Reframing (rē·frāˑ·ming)

In swing dance this is the idea of taking technique from other dances and attempting to apply it in way that is (usually) detrimental to making social dance work.

As a swing dance instructor whenever I get new students who have a background in areas such as ballet or gymnastics I am always excited, yet apprehensive. This is because, while they have a significant advantage over their peers in terms of experience with learning things visually, they have the unique challenges of separating technique (that does not apply well to Lindy Hop) from their past experience and in the cases of being a follow, allowing others to initiate motion versus using leads as a prop.


When you have too many frames, sometimes its hard to see the picture.

In the past I struggled how to teach people who went through this problem. I conveniently learned the answer when I took a semester of Ballroom dance. My difficulty in that class lied within the fact that I kept trying to apply Lindy Hop technique to dances that it didn’t make sense to, such as Rumba. What allowed me to get past this mental block was my Ballroom instructor at the time told me to picture dances like outfits such as formal wear or beach appropriate attire. Within those outfits certain characteristics and things worked within the idea portrayed. It sounds silly, but it worked. Whenever I did a different dance a mental switch would flick and I would utilize certain techniques, such as toes would become pointed in Irish step-dance.

For those of you who teach and have students who struggle with the idea of not mixing up technique from other dances with swing dance, give this analogy a shot.  For individuals attempting to learn Swing Dance or perhaps dances outside your comfort zone such as Hip-Hop or Bhangra, the idea of picturing each dance as a separate entity can assist you greatly as well.

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