Dance Class Descriptions
Referred to as the Granddaddy of all swing dances, the Lindy Hop is a partnered dance that originated in the early 1920s. The Lindy Hop pattern evolved from the Charleston and influenced by several other dance forms. Often described as the original Swing dance, Lindy Hop is a fast-paced, joyful dance with a flowing style that reflects its music. The Lindy Hop grew up with great Swing bands of the era: the bands inspired the dancers and the dancers inspired the bands. Resulting in advances in both dance and musical expression that would eventually evolve into Rock 'n Roll. Whether referred to as Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, or Jive, the inspiring music was Swing, with a tempo of 120-180 beats per minute. Swing rhythms exist throughout rock, country, jazz and blues, making all of these music styles perfectly acceptable for dancing the Lindy Hop.
EAST COAST SWING / JITTERBUG / BOOGIE-WOOGIE
East Coast Swing (ECS) is a form of social partner dance that evolved from the Lindy Hop. East Coast Swing can be referred to by many different names in different regions of the United States and the World. It has alternatively been called Eastern Swing, Jitterbug, American Swing, Lindy (not to be confused with Lindy Hop) and Triple Swing. Other variants of East Coast Swing that use altered footwork forms are known as Single Swing or "Single-step Swing" (where the triple step is replaced by a single step forming a slow, slow, quick, quick rhythm common to Foxtrot), and Double Swing (using a tap-step footwork pattern).
This form of swing dance is strictly based in six-count patterns that are simplified forms of the original patterns copied from Lindy Hop. The name East Coast Swing was coined to initially to distinguish the dance from the street form and the new variant used in the competitive ballroom arena. While based on Lindy Hop, it does have clear distinctions. East Coast Swing is a standardized form of dance developed first for instructional purposes in the Arthur Murray studios, and then later codified to allow for a medium of comparison for competitive ballroom dancers. It can be said that there is no right or wrong way to dance it. This six-count form inspired several other dance forms such as: (European) Boogie Woogie, Jive, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and Rock and Roll. In practice on the social dance floor, the six-count steps of the East Coast Swing are often mixed with the eight count steps of Lindy Hop, Charleston, and Balboa.
Blues Dance is much more than just dancing to Blues music. Since Blues itself is not only a genre, but a feeling, a style, a noun, a verb, an expression. It is unlike any other dance style. Blues music itself dates back to the late 1800s historically deriving from work songs from the Southern states. Turning it into its own American folk music style with playing, singing, and dancing about the happenings of the times. The Good or the Bad. Blues is a style of music that has tested the trials of time.
The basic pattern is a "Step-Collect". Though this style primarily is danced to Blues music, it is known for the passionate and emotional connection between the dancers and to the music and can be “fused” into several styles. The main focus is on the connection between the dancers. How the dancers interprets the music, and then turn that interpretation into their dancing is the key to Blues dance. It can be danced slow & groovy, or fast & syncopated. As one of the oldest versions of dance dating back to 1850s, it deeply rooted in history and based off improvised steps.
Blues dance pre-dates swing dance with some of the earliest documented dances being in the 1850s. The roots of Blues Dance goes back to the African tribal rhythms and movements combined with modern techniques into the dance you see today. Blues Dance is a term used to describe a whole family of dance styles that has had over a century to be redeveloped, reformed, and reshaped into today's dance. It is also a reflection the listener's natural reaction to Blues music. It may just start with the tapping of a foot, clapping hands, or simply moving rhythmically by yourself. But Blues Dancers take that natural movement and express intensity, with their own musical and emotional interpretation by putting the body into motion. As long as there is Blues music, there is going to be Blues Dancing. More on Blues Dance here.
Balboa is a form of swing dance that started as early as 1915 and gained in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. It is danced primarily in close embrace, and is led with a full body connection. The art of Balboa is the subtle communication between the lead and follow, like weight shifts, that most viewers cannot see. Balboa came from Southern California during the 20's and increased in popularity until World War 2. Balboa is danced to a wide variety of tempos. Because the basic is so small, Balboa can be danced to fast music (over 300 beats per minute). Balboa is also danced to slow music (under 100 beats per minute), which allows more time for intricate footwork and variations.
Different Styles of Balboa: Pure Balboa & Bal-Swing.
Pure Balboa: Dancers remain with their torsos touching, doing variations based on footwork. Bal-Swing: Dancers add spins and turns, much like in swing dance, returning to pure Balboa on occasion. Basic Balboa: Timing holds on the four and eight. Break Time Balboa: holds on the three and seven.
Charleston is that "kicky dance" you see people doing, and was made popular as early as the 1910s. These 8-ct patterns has several styles of Charleston: Solo, 20’s, 30’s and Tandem. The basic step resembles the natural movement of walking, though it is usually performed in place. The arms swing forward and backwards, with the right arm coming forward as the left leg 'steps' forward, and then moving back as the opposite arm/leg begin their forwards movement. Toes are not pointed, but feet usually form a right angle with the leg at the ankle. Arms are usually extended from the shoulder, either with straight lines, or more frequently with bent elbows and hands at right angles from the wrist. Styling varies with each Charleston type from this point, though all utilize a ‘pulse-bounce' with a beat of the music.
20’s Charleston has partners in open position facing each other doing the basic patterns. 30’s Charleston - also called “side-by-side” - which has partners side-by-side with contact at the hips. Tandem Charleston has partners in front of each other facing same way doing patterns simultaneously. Hand-To-Hand has partners looking at each each in handshake holds doing several fun patterns.
Solo or Partnered 20s Charleston is usually danced to music at comparatively high tempos and is characterised by high-energy dancing. Faster movements are often contrasted with slower, dragging steps and improvisations. The most valued form of solo 20s Charleston combines choreography with improvisation and creative variations on familiar dance steps. Above all, the most popular and most "successful" solo 20s Charleston dancers respond to the music in creative ways to express themselves. Solo 20s Charleston is also often danced in groups on the social dance floor or in formal choreography.
30s Partner/Side-By-Side Charleston
This style involves a number of positions, including "jockey position", where closed position is opened out so that both partners may face forward, without breaking apart. In "side-by-side" Charleston partners open out the closed position entirely, so that their only points of connection are at their touching hips, and where the lead's right hand and arm touch the follower's back, and the follower's left hand and arm touch the leader's shoulder and arm. Both partners then swing their free arms as they would in solo Charleston. In both jockey and side-by-side Charleston the leader steps back onto their left foot, while the follower steps back onto their right.
The word tandem literally means identical parts stacked one behind the other. Tandem-Charleson is also sometimes called Back-Charleston, Shadow-Charleston, and includes Charleston steps where both the lead and the follow are on the same foot (R or L) at the same time. Previous knowledge of Charleston basics are indeed helpful. In “Tandem Charleston" one partner stands in front of the other (usually the follower, though the arrangement may vary), and both step back onto their left feet to begin. The partner behind holds the front partner's hands at their hip height, and their joined arms swing backwards and forwards as in the basic step.
Collegiate Shag was danced in the early thirties popularized by the collegiate youth and danced to music that emphasized a 2-beat rhythm, and was danced in the varieties called single, double, and triple shag incorporating 6-count and 8-count patterns. The most common form recognized as Collegiate Shag is double shag (6-count) rhythm. It was hugely popular with the college-aged kids in the 1930s, hence the name, all across the United States. Two styles were created: Wild & Crazy and Smooth & Quiet. Collegiate Shag can be anything you want it to be, and that’s the fun of it. Collegiate Shag is fun to learn and is impressive to watch because of the fast footwork at high speeds and uses moves and turns similar to Jitterbug or Lindy Hop. The main characteristic is keeping the upper body motionless while the feet are moving fast (similar to Balboa), but also steadily hopping to the beat.
Nicknamed "Beach Dancing," the Shag is an offshoot of Jitterbug Swing. Shag originated on the beaches of South Carolina, particularly Atlantic Beach and Myrtle Beach, in the 1940's. It is danced to Motown, Blues, Oldies, R&B, and slow to medium tempo Swing music. The Shag showcases fancy footwork and spins with a smooth, flowing feeling Involving 6 & 8 count patterns mostly danced in a slot.The Shag is reminiscent of the West Coast and East Coast Swing styles. This dance was named the official state dance of South Carolina in 1984, and has remained popular in the South. You don't have to find a beach for this dance, but you could easily dance the Shag with a drink in your hand and pretend. Music preferences: Blues, Motown, Oldies, Beach.
WEST COAST SWING
Shortly after World War II, when movie studios began cranking out Hollywood musicals, the West Coast Swing was born when choreographers replaced the circular movement of the Jitterbug with movement along a straight line or "slot" so they could place more couples on the floor without losing their faces to the camera. West Coast Swing is considered the "Cadillac of Swing". There is a lot of freedom to improvise in this dance. Greater emphasis is placed on footwork and music syncopation. WCS is danced to Blues, R&B, Funk, Latin Rhythms and Beach Music. Because the music tempos are slower than ECS and Lindy Hop, generally 80-140 BPM, the dancers have more time for interpretation and can fancy up their stylings.