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West Coast Swing: Timing & Phrasing
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West Coast Swing: Timing & Phrasing

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Skippy Blair
Dance Dynamics
West Coast Swing
Running Time:
60 minutes
Release Date:


Learn Timing & Phrasing for all dances from the living legend, Skippy Blair. This video takes you through a wealth of information on different dance rhythms all of which can be used for West Coast Swing. Your dancing will improve with a better understanding of musical structure, timing and movement.

Skippy Blair is considered one of the founders of modern West Coast Swing. She is an icon in the swing world and referred to by many as the “Teacher’s Teacher” and the "First Lady of Swing". For almost 70 years, she has been an inspiration to tens of thousands of dancers across the country.

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Member Reviews

LJH - June 14, 2017

This disc, titled, “Timing and Phrasing” isn’t about “Timing and Phrasing in WCS…” It is about “Timing and Phrasing” in general using Skippy Blair’s Universal Unit System.

WCS swing gets a few mentions, but this 58-minute disc begins with musical notation, moves on to timing, and then moves on to a discussion of musicians’ “beats” compared to dancers’ “counts.” Beats being “straight timing” and dancers’ “counts” being where you can step, or, dance; the spaces between the beats being where you can chose what else to do. She does several demonstrations of single time, double-time, and triple time – stepping out with her feet both straight timing and rolling count.

If you noticed the jump from dancer’s count to “rolling count” (at the halfway mark on the DVD) then you’ll realize that you’ll need a “leap of faith” to start learning the heart of what’s going on here - Skippy Blair’s Universal Unit System and what it can do for you. If you already know the basic idea of dancing to music – that there are “ands” between every 1, 2, 3… - and that the “ands” are where you move, in a general sense, from one foot to the other - then you’ll catch on more quickly that there are different, rhythmic, ways to get to that next foot, or, next whatever.

Skippy diagrams this with her Universal Unit System notation – dots and slashes in “word boxes” – along with the “beats” so that you can begin to see on paper how music can translate to steps and how those written-out steps thus express rhythms… She adds to that where you “pulse” and begins to sum it all up by diagramming single count, syncopated rhythms and triple steps in the last five minutes or so of the disc. Along the way she presents – she can’t seem to help herself – the rhymes used to teach the same ideas to children, and/or absolute beginners, general and specific ideas of musicality.

The disc suffers from not being clear in it’s organization, from not editing out mistakes, and from not being divided into chapters that you can reference – it plays like an old VHS tape. OK... Just get out the pencil and paper and see if you can write down the time stamps from your DVD player to organize what you see and hear. There’s value in what’s she’s doing here, but you’ll have to work to dig it out. It’s a useful DVD – just know it’s more of a lecture DVD than a dance DVD. Try to, as she puts it, “Get this into your computer…” If you can, you may end up being a smarter - and better - dancer.

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