Magazine article Dance Teacher

Tybaldt Ulrich

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Tybaldt Ulrich

Article excerpt

Music for West Coast Swing

World champion ballroom dancer Tybaldt Ulrich logs a lot of hours teaching amateurs: priests, lawyers and dog walkers, between 30 and 70 years old. "Ballroom is good for your soul and breaks you out of your everyday life," he says. "Plus, you learn more about yourself and how you work. It's like doing a crossword with your body."

West Coast swing evolved from the lindy hop. It differs from other forms because it is stylistically tighter in the body and is danced to a slower tempo. It's also slotted, meaning partners usually keep to a long, narrow space, traveling back and forth within it. These qualities make the style good for beginners and those who want to try improvisation within ballroom dance.

Ulrich, who teaches open classes at several studios in New York City and New Jersey, knows that though West Coast is easily graspable, new students will still feel intimidated by the form. He breaks down hesitation by using popular music. "People come in scared and inhibited. If I play a song they like and can get them to sing along, they unknowingly begin to understand the underlying rhythms of dance while having fun with it," he says. "They don't realize that in my classroom, they're experts the minute they walk in-with American popular music."

Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen

Song: "Call Me Maybe"

"West Coast swing is a social dance, which means it started with people swaying around at a party. Taking something off the Top 40 list is really just continuing that tradition. Sometimes you need a huge pulse like this to get a class going. …

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