected hand, no further movement is required from the leading hand.

    There also seems to be a lot of 'my body lead is better than your arm lead' posturing going on, especially from people who clearly don't really understand body leading fully. There is nothing wrong with arm leading, if done sensitively and at the correct speed / intensity.
    Franck.

    There's an A.P.P. for that!

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    I can't see how that would work To effectively body lead something your centres need to be travelling in something like the same direction - if you're facing each other this won't work.
    You'd need to:
    1. Initiate the lead with a body movement
    2. Wait until the follower starts moving
    3. Move yourself


    That's pretty much how all leading works in AT.

    EDIT: blast, Franck beat me to it - well, What He Said.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    In the above situation your body is leading nothing. Body leads come from the centre and require your body to move to lead the lady. If you're doing what stray says above our body is doing the opposite of leading and you have to arm lead even more to compensate - especially if you're waving your hand.
    On the contrary - it's perfectly possible - I use it religiously in my leading, and we teach this method for leading rock-steps. It's used extensively in Lindy, and, I assume, in WCS. It isn't particularly hard to learn - and Alan gave a pretty good description of the technique earlier in the thread. There is no 'hand-waving' whatsoever - quite the reverse, as the hands don't need to move.

    The principle can be illustrated nicely with a Newton's Cradle.


    Start it going using, say, just the two left-most balls. When they hit the center ball, the center ball stays put, and the momentum is imparted to the two right-most balls. And so on.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    There also seems to be a lot of 'my body lead is better than your arm lead' posturing going on, especially from people who clearly don't really understand body leading fully. There is nothing wrong with arm leading, if done sensitively and at the correct speed / intensity.
    No posturing from me on this subject - although I do detect some criticism from Franck and guess that it's directed at me - he doesn't criticise anybody else. On this occasion he is wrong not only do I understand body leads, I agree with everything he has written. I'm not precious about either style of lead. As I said earlier and have quoted below, it's a bit of both and both can be used appropriately. Having said that, I can't see why the lead would step back at all for most moves in MJ. I find myself doing and teaching exactly what Franck said, except the step after the body lead is usually to the left to clear the slot - especially in cross-body moves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    I teach a bit of both. For example, the Manhattans are completly body led, the Tumble Drier is a bit of both but mostly arm led. It simply depends on the move.
    However, that doesn't mean I approve of the giant back step where partners end up so far apart that they have to adjust their posture, even leaning in to maintain hold. And that is what I see being taught in many venues. Dancers copying this style are the ones who step back into the unknown on a crowded dance floor and leave their heel print on your instep*

    *especially when they don't see you because you're about a foot shorter than them

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    There also seems to be a lot of 'my body lead is better than your arm lead' posturing going on, especially from people who clearly don't really understand body leading fully. There is nothing wrong with arm leading, if done sensitively and at the correct speed / intensity.
    I wouldn't dream of claiming that my body lead was better than your arm lead - I have no basis for comparison. I would definitely claim, though, that my body leads are vastly superior to my arm leads.

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    However, that doesn't mean I approve of the giant back step where partners end up so far apart that they have to adjust their posture, even leaning in to maintain hold.
    Well, I think it's probably more difficult to teach a body lead where you both step back, than where the leader steps forward. In fact, I know it is.

    Hmmm.... should this stuff be in a separate thread?

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    Re: Documenting Modern Jive Moves/Patterns using the Universal Unit System

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    Having said that, I can't see why the lead would step back at all for most moves in MJ.
    Depends on one's style of dancing, I suppose. Myself, I'm far more likely to do a backwards rock-ste, while leading my partner forwards than to do it the other way around... but I suppose I parted company from standard MJ many many years ago, so I doubt I'm all that representative.

    Really though - a rock-step is a tool that one can use to set up the correct tension / compresssion / momentum / lead / whatever for a move. Which one you use will depend on what the move is, how I want to lead it, and what came immediately before the move. And my mood. And any number of unrelated random circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    However, that doesn't mean I approve of the giant back step where partners end up so far apart that they have to adjust their posture, even leaning in to maintain hold. And that is what I see being taught in many venues. Dancers copying this style are the ones who step back into the unknown on a crowded dance floor and leave their heel print on your instep*
    Fully agree... partly because of the appearance, but mainly because a lot of people doing it fully straighten their arms, and lock out their elbows and shoulders. The cumulative effect of doing this, (coupled with the posture issue you mention) puts a lot of strain on the shoulders and arm joints - so anyone doing this a lot over a long period of time risks causing themselves some ... interesting ... problems over the years.

    To be fair to the teachers though, I think it's something a lot of beginners will just start doing of their own accord (like hand-bouncing) - I don't see it so much as not teaching people to do it, as teaching people not to do it.

    Body-leading the step back in opposition doesn't tend to cause this problem, but I think that's as likely to be because anyone doing it has long outgrown the 'huge steps / lock your arms' phase as it is to be because of anything inherent in the technique.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    Well, I think it's probably more difficult to teach a body lead where you both step back, than where the leader steps forward. In fact, I know it is.
    It's hard to teach in a class. Not so bad in a workshop or one-on-one - it's easiest if you can work directly with people so you can demonstrate just how it should feel. Oddly enough, once I'd got it, I found it easier to actually do than to do the same thing with an arm-lead.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    .... should this stuff be in a separate thread?
    Quite possibly.... assuming there's any more mileage in it for everyone. I'm wondering if it's near the sputtering-out phase at the moment (although I hope not)

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    Re: Knowing your partners foot/weight/placing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    I can't see why the lead would step back at all for most moves in MJ.
    Because it's MJ? Let me clarify (again)
    - The elasticity of swing dances, including MJ is based upon partners coming together and bouncing away from each other again.

    - by the lead stepping back, they are mirroring their partner's movements and becoming two people dancing together rather than one person leading the other to dance: Both partners are sharing the 'in and out' momentum.

    - by the lead stepping back, they have opened space up to lead the follower in any direction on the next count.

    - by the lead stepping back, they are keeping the orientation and floor positioning, hence reducing the temptation of the dance to degrade into an un-controlled circular dance.

    - by the lead stepping back, they are increasing the distance between themselves and their partner; this will reduce the temptation of followers to take huge steps back because it will emphasise the gap between the dancers.

    - by the lead stepping back, the beginner lead becomes less forceful; a straightening arm while stepping back will not push the follower back as much as simply shoving the arm forward.

    - by the lead stepping back, they are starting to move their feet and transfer weight to the stepping foot.

    ~except the step after the body lead is usually to the left to clear the slot - especially in cross-body moves.
    This will get leads stepping, but in my opinion{*} it is taking one of the core elements of WCS that defines it's shape and look, and applying to MJ. I think that you are trying to teach "West Coast Jive".

    (I also think that this will have several downsides; it will encourage a circular motion to the moves, it will encourage followers to maypole the leads, it will have followers taking longer to reduce the size of their step back (and so hurt leads who have not been taught to lead by compensating for it), it will be easier to trap beginner leads into doing the same move again and again and again, ... )

    However, that doesn't mean I approve of the giant back step where partners end up so far apart that they have to adjust their posture, even leaning in to maintain hold. And that is what I see being taught in many venues. Dancers copying this style are the ones who step back into the unknown on a crowded dance floor and leave their heel print on your instep*
    I think that your technique of stepping to the side is simply making the lead compensate for the follower's huge step: it does not highlight the problem or do anything to prevent the follower from taking it. At least with both folk stepping you can see the dancers leaning, stretching and grabbing for hands and therefore take steps to correct it. Taking a side-step just hides the problem.

    {*obviously not as highly valued an opinion as a qualified teacher of MJ who runs several successful dance nights}



    With regard to body leads and hand/arm leads - they work in unison. Followers closing their eyes are relying on the connection through the arm/hand lead. Followers without contact are relying on body leads. You can lead both ways independently. When one compliments the other, then you have a clear lead. When one says one thing and is confused by the other, then you have a messy lead.
    The most common way to get the two to work in unison is to use the body lead to drive the hand/arm lead.

    I know this because I have been through & learned from loads of workshops learning arm leads and body leads and frame and connection and all the rest of it:
    I used to lead solely with arm leads - any synchronous body lead was pure fluke. Especially when I was throwing in some "musical interpretation". Learned a bit about connection and isolation - became better at not letting my "musicality" travel down my arm and disrupt my lead. Learned about frame and my lead became better and I could 'share' my "musucality". Learned about body leads and I could lead whatever I wanted with much more clarity. But it's all connected and joined and crossed over and overlapping with each other - one bit pulls threads of another bit.

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    Re: Documenting Modern Jive Moves/Patterns using the Universal Unit System

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    I'd be happy to...but it may be a week or so before I'd get a chance to record some video footage.
    Hi Alan, it's been 'a week or so' now, is the footage ready?

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