Skippy Blair's Dance Dictionary
A "Dance Terminology Notebook"
For the past 5 years, the GSDTA Terminology Notebook has been online FREE of charge, while I worked on Updates, following every Intensive. The time has come for the book to go to the Publisher and it will soon be available in several different formats: We are currently considering a printed version at $40 - and an "online" version for $25. If YOU have a preference, please let us know. - In that I spend at least 2 to 5 hours a week - on UPDATES that are generated from emails - Intensives - and telephone questions, we plan to keep updating and publish a newer version - possibly every 3 years.
I want to thank all those teachers who have
written such glowing reports of how our dictionary has been one of their
treasured possessions. To our knowledge, much of the information in this
book is not available anywhere else. Many of you already know that if you
need specific information, you can email me at:
Skippy Blair, National Dance Director for Golden State Dance Teachers Assn. - Secretary and Education Coordinator for the World Swing Dance Council
SWING DANCE -
(1) Swing, as defined by the Swing Dance Council, is an all- American Rhythm dance consisting of basically 6 and/or 8-Beat patterns that cover either a circular or slotted area on the dance floor. Swing incorporates Underarm Turns, Side Passes, Pushes, and Whips plus Rhythm Breaks, Syncopations and Extensions of the same.
Author's Note: In the 1990s communication among various styles of Swing Dancing was brought about largely through the success of Jitterbug Magazine (editor Cay Cannon of Laguna Beach, CA) and the efforts of large competitions like the US OPEN - and of course, the World Swing Dance Council.
(also see: BALBOA, BALLROOM SWING, CAROLINA SHAG, EAST COAST SWING, HAND DANCING, HOUSTON WHIP, IMPERIAL SWING, LINDY, TEXAS PUSH, WEST COAST SWING)
(1) An action that takes place on the weighted foot. (2) The weighted foot presses into the floor with the ball of the foot, releasing the heel of the weighted foot. The heel moves left or right as the press takes place on the ball of the foot.
(also see: CROSS SWIVEL, KICK SWIVEL, SWIVEL WALK)
(1) The "rearrangement" of the metered beat. (2) For the Dancer, it is the rearrangement of the weight changes within the "2-Beat" Rhythms. (3) Stepping BEFORE the beat (on the "&" or the "a" count) and then stepping again, or doing something ELSE on the actual beat of the Music. Example: Count: "&a1." Lift your knee on the "&," step on the "a" and "Kick" on count "1." Kick again on count “2.” This is a "Syncopated Single."
TAP STEP -
(1) One of the "Calls" for a "Delayed Single" Rhythm Unit. The "Tap" is on the Downbeat and the Step is on the Upbeat. (2) A "Tap Step" is a Secondary Rhythm and should be taught after all the Basic Rhythms are understood and danced ON TIME.
(also see: DELAYED SINGLE)
(1) Instructing someone in a way that produces a skill that the student wants to learn. (2) Showing (or demonstrating) is a basic form of teaching but is not complete by itself. Showing only reaches the small percentage of people who have the ability to copy what they see. (3) Knowing the essence of a dance, and being able to relate that information by demonstration, verbal communication, and "hands on" physical practice.
TECHNIQUE - (Dance Technique)
(1) A discipline to achieve a specific goal. (2) Examples include: Foot Placement, Force Points, Body Alignment, Hand & Arm Placement, Basic Dance Rhythms, Rolling Count, Centering and proper use of Syncopations that are on time -- all in relationship to the "Center Point of Balance" (CPB) and the MUSIC.
(also see: CENTER POINT of BALANCE)
The speed of the Music (Nothing more, nothing less). Tempo is determined by the number of Beats per Minute. To really UNDERSTAND tempos of music, it is important NOT to think in terms of Slow, Medium, or Fast Music. Sound changes according to mood and circumstances. The only secure knowledge of tempo of music, is learning and understanding Beats per Minute. (BPM)
(also see: BEATS per MINUTE)
(1) The specific words used in any given discipline.
(2) The words that define the boundaries of that discipline.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: TERMINOLOGY is our greatest communication tool. The terminology for the UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM® has spread world-wide in it's 50 years of existence. Literally hundreds of words, coined by GSDTA, have been "clarified" and absorbed into the extended Dance Community. (3) GSDTA has been foremost in research and development of "Terminology," with a sincere effort to confine the "words" to the world of American Social and Competitive Couples Dancing.
THREE TOE BASE (3-Toe Base) -
(1) The big toe and the two toes that are closest to the big toe. (2) This relatively new dance term has gained considerable popularity in the swing dance world over the past 12 years.
TIME (DOUBLE TIME - HALF TIME - 2005) -
(1) "Double Time" means dancing twice as fast as the music. (2) “Half Time” refers to dancing only half as fast as the music. There are very fast pieces of music where a dancer can actually dance swing by counting only the Downbeats.
(also see: TIME, SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE TIME)
TIME (SINGLE TIME - DOUBLE TIME - TRIPLE TIME - 1950) -
(1) In the 1950s, "Time" was used to denote differences in the Rhythms in Swing Dancing at Arthur Murray Studios. (A) "Single Time" referred to dancing “Step touch - Step touch.” (B) “Double Time” referred, in the 1950s, to dancing "Tap step - Tap Step." (THIS term has a totally different meaning today.) (C) "Triple Time" meant “Step 3 times - Step 3 times.”
Historical Note: In the realm of dance, these terms were not described as “Rhythms” until after the publishing of “So You Want To Learn To Dance?” by Skippy Blair in 1964. By 1968, even Laure’ Haile referred to “rhythms” (instead of single time, double time, etc.) She later referred to “dots and slashes” instead of continuing her original use of long and short dashes, which had represented Quicks and Slows. Laure' was a very sharp lady and continued to "grow" through the years.
(also see: SINGLE RHYTHM, DOUBLE RHYTHM, TRIPLE RHYTHM)
(also see: BEAT, COUNT, SYNCOPATION, TIME VALUE)
(1) "Control of the speed of the action." (Webster's New American Dictionary) (2) In Dance, we add: “Control of the speed of the action - while centering over the Unit Foot, based on the various Dance Rhythms.” (3) Timing in Syncopations requires the "kicks", "points", etc. to be ON the beat of the Music, while the "Steps" (weight changes) take place on the "a" counts. (4) In Dance Competition, timing is based on the ability of the dancer to transfer weight on the correct counts in the music.
(also see: BEAT, CPB, PULSE, RECEIVING FOOT)
TRIPLE RHYTHM -
(1) THREE steps ( 3 weight changes) to TWO Beats of music.
(2) A "LEFT Triple" steps "Left & Right Left". A “RIGHT Triple" steps "Right & Left Right.” (3) In 4/4 time, "Basic" Rolling Triples are counted: "&a1&a2", "&a3&a4" , "&a5&a6" and "&a7&a8". (4) In 3/4 time, a WALTZ can be counted: "1 2 3 & 4 5 6" OR, preferably, using Rolling Count “&a1 &a2 &a3 - &a4 &a5 &a6”
(also see: ROLLING TRIPLE, SYNCOPATED TRIPLE)
TRIPLE RHYTHM BREAK -
(1) The name of a pattern in West Coast Swing. This "4-Beat" Rhythm Break is danced in a one hand, open position, with the Lady at the end of the slot. (2) He steps "Left &Right Left - Right &Left Right", staying in place while he leads the lady into a "Right & Left Right - Left & Right Left. The Count is: "&a1&a2 - &a3&a4" He swivels the lady to her Right on "&a" before "1" and to her left on the "&a" before count "3".
(also see: PRESS, TRIPLE RHYTHM, UNIT FOOT)
(1) A Dance step from the 1940s that steps straight ahead and then moves the Toe out to the side (Weight centered on the heel). (2) Step forward Left on count "1" and do a "Toe Fan" on count "2." Step forward Right on count "3" and do a "Toe Fan" on count "4." (3) A characteristic Hand Styling for Truckin' is to shake the pointer finger in the air, in time with the music and each foot placement.
(also see: BALBOA, JITTERBUG, MOVEMENT UNIT)
(also see: CONTRA-BODY, WEST COAST SWING)
TURNS - see BOX TURNS, BREAK TURNS, CROSS TURNS, HOOK TURNS, INSIDE ROLL, OUTSIDE ROLL, PADDLE TURNS, PENCIL TURNS, PIVOT TURNS, SLIP PIVOT, SPINS, SWIVELS, TORQUE TURNS
TWO BEAT INCREMENT ("2-Beat" Increment) -
(1) The smallest measurement or "UNIT" of Dance. (2) All step patterns, in all dances danced to 4/4 time music, are composed of two or more specific Rhythms. Each Rhythm is confined to one “2-Beat” Rhythm Unit.
(also see: RHYTHM UNITS, WALTZ)
(1) The smallest increment of Dance. (2) Two Beats of Music in 4/4-time or 3 beats of music in 3/4-time. (3) For the ANNOTATION of a Unit, each RHYTHM UNIT is encased in a rectangle for easy identification.
(also see: ANNOTATION, COUNT, DANCE RHYTHMS)
UNIT CARD -
(1) "FLASH CARDS" designed to visually note the RHYTHMS in the ANNOTATION SYSTEM of the UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM®. (2) These visual aids are particularly helpful in public education, or anywhere the teacher can have the cards displayed where the student can see the number of weight changes in each rhythm. The CARDS facilitate learning and also contribute to developing creativity at it's most basic form.
UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM® -
(1) A method of training dancers that emphasizes connecting the Dancer to the MUSIC - starting on lesson ONE. "The SYSTEM" concentrates on ELEMENTS of MUSIC and TIMING and ELEMENTS of MOVEMENT. (2) This "System" isolates the components and covers ALL forms of dance, Social level to Performance level. (3) This is the Trademark for the teaching system and system of ANNOTATION that is the basis for Certification through the Golden State Dance Teachers Association.
(see: RHYTHM CHART, the FORWARD in the front of the book)