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Swing
West Coast Swing
Bet U Can Dance Studio
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East Northport, NY
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Bet U Can Dance West Coast Swing - Doing the Basics Advanced Style

by Diana De Rosa
April 4, 2009
Bet U Can Dance Studio
3032 Jericho Tpke.
East Northport, NY 11731
631-623-6559
When it comes to West Coast Swing Jeff Sherman is betting you can do it. Matter-of-fact it's not just the West Coast Swing that inspired Jeff to name his five-month-young studio "Bet U Can Dance," but lots of other dances as well.

Before Jeff opened the doors to "Bet U Can Dance" and every day since he's been keeping an eye on what is hot and what is not. He networks with dance and non dance friends and clients, connects with the younger generation through his teenage daughter and son, has a Facebook page, and sifts through the internet in order to stay on top of the dance scene.

His studio offers both the traditional ballroom dancing as well as some of today's hot crazes (Zumba and Bollywood Funk to name a few). He recently added West Coast Swing (WCS) to his roster of dance lessons (both group and private) as well as a monthly West Coast lesson and social on the first Tuesday of the month. The response has been so positive that in April Jeff offered a three-hour workshop with noted West Coast Swing instructor Anthony De Rosa (No relation to the author).

"What inspired me to develop a WCS program here at Bet U Can Dance was my own desire to learn the dance," explained Jeff. "Coming of age in the 70s my first dance experience was with the Hustle, which led me to become an instructor. Back then I was not exposed to WCS."

Jeff started his dance career with Fred Astaire Studios in New York City where he worked for 12 years. He wrote the Hustle Dance Curriculum for the studio and at the same time performed in many different venues such as telethons, Soul Train and half time shows for Knick games. Jeff never stopped teaching dancing as he always did it on the side even while moving on to other professional careers.

"Leaving the dance scene for a number of years and then returning a couple of years ago I discovered West Coast Swing. It has many similarities to one of the earlier versions of Hustle, namely Latin Hustle. It peeked my interest in the dance and made it a challenge at the same time. The beauty of the dance is the many diverse musical choices one has to choose from. It can be slow or fast, jazz or blues, rock or swing, contemporary or old music. Hustle has very limited musical choices and most of them are fast whereas with most WCS music you can dance all night and not even break a sweat."

When choosing someone to teach West Coast Swing at his studio, Jeff researched who he'd want to learn from. "Anthony De Rosa is a very well regarded instructor, dancer and DJ in the WCS Community. He started dancing at a young age since his parents were dancers. He competed in Country and Western since age 6 and has been doing WCS since age 14, a total of 20 years of dancing."

So, on April 4th I headed out to the "Bet U Can Dance" studio to glean some knowledge from Anthony. His workshop proved to be both a good refresher course in perfecting the basics as well as a chance to learn some new styling and patterns.

Anthony's method of teaching was to repeat the moves over and over again while switching partners. Repetition he feels is the key to getting comfortable. Whether working with beginners, intermediate or advance students, his goal was to ensure the basics were done correctly but to also add some new moves and styling into each dancer's repertoire.

Pattern Work Means Stay in Sync

In the Pattern portion of the workshop the key was synching the same move with your partner, much like a mirror image. "Pattern work is when the followers and the leaders do the same movement," explained Anthony.

The movement he showed was a bit different in that you immediately broke up the basic sugar push by some subtle kicks, twists and turns. The fact that the move was unique meant it was even more important for the dancers to be in sync. With pattern moves if you aren't mirroring each other the beauty of those moves is lost.

Anthony explained that in pattern work it is "mostly body placement" where he finds the problems arise. "The leaders need to stand up straight because if they are slouched some of the movements don't look right."

The same was true for the followers. "They need to stand up straight with the shoulders back and relaxed."

He also discussed the fact that while the leaders need to guide the followers and not force them, the "followers need to let the leaders lead." Too often he notices that the followers try to think ahead rather than wait for the leader to lead them. His advice was, "don't think of the move or you will end up back leading."

By the end of the pattern class a move that was at first difficult to figure out suddenly added some spiff to everyone's dancing.

Advancing With the Proper Basics

Anthony took a different approach in his advanced class which was truly back to the basics but to the proper basics advanced style. His point was that everyone is learning from different instructors and because of that the way they do things becomes a potpourri. In order for his students to be on the same page he felt it necessary to go over how he wanted everyone to do their basic moves. His philosophy is that when you do the basics well everything else falls into place. His method wasn't to teach how to do the basics but rather to perfect them.

Anthony's goal was to dispel any of those myths that cause leaders and followers to pick up bad habits and so he focused on the correct way to do the five basics – sugar push, left side pass, right side pass, inside roll, and whip. While there were many bits and pieces of knowledge imparted some of the key issues revolved around simple tips.

To begin with, Anthony encouraged both leaders and followers to stay straight and not turn their body when doing the sugar push. For the leaders he wanted them to "step back on one" while the followers step forward on "one, two" and the "weight should always be on the right foot when in third position." He explained that this gets the followers to stay in rhythm and better follow the leaders.

Anthony also explained that "there shouldn't be clicking of the heels" when you dance but "more of a pushing or scraping of the floor."

By using anecdotal examples it was sometimes easier to implement the knowledge that was being imparted such as when Anthony commented, "Think of your belly button as a flashlight." He calls it the flashlight effect. "At all times shine those flashlights towards each other so that you are mimicking each other on the dance floor."

Anthony used his "tray effect" to explain leaders turning the lady into an inside turn. "You don't want to tip the tray over so keep the palm towards the ceiling."

And when turning he explained that the leaders should "always lead with the two middle fingers."

In closing he noted that "when you do the basics properly you don't waste energy and you can last all night. If you are adding unwanted moves in your basics you'll be tired after a dance or two." It's also the answer to more people wanting to dance with you.

So, listen to Anthony if like me you like dancing all night and not sitting on the sidelines.

More About Bet U Can Dance

Bet U Can Dance opened its doors on November 8, 2008 and currently has close to 300 students. Jeff is planning to hold West Coast Swing workshops every 6 to 8 weeks. They currently have a beginner WCS lesson every Friday evening at 7 PM. There is also an intermediate lesson just prior to their monthly WCS Social held every fourth Tuesday from 8 PM until midnight.

The next WCS dance and social will be on April 7th. Jeff is giving some thought to doing a bi-monthly WCS social every other Tuesday because of the huge success they had from the first one held in March. Plans are also in the works for a Saturday night party starting on April 11th focused on West Coast Swing preceded by a WCS lesson.

The cost for group lessons is in the $15 range and the parties are usually $10. Jeff does a good job of keeping his web site up-to-date and current with the latest schedule, programming and pricing information. So, go there often to see the latest news. Or email Jeff and he'll add you to his weekly email distribution list to find out the latest "Bet U Can Dance" weekly and upcoming schedule.

Anthony is available for group and private lessons at Bet U Can Dance Studio, which is located at 3032 Jericho Tpke., East Northport, NY 11731. Contact: Jeff Sherman, Owner, 631-623-6559, info@betucandance.com or go to the web site: www.betucandance.com.

For questions or comments feel free to contact the reporter, Diana De Rosa, dderosa1@optonline.net.

Additional photos can be seen at this link: www.presslinkpr.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=136026.
Anthony De Rosa teaching a West Coast Swing workshop at Bet U Can Dance on Saturday, April 4

Anthony De Rosa teaching a West Coast Swing workshop at Bet U Can Dance on Saturday, April 4

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


West Coast Swing instructor Anthony De Rosa with Bet U Can Dance owner Jeff Sherman

West Coast Swing instructor Anthony De Rosa with Bet U Can Dance owner Jeff Sherman

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


Anthony De Rosa explaining how the leader should always step back on one.

Anthony De Rosa explaining how the leader should always step back on one.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


The Flashlight Effect is when the dancing partners face each other always shining the imaginary flashlight on their partner to stay in sync with each other. Also note the proper positioning of the woman's arm on the man's arm.

The Flashlight Effect is when the dancing partners face each other always shining
the imaginary flashlight on their partner to stay in sync with each other. Also note
the proper positioning of the woman's arm on the man's arm.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


The Tray Effect is used when turning the woman inside. The goal is to imagine a tray with glasses on it that you do not want to tip over.

The Tray Effect is used when turning the woman inside. The goal is to imagine a tray with glasses on it that you do not want to tip over.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


The Tray Effect is used when turning the woman inside. The goal is to imagine a tray with glasses on it that you do not want to tip over.

The Tray Effect is used when turning the woman inside. The goal is to imagine a tray with glasses on it that you do not want to tip over.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


The Tray Effect is used when turning the woman inside. The goal is to imagine a tray with glasses on it that you do not want to tip over.

The Tray Effect is used when turning the woman inside. The goal is to imagine a tray with glasses on it that you do not want to tip over.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


Man's third position - keeping the foot back.

Man's third position - keeping the foot back.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


Woman's third position keeping the foot back.

Woman's third position keeping the foot back.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa


Instructor Anthony De Rosa showing how he turns with two fingers.

Instructor Anthony De Rosa showing how he turns with two fingers.

Photo © & courtesy of Diana De Rosa

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