Kicking Down in Charleston

Charleston has been kicking my ass lately. (Pun intended, always).

No, seriously, it has. I've been struggling to follow charleston moves that I haven't seen before (i.e. truly follow, not pattern match), as well as had difficulty making it look good. I feel like charleston is one of those moves (or rather, class of moves), that's easy to do poorly and hard to do well. With that, here are the things I've focused on that have helped my charleston improve. (It's still a work in progress).

  1. Kicking down: That is to say, "kick towards the floor" or "kick where you're going to place your foot next". My teachers have always told me this, but it's taken concerted practice to actually do. One thing that has been helpful is thinking as if I had a laser shooting off the bottom of my foot (e.g. the arch). Where would that laser be pointing when I kick? Would it be pointing at the floor or at the wall across from me?

  2. Prep the kick: This has been huge and big thanks to my dance partner for teaching me. The "kick" forward in charleston is really just consequence of prepping your step by bending the knee and taking the leg back. The kick back is consequence of the hip flexor prepping. So very little energy is actually involved in the "kick" and I find it more helpful to focus on the prep and then relax...

  3. Relax the foot/leg This is really another way to help with "kicking down" as too much energy in the foot/leg can make it go all sorts of weird directions. This is also related to #2; energy should go into the prep more than the release. When "kicking", only a little energy should be in the foot to make the shape straight.