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It's Like Magic


Professional West Coast Swing Dance Instruction

My Blog


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Posted on 24 June, 2011 at 10:17 Comments comments ()
Posture, Posture, Posture
   Having a little time today to think about technique and how each thing.. sometimes even the smallest thing  when done consistently can improve your dance tremendously.
   When judging I often see the new dancers strugggling with the same issues I struggled with.. one of the biggest issues is Posture... Stand up people !!
     Whether dancing, running, walking or sitting good posture offers enormous benefits... not just for your dancing but for your health too !!
It increases your balance, control, timing and your ability to easily move from one position to another as well as enhance your ability to connect consistently and effectively with a partner it also helps prevent one from taking steps that are to big..... 
Posture and proper timing are the keys to making easy transitions from one pattern or movement to the next regardless if you are leading or following.. tremendous benefits for both !!
Take a private lesson some time from the most well known instructor you can.. to learn more about it... if you can apply it... your dancing as well as many other things in your life will improve..

Music !! could not have said it better myself.

Posted on 2 June, 2011 at 14:01 Comments comments ()
More from Michael Kiehm....
 June 2nd. Music appreciation/interpretation; 
   Let's face it, we are not going to like every song played at an event. Instead... of complaining about the music choices, try challenging yourself to dance in a way that would convince anyone watching you, that you actually like the song. Yeah, I know, I am just as guilty as the next guy when I say comments like; "What the heck is that Dee Jay playing" or, "That song really sucks!". We've all said that more than once or twice :). It's easy to dance with positive engergy, embellishing the breaks and preparing for those awesome cresendos when your excited by the song, or you recognize the song as a current popular hit. Here's my tip, Every song has something within it that is not always obvious to listeners. Find that background musical instrument, vocal riff, or that subtle repeating rythm and bring it out of the song so that someone watching would say to themselves, "Hmm, I did not even realize that sound was in the song until that dancer projected it". When you put your focus on this concept, you start appreciating songs you don't usually even pay any attention to. To bring out the sound that you are hearing, you might make a small movement with your head, or you might press your foot into the floor to accent the sound. Try motivating your partner by being creative and inspiring. You never know, your partner might actually assist you in making the song more exciting once they feel motivated by your dancing. Give this a try guys. In the end, we are dancers first, so we should be able to make any song within reason come alive! Until next week, keep dancing from your heart! Michael Kiehm

Basics, Basics, Basics !!

Posted on 1 June, 2011 at 13:58 Comments comments ()
Thought I would share this with students and dance friends everywhere...I teach this, and say it all in many different ways...This comes from my good friend in San Diego, Ca.  Mr Michael Kiehm... good stuff !! Enjoy.
Basics, Basics, Basics, You can't work on them too much! 
I'm sure you've probably heard this a million times, but lets face it, watch any advanced dancer and what do you remember??? It's HOW they danced, not what they danced. An advanced dancer can captivate you with nothing but basic patterns, simply because they have mastered their ability to maintain a consistent connection between themselves, the floor, the music and the space around them. They never seem rushed or off time, and they never use more lead or follow then necessary. THERE IS NO WAISTED MOVEMENT! Even when they "play" the are able to "Keep the conversation" (stay connected to the partner).I see so many dancers dancing solo while holding on to a partner! This is a result of a lack of good basic skills. When the basic connection is solid, both partners can continue complimenting each others embellishments with matching movements or at least support throughout the movements.One of the best pieces of advice I or any other coach could give you, would be to SLOW DOWN and pay more attention to your partner. If you are in control of your balance and your spacing, miracles will happen. A perfect example of this is non other than Tatiana Mollmann. Here is a very talented follower that can take a movement that most any other follower would fall flat on the floor with, and turn it into the coolest move! Why, because she understands her body's limitation and is always in control of what it is doing. If you watch any video of Tatiana, you will see that she stays very calm and continues to dance basics in between each flurry of extravagant movements.Try keeping your feet as close to the floor as possible and think about keeping your posture strongly over your feet. Try to be aware of how you are placing your feet on the ground (what part of the foot, and how much time the foot is action and the placement of the foot) If you think about it in this detail, it will cause you to slow down slightly, which is a great thing! KEEP WORKING ON YOUR BASIC SKILLS....I DO, and I've been dancing for over 30 years.
Me too Michael !!!  Thanks for writing this !!
Courtesy of Michael Kiehm, Starlight Dance Studio- San Diego, Ca


Posted on 18 March, 2011 at 10:30 Comments comments ()
None of us are perfect in how we act or conduct business...least of all me....speaking for myself.. with over 25 years in the dance business....
Most of the established professional dancers/ instructors over 25 already go by an unwritten courtesy code...and there are teacher certification programs out there that teach proper well as how to be a good teacher....however.. if one's ego is to large to go thru something like that or if they are too young to realize the importance of it..... ethical conduct may or may not ever be learned or practiced. If those people were big corporations rather than individuals the government would be all over them insisting on reform.
Coming from and having experienced corporporate America thru mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, etc and all the beaurocracy that goes with well as all that goes on in the dance business..that is visible to the public as well as what goes on behind the scenes which is completely unknown to the average dancer....
I believe regardless of what we do in life... we really have two main choices...right or wrong...if we choose what is right and correct.. ? do we choose just what is right for ourselves indvidually which to many would be the selfish course of action and can still be construed as wrong or at the very least politically incorrect....OR.... do we choose what is right for everyone involved ? For myself...Whenever possible the later is and will always be the logical best and only choice.

Full Circle ?

Posted on 14 March, 2011 at 14:13 Comments comments ()
 In contemplating what to write here in my first post.. all that comes to mind is how much west coast swing seems to have changed thru the years... or has it. ?
 My journey through the world of West Coast Swing has taught me many things about myself and life as well as the dance itself...
  So I believe that it is not entirely true that the dance has changed that much.. but rather I myself have changed in my thoughts, perceptions and expectations of what exactly west coast swing is. The more I learn about it the more different it seems than my original perception. The more I learn the more fun it becomes.
  My most profound discoveries have come from simply sitting down and talking to those that are still with us that are between 80 and 95 years of age that lived the dance as it was coming into it's own. Their descriptions of what we call west coast swing today versus what it was then...have boggled my mind more than once..particularly when they talk about the music and the rhythms they used and taught each other to do in the dance. Some times .. in order to understand the present..we must visit and even revisit the past...
They really danced the music as it was made. They adapted their timing and footwork to fit the changes in the music in 2 and 4 beat intervals... which allowed them to always hit the accents in the music as well as the minor and major phrase changes with ease..which ironically is exactly what todays very best west coast swing dancers and teachers are doing. So in some ways the dance has now come full circle. Teachers are getting better and the knowledge available to them regarding the dance is much more extensive than it was in the past. So.. full circle.. ?  Or is it really just getting started ?