So, this weekend the Tucson crowd lindy bombed The Loft Cinema Farmer's Market, an opportunity provided by the lovely and talented Ms. Katy Rullman. While at said event, I mentioned to a particular brother Ford(of Tucson's famous Brother Ford Twin Duo) that it had been over a year since posting my last article. He told me to write a How-To blog on auditioning for tracks at workshops. Of course, I agreed to such a feat. We are all going to 505 Stomp soon and need to be ready for track auditions, so why not?.
My next course of action: consult Professor Google on "How to Audition for Tracks at Lindy Hop Events". I found that Rebecca Brightly's "6 Tips to Ace Your Levels Audition" , beautifully sums up most of what I would have recommended to said brother Ford. Although a bit long winded and internet "flamy", the comments were also fun to read and worth a gander.
Since Brightly's article is so articulate I won't bore you by reemphasizing her words, but rather highlight tips that I thought were glossed over or not included at all.
So, stash those egos aside and add these to your arsenal for level auditions (or in some cases level checks):
1) Put Yourself Out There!
Rebecca touches on this in her statement about "befriending the judges". Meh to the befriending judges. More important, be friendly to everyone around you and dance your little butt off. Lindy hop is a social dance, so be cordial and you'll find that even the most shy people will open up to you. Gosh, I know this a tough one, being a shy person myself. Take a deep breath and just do it.
Example: What? They need more people to rotate through everyone? Volunteer! Maybe, even be the first there. You're ready, enthusiastic, and dammit you have something to contribute to this workshop regardless of the level you place in. This also shows the judges you have confidence, which might make the different between a level placement if they are on the fence as to where to put you.
People often remember shitty attitude, but they also remember good attitudes.
2) Keep it Clean.
Improving basics, demonstrating basics, doing your basics with grace and decorum, or down right jankiness...these are concerns for any dancer worth their salt. Same goes for the judges. I don't mean clean as in keeping it socially acceptable (dear God, please keep it clean), I mean keep it clean as in do the crap that you know how to do well.
That is pretty much my philosophy in competitions as well. Keep it simple and clean. Don't try fancy crap just to do fancy crap. This concept makes those golden glorious moments of musicality and fancy shmancy stuff stand out even more...if it is surrounded by clean basics.
3) Always Dance WITH Your Partner.
Be in the moment. It's just you and your partner for that one song. Show the judges that you are making those moments count. That's leading and following right? In line with "don't be an asshole", whether it is a shitty dance or not, you can still make it a memorable experience for your partner by just having plain old fun. Here is a checklist for this: facial expression, body language, and catch their eyes occasionally to let them know you are with them.
I must remember this one myself, because it is crappy music that always get me- not the level of my partner. My partner could have two left feet, but I will still enjoy dancing with them if the song is great. It's time for me to think about this even when the music is shitty, 'cause chances are it isn't my partners fault that drivel is coming through the speakers or the fact that damn tenor sax player is twenty cents flat. In fact, my partner might really enjoy this drivel and far be it for me to rain on their parade.
This is always a recipe for a good time. If anything, the judges will see two people having a good time.
4) Turn Lead into Gold
Be a dance alchemist. The best leads turn my stupid mistakes into gold and then it doesn't even feel like a mistake. Follows can also turn bad situations into awesomeness and jaunty fun. (Yeah, I just wanted to use the word jaunty.)
Anyways, the most recent and well known example of this is Michael Sequin and Frida Segerdahl at the Lone Star Championships invitational J n' J. Yeah, they didn't connect perfectly, but BOTH of them didn't let it ruin their dance. Let's face it, Frida is the queen of lindy and is admired far and wide as an already established master dance alchemist.
Some people doubt Michael Sequin's skills as a dancer and the awesomeness of this dance(check out some of the comments on on this reddit thread to see some of these contentions.) I respectfully disagree with internet flamy doubters on this matter, so they can shut it.
Michael Sequin, you have clearly put points into your dance alchemy skills. Props and congrats on your big win.
5) Solo dancing
Okay, if you have danced for a bit, chances are you have heard this soap box topic before. It's true: learning to dance by yourself does improve your partner dancing. Howard's two cents are "especially solo charleston, because you do charleston movement in lindy hop all the time". What? Still don't believe us? Well, here's the number one reason(among many) on my list--body awareness so that you can develop the ability to adapt to new movement. Gosh, that can help with things on Brightly's list, like lines and matching your partner.
Didn't make the level you were hoping for? As an experiment, try working on your solo v-jazz and charleston before your audition. Hot damn, why don't you try taking a tap class? Or African dance class? Something! Go on, you won't die trying to learn it.
Stick a fork in me, I'm done. Go have some fun and dance your butt off.
Swing out and Prosper!