Friday, October 06, 2006

Le Jazz Hot!

Swingin'OUT was fantastic last night! Mandi Gould was our guest teacher for a special jazz class, and it was just too much fun!

Amazingly, we spent most of the 75 minute class on just four basic jazz moves:
  • boogie back
  • boogie forward
  • fish tail
  • Shorty George
First we focused on timing and polish. We practiced really opening up our upper bodies and putting our hips into it.

Then, we started combining the moves. For instance, four counts of boogie forward with four of Shorty George. Or, four counts of fish tail with four counts of boogie back. Or, even just pieces as small as 2 counts from each move!

Next, we broke into three small groups to create some tiny pieces of choreography. Each was to be 4 sets of 8 counts and use just those four basic moves. Well, actually, if we really wanted to, we were given permission throw in something else simple.

For posterity, here's what my group did. We were a group of five people, and we started in a straight line.
  • 8 counts: people in position 1, 3 and 5 boogie forward; 2 and 4 fish tail
  • 8 counts: people in position 1, 3 and 5 fish tail; 2 and 4 boogie forward
  • 4 counts: everyone boogie forward
  • 4 counts: everyone Shorty George
  • 8 counts: everyone boogie drops (4 counts right, 4 counts left)
We even arranged ourselves for colour balance in our shirts (by coincidence, we had 2 green Swingin' OUT T-shirts, 2 pink T-shirts, and one white T-shirt) and had time to choose a name.

Each group performed its little numbers for the others, and everyone was suitably impressed. Ours might have been the flashiest, due to the fact that we added boogie drops and had different people doing different moves at the same time. But, the other two groups were more inventive in the way they combined the four basic moves. In all, it was really fun to see what each group came up with!

Then, we got back into a big group, and started experimenting with the rhythm of the moves. For instance, instead of doing Shorty George as "kick-ball step step step step step step step," we dd "kick-ball step (hold) step (hold) step step step."

Finally, we broke out again into three smaller groups, where we did little jam circles. We went around the circles and each person had to do 2, then 4, sets of 8 counts in turn. Again, we were limited to the moves we had done that night, which we could combine however we saw fit.

Considering this was the first time many people had done anything like this, it went amazingly well. I guess because we had really reinforced the moves already and no one was expecting anything ridiculously inventive, people weren't all that nervous. It felt like we were even playing off each other a bit in my circle, which was great.

Thanks Mandi, for making jazz so non-scary!

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