上海摇摆舞讯 2020-03-25 14:16:07
在欧洲跳摇摆一年多，以平均每月一次舞蹈研习班或舞蹈营的频率跟着摇摆游欧洲。其中有著名的瑞典Herrang 夏令营，同样在瑞典的斯德哥尔摩Snowball，巴黎爵士单人舞Jazz roots，立陶宛的Harlem等等。回看这些舞蹈活动，最先也最想和大家分享的是前不久去过的Swing Summit，因为相比其他，这个活动太特殊，让人对摇摆舞的跳法“另眼相看”。
先来介绍下活动的主办人，Ali 和Katja。他们细心经营的Swingstep算是个成功推动摇摆的好例子。Swingstep主要在德国海德堡和柏林，Ali和Katja 在海德堡，但经常可以在欧洲各种大型舞蹈研习班上看到他们的身影。他们同时还力挺一些新兴的摇摆组织，比如葡萄牙和以色列。
Swing Summit对学员的报名筛选算苛刻的。90%以上的学员都是在报名开始的头两天申请的。剩下的基本是有人临时取消报名或者为了平衡领舞和跟舞而临时添加一二。申请的过程有点长，类似于网上问卷，很多关于你的跳舞史的问题，要花时间好好填写。之所以在筛选报名的时候会比较细致，是因为Swing Summit有三个等级，最低的等级也是中级，能跳Lindy，Charleston的基本步子，社交自如。个人体会最适宜人群是你在跳舞中遇到瓶颈了，你想审视下自己的跳法，上课内容有时候会非常概念性和技术性。相反，来Swing Summit的目标并不是舞会派对也不是学更多花哨的动作。
大概是跳了两个月舞后，我决定跳领舞。原因有二，第一舞会派对经常太多跟舞，我想有跳的主动性; 第二我想知道领舞是如何把我从a点转到b点的。说实话，发自内心，我是跟舞，所以一般舞会派对还是更多地在跟舞，导致我对社交舞会上跳领舞很没有信心。这几乎是我来Swing Summit的主要原因，我想知道为什么有这个瓶颈以及如何去解决，或者弄明白自己是不是应该把注意力放在跟舞上。一周后，我没有社交舞会上跳领舞的恐惧了，因为我可以把很简单的动作也跳得很生动。同时我也决定暂时把重心放回到跟舞上来。因为我的领舞的能力已经达到我的两个初衷 ，是时候让自己作为跟舞来好好提升了，不限于Lindy，也会更多接触Balboa, Blues以及继续Solo Jazz。
文末补充个小故事。我有问Ali是如何找到这个地儿的。他说与其说他们找到这个地儿不如说是这个地儿找到了他们。9年前Marjorie刚买下这一片地，给欧洲很多舞蹈学校等发邮件问他们愿不愿意来教课。Ali和Katja就是其中之一。九年前他们 也还是初涉舞蹈教学，突然有机会跨国教学，非常兴奋。第一年带了10个学生来了一周，那就是Swing Summit的第一期。10个人上课倒也还好，可是舞会真是一点都跳不起来。Ali和Katja 有系统地对Lindy的诠释也算是独树一帜，之后每年陆续来得越来越多。小班教学的模式也吸引真心想在舞蹈上有进步的舞者来镀金。
去年Swing Summit还是三周，今年办到了四周。可以说Swing Summit除了Ali和Katja 并没有大咖级别的老师，但是他们足够好也有足够的耐心和时间能给你很多个人建议。Ali和Katja也很支持有心教学的舞者，今年Swing Summit不少老师本身就是来了Swing Summit很多年的，比如和Ali搭档的Kris，以及来自葡萄牙的David和Catja。Swingstep每年也会在夏天推出一周针对教学的课，本来也在这山里，今年开始移到柏林了。
I have been dancing swing (mainly lindy hop and solo jazz) for about one year, travelling around in Europe and attending workshops / camps on at least monthly basis including the famous Herrang and Snowball in Sweden, Paris Jazz roots and Harlem in Lithuania etc. Looking back to these dancing events, the first one I would like to share with you is the most recent event called Swing Summit. It is such a special training which even refreshed my view of lindy hop dancing.
First of all, let me introduce Ali and Ktja, the host for this event. SwingStep run by them can be considered as a successful example of promoting lindy hop. It is mainly based in Heidberg and Berlin in Germany. Ali and Katja are based in Heidberg, but you can see them teaching in many international workshops. The organization also supports some new swing scenes e.g. Portugal and Israel.
（The picture below is the logo of SwingStep in my swing passport）
Talking about Swing Summit, let’s start with the special aspects of this event:
Special aspect 1 - Location
The event is located in Ardeche Mountain in South of France. Dancing class room, housing, activity zone etc. are all together, lying on a small hill, managed by an old Dutch lady called Marjorie. Despite the basic housing conditions, the entire area has been arranged and decorated elegantly by Marjorie. Walking around during free time really makes you feel on vacations instead of intense training. Besides, the meals and snacks are simple yet delicious.
(The picture below shows a corner for relaxing)
(The picture below shows the terrace where all dancers meet to have meals and snacks)
Special aspect 2- Class concept
Ali and Katja believe that there are five levels of learning: awareness, awkwardness, application, assimilation and finally art. Currently, most workshops stop at the awareness level from their point of view i.e. the teachers throw lots of information to the students but there is limited time for practices to go beyond the awareness level. When the students try some new moves on dancing floor, they realize that it doesn’t work most of the time, which is reaching the awkwardness level only.
The basic concept of Swing Summit is achieving awareness in the classes, practicing after classed to reach awkwardness and application level. Combined with practices on dancing floor, the students can eventually go to assimilation and finally adding personal style reaching the art level. (Really cool concept!)
Special aspect 3 – class schedule
Following the previous point, to allow enough time for practicing, the classes in Swing Summit are scheduled as: 1st one at 11am, 1h30 lesson and 30 mins practice; there is plenty of free time after lunch for either relaxing, practicing, taking taster classes, cooling down in the pool etc. The 2nd class only starts at 6pm, followed by dinner, a small break then party.
（The picture below shows the open air swimming pool）
（The small wooden zone down in the picture below is used for classes and practices, rated as best class room since it is open air）
Special aspect 4 – signing up process
Swing Summit is known for tough selection and tight timing for registration. 90% of the accepted students sign up within the first two days right after registration opening. The rest are accepted due to last-minute cancelling or balancing leader-follower level. The registration process requires some time. There are a lot of detailed questions regarding your dancing history. Reason for such a touch process is: there are only three levels in Swing Summit, the lowest one being intermediate, meaning you should know basic Lindy and Charleston steps, feel comfortable with social dancing within your comfortable zone. My feeling is that Swing Summit is most suitable for dancers who meet with bottle neck or would like to revisit the way how they dance. Overall, the classes can be quite conceptual and technical. Having saying that, Swing Summit would not be your ideal option if your main purpose is to learn fancy moves.
（The picture below shows another class room, which is also the place for party. Except party with live band on Thursday, most students don’t stay too late for parties, very do though）
Now, would like to share my personal learnings from this event.
Learning 1. Pendulum Concept
“Pendulum” is the key and basic concept for the entire training program. In simple words, leaders don’t lead (only) through hands but rather the body status - open vs.close (close = reaching the highest point of a pendulum, open = the process while reaching the lowest point of a pendulum), moving in balance the center of body. For me, this is a completely new technique, which doesn’t necessarily change the way how I dance that I learned from other teachers, but providing a good option. The concept of Pendulum changes a lot the way how I move myself and the energy I put on dancing floor, which can make even a simple move looks interesting.
（Below is the picture of my favorite teaching partners – Natalia and Ali. Katja is still recovering from injury, she didn’t teach with Ali this time）
Learning 2. Leading vs. Following
After dancing for about 2 months, I decided to lead. For mainly two reasons: (1) there are usually way more followers than leaders in some parties, I would like to have the possibility to dance the whole night; (2) I am curious to know how does the leader guide me from point A to point B. There is a problem with this decision: I considered myself from inner heart as follower, and I enjoy way more following than leading on dancing floor, thus I lack practices as leader during social dancing. This is almost the main reason why I came to Swing Summit, I would like to know where is my bottle neck as leader or should I actually switch back and focus on following. After one week of intense training, I am not afraid of leading anymore, since I can also make the simple moves look interesting. Meantime, I have decided to switch back on following since the two main goals I set when I started leading have been achieved, it’s about time to improve my following skills and not only lindy hop, but also balboa, blues and solo jazz.
(The picture below is the class with Natalia and Alex, I like Natalia a lot, and she is young, full of talent with good character. Unfortunately, it’s her last time teaching in Europe before heading back permanently to LA)
Learning 3. Opportunity to practice
The schedule at Swing Summit allows a lot of free time to practice (if you want). Among the participants, there are leaders with good dancing level. I was lucky to be able to partner with three good leaders to practice. We practiced not only the content from classes but also dig out some old and difficult video recap in my phone, which I will never be able to repeat on my own.
（The picture below shows students chatting during meal time. Since it’s a rather small group, the atmosphere is very cozy and close）
Overall, if you meet with bottle neck or have doubt in the way you dance, Swing Summit might be helpful with small-class model, enough practice time and individual attention from teachers. If you happen to pass by Europe, maybe it’s a good option as a good learning yet relaxing stop in this lovely mountain in South of France.
I would like to share a small story toward end of this article. One day I asked Ali how he managed to find this lovely location for teaching. He told me that he would rather consider this place found him and Katja than the other way round. About nine years ago, Marjorie bought the place here, she sent out email to many dancing teachers whether they would be interested to teach classes at her place. Ali and Katja were among those. Nine years ago, they just started teaching dancing; this invitation excited them to be able to teach abroad as young teachers. So they came with 10 students in the first year for one week, which was Swing Summit Year 1. Teaching for 10 students is ok but the party is a bit quiet.
Thanks to their special teaching concept, the participants grow year on year, now reaching 4 weeks, each week about 30 couples. To be honest, besides Ali and Katja, teachers at Swing Summit are not necessarily the most experienced and famous ones, however, they are all patient enough to provide you with lots of valuable personal advice. Ali and Katja also support and encourage young dancers teaching. This year, one teaching couple has been in Swing Summit for 6 years – David and Catja. Swing Summit also offers one week of teachers’ training, which was located in this mountain as well, but starting this year, that week has been moved to Berlin.
Last picture: how can we miss the lavander when talking about South of France?
Text: Wei Song & Swing Summit website; Pictures: Wei Song