How to Practice Swing Dancing Without a Partner
No partner to practice with?
You are not alone. Well, maybe you *technically* are alone. But there are others just like you!
One of the perks of swing dancing is that you don’t need to have a regular dance partner. In fact, most people don’t.
But just because you don’t have someone to practice with doesn’t mean you can’t practice.
Even if you do have a dance partner, there are benefits to solo practice that will make you want to give it a try.
This article breaks down 4 effective ways you can practice swing dancing without a partner.
1. Dance With a “Shadow Partner”
A “shadow partner” is an imaginary partner.
Your shadow partner is always available. And they are impeccable at leading and following.
Dancing with a shadow partner offers benefits for both leaders and followers.
Polish Your Moves: It’s a great chance to run through your repertoire of moves. This helps you remember them. You can also work on making them better by focusing on things like:
Is your body position clear for each move
Is your posture correct
Are your weight transfers clear
Are you stepping on beat
Are you creating the correct shape (linear vs rotational)
Do you have a good pulse (bounce)
Improved Balance & Body Control: Without another person to grab onto, you have to be self-sufficient. Dancing with a shadow partner will help you develop your balance and body control. Skills that make you a better dancer when you do have a real partner.
Commit Those Cool Variations to Muscle Memory: This is also a great way to practice any variations you have learned. Rhythm variations, footwork variations, swing out variations–you name it. Your shadow partner is game.
You can run through moves in your living room and focus on these things one at a time.
Once you have become acquainted with your shadow partner it’s time to put on a song and social dance. This will help you work on the transitions between moves as well as fitting your moves to the music.
For leaders–Practicing your moves solo is going to help you with your ability to recall them and use them musically in social dancing.
For followers–Dancing with a shadow partner helps you be responsible for your own motion. It forces you to take ownership of what your personal dancing looks and feels like. When you are responsible for your own dancing you will look and feel confident whether you are dancing with a brand new leader or with a pro.
When you can dance your moves solidly solo, you’ll feel more confident AND look more confident in your partnered dancing.
2. Footwork Drills
Footwork drills are solo footwork patterns that you can repeat.
These are your triple step drills, turn drills, and speed drills to name a few.
They are how you program your body to have good technique, even when you are not thinking about it. The more you repeat good footwork, the more it becomes ingrained as muscle memory.
The good technique you gain from footwork drills will make even your most basic moves shine. They help your triple steps swing and your turns be butter smooth. They help you build the Lindy Hop muscles needed to make your dancing look and feel effortless.
If you are a competitor, clean, high-quality footwork is one of the first things judges will look for.
Looking for some drills? Lindy Hop Revolution’s Super Leaders & Super Followers online course is a great resource.
Put on a song and run through some drills.
Make this a habit, and you will see amazing results.
3. Video Record Yourself
Practicing by yourself is a good time to develop some self-awareness.
One of the most helpful tools you can use to build self-awareness is video.
Video doesn’t lie.
Set up your cell phone camera to record yourself dancing. Either with a shadow partner or dancing footwork drills.
Watch the video immediately after you record it. See what you notice about your dancing. What can you change?
Often you will see some obvious things you would like to adjust. Take another video and think about adjusting one of those things.
Watch the new video. You can repeat this process as many times as you like.
With technology today you can even watch your video in slow motion. This can be helpful for pinpointing something that isn’t working.
At the end of your practice session, you can delete the videos. However, it is worthwhile to keep a couple of clips. Because in 3 weeks, or 3 months, or 3 years you can look back and see how far you have come. And seeing your own progress gives you a nice little glowy feeling inside.
4. Pretend You Are Teaching A Class
You may have heard the phrase, “The best way to learn is to teach.”
When it comes to solo practice, you might also find this useful.
Try explaining a move you know out loud. Imagine you are teaching it to someone who has never done it before.
The process of having to convert your motions into words helps you:
Clarify your understanding of the move
Ingrain that move in your mind in a whole new way
If you were fudging any part of a move, when you try and put it in words you’ll find that you can’t. This is when you can go back to your class recap videos and sort out what you were missing.
Also, having explained a move you have better committed it to your memory bank of moves. So it will be ready when you need it.
For a bit of extra challenge, see if you can also explain the other dance role for each move you know.
Practice Makes Progress
Make solo practice a habit, and you will be pleased with the results.
Even if you have a dance partner, you can benefit from doing some solo work.
Hopefully this blog post has given you some ideas and inspiration for solo practice.
Need more ideas and inspiration? Check out LHRs library of Online Dance Classes for lessons you can follow along at home. They are filled with solo practice exercises, tips, and tricks!
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