January 07, 2015

Soul stepping:Dancing up a storm


I've been teaching dance in Beachmere  for a couple of years now, and the experience has been great. Come each Tuesday I load up my bicycle with the music box and scoot off to stomp, shuffle and slide about to some great music -- music I love, because I'm the disc jockey.


Finding new choreography or creating some from scratch is all about engineering a groove that suits the  group's musical preferences and skill level.Together we inch our competence forward as we collectively remake our  bodies and retrofit them in dance mode.

The playlist may be unfamiliar but then that enables us to source our steps from all over. We dance Zydeco from South West Louisiana, James Brown style funk, Azonto from Ghana, Brass Band stomp from New Orleans, Blues, cool grooves, disco, even Ska out of eighties London. 

And if the group doesn't like a dance we bump it off the list. I may cry sometimes,over the loss, but then there's always plenty where that one came from.

So it becomes a scene hungry for new dance steps and sentimental about favoured and cherished old ones.

When I go looking for a new dance or a song jumps out at me  it's all about the beat and promise. What works on the dance floor is complex. I don't go for look or skill mix but feel. Dance has to be about in-side out and not performance. While folk may look at line dancers dancing and assume it is a cobble of regimented steps learnt by rote, it's really about taking yourself on a musical journey.

Afterall, line dance is our ancestral tradition going way back.It's what we humans danced for  thousands of years.

It's called 'soul' for a very good reason. There's an energy and collective vitality in play when you dance in sync together. It's not just shared exertion or teamwork but a celebration of life. 

And besides, for the price of a cup of coffee, it's fun. 

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