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What to wear Swing dancing

by Jo Ann barnes

I’ve been dancing swing for over 20 years in Austin (and around the country). We used to wear skirts, dresses – and very high heels – ‘dress clothing’ and the former dance briefs and dance hose. Then…the shoe manufacturers started making comfortable dance shoes – and the ladies now wear dress slacks – or jeans – and sweaters, glitter tops (longer styles, glitter, sheer). This wear is more comfortable for the ladies – and we can wear lower dance heels. (I do save my high heels for ballroom dancing – with skirts or dress slacks.

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Watching Modern Dance

Modern dancers and their contemporary dance offspring are our explorers. They go first into the caves of our minds and emotions, into the wilderness of our fears and hopes. Because the body is their paint brush and canvas, we experience with all our senses what other artists symbolize in other materials.

Watching modern dance is going into a wilderness of uncharted territory, . I have to be willing to explore the ramblings of the choreographer’s mind and respect their courage for going where I could never imagine. My own perspective becomes a testing ground for their boldness and their quiet moments of reflection.

History has shown us that changes of perspective are often seen in art prior to the understanding of the principles in science. Choreographers like Deborah Hay are aware that her explorations of the body help us to understand the changing perspectives in scientific and psychological theory.  In this way all of our explorations are connected and we are all changing moment by moment by our courage to look around and willing go to the next step.

Watching dance, and especially modern dance, is one way I exercise my courage and willingness. Absorbing every nuance of movement becomes a compassionate look at my personal exploration and an attempt to explore with the performer.

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Save the knees with dance shoes

Save the Knees with Dance Shoes One of the sure ways to keep the body safe and working to its max is to wear the proper shoes. Yes, good dancing shoes matter for women, children, and for men. A perfectly fit dance shoe will save you much pain and physical surprises throughout your life.

A dance shoe has a special sole and is designed to the shape of your foot so that you can move easily in any direction. Bulky, loose shoes are not only dangerous, they hamper your movements and make learning to dance more difficult.

Unfortunately, discount versions of children’s dance shoes fall into this category of bulky and “hard to dance in” shoes. Children, most of all, are dancing for the pure joy of movement and do not need an uncomfortable shoe that has been fit sitting on the floor at a discount store.

Social and ballroom dancing shoes are critical for teens and adults who want to keep their bodies working well so they can have more fun dancing. Sticking to the floor does not help your dancing. Running shoes and casual shoes with rubber bottoms are notorious for damaging ankles, knees, and hips as the dancer tries to turn and move quickly from one direction to another.  In addition to making turning easier, a dancing shoe is secure on the foot, reinforced for extra support, and balanced to give more security between moves.

A professional fitting at Movin’ Easy DanceWear, whether for a highly technical pointe shoe, a ballroom shoe, or a children’s shoe, involves trying several different shoes. We explore your desired look and what you need with different styles, widths, openings for ankle and toes, types of straps, height of heel, padding, and support. The goal of a well-fit dancing shoe is to make dancing easier and more fun by providing comfort, security, and ease of movement. All of this and they make you look great as a bonus.

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Choosing a dance school for kids

The Austin area is blessed with excellent instruction for children and youth in all of the dance academies. Teachers are well trained and have an enthusiasm for making sure your child gets the benefit of knowing how to dance. Boys and girls can find a class that fits their personality and satisfies the goals of the parents.

Find a list of all the Austin area dance schools a go to Start Dancing and Where to Dance for  listings by location, age, and style of dance.

Choosing a dance school is an important step for a family. Your choice will increase your child’s excitement for learning throughout their life, and you will enter a special support network with other caring parents.

Your challenge is to select the type of dance education based on family goals and on the child’s personality and desires.  Recommendations from friends are a great way to find a school. Most schools will allow you to observe with your child before enrolling.

Parent and student goals are the most important consideration. Having a neighborhood school where friends dance together may be your priority. Or you may want a school associated with a well known performing youth group or professional company. Or you may decide on one form of dance or a specific set of skills that you want for your child’s development. Honor your preferences for the type of instruction and the kind of involvement you wish for your child. Then be open to the direction that excites both of you.

Dance studios have different approaches and each has its advantages. Some options are: 1. Academies associated with professional or semi-professional companies 2. Academies that build performance and competition into their curriculum 3. Training academies that focus on instruction and use performing as an option 4. Academies that offer a variety of dance styles.

It is important for your child to bond with the teacher and connect with the other students in the school. You will know these things after the first week of class.  If you think your child needs more time to adjust, talk with the teacher and your fellow parents to get some perspective.

It is not hard to find the right school with excellent instruction and caring, dedicated teachers. If you have special needs, the directors and teachers of the academies are always willing to help.