by Molly Buck
The allure of swing
dancing is fairly obvious its a great way
to meet people, its good exercise, the music is
exciting, dressing up is fun, and it is a fairly accessible
art form. One could even say that swing dance is a form
In fact, some people have picked up on the therapeutic
power of the Lindy Hop and have turned it into a business.
Jennifer Wong, a trained dancer; her brother, Matthew,
a personal trainer; and their mother, Gayook, a professional
therapist and consultant for corporations, found swing
so enlivening that they formed a venture called JMG
Partnership in 1998 and turned their love of dance into
a formalized dance therapy workshop, called JMG Swings!
JMG Swings!, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, offers tailormade
swing dance therapy programs to corporations, families,
teens and children. Within their programs, the Wongs address
such issues as socialization, family and peer relationships,
couples dynamics, motivation, self-esteem, problem solving,
and communication. JMG Swings! workshops entail group
exercises, facilitated discussions, and question and answer
sessions to help improve communication between the participants.
And they learn how to become fabulous swing dancers.
For corporations, the workshops may focus on breaking
down the barriers of rank to enhance the interaction between
management and workers. Employees learn improved communication
skills and the importance of treating each other with
respect. For parents and children, learning how to swing
dance as equal partners brings them closer together. In
both cases, the standard relationships between participants
are taken out of context as they learn to trust each other
and learn swing dancing as a team.
is a fun way to get into some of the more important issues
involving relationships," says Gayook. "We
take this therapy and try to make it fun. Doing it this
way is innovative. It is bringing together the social
aspect with the work aspect."
And does the therapy actually work? One sign of JMGs
success is apparent through a former students story.
Jim felt that he and his 14-year-old daughter did not
relate very well with each other. He wanted to find a
way to get closer to her and be more involved in her life.
They took a few workshops with the Wongs, and a few months
later, Jims daughter asked him to chaperone one
of her school dances. Mission accomplished.
In addition, many of the issues that come up during the
workshops are gender related.
"Often, if a husband and wife are dancing together,
the wife will not give her husband the chance to actually
lead her," Jen explains. "As a team, they are
not learning the dance. However, when they move on to
other couples, they are able to learn it better. I explain
to them that they have to work together in order to dance
with each other, not anticipate each others moves.
After a few classes, they start to relate better to each
other as well." This newfound partnership then permeates
many other aspects of their relationship, Jen adds.
JMG workshops focus heavily on the balancing power of
swing dancing, combining the mental and emotional elements
with the physical challenges. Physically, swing dancing
is great aerobic exercise. The dancing aspect of it, though,
is also "a moving meditation," as Gayook calls
it. Within the workshops, JMG Swings! stresses the balance
of mind, body and spirit through the practice of qi gong,
which means "breathwork," a Chinese form of
martial arts derived from ancient Buddhist and Tao philosophies.
In summing up the philosophy behind their work, Gayook
also hits on the reason that swing has endured for decades.
"The essence of swing is that it hits every level
the social, personal, spiritual and physical. And
it bridges the generations," she says.
For more information on JMG Swings! workshops, contact
the Wongs at JMGPartner@aol.com
or call (808) 236-4082.