About our Values.
We value exploring all the sounds, tempos, and regions associated with blues music. We focus on faster music at the beginning of our dance and slow down throughout the night with more jazzy blues. We will explore blues from all regions in America and the globe, as well throughout the history of the blues from the turn of the century to modern. While we value and enjoy many different styles of dance and music, ours is committed to blues only, all night long.
The blues is not just about music or dancing but rather an entire cultural heritage of assumptions, mindsets, and priorities that inform what and why blues is. The values we want to highlight are: relaxation, call and response, angles and broken lines, improvisation, musicality, innovation, organic as opposed to codified methods of expression, having pride in yourself and your progress, strong individuality, originality, heavy emphasis on style and aesthetics, and the equal value of the lead and follow.
Here at Toska we value giving people space to be who they are and fully express themselves, not just in dance. Blues is about acknowledging that we go through hard times and we battle our demons through dancing, music, community, and communication
Context in dancing:
Context in dancing is our belief that blues has an aesthetic, a mind set, and a set of assumptions that are essential to the dance beyond moving the body mechanically. We believe learning and understanding this context makes you a better dancer, and makes the dance more enjoyable to perform, to watch, and connect with. Blues without context is like speaking a language phonetically with no fluency
If context in dancing goes beyond moving your body, context in teaching is showing students how to dance the blues beyond how to move their limbs in a purely mechanistic manner. Almost all our classes will be all levels, highly participatory, and based on feedback and doing vs. telling. They will explore a more concept based system over moves based. They will also have no preference to teach towards one role or the other; both roles will be focused on
Getting better through inspiration:
We strive to get better in our dancing and want to inspire and support the community in working on all aspects of their dancing. Higher quality dancing is not simply about the dancer’s sense of self worth, but rather we believe dancing is more fun and enjoyable and fulfilling as you increase your skill. We want to provide a space for showcasing talent, nurturing new talent, and finding avenues for dancers of all levels to find whatever it is they need to get better.
Solo dancing is the heart of blues. For us solo represents two major values in blues: the priority of dancing starts with the dancer connecting to the music, the music inspires the dancer to move, then the body responds to the inspiration, and this is true even when the dance is partnered.
Secondly, solo dance is a major part the blues dance. In blues dance you see a value in everyone being equally responsible for their movement and interpretation, mutual respect, and admiration of individual expression. The highly unique style of blues as a partner dance that allows a blurring between lead and follow dynamic, call and response, riffing, cutting, and full expression within solo and partnered dances.
Everything starts with solo dancing
Our conception of being true to the values and context of blues has led us to determine that one of the unique aspects of blues dance is the relationship between the lead and follow. Both are equally important, distinct, and valued roles. A misconception is that leading is what is important, and the follow either “does what they are told” or is an afterthought. In blues the follow and lead both hold their own, they share equal but unique responsibility in making *their* dance, while also having full responsibility over their individual expression.
We want everyone to be able to come to our dance, our classes, and the blues community locally, nationally, and internationally. We don’t discriminate people based on lifestyle, gender, race, ability or financial constraints