Every time we mention to someone that we teach blues dancing, the immediate response is, “What’s that?”
Luckily for most of the rest of the dance styles out there, the name of each style has come to mean the style itself. “Waltz” doesn’t need much explanation, for example. People just know what it is.
But blues dancing? Not so much. Here, at least, is the beginning of a list of blues dance characteristics.
Blues dancing is….
…a standing partnered dance, more in the style of the ballroom dances than contact improv.
…a lead-follow dance in which one partner signals moves, direction, timing, etc, and the other follows (even though the roles may be switched).
…danced in close embrace, torso connecting with torso, in a more open closed embrace, (similar to ballroom), or open, with connection only in the hands.
…very much about rhythmic variation, meaning that several “basic” footwork patterns may be used, and combinations or smaller elements of those patterns are also explored.
…connection-based. Every detail of the dance may be communicated through physical connection (the dancers’ “frames”). This is different from a style in which move sequences are memorized and repeated.
…expressive. Dancers attempt to express the emotion of the music and not just the tempo or musical timing.
…grounded, danced on more or less flat feet – the whole foot vs. the ball.
…hip-centered. Lots of hip movement, but in a style different from Latin movement. Twists, dips, figure eights, and more are possible.
…danced to blues music, of course, but also to other slow, rhythmic, groove or lyrical-based music as well, including trip hop, slow jazz, R&B.
…improvisational. The better two dancers’ connection, the more they are able to explore movement variations neither dancer has experienced before.
What characteristics would you add or remove?
(By the way, we teach blues dancing, as mentioned, every Monday night.)