About

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Burlington Westie

Burlington Westie is an awesome dance community in Burlington Vermont focused on West Coast Swing and Fusion. We welcome and support all dancers, regardless of their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or skill level. Our classes are held on Tuesday evenings, and taught by a team of instructors including Scott Chilstedt, Ryan Doyle, Alison Nihart, Adam Franco, Molly Sargent, Sara Held, Theron Matthews, Hannah Taylor, and Eliza Kuchuck.

What is West Coast Swing?

West Coast Swing is a modern lead follow social dance that evolved from Lindy Hop, and continues to evolve to match the contemporary music of each decade. During its evolution, West Coast Swing has been influenced by Ballroom, Hustle, Country Western, Ballet, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Zouk and more, and combines the best techniques from each into one sexy, smooth, and sophisticated partner dance.

A great video for the overall feel of the dance:

West Coast Swing offers something for every level of dancer. For the beginner it offers a fun and welcoming dance community, straight-forward basic patterns, and the skills to dance to their favorite hit songs. For the advanced dancer West Coast Swing offers a constantly evolving dance style that always feels fresh, a challenging mix of improvisation, musicality, and body control that takes years to master, and a plethora of regional dance events.

Here are some examples of improvised West Coast Swing, starting with a demo by our instructors Scott and Bridget:

And here are some of our favorite choreographed routines from West Coast Swing professionals:

What’s the difference between West Coast Swing and East Coast Swing?

West Coast Swing East Coast Swing / Lindy Hop
Movement Linear (In a Slot) Circular
Aesthetic Smooth and Sexy Energetic and Bouncy
Typical Music Contemporary Vintage Jazz
Philosophy Invent and Grow Preserve the Past
Dancer Nickname Westie Lindy Hopper

What is Fusion?

Fusion is a modern lead follow social dance that evolved from the Blues Dance community in the late 2000’s. Like Blues Dancing, Fusion places strong emphasis on partner connection and musicallity and does not have a pre-defined rhythm structure. Fusion is more free than Blues in that it allows you to dance to any music, regardless of genre. It also allows you encorporate movement from other dance styles. Similar to a musician who blends various influences and styles while playing, a fusion dancer samples from their entire dance background on the social floor. This could mean combining patterns from Blues, West Coast Swing, Tango, and Waltz into one social dance, or improvising a completely new dance based on your partner and the music.

Here are examples of dancing you might see on a fusion dance floor:

Why should I learn West Coast Swing and Fusion?

– They’re incredibly versatile. You can dance them to your favorite music, whether it be Blues, Contemporary, Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Lyrical Covers, Funk, Soul, Folk, Jazz, Bluegrass, Country, Latin, or Electronica. You can dance them at weddings, in crowded bars like Radio Bean, outside on Church Street, in wide open ballrooms, between tables at restaurants, on the grass at concerts, and at regional dance events. The music genre and floor space requirements are so flexible you can have an amazing dance literally anywhere music is playing.

– You’re free to be you. Instead of trying to pigeonhole you in a predefined ‘ideal’ style, everyone is allowed to incorporate their unique personality, dance background, body mechanics, and role preferences into these dances.

– They’re super fun! West Coast Swing and Fusion have endless room for improv. Dancers create new moves based on the music and their partner which help make every dance unique and memorable.

What’s the catch?

Partner dancing is difficult. Much like playing an instrument, the basics can be learned in a few hours, but it takes months to internalize them and years to become a master. The good news is that learning process is fun, the people in our community are wonderful, and you can have enjoyable social dances after your first few classes.