I'm going to open this post with a soul-baring confession: I never liked solo jazz. Solo jazz was completely contrary to why I started dancing in the first place, and I suspect many new dancers feel the same way. We want to learn to dance to meet people, make friends, and socialize. Personally, you wouldn't have caught me solo dancing, ever.
Don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed watching solo jazz dance clips, but that life just wasn't for me. But I've seen the light folks. Solo dancing is awesome. Let me tell you why.
Did you know there are no rules? We sometimes say that in partner dancing (except for the golden rule, that's always in effect), but we actually mean it when we talk about solo jazz. When you're partner dancing, we have conventions we follow to help us work together. And you're going to spend a good amount of your energy and time focusing on your partners dancing in addition to your own. When you're solo dancing, 100% of your attention can be spent on your own movement.
Dedicating your energy to your own dancing allows you to tap into your hearts desire about the music. You can do exactly what you think needs to be done to express how the music makes you feel - in other words, you're free to show the world what the dance means to you. No rules. That's true expression.
Better Understanding Of Musicality
Music can be pretty tough stuff, especially if you don't have much musical experience like me. And good musicality, which is your movement closely reflecting the music you're listening to, is even harder.
It's a common misconception that musicality is an innate quality, something that you're either good at or not. But like any skill, musicality is honed through practice. Solo jazz is a great way to practice your personal musicality, to discover how the music makes you respond outside of a partnership. I encourage you to give solo dancing a try if you're looking to improve your musicality.
Choreography Will Change Your Life
Choreography is a completely different skill than dancing. You can be exceptional at one and not the other. Choreography requires careful planning, good memory, and a vision. You can be a great dancer and not possess any of these skills! But working on choreography will add those elements to your dancing and make you a better dancer.
If you feel like your dancing is a little stale or uninspired, challenge yourself by creating your own choreography. You'll use a different set of mental muscles than usual and you might just get a breakthrough out of it.
So my entire case thus far has been rooted in the experience of dancing all by yourself. But despite the name, you can "solo" jazz with a partner, or even a group. When I perform the Shim Sham or The Tranky Doo in a group of people, I feel connected to the larger dancing world. Even more personally, when I practice with our Performance Team on Sundays I feel connected to my local scene, my peers and my friends.
Solo dancing in a group can help expand your vocabulary and push you in ways that dancing with a partner can't. So consider asking a future partner of yours to solo dance with you rather than partner dance. It can be really personal, really fun, and really rewarding.
Partner Dancing Gets Better, Too
Developing your solo dancing chops has benefits in your partner dancing as well. The movement quality you've been perfecting through your solo practice and the new footwork styling you've done in your solo routines translate perfectly into dancing with a partner.
The creativity and comfort that you've developed dancing by yourself (it takes courage to dance by yourself, by the way), is also clearly expressed in your partner dancing too. Improve your personal style and vocabulary and your partner dancing will follow suit.
Want To Give It A Try?
Are you looking for an opportunity to try out some solo dancing? Like all of Crescent City Swing's classes, you can drop in any time. Solo Jazz is offered on Monday nights from 6:30 - 7:30 PM. You can always stay up to date with our class offerings by taking a look at our calendar.
Go ahead, give it a shot. You might become a convert like me and enjoy solo dancing. But you don't have to take my word for it.
See you on the dance floor!