Dancers Who Lift: Don’t Call It a Comeback BAY BAY!!!

Don’t Call it a Comeback!!!

Hello again friends, long time no speak. I feel like I’ve been extremely stop starting with this blog ever since it’s inception. Life hasn’t been the most kind with, inconsistent employment via being laid off, or me having to pick up multiple jobs because one hasn’t been paying the bills. After being with YouFit Health Clubs for 3 years, I decided to become an independent personal trainer and dance instructor. I’m currently in Dallas, TX; so if anyone local is reading this, feel free to hit me up. I’ll have my contact information at the bottom of this blog. I also offer online coaching as well.

On to the article, anybody who has read previous iterations of this blog or follow me on Facebook knows that I love resistance training, specifically weight lifting, and firmly believe that everyone should engage in a resistance training routine. I’ve trained young high schoolers, college student-athletes, and folks old enough to be my grandparents. All of them were doing some kind of weight training appropriate for their level of experience and goals that they have. Actually, one of my earliest blog posts discusses the benefits of resistance training in detail. You can read it right here to see how resistance training can transform your body.

The short of it is that you can build muscle through resistance training, which can help you maintain a healthy body composition, it’ll also improve bone density, tendon/ligament health and promote healthy hormone balance (testosterone and human growth hormone are our friends). Totally check out that article when you’d like, but this article is the start of a fun series to convince more people to resistance train. I call it “Dancers Who Lift”. Starting last year, I conducted interviews with a number of dancers who regularly weight train or do some kind of regular resistance training, and heard what benefits they’ve seen in their lives. This brings a more personal touch to the matter, rather than reading me babble on about science…yes sweet, beautiful science. Yes I’m gonna start off answering my own questions to set the tone for the awesome folks that’ll follow me.

Dancers Who Lift: Shelby Johnson

Where I’m from: Columbus, Ohio but currently living in Dallas, Texas
Years dancing: 8
Years resistance training: 12
Fitness accomplishment you’re most proud of:
What got you into resistance training and why?
I was an athlete for 13 years. I started playing basketball in the 4th grade, started playing football in the 7th grade, and fell in love with Track. I was told a lot that I was too small, so lifting was a way to build more mass. I actually hated it, but then my Junior high school had a coach that we called Coach Pain. He was a former all Big Ten Defensive End. The man knew how to pull the best out of us, and actually showed me how much I could get out of myself. And I wasn’t tiny, so I was hooked to weight training to make me a better athlete from then on out.
What are the differences you’ve notice in your day to day life and dance life since you’ve been resistance training?

For me, just general daily function was easier. Having strong and well coordinated movement patterns produces more comfort in my day to day life. A big thing for me is the mental health side of it. In 2016, I hit a really bad stint of depression because of a nasty relationship ending, having a dance partnership and friendship crash and burn spectacularly, and my grandmother passing away. I wasn’t really lifting during that time because of limited finances, but I realized that lifting is what made me capable of dealing with everyday stress, because I put my body under stress with every workout. It made me bulletproof not only physically but also mentally.

As a dancer I’m able to recover better day to day at workshop weekends, especially at ILHC where I did 6 contests in the weekend in 2017 and 5 in 2018.This year at Lindy Bout I was in 3 contest finals in one night, so conditioning was extremely vital.

Being able to dance longer and maintain good dance quality is a huge reason why I train the way that I do, and I feel gives me an advantage as a competitive dancer.

What piece of advice or encouragement do you have for those who are interested in resistance training but are apprehensive?

Start small and keep it simple. If you’re someone who has never worked out before, the simplest things will give you a huge benefit since your body has never experienced exercise before. There are a number of great resources on YouTube for beginners if you want to start off at home, including my beginner home resistance program in this blog. Also, if you can, consult a professional or a trusted friend for advice on working out. Consulting a qualified professional (points to self) is money well spent, or you can get guidance from a friend. Exchange skills and knowledge for the help, or get them a gift card of some kind as appreciation for the help.



There you have it good people, the first article for the “Dancers who Lift” Series. My next post will be up before the end of the month featuring another dancer who lifts. Thank you for reading, and thank you to all of the dancers who have been active on my like page on Facebook . If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or message me through the Lindy Fitness page on Facebook. If you’re interested in seeing how fitness coaching can work for you, email me at Thank you again for reading, and looking forward to next time.



How to Train your Dancing: Solo Edition


Finally back to blogging after being gone for Lord knows how long. I want to give a shout out to Alexis Mosser for the blog recommendation. I’m telling y’all I mainly write if people ask about a particular subject, so as always ask questions or make a suggestion to give me something blog about. Now on with the article, Alexis asked me about how to practice after she was discussing reading through The Dance Practice Blue Print from Rebecca Brightly. I do have article on practice as a recommendation for different ways to practice for different levels in We Talkin about Practice {Revised} but I wanted to give an example of how I organize my time so I’m efficient and Alexis specifically asked me about improving solo dancing.

Organizing your Time

The number one thing you must do is be able to trace out the amount of time you can delegate throughout the week around all of your responsibilities. I have the luxury of having a job where I set my own schedule and so I have my week carved out specifically to allow up to 16 hours of practice if life allows me to, I feel the first thing would be to set aside a maximum and minimum amount of time to practice. The minimum should be a realistic number that you’d feel comfortable and accomplished with. To do this I’d write out your daily schedule and fill in the times that you could dedicate to practice. For me I work Wednesday and Friday mornings so after twelve noon I have the entire day to myself to practice. After that I tend to rest or just focus on studying classic videos on Thursdays since Wednesday nights are a major social dance night in Dallas and  I get my practice out-of-the-way before the dance. Saturdays are usually a double practice as I have no work to really worry about so one segment is early afternoon and the other is early evening once again before I head out social dancing but there are some nights I opt to stay home and practice over social dancing. Fridays is a double practice as well as I practice by myself on solo movement and sense I tend to host a practice group at my house I work with a younger dancer or 2 on aspects of partner dancing. Sundays are reserved for my dance team 35 Jive if we don’t have practice I work on our competition routine or something I neglected in my other days of practice ie. Balboa (sorry Bal Mom and Bal Dad) here’s a simplistic schedule I made in sheets. Mondays and Tuesdays I work double shifts and I tend to be busy at work so I just focus on my admin work for my fitness clients on those days.

As you can see each day has four 1 hour slots divided out that I dedicate to a particular subject. My minimum number of hours is 6 (2 hours over 3 days) while my maximum is 16 hours (4 hours spread over 4 days) I tend to average between 8-12 hours a week. The double practice days allow me to cram a lot of time into a small number of days. My example is extreme but depending on what you want to accomplish I’d keep that tid bit in mind.

Dedicating your Time

So you’ve figured out your minimum and maximum amounts of time that you want to practice.The trick now is how can we best utilize this time that we’ve carved out? What has helped me out with using my time better is dedicating days to particular things. Wednesdays are dedicated to choreography so everything I do is set to help me better my ability to perform solo jazz choreography or learn or create a mini routine with a partner or by myself. Thursdays are dedicated to rest and studying, Fridays I work on rhythm/quality of movement and then work with another partner later that evening during group practice. Saturdays my early practice is rhythm or quality of movement and later is either solo improvisation drills or I review choreography from Wednesday. Sundays like I said is dedicated to team related routines or I study videos. Having a goal in mind for your session is key and can help you narrow down what you need to figure out.

Drills that Pay the Bills

In this section I’m gonna highlight some of my favorite drills to help people figure out different ways to train their solo dancing. Next month I’ll hopefully be getting in some more partnered work with a friend and experiment with some partner dancing ideas. If not you’re gonna get workout stuff…deal with it. *insert plea for questions and suggestions*

Choreography Speed Drill

Find a routine on YouTube give yourself a 30-45 minute time limit and learn as much of the routine as you can and record yourself going through it. This drill really teaches you how to pick up on details quickly since I tend to do performances with short prep periods, I train how fast I can learn a routine and spit it back out on video and judge my cleanliness. Here I am dancing through “Slick Chick” Choreographed by Laura Glaess and Joanna Lucero the routine is pretty short so I was ambitious and gave myself a 30 minute time limit. This drill is useful as it helps teach visual learning and retention but also being intentional with your movements as you try to be as clean as possible during your run through’s. Also, if you’re someone (myself included) who hates working on routines having a set time limit keeps prevents procrastinating or stalling.

Half Time Rhythm

This drill I use with beginners to get them to emphasize even beats while solo dancing and getting use to starting things on 8 or 4 (2 or 4 if you think in bars) and teach them to really attack those beats to make a move change. We start with the dancers either lifting their feet up on the even beats or stepping on the even beats. Simple moves that easily play around with this are Shim Sham Step, Trucking, Tacky Annie, Knee slaps, Apple Jacks (starts with a jump on 8), Fall off the Log (leg comes up as you sink on 8), Boogie Forwards/Boogie walks and boogie backs. These are moves that I like to focus on with beginners because it’s easy to be on our off the beat with these moves. This gives a little direction of what to try to drill and master working on this drill.

Principle Move or card draw

This drill can be done a number of ways, you can start by picking a move using Alphabetical solo jazz video or randomly draw a shimmy town card. Whatever move you get is going to be your basic or principle move. Pretty much you just try to create a dance using that one move and finding different ways to vary it. So you’ll learn how to be very vanilla and basic but also how to vary it. Here I am mainly using Lock Turns, I enjoy this drill because you can easily practice a move and get it down well but then learn how to make your own.

Interval Training

In regards to partner dancing the drill I probably use more than anything is Interval Training. This drill I learned from Mike Roberts and Joanna Lucero thanks to The Lindy Project YouTube Channel. It’s an overall quality of movement drill that I do at various tempos. It contains a phrase of Skates, Basic Charleston and side to side 8 count rhythm after that Leaders will do a swing out with triple steps while Followers swivel. Here are the masters at work in a video recap, I’ve used this drill for years but after a bit I decided to spice it up for a challenge and to work on my transitions to make it a wee bit more challenging. The next video link I have is me doing the same drill as described but I use a different variation of the Charleston each time through. This accomplishes working on a basic jazz movement and transitioning to and from Lindy Hop Rhythms to get a higher level of body control. I’ve tried this using other solo jazz moves in different spots as well.


I think that’s enough information for this blog today, I hope y’all enjoy. If you’re looking for any other resources on how to improve your dancing I’d pick upPractice Swing by Robert White along with checking out his Swungover Blog. Lastly check out The Britghtside with Mikey and Rachel Podcast as Mikey Pedroza and Rachel Dahlenburg give so much first hand insight on dancing. Thanks for reading and keep an eye for more in the future 🙂




Happy New Year y’all and thank you for reading this blog and thank you for waiting patiently between post as I was hoping to be doing a lot more posting but life got hectic after Lindfyfest and had little time to research or come up with any topics to write…HOORAY FOR BEING AN ADULT. Anyways I’ve been realizing that I haven’t had any materialized thoughts on how to sum up my 2015 and what I’m looking to do in 2016.


Thanks to the ever so enthusiastic Colleen out of Austin, Texas (find her for a dance leads if you’re ever down at the Austin Lindy Exchange or Lindyfest in Houston). Asked us to describe 2015 in one word. I thought about it and the only thing that came to mind was speechless, so many things happened this past year that just left me absolutely speechless. I started out 2015 without a car because of a crash I had and I was blessed to have a ton of people chip in to help me pay for it to get repaired. I’ve never been felt so loved before in my life by my church and by my dance scene.

I made finals at a National level event for the first time in such an amazing fun way. This year at the Lone Star Championships at Lindyfest I made finals with my friend Keli (another fun dance if you’re ever in Austin leads) in the Open Strictly and in the Intermediate Jack and Jill. The Strictly was pretty special because Keli and I hadn’t danced together since August of 2014 and our first time dancing was at the Thursday night dance and we  didn’t dance again until prelims. I’ll never forget her face as she looked at me before we went out of the opening all skate asking “how did this happen?”. It was a magical and fun moment and was really fun to share it with her and hope we have more moments like that in 2016.Later in the year I had the pleasure of getting to teach with Keli at the Harvest Moon Ball down in Houston, Texas and it was an absolute hoot of a time.


2015 exposed me to so much awesome music and amazing dancers. I had the pleasure of dancing to Jonathan Stout and His Campus 5, Jonathan Doyle Quintet, Naomi and her Handsome Devils, The Waller Creek Vipers in every major city in Texas and the Palmetto Bug Stompers just to name a few. ILHC and ULHS showed me how big this dance community and how long the spectrum the dances of the swing era can be stretched with so many varying styles and interpretations. Pretty much I’m just chasing opportunities to inspire other dancers and bring them along for the ride to wonderful events like these to open their horizons.


After seeing how 2015 left me speechless with so many amazing happenings of which I only cracked the surface of. My roommate and I discussed last night after the ball dropped that this year is the year of GO FOR IT. I think for the first time I’m believing the talent that I possess as a dancer and as an instructor. I took a chance applying to be an instructor in Germany and that put me on the path to really chasing the crazy dance dreams that I have. I was given great encouragement in my teaching ability motivating me to go after more opportunities to not just dance but inspire others to dance, take risk and possibly fly. I’m looking to perform, DJ, compete and social dance in ways that I’ve never have to bring people into this dance.

I’m incredibly blessed to have the people in my corner that I do and that they encourage me day after day to chase these insane dreams. Heck some of  you just figure I’m doing it and living it out already. My dad told me that the only any of us can do better is just make sure that each day we’re given, we should look to be better then we were the day before. How I do that I’ll write at another time. Thank you all for reading and responding to my post on the Facebook like page. Love y’all and hope we get to dance sometime. 🙂

Preventing the Scars of Swungover


What if I told you that you could go to a dance weekend and social dance all you want and minimize the normal physical repercussions? I’m saying no dehydration, no overly sore muscles, achy feet or joints. The physical ailments that used to plague you after a dance weekend before shall never plague you again. Start incorporating these habits when you travel and your lives will forever be changed! 

Ok, I’m getting a little carried away with my Matrix-like monologue but I’m SUPER excited about the information I’m going to share with you all.  At the Great Southwest Lindyfest and Lone Star Championships I took the opportunity to test a theory that I’ve had for a good while, as I’ve started to dive more into corrective exercise and nutritional supplementation in regards to my own training.  I figured there’d have to be a way to apply that knowledge in a manner to assist dancers, and then it hit me: RECOVERY.

What Does it Mean to be Swungover?

I figured I should probably define “swungover” as there could be dancers reading this who’ve never gone to a weekend event, dance camp, or danced nearly every song at a dance.  If you have done these things I’m sure you dealt with the soreness, aches, and pains that are common after swing dance events. This condition is what we call being Swungover.  My dance friends have defined the symptoms as extreme fatigue, sore muscles, and achey feet and joints. There’s a list of mental symptoms as well but I haven’t figured out how to deal with those. I find myself being sad that I won’t get to see my out of town friends at my next dance here in Dallas (you people know who you are).

Weekend Dance Event Protocol vs. Pre Dance Event Protocol

This article is split up into 2 sections with subsections underneath each one. The first one is about habits and things you can do during the dance weekend to help lower the physical scars that come with (as Bobby White puts it) “binge Jitterbugging.” The pre-dance event protocol mainly focuses upon the habits you can take on during the months leading up to a dance event to help prepare your body for the stress that it’s going to be put through during the event.

Weekend Protocol

Ok, I’m starting with the thing that most people will be able to adopt easily and that is weekend protocol. The weekend protocol is pretty much actions you can perform throughout the dance weekend to help prevent chronic aches and pains that you may have for a few days after the event has concluded. The four factors that are always my biggest concerns throughout the weekend are Sleep, Nutrition, Hydration and Stretching.

Sleep: Ok, I know most of you are thinking “How are you going to put sleep on there, man?! No one sleeps at exchange weekends, and especially not at Lindy Focus.” I know sleep is by far the hardest one to manage. I was trying to dance till 3 or 4 am each night at Lindyfest this past weekend, but still somehow get enough sleep to enable me to be up for classes and at least sit, observe, and take notes. We must remember that getting a good amount of sleep is what allows our body to repair itself after all that dancing, as extra protein molecules are produced. Sleeping will also improve one’s memory, so if you’re looking to retain that awesome variation pattern that Todd and Laura taught you or the concept Michael and Nina went over (Shout out to Mobtown!!!) you’re gonna need some sleep.   A lot of different sources that I’ve looked at agree that the average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  This article, Benefits of sleep, touches on other benefits of sleep. Though I know sleep is a rare commodity at events, as people tell me that the fact that I can get 6 hours each night is amazing, I dug up an article on the benefits of power naps. A lot of the benefits that you’ll read about are the same as a full night’s sleep, but if you sleep poorly during dance weekends taking naps in your spare time can spark creativity, boost learning, and lower stress. I’m totally taking a nap before my next competition, that’s for sure!!

Nutrition/Hydration: If sleep is the thing that recharges a dancer’s batteries, nutrition fuels a dancers engine. The food that you put into your body is absolutely crucial for your energy levels and recoveryProtein  plays a huge part in repairing your muscles which are working hard as you dance. Carbohydrates are a necessary and good energy source for your muscles (which continually contract during a song) and allow the body to metabolize (fancy word for burn) fat and energize the central nervous system. Also, don’t forget the under appreciated dietary fat that’s the most efficient energy source we have, and also helps us to absorb vitamins that are crucial to a lot of basic functions–most commonly fighting off free radicals in the body that cause us to get sick. Now nutrition is a tricky thing because by law as a Personal Trainer I cannot make a eating plan for y’all, but I can give general information on the direction you can go, so I’m going to let the Eat Well, Live Well Guide from Lifetime fitness speak for me: (copy and paste the link if it isn’t clickable) The pdf gives general information on the each macro nutrient and good sources for each one. What I’m leaving out?

Of course, Andre Johnson, is hydration. Make sure you’re staying hydrated, people, because water is 60% of our body and aids in flushing toxins out of our main organs. The Mayo Clinic  recommends that men drink 13 cups a day or 3 liters and women drink 9 cups per day or 2.2 liters. Now this will vary by person due to body size and weight, but these are general guidelines. Now during events we need to be drinking more during exercise, adding 1.5-2.5 more cups…I say eff that and grab a big ole gallon jug and just take some swigs from it every 2-3 dances before going back out on the dance floor. This should be done regardless of if you’re thirsty or not. Once you’re thirsty you’re already putting yourself behind the 8 ball as you’ve lost 1-2 percent of water in your body. You have to be constantly hydrating as I shouldn’t have to remind people about the sweating that goes on at events. *Shudders* I still have nightmares of 2014 Kansas City Stomp sometimes. MY PANTS WENT FROM GREEN TO BLACK, PEOPLE! But it was a great event, though. Vine Street Rumble was a phenomenal band and I’m going back again this year. The organizers of 627 Stomp did a great job, so check out the website.


Now I did something different this event which I’d recommend for other dancers to give a shot, especially if you workout 20150312_123720[1]and take supplements. I totally recommend taking your protein powder and blender bottles with you. Also, a container of Branch Chained Amino Acids (BCAA’s). This is great stuff to use going into a late night, because the protein shake is a filling snack to get you back on the floor quickly and the BCAA’s help the muscles recover as well.  Pictured below are the supplements I took with me. I used Syntha 6 protein: 1 scoop is 22 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs and L Glutamine (amino acid aids in recovery), and I have Lemon lime Amino 1 from Muscle Pharm, and a very potent BCAA blend–one scoop yields 10 grams worth of BCAA’s while most only yield 5 grams. Supplementing really kept me away from the “O my goodness, my legs are gonna fall off!” feeling.

Stretching: Now if there is anything I’d had to say was the real MVP of the weekend it was the fact that I actually took the  time to go through a post-dance stretching routine before heading off to bed. Like I said in my post about flexibility, stretching and Myofacial release can easily be overlooked because, to be honest, it’s kind of monotonous.  But so needed. Outside of improving flexibility stretching is crucial because it helps improve circulation of blood throughout the body, which is a big deal when talking about recovery. Improved blood flow allows for nutrients to be delivered to muscles and waste to be carried out of the body. Also, with the help of a foam roller you can combat pattern overload and myofacial impediment. This is when adhesions form in your soft tissue from from repeated movements and these will impede not only good movement but also stretching. Fascia encases your muscles, so if the fascia is impeded so is the muscle, which is why adhesions in it prevent smooth movement patterns.  Normally some type of joint pain is involved.  Achy knees, ankles, and feet anyone? Every night before leaving the ballroom I’d roll out on my foam roller and stretch the muscles I’d just rolled out.

Below is a playlist of the muscles that I roll out and stretch after dances:

I took various videos from different Youtube Channels that I utilized in researching for training clients or friends who have questions about certain things. So those are the things I did that kept me pretty upright during Lindy Fest. I’ll admit that two things that I’d change would be to have a multivitamin to keep my immune system up and going with the shortened sleep, and add a joint supplement to deal with inflammation. I had some mad wicked tendonitis flair up in my right knee and fortunately it didn’t affect me during my Jack and Jill Finals (videos to come).

Pre Event Protocol

Now in the tradition of having one blog post section be incredibly long and another being incredibly short, I think it’s only important to keep that going. Outside of the fact that all the above tactics should be habits that we should incorporate in our everyday lives and especially on our dancing days, I’m reflecting back on why I haven’t been incredibly sore after dance events. The number one thing I have to point that to is the amount of exercise that I do leading up to events. I predominately focus on resistance training with free weights, weight stack machines, and cable machines. Now the reason this is important is because I feel that I overload my body in the weight room which allows it to sustain the stressors of dancing over this long period of time.

If you go back and read how weight lifting can transform your dancing you’ll see I’ve discussed how weight training improves your bone density and tinsile strength of your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This makes you less susceptible to injuries as you continue to overload the muscular skeletal system. There are a number of different ways you can go about doing this. I have included one workout by request that takes minimal amount of equipment in my at home stabilization workout , which is a great start for people who’ve never taken on any type of resistance training. An even better way to go about this conditioning is to do basic body weight exercises in a circuit fashion rather then training in a horizantal loading fashion , where you do all the sets for a particular movement before moving to the next one. Circuit training or vertical loading saves times and does more for cardiovascular endurance but I think the horizontal loading does more for specific areas. Here’s an example of the training template I’ve been using from I’ve been utilizing a Body building program because it utilizes heavy weight for strength but good volume and varied sets for endurance. For those who either don’t have access to a gym or equipment I’m posting 2 videos of a High Intensity Interval Training body weight workout and body weight circuit workout from Funk Roberts and Nick Williams.

I enjoy how he designs his workouts and explains them and you can do the workouts along with him.

And now for a fun workout featuring Nick Williams and Bobby White getting some gains!!

Shout out to Alexis Strickland from Houston, Texas for sending me this on Facebook


So for a little bit of recap for things to consider when you head to your next weekend event. Make sure you take some nutrient dense snacks to fuel your body and muscles, get as much sleep as possible and when you need to take a nap. Make sure you take a bit of extra time to stretch before you dance and after dancers, trust me your muscles and joints will thank you for this later. I’d totally recommend investing in a foam roller and tennis ball to perform the rolling techniques I have in the above videos. Those you can get at your local sporting goods stores and last and not least drink water early and often. If you do all of these things I’m sure your physical symptoms of being swungover will decrease dramatically.

I hope that covers enough information for y’all and hope this brings up a number of questions. Keep your eyes peeled for an article Yehoodi is putting out on Health and Lindy Hop as I was asked to answer some questions and provide advice for Lindy Hoppers all around our great scene. I look forward to it and hope y’all take away some great tips from this article.

Love ya’ll and God Bless 🙂

We Talkin about Practice {Revised}


*I was sitting and hanging out about to watch the Jack and Jill Finals at School of Hard Knox in Knoxville, Tennessee last weekend. No lie I was kinda salty to fly from Dallas to Atlanta spend the night in an airport ride to Athens, GA ride in a car so I could do a solo comp there and not make finals and have that same thing happen with the Jack and Jill o well. When a dancer comes up to me and asks “Don’t you have a blog” I look around and I’m like “Yes but haven’t written in a while”. The dancer goes on about how much this blog meant to him as he randomly stumbled upon it and this article really inspired him and motivated him. After trying to keep myself from shedding a tear and coddling this young mans head in my bosom and saying “bless you child” while gently stroking his head as if I was a old Catholic Grandmother, I figured I needed to write again and I’m updating this posts to match my current outlook.

Alright after my last post just to really put up videos and ask what it is I should be writing. A friend of mine out of Panama City, Florida asked me about my view point on practicing. She has dancers that ask her many questions regarding practice, these questions ranged from such things as what should I practice to if I should have a partner etc. So I’m pretty much going to divide this up into what I recommend beginner dancers should practice along with intermediate and Advance/Master level dancers.


Defining your Level

Probably the trickiest part of writing this entire article, would be how do we differentiate a beginner from an Advance/Master level dancer? Your level of dance doesn’t really depend on how long you’ve been dancing with exception of being a beginner because you can’t be focused on particular aspects when you don’t know your basic. Levels are really fluid and subjective and they aren’t as clear cut as Beginner dancer, Intermediate dancer and Advance/Master dancer. I like how the organizers of  Lindyfest in Houston, Texas break down levels and explain each and everyone. They make a focus on pretty much describing what skills you have mastered not how long you’ve danced but though I’m breaking down concepts to practice by level doesn’t mean an Advance/Master level dancers should not or could not work on beginner level stuff or vice versa.


First up is our wide eyed and bushy tail beginners. Super nervous on screwing things up as they may not have rhythm and syncopation down perfect. So I’m going to lead off with this, I feel for a beginner the best thing they can do is work on their 6 count and 8 count rhythms (or just solely 8 count if you’re in a scene that only teaches 8 count stuff). I feel this can best be done by themselves, unless they’re that person who can’t keep a beat to save their life. The dancer should work on doing the footwork in place, then rotate footwork in place and then traveling with said footwork. Things to focus on with your footwork is pulsing into the floor, moving your whole body, keeping your feet up under you as you travel. After getting things down in place, you can try moving with your triple steps and possibly playing with them aka styling. *A simple aspects of styling will be testing out how much ground you can cover in your 8 count and 6 count Rhythm. So going through your basic see how much space you can cover and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. On the flip side see how little ground you can cover within those rhythms as well see what works and what doesn’t.

The video from the easy swing channel down below is a great progressing exercise to help beginners get the basic internalize. The only thing I feel a beginner should work on in regards to partnering (which I have a strong opinion against because there’s a chance they only learn to dance well with one person rather then a multitude) is making sure you can connect in a manner that is comfortable. So leads and follows having their hands and arms in the correct positions and possibly finding comfortable connection (which starts the endless battle that is connection). *Going big and small with your basic 8 count and 6 count movements with a partner is also super important as well, as this is helpful on the social dance floor with floorcraft.


Being an intermediate dancer is like being a college/high school sophomore you know more then the freshman but you’re still a noob in comparison to juniors and seniors. You have a swing out, lindy circle, side by side charleston and an array of moves to build off of that. You have a “solid” take on the basic and you start to discover what musicality and improvisation is. *My definition of musicality is pretty much dancing in a manner that compliments the music not necessarily hitting every bleep and blorp but complimenting it like a good beer compliments a good steak. To improve that I’m gonna break this down how Michael Gamble broke it down in a class I took with him. “The best way to improve musicality is to listen to more jazz music. Now with that said we’re going to give you a few moves that you can apply to this concept when you feel it’s necessary.” By listening to more music you learn to pick up on what speaks to you the most melody or rhythm then you can take the moves you know and apply them to that. You can also learn song phrasing as well which is explained by the ever so talented Sharon Davis. I’m really big about musicality and phrasing in my dancing hence why I devoted a whole paragraph to this lol.*Also, I’d recommend changing the shape of your body while performing certain moves . You know dip that shoulder to the side on a swing out, put alittle sharpness to a triple step or get really upright on a follow through of a pop turn.

Now musicality is more of what I call a mental skill which you can work on it without necessarily dancing. When I became a DJ and started listening to music constantly, while BPMing my music (logging the tempo/speed of my music) my feel for the music improved dramatically.*Also, this can help you learn to scat with music so you can inspire different moves and body articulations with the different sounds of notes and Rhythms. Now this can happen if you don’t neglect giving yourself a real foundation on your steps and this can be learned in the beginner phase of dancing (some are more tuned to music then others *coughs* musicians) as you practice basic rhythms to music. In this phase I’d recommend the above drill, along with dabbling into solo dancing.

I realized about 2 or 3 years into this Lindy Hop journey that some of the strongest dancers are very talented solo dancers. This inspired me to really make solo dancing vibrant and expressive, turning it into a big strength of mine, which has poured over into my partner dancing. I feel as a lead you should be able to move your body and control it sense your job is to move around another person (how can you expect to move someone when you can’t move yourself efficiently Riddle me that). Follows should have strong solo movement and body control so that way they have ownership of their movement and be proactive rather then reactive all the time as Bobby White goes into great detail in his post titled the Proactive Follower.

The easiest way i feel to really get a good arsenal of solo dance moves is to learn different solo routines. If you’ve been dancing pretty consistently over a period of time, I can assume that you know the shim sham pretty well. So to add on to that I recommend diving into learning the Tranky Doo, Jitterbug Stroll, Big Apple, Dean Collins shim sham, St. Louis Shim sham, Slip slop and or my personal favorite the Al and Leon Shim sham. Another way you can go is by watching the Alphabetical Jazz video that I’m posting below and just watch a number of solo competitions from around the world on youtube and copy cat the moves that you can do.


This section is probably going to be my shortest section sense a lot of dancers that I know on a personal level are at this level and I don’t want to be like “Hey this is what y’all should be doing to get awesome.” when just about all of you who are at this point have done a number of things to get to point where you can be referred to as an advance/masters level dancer. It’s at this point where things get really nit picky and there really isn’t a super clear right or wrong when it comes to dancing. Myself still focuses a lot on the things that a beginner does. Pretty much having good footwork and movement in all that I do. I work on refining my solo dancing but if there are dancers who are running into a snag on what to start practicing after going through the other levels here’s what I recommend.

Try mastering another dance. I’m starting to really invest in improving my Balboa sense most of what i’m doing with Lindy is theory based and really can’t clearly see progress on a theory. I’d say I’m an intermediate Balboa dancer, so i take time out of practices to work on dancing Balboa and this year will be the first time I’ll be competing in Balboa at the Lonestar Championships next month (there will be video of my prelims posted here and hopefully of my dance in the Finals) There are bunch of other dance styles. Such as Blues, Balboa, Partner Charleston, Collegiate Shag, St. Louis Shag, Boogie Woogie or Tap Dancing. I’d recommend learning another dance style because certain technique points differ across certain styles ( connection and weight shift is HUGE in blues dancing) and another outlet for creativity can pour over into Lindy Hop if that’s what you’re mainly bent towards.

*Start choreographing to songs that you really like. I have friends in the southeast who make up mini routines on a weekly basis that are 30-60 seconds long. I’ve started coming up with routines as well and has helped my creativity in regards to solo dancing and made my movement cleaner because I’m really focusing on executing a movement a particular way to convey an outlook. If you can’t come up with original choreography start imitating a routine that you love and change it to fit more of your style.

My other suggestion is to really spell out your philosophy about what is good dancing and learn the things that allow you to live that out. To me good dancing is a 50/50 connection between partners where both dancers play off one another and are in tune with the music. So though both dancers can be dancing independently, they’re able to hit the same points in the music with identical or contrasting flair. This has led me to reading articles like Bobby White’s Proactive Follow and Rebecca Brightly’s series on Equal-Opportunity connection. I take the concepts I’ve been studying into my practice.

General House Keeping

In this last part I want to just cover pretty much some general things to consider when you practice.

1. Have a plan for your practice

Determine ahead of time what the goal of your session is and get a bit of organization what you want to do Rebecca Brightly created this cool practice template that I’ve utilized in the past and deviated into my own version.

2. Always do a warm up and always stretch

Make sure to always do some type of warm up before you practice. This will prep your body for movement and loosen up muscles to prevent you from sustaining any types of injuries. I’m a huge fan of jump roping or using some type of solo jazz routine to get you moving and going.

3. Always have a mirror to check your posture

Posture and body lines are important during dance. So the best thing you can have for that fast and instant feed back is a mirror. I do not have mirror at my disposal where I practice mostly so I use my laptop. Sense it has a built in camera for using skype and other instant messenger programs like that. I set the camera up and watch myself on screen from time to time when dancing or I film myself and watch the video right after dancing a sequence. So if your excuse for not practicing is “I don’t have a mirror” bull crap. I’m sure you have a laptop or a camera you can use to tape yourself.


So with that or some of my thoughts on practice I know, that there could’ve been more stuff that I could’ve covered but these are all the things that seem imperative. I urge you to film yourself semi regularly so that way you can see if you have any bad habits that you should just make yourself conscious of to correct or if there is anything you hate about your dancing. My last piece of advice was handed down to me by a mentor and that was to do something simple and consistent each and everyday and that will put you on the fast track to Mastering this dance. Feel free to comment or ask questions, until next time love y’all and God Bless 🙂

*indicated a revision or addition from when it was originally published

Dance Videos!!! Here’s what I’m practicing

I figured sense I’m taking a bit of time trying to figure out what my next Blog post will cover and I’ll still have to research it. I’m going to share some social dance videos and give a glimpse of what I’m working on in my dancing and maybe inspire your dancing in some way.

I’m constantly always looking at my footwork, movement and posture as a lead. Usually I try to address this in my resistance training and flexibility protocol

My first time having video of myself following and I was well pleased. I have some issues with connection still but I’m super proud of my swivels. Gonna need to stretch the hips more to get…him that sounds like a good blog idea. What say you readers?

I’ve been thinking about writing about flexibility anyways should I go into depth about how it effects certain fundamentals? Leave me comments please love y’all

How to Build and Maintain Confidence as a Dancer

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Glad to make it to 2015 and share another blog with you all and hope those who traveled to Lindy Focus or the SnowBall had a great time and were inspired. I hope whatever inspiration and progress that you took from those camps may continue with the article that I’m sharing with y’all today.


Through out 2014 confidence and psychology probably had to be the biggest obstacle that I have come across not only within myself but with a few dancers around me. I’ve had conversations with dancers who were frustrated with how their development staggered in comparison with other dancers who were able to consistently travel and or practice their dancing. I’ve spoken to dancers who travel consistently and hit lows due to the feedback they have gotten from instructors and the number of dances they get at events. For myself getting into a masters track at an event and then not making finals in multiple competitions had me questioning a lot of my ideas I had in regards of my dancing but after ILHC specifically this dance from Jamin Jackson 

along with Pamela Gaizutyte they won 1st place in the All Star Jack and Jill. I had to go back and see where did I go wrong in my mental approach that left me to question my abilities as a dancer. Pretty much I found where I went wrong and during a conversation with a friend who’s in a rut herself I figured I’d dig in depth with my own advice a bit.

What is Confidence?

Before diving into the 4 things I recommend a dancer do to promote and maintain confidence we should define what confidence is. In a Ted Talk done by Dr. Ivan Joseph on “The Skill of Self Confidence”, Dr. Joseph defines Self-Confidence as “the ability or the belief, to believe in yourself, to accomplish any task, no matter the odds, no matter the difficulty,no matter the adversity.” I like this definition because it really covers a wide spectrum, taking into account things that can negatively affect ones confidence (ie. odds, difficulty and adversity). Similarly if you watch video presentations of Dr. Jeff Duke on 3Dimensional coaching from Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) he defines confidence as the belief that he/she has the skills to produce a desired outcome. This is similar to Dr. Joseph’s definition but he takes into account having that belief in spite of obstacles. Now that we have 2 working definitions, the next section is going to discuss how we build up these beliefs in ourselves and how these mind sets can help us maintain our belief when the going gets tough.

How to Build and Maintain Confidence

For this article I focused on 4 strategies that I’ve utilized to improve my confidence but also what I have spoken to other dancers to help them get out of a funk.

1. Avoid comparing,unless it’s to yourself

2. Define your own Success or what good dancing is through goal setting

3. Focus on what you can control

4. Disregard what you cannot control

Avoid comparing, unless it’s to yourself

Comparing is by far the biggest thing I’ve come across not only with myself but also other dancers. In competitions where I don’t make finals or don’t place, I tend to observe other dancers and wonder what it is that they’re doing that gets them these results. This really gets us nowhere because every dancer is their own and is exploring themselves within this dance. I feel to help you improve your skills. Jamin Jackson in his post entitled How to Dance “like” ANYONE hits on top of this phenomenon by stating this.” “Dang, I suck.” This is what the subconscious reenforces the moment you start comparing your present skill level to the culmination of an unsaid amount of work another dancer displays on the social dance floor. It’s an unfair comparison, but we all do it” Jamin Jackson. The simple solution to give to this is to stop comparing yourself to other dancers. Your response should rightfully be one of rolling the eyes and being upset on something lacking thought.

When you find yourself comparing your dancing to someone else use a technique I learned from sport psychology classes called thought stopping. This is pretty much a technique where you stop a negative thought and replace it with a positive one. I use a variation of this when I’m watching others dance and start comparing, rather then be like “man I’ll never be able do what *random dancer* does.” instead I find a concept that I like and implement into my dancing one of my dance mentors calls this copycatting. The only time I feel comparing is ok is if you’re comparing yourself with yourself. Now we have to be realistic when we do this because we can be too hard on ourselves but we must do this within reason. This is why I learned to watch myself objectively on video.  I video tape myself dancing frequently and I enjoy seeing how my dancing has grown from video to video. Especially videos I have of me dancing over a year ago, you can’t gauge your progress by watching someone else but you can gauge it by watching yourself. 

I usually take at least one video of myself at practice or have a friend video tape me while at a dance like the video below. You maybe shocked at how you look the first time you watch yourself on video but stop the thoughts of “O MY GOSH I’M TERRIBLE I QUIT!!” tell yourself top and say “my dancing doesn’t look the way that I want it to but I know what I can do to get to that point which leads us into the next section

Define your own Success or what Good Dancing is through Goal Setting

During my schooling in my undergraduate and graduate studies in sports coaching a big factor that came up in regards to promoting confidence in athletes was to define what success is to your team or program .Within 3Dimensional coaching this is huge to not let success be defined totally by the scoreboard because within a game there are so many things that are out of your control, so if you set your confidence off those outcomes, you’re setting yourself up for an emotional roller coaster. With that you’ll most likely be spending more time being dissatisfied rather then being satisfied and could potentially lead to giving up. Defining your own success can best be done by setting goals for yourself that’ll bring you satisfaction and confidence. That way if you’re a competition dancer like myself you don’t rely on your placing or whether you make finals or not be the source of your confidence. While I had to define my success as me conveying what my interpretation and philosophy of what Lindy Hop is to me to the audience and the judges. I had to really set goals that would allow me to work out what my philosophy is. This section is going to dive into the dynamics of goal setting to keep this from getting super abstract and out there.

Normally people would define their success by whether they satisfy goals they set or not, but what if I told you that those goals could be a big part of why you end up having your confidence take a hit. An article on breaking discussed how a lot of successful people and companies don’t set goals. The reason behind this being that goals tend to set us up for limitations and also there are so many unknown factors (market change, injury etc.). Rather then setting no goals as you look at my Lindy Hop Resolutions post for 2015. You’ll see the goals I have are to commit myself to task that’ll aid me to some type of improvement or give me a new experience of some kind. So if factors out of my control were to arise, I can still achieve that task and improve. Then I can’t allow myself to beat my own brains out if I don’t achieve a particular outcome.

So rather than defining your own limitations through long-term goals, perhaps just make a commitment to continual improvement.” Breaking‘s above statement pretty much touches on the advantage of setting process goals as opposed to outcome goals. A process goal is setting a goal to perform a task to work towards a particular event “I’m going to practice at least 3 times a week”. That is a process goal, a outcome goal is what we hear the most and that is a goal that focuses on the outcome of an event

“I want to make the Masters Track at Lindy Fest again this year.” That’s an outcome goal possibly me practicing at least 3 times a week can create the outcome of me making Masters track at Lindy Fest again. Ultimately all of these tricks in goal setting can help you take steps to achieving what you feel good dancing is and be able to have more control over gaining success within your dance philosophy. As I said earlier the outcome goal is completely out of my control, while the process goals are more in my control. By having goals that are in your control your odds of success increase a bunch. The next two sections will go more into depth with controllable and non controllable circumstances.

Focus on what you can Control

As we introduced this point towards the end of the previous section, process goals are the things we want to keep in mind to keep up our belief in ourselves as dancers. To focus on the process of improvement rather then an outcome that’ll show us that we improved that has a lot more chance played in. A TedTalk titled If you want to Achieve your Goals,Don’t Focus on them  coves this quite well. This feels contradictory after going over setting goals to begin with but the speaker Reggie Rivers talks about a time how when he focused on the actions needed to get him to a desired outcome, he had the belief in himself to take care of those particular tasks. Rather then focus on achieving a goal he was more occupied with completing the process for him to get there and this allowed him to be more confident and focused. 

As a dancer we must put more focus on our processes to become better. Find ways to practice, things to work on in our dancing, try doing another dance to improve a particular skill, attend classes or teach classes. If it’s a task that can help you improve and build confidence in yourself then keep your eyes on that. I spend lots of my spare time trying to come up with drills to work on a particular dance skill, also this is how I prep for teaching classes.

In Rebecca Brightly’s blog post titled When Lindy Hop isn’t Fun Anymore she has a list of concrete actions to take to break dance stagnation. A lot of these can help you maintain confidence in yourself. The 4 that stand out the most is learning better practice skills giving you a renewed and revamped process to continue forward. Another action is to deepen relationships with those who support you, the best thing is having that little team who you can celebrate your triumphs and your blunders with.

Also, if you want good honest feedback from somebody you’ll get it. The same goes for having a mentor as I danced in Orlando, Fl, I could always count on Blake Wilkinson to give some moves to try to add to my dancing and honest feedback. Though at that time I didn’t really take workshops that really helped my dancing. I also had the benefit of International Instructor Joel Green to tell me that my hold step in a Balboa class was and I quote “Effed up” lol. The last and most important thing is always focus on the positive, always be proud to take a lesson away from anything. Anytime you can learn something new consider that a victory. In short make sure to be process focused and positive in all that you do. You can never control your circumstances but you can control your attitude.

Disregard what’s out of your Control

“But I have no partner! I have no money! I have no time! I’m not creative enough…” This is the opening to Jamin Jackson’s blog post titled But I don’t Have you want to know about how to disregard what’s out of your control this blog will show you. I really want people to read this blog so I’m not going to spoil it. Due to circumstances out of Jamin’s control he’s not always able to practice with his principle partner but in spite of that he didn’t let that hold him back. He was able to overcome the circumstance and end up placing 3rd with her at ILHC. Through out this year I realized I hit a slump in my dancing, a big part of it was I had a partner I practiced with but we mutually split up after Lindy Fest in March. After that I made no effort to practice at all but seeing Jamin’s example made me realize that I can overcome my circumstances of not being able to travel as much as I would like or not having a practice/competition partner.

Going back to Rebecca Brightly’s blog on dance slumps she touches on 5 things that can cause a dance slump and in turn a drop in confidence. One thing that I find compelling that I see a lot of dancers get caught up in is the fear of missing out. In every scene there are dancers who don’t get to travel very often if at all. In my 3 years of Lindy Hop thus far I’d put myself in that category actually. I can’t control the many factors that have kept me from traveling to events (ie. injuries, money, schedule, emergencies) though I’m not traveling I still have been able to improve my dancing. Grant it traveling is a great way to improve so if you can travel to an event do it but if you can’t don’t feel like you’re missing out. I’ve never been to a Lindy Focus but in past years that time period is where I’ve made most of my progress mentally as a dancer. Anytime a situation comes about like this you have to make a conscious decision “am I going to sit and complain about my circumstances or am I gonna find a way to get better today.” If you’re a beginner or someone who finds themselves in this situation but have no ideas on how take make lemonade out of the lemons you have, check out the recommendations I have at the bottom. Also, just hit me with a question in the comments or on Lindy Fitness Facebook page and we can make the best of your circumstances.


I had to realize those things I can’t control, so I must remain resilient and continue to practice even if that means that 99% of my practices are by myself.This comes down to the old saying, you can’t control your circumstances but you can control your effort. If improving as a dancer really means a good deal to you, why let obstacles stand in your way of what you really want. Jamin has a lot of great advice in his post How to master lindy hop as a part time dancer this advice works and it just isn’t just relevant to leads it works for follows as well if you don’t have a partner. I dance both roles and use this philosophy for both and it has helped me SO much. Follows if you want more information on how to take control of your dancing check out Swungovers The proactive Follower to get ideas on what things to focus on. Like my Facebook page I’ll be posting fitness articles along with Lindy Hop ones between posts to help y’all train to be better Lindy Hoppers. Feel free to check out my other posts.

Love y’all and God Bless remember to be inspired and to dance inspired.

Photo Credit to Ashleigh Beckman from Dallas, Texas