Here's another fun video from Swing and Soul this weekend in Atlanta: Steven Mitchell, Peter Strom, Manu Smith and Mikey Pedroza dancing to "Tighten Up."
During the day, we had a series of really fun "soul session" dance classes. Peter Strom and Steven Mitchell taught a basic movement class for leaders that was a great way for me to start the day. Then I took a "soul-o-thang" solo choreography class with Steven that was probably the most fun I've had in one of his classes in a long time. The incomparable Mama Yeye taught a high-energy African dance class that had a hundred or so enthusiastic dancers moving across the floor to live drumming.
The highlight of the day for me was taking a popping class with Popin Pete. He's not only a great performer, he's a very good teacher — which I've found is a rare combination in the hiphop dance world. Pete taught us some basic popping technique and movement, from how to hit using different muscles in your body, a Christoflex turn, and a basic walkout. It's a very foreign kind of movement to lots of people, involving a high degree of body isolation. I found it pretty easy, but apparently lots of others were pretty lost.
The dance party last night was really a blast, with lots of great soul, blues, R&B and funk. Several folks came dressed up in funky dresses and suits. The best I could manage was a vest over a tee-shirt and my bromberg hat.
A lot of the fun and challenge of Swing and Soul is finding your own groove and moving to it, no matter what kind of music is playing. It's less about steps than it is about really feeling the music and letting your body inhabit it… while you are dancing with another person. It's super helpful, so that no matter what kind of song is playing — some classic soul, funk, disco, hip-hop, or latin — you feel comfortable enough to groove to it.
My favorite part of the dance was at around 3AM, when Peter Strom put on some classic 80s hiphop jams, from "Poison" by Bil Bev Devoe to "It Takes Two" by Rob Base. Lots of silly 80s dancing, breaking, popping and locking going on way too late at night.