Thursday, August 8, 2013

One-Dance Challenges

Social dancing is a time for fun and relaxation, and it is also a time to test your dancing out in the wild (as it were).  You often learn more in a good night of social dancing than you ever do in a lesson.

Look - a herd of lindy hoppers sweeping majestically across the plains!

But if it seems like your dance development is at a standstill, or you're just bored with the old routine, why not mix it up a bit and give yourself a challenge? 

Here are a few One-Dance Challenges that I've always enjoyed, some of which were also instrumental in making me a better dancer:

1. Blind Following - choose a lead that you trust, warn them about what you intend to do, and dance the whole song with your eyes closed.  It's amazing how your following can change without visual cues!

2. Level Changes - in one song, find a way to creatively work in five separate floor-touches.  This will really work your balance and your musicality, especially if you haven't done much with different levels in your dancing before.

3. Free Hand Dancing - for one song, anytime your free hand is not actively required by your partner, keep it at or above shoulder height; the challenge is in doing this creatively and musically.  You will almost certainly make up a bunch of cool arm movements that you can use in later dances!

4. Active Listening - for one song, choose a particular prominent instrument and dance only to that instrument.  Whatever it does, you respond to, and when it does nothing, you remain neutral.  You'll be surprised how much you notice about the music as a whole!

5. Opposite-Hand Dancing - for one song, use the hand that you're least accustomed to leading/following with.  For follows, you might have to specifically request that the lead only use your left hand.  It can feel mighty strange but mighty freeing to try this!

6. Box Breaking - find a partner that you feel comfortable with, and for one song, creatively twist, vary, or otherwise mess with every single move that you possibly can, even the basics!  And this goes double for follows.  This will result in a bunch of silly awkward bombs and several golden moments of "that was awesome!"

7. Solo Jam - for one song, dance with nobody but the music.  Make it a real dance, too, and use your whole body and the space around you.  "Look ma, no partner!"

8. Matrix Dancing - with a willing partner, dance one song together without touching each other.  This can mean whatever you want it to mean, as long as you're still dancing together

9. Role Switching - with a willing partner, swap lead/follow roles either for the whole dance or at multiple times throughout the dance.  See if you can pull off any cool transitions.

10. Steal Dancing - with a willing group of people, have a song where you repeatedly steal each others' partners.  See how many cool steals you can pull off in unexpected ways!

A lot of these challenges are classics, and some of them you may have never heard of.  But in my opinion, these are things that everyone needs to try at least once, not only for the learning experience, but also - mainly - for the sheer fun of it!

And now let us end with an awesome and inspiring dance video which I cannot stop watching:

Lone Star Championships 2013 Invitational Jack & Jill Contest
(The first pair, Michael and Frida, won first place!)


  1. the video might not be working...

  2. Hmm, it looks fine from this end... Maybe it's a connection issue? The video is pretty long.

    If it still doesn't work for you, here's the YouTube link:

    Also, my bad on the caption - it's at Lone Star Championships, not MWLF!