Shine 2018 – Dancing by numbers

Shine 2018 – Dancing by numbers

Shine 2018 – to count or not to count???

This post is a little different, where Sam and I write about our challenges, struggles and enjoyment of Shine 2018, a solo jazz weekend.


This was my second experience of Shine – a fabulous solo jazz weekend run by Bic and Simone Graham with some amazing teachers;

  • Jenny Thomas
  • Trisha Sewell,
  • Ben Cook
  • Michael Jagger.

My challenge was the advanced solo jazz stream. My first challenge was undertaking 2 hours of classes on a Friday evening! (My aim was to push myself and be pushed and challenged).

The classes were a mixture of workshops and a choreographed routine.

I really enjoy seeing how different teachers approach their teaching ; use of concepts to allow exploration of movement, use of rhythm through your feet /dancing to match or enhance the music, drills and repetition of steps and sequences with counting the beats.

Over the weekend, I utilised lots of different approaches but what was lovely was working with the other people in my class and being helped out. We all had sticky bits in the routine that weren’t going so well and using others to watch / count / use rhythm and clapping to help improve your ability (special shout out to Teri Long for being my sanity, mirror, dancing buddy – you’re a star!)

I like to see the movement, hear the music, feel the rhythm and then translate all of that from my senses through my brain and into my feet and hopefully produce something that looks like dancing!

There was some interesting conversations over the weekend about counting v rhythm and learning routines. General consensus…. Everyone is different!!!

But what to do with the all of this?

– Instantly forget everything?

– Continue to ‘ learn ‘ because you are so proud of your achievements you continue to show everyone?

– Recognise that you thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, not forget everything but be content that you have the video footage to revisit?

– Have a better insight into yourself as a dancer and how to use the steps /rhythms /movements in your future dancing?



If you’ve not heard of Shine it’s a solo jazz weekend run by the fabulous Bic and Simone from the Lindy club who are based in the southampton/portsmouth area in the UK. Once again there was an impressive line up of teachers;

  • Jenny Thomas
  • Michael Jagger
  • Trisha Sewell
  • Ben Cook

All of whom provided excellent sessions and some very impressive choreography for the routine classes. This year I opted for improvers with Trisha, having attended a couple of years ago and struggled with the pace of the routine I thought this was a better choice personally.

So onto the main question. Dancing by numbers (counts if you want to be pedantic)

Having danced now for a little while one of the things I have always struggled with is counting, now I can count to ten without taking my socks off. Dancing however, counts in eight, starts on eight &, and solo jazz can start on one, to. My brain however has learned to listen. To rhythms, melodies, instruments and this has developed from when I was a teenager. I dance this way, by listening and picking out something that makes me move. This meant that at several points on this weekend I struggled when dancing by numbers. I appreciate that different people learn in different ways and that from my limited knowledge that a lot dance routines are taught this way. I hummed and mentally played the song as we progressed without music. It made it easier to remember, most of the time.

It was interesting listening to a couple of conversations from Ben I think, he said that one of the best ways to know the routine was to listen to the song again and again, to the point where it becomes annoying to listen to. I get this, it’s how I have learnt routines before. Know the song, do the performance in my head when I’m not able to dance it, to the point where it’s automatic.

Later the conversation was about choreography. It was suggested that sometimes it’s useful to change the song to one with a similar structure to determine if it’s the song providing cues or that the chores is so embedded (from counts) that the song doesn’t matter. For me that would be confusing to learn, initially. I can do the Shim Sham, I can do it to any song with the right structure because over time it’s embedded. The auto pilot kicks in and this allows me to listen to the song and syncopate my steps.

There are other routines I’d like to learn, unfortunately for me the only way is repetition and music to begin with.

  • What’s your experience?
  • Choreography by counts, music or both?
  • Do you struggle remembering the steps?


I have to say that this not a reflection on the Shine event or the teaching but on my personal learning styles. Each group managed to learn a routine over 2 and a half days with only 6 hours of choreography classes and then perform them to other other groups. They were all amazing and a joy to participate in. It’s a great way to get outside your comfort Zone.