Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Swivels: Practice that Shoulder Stuff

How you hold your shoulders during swivels and switches has a big impact on the overall look - for the classic LA style swivels, it's important to pull your shoulders back and center them over your core (don't hunch forward and don't lean back - your shoulders should be directly over your hips). This technique is functional as well as stylistic - you're building a solid foundation in your midsection, so that your bottom half can relax and let your feet do more than just hold you up.

Go look in a mirror and practice this. Hold onto a doorway and bend your knees a little, and check your posture in that mirror. You don't even need a full length mirror - your bathroom is fine, because you're only looking at your shoulders. If you feel wobbly, try to use your stomach and back muscles a little more. If you can't find those muscles, go do a couple stomach crunches to show you where they are!

Got that posture figured out? Now here's the tricky bit. While doing your footwork*, isolate your shoulders and don't let them rotate forward & back/left & right as your hips move. Hold them steady. Don't let them wiggle and flop around and distract from your nice turnout you've worked on. Pay extra close attention when you rotate to the right - keep that left shoulder in place!

Okay, here's your inspiration clips - you've earned it!
"Chool Song", Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan dancing
In her switches at 1:00, Jewel holds her top half up and steady, and her shoulders barely wiggle - even with those giant sleeves that accentuate everything! Notice too that she opens up from Dean a little - she's not perfectly parallel to him (which makes this a better angle for the audience), but she still holds steady.

"One Girl and Two Boys" from Swing Fever, Jean Veloz dancing with Don Gallagher and Lenny Smith
In this clip, Jean does some sassy ups and downs with her shoulders, but still keeps them back and doesn't let them rock in as she swivels. Notice too how her arm does different stylings, but she still keeps her posture.

If you feel inclined, go back and watch the last clips I posted, and this time watch their shoulders. I'm trying to post a variety of clips (and not just Buck Privates every time!), but if you're into this, go watch them all again!
*Footwork- still planning a post on this, but that one will take a little more time to write, so I'm stalling! :)


  1. Great blog Beth!! I always tell my student when they swivel or do switches, that they should try to square off their shoulders to their partner's shoulder, and move from their waist and accentuate their hips while make it look sexy! :)


  2. I am looking forward to the *footwork post! :) I gotta figure out how to swivel. I am a girl, and I should be able to swivel what I gots! :D


  3. Please do post the footwork post!
    My knees are finally at a place that I may be able to switches without collapsing in pain and the only girl here who does swivels does some mess of them that everyone tries to copy... and well... it's a mess.

  4. Okay, I'll try to get it up by the weekend! Don't worry, the footwork isn't hard - the hard part is figuring out how to write about it! :)


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