Here are 9 ways Solo Jazz can improve your swing dancing and enjoyment of swing dance events!
Often when starting to learn to partner dance we fear losing connection with our partners, whether on purpose as in break aways or by accident when we miss a catch. Solo jazz gives us the confidence to dance with our partner even when we’re not physically connected and to fully utilise these moments in the dance, turning them into flowing opportunities rather than disrupting mistakes.
Repertoire & Variation
Building a repertoire of core solo moves that you feel good executing is one way of developing confidence as a dancer. Taking that solo repertoire base, breaking it down into component movements and then expanding it into variations will help you develop a library of possibilities that can then be drawn into your partner dancing to create footwork and move variations.
Variations are sometimes the products of mistakes or rather they are mistakes that you own and transform into dance. Solo Jazz helps develop your ability to turn a mis-step into a flawless extension or flow of the dance.
Muscle Memory & Recall
Learning moves builds on muscle memory. Learning routines helps with mental memory. Learning to improvise improves mental recall. All of these mean you have a greater capacity for remembering partnered moves, a better ability to link them together on the fly with smoother transitions.
Musicality & Improvisation
Similarly, a greater bank of moves that are programmed into your muscle memory will help you “feel” particular movements, “hear” rhythms or recognise physical “ideas” in the music. This is the root of musicality and by flexing this skill regularly you’ll gain a dancer’s instinct for when to do what.
Improvisation is linked to the mental recall mentioned earlier. Practicing improvisation through Solo Jazz will hone your responsiveness to change; change in the music, change in your balance, change in direction, and build on your ability to adapt to these changes on the fly.
Control, Balance & Spatial Awareness
Understanding how your body occupies space, what that looks like and what it feels like is a benefit of learning Solo Jazz. Dancing on your own gives you instant feedback in understanding where your weight is at a given moment in a movement and what it takes to move your body in a given direction. This proprioception is super important for developing technique for turning and spinning, which feature regularly in your partner dancing too. Developing precision with how you use your body in space will help you move more efficiently, especially with the faster tempos, when with a partner.
Ownership Of Your Dance
The balance and control gained from Solo helps strengthen your understanding that your body and your movement is your own, even when in partnership. The repertoire and variations you learn in Solo Jazz will help you develop your own voice in the partnership. In this way, by working on your solo movement, you’re acknowledging your responsibility for your 50% of your partner dances.
Going to Solo Jazz events has the added bonus of not requiring a partner to sign up and practicing is something you can do on your own, making Solo Jazz a perfect way to take responsibility for your progression and banish the excuse of not having a partner to learn and practice with.
More Opportunities To Dance
Dancing Solo give you access to even more classes, more workshops, more events and more dancing!
There are times when dancing with a partner at events just isn’t possible. Perhaps the lead/follow balance isn’t in your favour, or you’ve got an injury that prevents you being able to connect to a partner comfortably/safely, or maybe you’re new to an event and aren’t feeling ready yet to ask a stranger to dance. Being able to thrown down some Solo Jazz moves can really help with each of these scenarios.
Often when one person starts to Solo on the dance floor more join in, allowing a group of people, who might otherwise be dancing alone or not at all, to take part together. This makes it an excellent ice-breaker and launchpad for new connections and conversations.
It’s also a super handy thing to have in your back pocket for those times when a jam circle opens up but perhaps you don’t have a dance partner you feel able to dive in with. Dancing Solo in a jam circle is just as much of a thrill as swinging out and you’ll get double the kudos from the crowd for having jumped in on your own!
BONUS: It’ll also give you a bank of moves to throw down when out clubbing with your non-dancing friends too!
Knowing the common routines means you can join in when they’re performed en masse, allowing you to further access the sense of shared experience and community at events. Knowing the lesser known routines means you can get the nod of recognition from others who know it too and warm and fuzzies of dancing in unison to something considered tricky or niche.
Solo Jazz offers another way to connect to your partner dancing and swing dance community through historical context. Learning why we do this Shim Sham, where the Big Apple came from, who choreographed the Tranky Doo, will lend colour and texture to the knowledge you gain about the history of Swing dance through your partner dancing.
It also provides a bridge between the ballroom, the stage and the silver screen, all of which were also homes to swing dance and give us an opportunity to connect with the original solo dancers, tap dancers, chorus lines, and performing legends who inspired the swing dancers of old to create these dancers and the swing dancers of new who continue to develop them.
Give It A Go
If you’re feeling inspired to give it a go, why not stop by our weekly Solo Jazz & Charleston class. Check out our class page for more info and join our facebook group for notifications on when’s the next best time to join in if you’re an absolute beginner.
We’ve also got a Solo Jazz workshop with special guest Nancy Hitzig coming up in November, so now is a great time to dip your toe in the waters before diving in!