Roots 2011, Seattle

Roots: A Solo Movement Workshop was, in fact, a workshop for solo movement, particularly swing and blues solo movement.  The idea behind the workshop title is that swing and blues came from the African American community, with roots in African dance.  So we took classes from African dance instructors in the morning, had a class designed to bridge African and swing/Charleston/blues together after lunch, and then swing solo or blues solo classes in the afternoon. Social dances in the evenings were not scheduled by the workshop organizers because the focus of the weekend was on the classes, and we needed to get a reasonable amount of sleep.  However, there were plenty of events going on in the city over the weekend, and we attended dance events both Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The classes were really interesting and well taught.  Of the African classes, I think my favorite was the second (and slower) class taught by Sarah Lee.  At the end of each class during the weekend, the instructor did a demonstration that we could video.  Here’s the video from the end of Sarah Lee’s class.  No, no one but her looked this good.  But we tried.

She brought drummers with her. They were awesome.  Actually, that may have been the most interesting part of the lesson — Sarah Lee talked about how the drummers signal when she moves on to a different part of the dance; it’s an interaction between dancers and drummers. And she never just started dancing; she always waited until the music indicated she should begin.  It was really hard for us to pick out the break indicated by the drumming, even though they played it for us several times.
The African instructor on Saturday, Etienne, is from Benin, and taught by showing, rather than telling. While it was definitely a different way for most of us to learn, it was interesting because it’s how blues and swing used to be taught/learned (according to Mike Falsek, our Saturday afternoon swing solo movement instructor.)
Mike’s classes were well taught and interesting.  The first class broke down different movements: boogie back, boogie forward, Charleston, Susie Qs, falling off the log, etc.  The second class was a vintage solo routine that incorporated some of those moves and some additional moves (and transitions).  

There was also a raffle for charity that had some serious prizes (tickets to upcoming events) and some fun prizes (a shimmy from Joy, a “sexy dance” from John).  David was the winner of several of these, including tickets to an event in December and Miles juggling five balls.  Another girl won a shoulder ride from Miles.

I seriously regret to say that I cannot post the video of John doing his sexy dance as I promised him that I would not.  Once I figure out how to send it to him, I will try to obtain his permission to post it.
I also am unable to post Joy’s shimmy (David won this, too, and was beet red throughout), because I mis-filmed it and only captured the applause at the end.
We did also manage to see a number of the sights in Seattle while we were there.  David and I visited the Seattle Space Needle on Friday evening, where, in addition to taking some neat photos (see the opening photo of the Needle), I bought Ted for David – a posable, break-dancing fusion robot.

And John, David, and I visited Pike Place Market and the first Starbucks.



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