How to do jazz dancing
How Do You Dance to Jazz? | Arts & CultureRevelers two-step at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Zack Smith
Can you dance to jazz? The crowds at this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival thought so, twirling in the aisles of the big canvas tents and couple-dancing on a plywood riser to acoustic jazz combos.
In 1945, this would not have been a remarkable observation, for 70 years ago, jazz was still a popular dance music. In 2015, however, jazz is almost always a sit-down concert experience—either in nightclubs where listeners sit at tables sipping overpriced drinks or in theaters where they sit in rows, checking the personnel in their glossy programs. That’s why it was such a surprising pleasure to see jazz fans in New Orleans jump out of their chairs at the slightest provocation to swing their hips.
But this music wasn’t like today’s pop dance music, where the beat is pumped up to industrial proportions so it becomes unmistakable. On these tunes, the beat might be buried beneath a trumpet or piano solo pulling in another direction while the guitar plays a counter-rhythm. So how do the dancers find the pulse? I asked the best dancer on the plywood riser, a retired New Orleans grocer named Claudia Dumestre.
“I listen with both my ears right down to my feet,” she said. “Sometimes I lock on the drummer to find the beat; sometimes I lock in on another instrument. If you have a dance partner who hears music the same way, that makes it much easier. I’ve danced to Earl Turbinton and Willie Tee, a New Orleans group that could sound like John Coltrane, and if you have the right partner, you can dance to that too. The key is finding the pulse underneath everything else that's going on.”
This short, wiry woman in the black straw hat and floral jacket then demonstrated what she meant by grabbing my hand and pulling me onto the dance floor. Soon she was spinning beneath my upraised right arm, flinging me out and yanking me back. I noticed that while her hips were moving to the primary beat coming from the drums, her elbows and shoulders were moving to the secondary beats suggested by the horns.The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Zack Smith The Soul Rebels Zack Smith Dr. Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band with Thais Clark Zack Smith Festival attendees dance to the music. Zack Smith Rebirth Brass Band Zack Smith A "fais do-do" is a Cajun dance party. Zack Smith
“The other stuff that’s going on in a jazz tune is not distracting,” she explained when I asked. “It makes it more fun. If you can latch onto a secondary beat, you’re not doing the same thing over and over again. Jazz frees you up from that. Some people like to do the same swing step they learned from a dance instructor again and again, but it’s more enjoyable to always be moving from one movement to the next.”
“It’s all about the two and four,” said one of those dancers, New Orleans resident Shea Manly. “For me, everything else is icing on the cake. If I can find the two and four, I can dance to it. New Orleans is all about that rhythm.”
Manly's comment suggests that for jazz to become danceable again, it needs not only the right musicians but also the right venues and the right audiences. Yes, the musicians have to keep an underlying dance pulse going if they want listeners to get out of their chairs and shake their hips. But the venue also has to provide an open space where that can happen without blocking the view of others. And the audience has to be able to identify the beat within a jazz number that has a lot of different moving parts. In New Orleans, audiences are trained by family and friends to hear that dance pulse from an early age.
“We are a very parochial people,” said Keith Hurtt, a New Orleans tour guide, “and we have our own ways of doing things. When we hear the beat, we can’t help ourselves. I’m always amazed that people from somewhere else can sit through a jazz tune. I don’t know how you cannot dance to jazz. Some people from other towns will have taken dance lessons, so they know all the steps, but it’s not the same, because they do the same steps even when the music changes.”
Nothing has done more to preserve the New Orleans tradition of dancing to jazz than the brass-band revival that began with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the ReBirth Brass Band in the 1980s and is still going strong today. Employing the instrumentation of a marching band in one of the city's countless parades, these groups relied solely on horns and strap-on drums to create chords and rhythms. With the tuba bleating out the bottom bass notes and the trumpets, trombones and saxophones forming the harmonies, these groups hit the sweet spot between groove and improvisation.
Those two founding groups were at this year’s Jazzfest, of course, but so were excellent but lesser known bands such as the High Steppers Brass Band and the Soul Rebels, who played the smaller outdoor stages on Friday and Saturday respectively. These two bands were good examples of how you can keep people dancing even during the freest jazz solo if one part of the band takes care of the groove while another part is improvising—though the musicians often swap those roles. Nor were they staunch traditionalists; both bands employed hip-hop chants and commentary to keep the dancers engaged without taking over the music nor getting in the way of the soloists.
The Soul Rebels divided their band in two: the two trumpets, two trombones and saxophone formed the frontline, while the tuba and three drummers made up the backline. While the backline held down the beat, the frontline could play ambitious jazz solos, and the dancers would keep moving out on the grass. And sometimes, just to mix it up, the frontline would adopt a rhythmic horn vamp while the backline went into a wild percussion jam.
“[Clarinetist and frequent Wynton Marsalis collaborator] Michael White once told me, ‘I can hear my music and I can feel my music,’ but I can’t see my music till people start dancing.’” Dumestre said, “That made me feel so good, like I was helping to complete the music in some way by dancing.”
But why is New Orleans is so different from other cities? I got a clue when I visited the festival's big Gospel Tent to hear Cynthia Girtley, the self-described “New Orleans Gospel Diva. ” Sitting at the piano, she informed the Sunday-afternoon audience: “We’re gonna have church today. When we have church in New Orleans, we don’t sit down. We stand up and shout; we stomp and clap.”
When she sang “Jesus on the Mainline” to the tune of “This Little Light of Mine,” the crowd demonstrated what she meant. One by one they stood up and began stomping and clapping, swinging and singing. And they didn’t stop when Michael White himself took a jazz solo on the melody. And from his barstool on stage, he could look out into the audience and see what his music looked like.
From Cakewalk To Lindy Hop
The history of social dancing in the United States is very rich. Most of us heard of Lindy Hop or swing dancing. Though there were many amazing dance forms in combination with Jazz music, that dominated the cultural landscape in America in the first half of the 20th century.
In this blog I will make a quick overview of the popular social partner dances during the first half of the 20th century such as Cakewalk, Two Step, One Step, Fox Trot, Charleston, Shag, St. Louis Shag, Balboa and Lindy hop (Jitterbug).
Ragtime was a highly rhythmic dance music that became an international phenomenon in late 19th century. This music was always associated with dancing. As the music moved to ballrooms, the ragtime sheet music always had a. mark of an "appropriate" dance. The dances named on the earliest ragtime sheet music are the cakewalk, march, and two-step. Interestingly, at time all of those dances or a combination was written on a sheet. It tells us that there was lack of musical distinction between the dances.
The Cakewalk, also known as the “Chalk line walk” or “walk around” was a pre-Civil war dance developed from the original “prize walks”. Prize walks were held in the plantations of the Southern United States in the mid 19th century.
Prize walks were sort of carnival events. The slaves of southern plantations used to gather at their master’s house to enter a contest and perform a dance. In fact the dance’s name comes from the decorated cake that would be awarded to the winning couple.
Us slaves watched white folks' parties where the guests danced a minuet and then paraded in a grand march, with the ladies and gentlemen going different ways and then meeting again, arm in arm, and marching down the center together. Then we'd do it too, but we used to mock 'em every step. Sometimes the white folks noticed it, but they seemed to like it; I guess they thought we couldn't dance any better.
- Baldwin 1981
Basically the dance was about mocking the aristocratic mannerism of white people. Initially it was performed by men and Black dancers only. Later the shows saw the introduction of both women and Whites, usually performing in Black face.Doing the Cake Walk. Antique French Postcard c.1911
By the mid 19 century, cakewalk began to enter the minstrel show acts. Slowly it became a part of American culture and entertainment. Though the dance was the first one to dissapear from the ragtime sheet music in around 1904.
The Two- Step
American Two-Step craze began around 1890. Before that it was the European dances that dominated American ballrooms. The Two-Step was a simple dance in 2/4 or 4/4 time that brought on marching chassés steps.
The Two Step flourished because it was perfectly suitable for dancing to marching tunes of John Philip Sousa. “The Washington Post” tune by Sousa fit the Two Step so much that the dance was at times called The Washington Post.
One of the most popular Two Step dances was The Circle Two Step (also called “The Paul Jones”), a mixer where the dancers began in a large circle, broke away with a partner for The Two - Step, reformed the circle and found a new partner, broke away for The Two - Step, and so on.Erica Nielsen, p. 38
Few decades later the new style The One - Step (and the Foxtrot) replaced The Two - Step dance.
The One - Step (a.k.a: the Turkey Trot, Bunny Hug, Grizzly Bear) came from England in 1911. At that time it consisted of a mere march forward, backward and a right turn, danced with military precision. When it was brought to America, it was adapted to the syncopated rhythms of Ragtime music by adding a run or “trot” (like a little galop, in a horse riding style).
The One Step, that became popular after the animal dances, however, eliminated all hoppings, all contortions of the body, all flouncing of the elbows, all twisting of the arms, and above all else, all fantastic dips- Erica Nielsen, p. 17
It was like this until the ballroom couple Irene and Vernon Castle developed what was seen by the white community as a more dignified version of it. It took the name of the Castle walk.
However around 1917 One Step gradually fell out of fashion and disappeared from the ragtime music sheets.
The Foxtrot (also Fox Trot, The Fox-trot, Fishwalk or Horse Trot), is an animal dance, that later became a ballroom dance craze. As Nielsen and Kassing state, foxtrot might have originated from the 1913 (1914) vaudeville act by Arthur Carringford, whose stage name was Henry Fox. His two slow walks followed by 4 quick steps became known as “Fox’s Trot”.
However some attribute the invention of the Foxtrot to the Castles. Two professional ballroom dancers, who through their frequent performing foxtrot inspired many people to come to dance studios for instructions. You can watch The Castles dancing fox trot in public here.The Castles Demonstrate the Fox Trot for the Washington Times January 25, 1915 "Trotting to the steps of the Castle Fox"
In the 20s, English professional dancers and dance teachers found a new standardised way to adapt this dance to slower tempos. So the dance split into two ones : the “slow” foxtrot (also called English foxtrot) and the “Quickstep”. The quickstep being influenced by Charleston. The slow foxtrot by the Valse Boston.
The foxtrot today remains mainly a competitive American dance, thought in academies and dance studios. Equally one can also dance foxtrot in ballrooms at social events. During its development another spin off style came to be: the Pea body.
The Peabody is an American ballroom dance which evolved around 1914 from a faster version of the Foxtrot. What was called the “Quickstep” in England, was the Peabody in America, named after the New York policeman William Frank Peabody.
The Peabody was basically a unique, jaunty type fast fox-trot, done to ragtime music. Danced in an unusual couple position, called the “English”. Mr Peabody, was a big man. He simply could not hold the partner directly in the front. As a result the position is shifted.
The dance covers a lot of space on the floor. Peabody is essentially a fast one-step, with long, gliding strides and a few syncopations. The leader changes sides as he travels around the floor and adds promenades and simple turns as the dance progresses.
Here you can watch Ralph Kramden dancing his version of The Peabody to hot jazz music at a costume ball.
The One Step and Peabody went on to become the (modern) Quick-step in American style ballroom.
Charleston dance is a solo and a partner dance. Named after a Charleston city, its invention attributed to Jenkins orphan boys and has roots in geechie / gullah culture. In 1920's it became a national craze and reached international popularity. For more information on history of the dance you can read my blog, the History of Charleston dance.
Charleston dance as solo and partnered style saw stylistic changes between the 20s and the 40s. In the 20s it was danced to ragtime and early jazz music (New Orleans jazz). And in the 30s to swing music. Hence, we can say Charleston is a ragtime dance and a swing dance.
Closed face to face position was typical for the 20s style. The footwork mainly consisted of Charleston 20s twists.
The dance got a new life in 1930s in the Savoy Ballroom when it was merged with Lindy Hop. In the 30s and 40s the close embrace position opened out. Now you had "hand to hand", "side by side", "tandem" (when the follower stands in front of the leader) and break away positions.
Watch Al Minns and Leon James doing the Lindy Charleston in couple. You can see the style, footwork and couple position has changed. More importantly, the feel changed. It is swinging, has a 4/4 feel and looks more horizontal.
Swing dance is a group of dances that developed with the swing style of jazz music from the 1920's to the 40s. During the swing era, there were many styles of swing dancing. Some that survived beyond the era include: Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and Charleston. Swing is a broad term. It's the name of the era, name of the rhythm, and a tern to describe group of dance styles.
Collegiate Shag or Shag
The Collegiate Shag (or "Shag") is a partner dance done primarily to uptempo swing and pre-swing jazz music.
It is believed that the origins of the dance are within the African American community of the Carolinas in the 1920s. Shag became a craze in the 30s and even the New York Times described it as a “fundamental dance step for swing”
The Collegiate Shag was extremely popular with younger dancers. Especially popular with those who prefer lots of action rather than the slow mellow style of Fox - Trot. Interestingly, since the 1930s the word “Shag” has been used to refer to a family of Jitterbug dances.
Shag dance does not strive for elegance. It is about energy and explosion. Its bouncy hops, kicks, exaggerated hand hold and gawky style give it a fun flair.
Prior to the 30s shag was probably known under other names like “flea hop”. It is as well suggested that the dance evolved from a partnered version of the solo Vaudeville/tap step called "flea hop". It featured a movement pattern that's very similar to shag.
One curious fact, in the late 19th century, "shagger" was a nickname for 'Vaudeville performer'. Perhaps, this Vaudeville slang was what inspired Lewis Hall (who claimed to have invented the Shag step in 1938) to give his dance the name "shag".
Alber Murray Shag
One more interesting video about shag dance is where Albert Murray teaches a shag class. Actually, his style of dancing shag got it's name as Albert Murray Shag.
Today Shag is an internationally popular swing dance style. Take a look at the contemporary shag dancers at one of the biggest events in the Europe dedicated to this dance - Barcelona Shag Festival
St. Louis shag is a swing dance that evolved from Collegiate Shag, Charleston and Lindy Hop, which originated in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1930s.
The dance has an 8-count basic that is commonly composed of triple-step, kick, triple-step, kick. The St. Louis Shag is an extremely fast, closed position dance. The general speed for it is around 220-300 bpm.
In this video you can see Christian Frommelt and Jenny Shirar performing St. Louis Shag at Rock That Swing festival in Munich.
Balboa is a town in Newport Beach, California. In the 1930s, dancers at the Balboa Pavilion in Newport Beach, California, created their own swing dance style. The club was a small building. It was simply impossible to throw wild acrobatics of the Jitterbug there. So dancers created the Balboa - a perfectly adapted dance to fast music and crowded ballrooms.
Balboa is usually separated in two forms. Pure-bal, that is danced in closed position. Bal-swing, where the dancers are separated and lot of turns are performed
It was a simple style of dance based on a close position, strong partner connection and easy footwork based on shuffling along the floor, although covering the least space possible.
When Swing dancers added a few Balboa steps in their dance style, a combo of the two was born: the “Bal swing”. This one allows the partners to break the close position, introducing more freedom into using turns, spins, even aerials, while keeping the original Balboa tradition and philosophy.
The Lindy (The Lindy Hop)
The Lindy Hop was born in the African-American communities in Harlem, New York. It was born to a sound of a new style of music being played in Harlem - swing. The musicians called this new rhythm “swinging the beat”.Leon James & Willa Mae Ricker demonstrating steps of The Lindy Hop. (Photo by Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
The name Lindy Hop came from a dancer Shorty "George" Snowden. During a dance marathon the reporter asked Snowden what he was dancing. Just at that time in 1927 Charles Lindberg made a transatlantic flight and all the newspapers were screaming "Lindberg "hopped" the Atlantic". And so Snowden said: "Lindy Hop".
Snowden danced at the marathon with his partner Mattie Purnell. You can see them in this video. Shorty was doing the break away and the send outs, those were the predecessors of the swing out move. Swing out is the defining move of Lindy Hop.
According to Frankie Manning, the Lindy developed out of Charleston, the Collegiate and the break away.
The most famous Lindy Hop video is from "Hellzapoppin'" film, 1941
- The film features The Harlem Congaroo Dancers (so called "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers"):
- William Downes/Overalls & Frances "Mickey" Jones (0:39)
- Billy Ricker/Chef's Hat & Norma Miller (1:09)
- Al Minns/White Coat-Black Pants & Willa Mae Ricker (1:29)
- Frankie Manning/Overalls & Ann Johnson (1:55)
The history of the originators of the Lindy Hop at the Savoy Ballroom. In this video you can see the Ambassador of Lindy Hop Frankie Manning social dancing.
So what is Jitterbug?
Somehow there is a confusion between the names Jitterbug and the Lindy. In fact, jitterbug is just a nickname for Lindy Hop. Some would say, it was a white name for the Lindy. the term jitterbug was in use after the 1940's.
The term actually had a bad connotation. It was used to describe a drunk person shaking from "jitters", or tremors. A person who had too much “jitter sauce” (illegal moonshine). As Al Minns describes, jitterbug was a name for people who were bad dancers.
The word “jitterbug” as well appeared in Cab Calloway's popular swing number "Call of the Jitterbug" in 1935. In this song we can hear that jitterbugging is connected with its drinking aspect.
Wizard of Oz and Lindy Hop
The film Wizard of Oz played a big part in settling the names. The producers wanted a swing dance scene and preferred the name jitterbug. “Lindy Hop” seemed like a very unfamiliar word with no direct association that would not get popular appeal. Jitterbug in the movie was actually a scary insect sent to Dorothy by the Witch. Once bitten the victims shall dance till they fall in exhaustion. Here you can watch the scene from the movie.
It’s very interesting and sad how this situation played on reputation of the dance. Lindy hop was just becoming popular and known to white audiences at the time when Wizard of Oz came out. The fact jitterbug, the name of the dance, and it's association with the witch created for some social groups an association with illegal, primitive and threatening dance.
Here is a fantastic video of Al Minns and Leon James performing jazz dances at the talk show "Playboy's Penthouse", hosted by Marshall Stearns. You can see them dancing Cakewalk, Charleston, Two Step, Collegiate, Break Away, The Lindy and The Big Apple.
References and bibliography
- Social dance: a short history. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. Chapter 7. The twentieth century: Jazz and after by Franks A.H. 1963.
- "The Cakewalk: A Study in Stereotype and Reality" by Baldwin, Brooke (1981). Journal of Social History. Oxford University Press.
- Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History By Edward A. Berlin
- Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake. A social and popular dance reader by Julie Malnig
- "Peabody," in The Encyclopedia of Social Dance by Albert and Josephine Butler (New York: Albert Butler Ballroom Dance Service, 1971).
- Folk Dancing by Erica Nielsen
- Ballroom Dancing Techniques - The One Step By Anon
- History of Dance: An Interactive Arts Approach By Gayle Kassing
- Shag: The Legendary Dance of the South by Bo Bryan
- The Original One-Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 69)
- Ragtime One Step
- Ragtime dance. The One - Step
- What is Shag Dancing
- Lindy Hop, The original swing dance
- Cakewalks & Jitterbugs: The Marriage of Jazz and Dance
- Historia del Balboa: del Pure - Bal al Bal - Swing
- Vernon and Irene Castle Biography
- The Definition of Jitterbug
How it is to dance jazz – DIVOCHE.MEDIA
Olya Smirnova, one of the founders and ideological inspirers of the show “The Age of Jazz”, tells how it is to dance authentic jazz, make performances in the chorus line style and organize a whole show about the 30s.
About myself and swing
There are two main activities in my life: children's book illustration and jazz dancing. I chose to do only what inspires me and gives me energy. I started to get involved in jazz music in 2009. At first I fell in love with rock and roll of the 50s and boogie-woogie dance - it is danced every Wednesday and Sunday in the summer at the Shell in the Mariinsky Park. Over time, she came to more complex music, including swing, and began to dive deeper into the culture of that time.
Swing is not just old jazz music for me. This is a rhythm, a special quality, attitude, communication through the body with music. Swing dances are social because they were created as a way to communicate. Instead of a constant partner, as in ballrooms, you dance with different people, find contact with music and another person at the same time.
About two thousand people practice swing in Kyiv. Plus a few more hundreds in Odessa, Lvov, Dnipro and Kharkov. Not as much as in salsa, but there is someone to dance with.
About vintage finds
For me, swing dances are not just movements, but a whole culture: music, lifestyle, American history of the 20-60s, fashion and much more.
I look for and wear vintage clothes and accessories, I use retro elements in the interior, I like to walk along the old streets, watch old films.
Some treasures inherited from my grandmother, such as a brooch and a bedside table, brought from the GDR in the 70s. On every trip I go to flea markets and vintage shops, but the most successful finds still happened in Kyiv at Lesnaya. In Europe, a real vintage is expensive, it is more appreciated there.
There is also a vintage shop "Vintage Crew" in Kyiv. His co-owner Nika danced with us in the first few programs. And since there are no former chorus girls, now Nika is almost always with us behind the scenes: helping with costumes and styling curls.
About the show
"Protagonists" show - chorus line. In the 1920s and 1940s, this was the name given to groups of girls who performed in nightclubs as an opening act for the main artists, dancing complex rhythms to fast music in beautiful outfits and throwing their legs high.
I was inspired to create a chorus line in Kyiv by Marie N'diaye, a dancer from Sweden, who every year gathers an international chorus line as part of the Herrang dance camp (the largest swing dance festival, held in Sweden for the past 38 years). I was lucky for the last four years to dance in her team every summer.
The Age of Jazz show was born from a simple idea to make some dance routines accompanied by live music. Once, over a bottle of wine, this idea was transformed into the concept of a full-fledged show.
We asked the familiar musicians (backbone - the group "Hands in Trousers" and their friends) - how do they like this adventure. And they accepted and agreed! We found the missing instruments for the big band and started rehearsals.
We began to frantically learn the numbers, some of the productions for the first show were taken from Marie. And a miracle happened! The first show was followed by the second, then the third, the fifth… We began to come up with our own numbers, added more pairs, acquired props and costumes. For the past three years we have been doing a "naphthalene" show once every two or three months, gathering full houses, growing and do not want to stop.
The first show was risky - we didn't know much about behind the scenes work. Scenario, lighting, operators, runs - everything was learned on the go.
Our girls are not professional artists, but rather enthusiasts. After the first show, in the comments to the photo, some man wrote that we all urgently need to go to the gym.
We looked at ourselves, laughed and realized that our imperfection is our strength - after all, we are simple girls of different shapes, heights and sizes. We are united by the love of swing, sisterhood, the desire to dance, feel the beat and rejoice. That's what jazz is all about, not waist size or how high you can swing your leg.
Now the show is more coherent and thoughtful than three years ago. Behind the two-hour concert that guests see on stage is the work of more than 30 people working solely for the love of dance and music of the Jazz Age. We are our own directors, screenwriters, PR people, stylists, choreographers, sound engineers, cameramen and everyone else.
This is what our show is based on - well-coordinated work, self-organization and support. The Age of Jazz show gives me the feeling of a friendly shoulder, we are doing something cool together that we all like and how each of us lives.
We need a new costume for each number, and the budget is very limited. From the idea to the implementation of the outfit, we go through many stages: euphoria, denial, acceptance, finding compromises in price and quality. Usually it is a lot of velvet, sequins, feathers and fringes.
Previously, they ordered a lot on AliExpress - cheap and brilliant, but such things are not only of poor quality, they also sit disgustingly, do not allow you to move normally. Now we try to sew most of the outfits from friends or ourselves. To do this, they gathered several times in a circle of cutting and sewing, built patterns, made patterns. Excellent team building.
But even if we think over and make costumes in advance, there is always something to finish or glue on at the last moment. We always know what we'll do the night before the show. For example, on a costume in the style of Josephine Baker, I sewed 20 rows of gold fringe until two in the morning.
Everything is easier with shoes. We recently ordered golden shoes for everyone from the Ukrainian company Harlem Shoes. They are specially made for dancing, very comfortable and beautiful.
There are jazz ballets in Kyiv. But swing, authentic, like 100 years ago - only one. Yes, we are not just a ballet. We are creating a whole world in which you can dive and get lost headlong for two hours. All members put a part of themselves into the show, so it can't be called a hobby. But it's not a normal job either. Rather love.
We don't follow fashion, the crowd's wants, we don't make Gatsby, gangsters and dudes. This approach has its drawbacks, of course. But it's important for us to do what we like, to keep the culture of swing alive.
Modern jazz trends are more focused on form, lines, visual component. We dance with an emphasis on the inner state, searching for sensations of rhythm in the body and expressing it through movements, delving into the origins of dance and old videos.
Same suit with 20 rows of fringes
This does not mean that some jazz dance is correct and some is not. It's just that rhythm is more important to me than perfect lines, sensations are more important than splits. We're trying to get to the bottom of it, to understand why people danced like that when jazz was born.
About the girls in the team
Today we spend about 10 hours a week in the hall on general training in solo jazz, tap, mambo, lindy hop. Before the performance, of course, many times more. Plus, each of the girls is engaged in stretching, afro, yoga or other swing dances on their own. Most of us teach at dance schools in Kyiv or play/sing in bands.
At the same time, we cannot call ourselves "professional dancers" in the classical sense. We have not learned this since childhood, our body is not so prepared, most of us have a main job. But we are the only team in Ukraine that dances swing dances at such a high level.
Marie from Sweden puts another idea into the chorus line, which is close to me too: it is a kind of women empowerment, an opportunity to express yourself through dance with the full support of sisters in spirit.
Now almost every European capital has its own chorus line, some even have more than one. Swing is played and danced a lot in Europe, the culture is reviving and attracting new people. Every weekend in large European cities dance parties and festivals with hundreds of guests are held.
We are the only ones in Kyiv - Shiny Stockings Chorus Line. We have few people who know about swing and listen to old jazz. If someone plays it, one way or another, these are people associated with a dance party, where everyone knows each other. This music and dance cannot be called popular in Ukraine today, but we are actively working on it, and the show is our way to popularize jazz culture.
It would be great to go on tour abroad, or at least drive around Ukraine more, but this idea is still difficult to implement. Now we are looking for sponsors and a producer to show the show to as many people as possible.
The nearest concert is March 1: we will show an updated program, already loved by the public and completely new numbers. In two hours, through music and dance, we will tell the story of the formation of jazz from the beginning to the 40s with complete immersion, magic and sparkles. This is what we can do.
Jazz (principles, terms)
ARCH [arch] - arch, back deflection of the torso.
ALLONGE, ARRONDIE [alonge, arondi] - the position of a rounded or elongated arm.
ASSEMBLE [assembly] - a jump from one leg to two is performed with the legs abducted in a given direction and collecting the legs during the jump together.
BODY ROLL [body roll] - a group of torso tilts associated with alternately moving the center of the body in the lateral or frontal plane (synonymous with 'wave').
BOUNCE [bounce] - springboard swaying up and down, mainly occurs either due to flexion and extension of the knees, or pulsating tilts of the torso.
BATTEMENT TENDU [batman tandu] - the movement of the leg, which is retracted to the toe forward, backward or to the side with a sliding motion. In modern jazz dance, it is also performed in parallel positions.
BRUCH [brush] - sliding or smearing the whole foot on the floor before opening the leg into the air or when closing into position.
CONTRACTION [contraction] - compression, reduction of the volume of the body and rounding of the spine, begins in the center of the pelvis, gradually capturing the entire spine, performed on exhalation.
CORKSCREW TURN - 'corkscrew' turns, in which the performer raises or lowers the level of rotation.
COUPE [coupe] - a quick substitution of one leg for another, serving as an impetus for a jump or other movement.
CURVE [curf] - bending the upper part of the spine (up to the 'solar plexus') forward or to the side.
DEEP BODY BEND [deep body band] - lean the torso forward below 90°, keeping the straight line of the torso and arms.
DEEP CONTRACTION [deep contraction] - a strong compression in the center of the body, in which all joints participate, i.e. this movement includes arms, legs and head.
DEGAGE [degage] - transferring the weight of the body from one leg to another in the second position (right, left) and in the fourth position of the legs (forward, backward), can be performed both with demi-plie and with extended legs. Synonym for shift.
DEMI-PLIE [demi-plie] - semi-squatting, in which the heels do not come off the floor.
DEMIROND [demi rond] - a semicircle with the toe of the foot on the floor forward and to the side, or back and to the side.
DROP [drop] - falling of a relaxed torso forward or to the side.
EN DEDANS [an dedan] - the direction of movement or turn towards oneself, inward.
EN DEHORS [an deor] - the direction of movement or turn from oneself or outward.
ECARTE [ekarte] - a pose of classical dance (a la seconde), turned diagonally forward or backward, the body is slightly deviated from the raised leg.
EPAULMENT [epolman] - the position of the dancer, turned in 3/4 in bar 8 or bar 2; differs epaulement croise (closed) and epaulement efface (erased, open)
FLAT BACK [flat back] - tilt of the torso forward, to the side (by 90 °), back with a straight back, without bending the torso.
FLAT STEP [flat step] - a step in which the entire foot is simultaneously placed on the floor.
FLEX [flex] - reduced foot, hand or knees.
FLIK [flick] - a foot stroke on the floor to the supporting leg.
FOUETTE [fuette] - a turn technique in which the performer's body turns to a leg fixed in a certain position (on the floor or in the air).
FROG-POSITION [frog-position] - a sitting position in which the legs bent at the knees touch each other with the feet, the knees should be maximally opened to the sides,
GLISSADE [glissade] - ground sliding jump without leaving the floor moving right-left or forward-backward.
GRAND BATTEMENT [grand batman] - throwing a leg 90 ° and higher forward, backward or to the side.
GRAND JETE [grand jet] - jump from one foot to the other moving forward, backward or sideways. The legs open up to the maximum and take the position of 'split' in the air.
GRAND PLIE [gran plie] - full squat.
HIGH RELEASE [high release] - high expansion, a movement consisting of lifting the chest with a slight backward bend.
HINGE [hinch] - the position of the dancer, in which the straight, without bends, the torso leans back to the maximum distance, the knees are bent, the feet are on half-toes,
HIP LIFT [hip lift] - lifting the hip up.
NOR [hop] - step-jump, 'working' leg is usually in the position 'near the knee'.
JACK KNIFE [jackknife] - body position in which the torso leans forward, the back is straight, resting on the hands, the knees are extended, the legs are in the second parallel position, the heels do not come off the floor.
JAZZ HAND [jazz hand] - the position of the hand, in which the fingers are tense and spread apart.
JELLY ROLL [jelly roll] - a pelvis movement, consisting of a small muscle contraction with a simultaneous slight turn of the pelvis to the right and left (synonymous with a pelvis shake.)
JERK-POSITION [jerk position] - a position of the hands in which the elbows are retracted behind the chest, the forearms are parallel to the floor.
JUMP [jump] - jump on two legs.
KICK [kick] - throw the leg forward or to the side by 45 ° or 90 ° through the developpe take-out,
LAY OUT [lay out] - a position in which the leg is open at 90° to the side or back, and the torso form one straight line.
LEAP [liip] - a jump from one foot to another moving forward or to the side.
LOCOMOTOR [locomotor] - a circular movement of arms bent at the elbows along the torso.
LOW BACK [low back] - rounding of the spine in the lumbar-thoracic region.
PAS BALANCE [pa balance] - pa, consisting of a combination of tombe and pas de poigree. It is performed with the advancement from side to side, less often - back and forth.
PAS CHASSE [pa chasse] - an auxiliary jump with advancement in all directions, during which one leg 'catches up' with the other at the highest point of the jump.
PAS DE BOURREE [pas de bourree] - an auxiliary dance step, consisting of alternating steps from one foot to the other, ending in demi-plle. Synonym for step pas de bourree. In modern jazz dance, the position of sur le cou-de-pied is not fixed during pas de bourree.
PAS DE CHAT [pas de sha] - a jump, a cat's limiting jump. Legs bent at the knees are thrown back.
PAS FAILLJ [pa fail] - a connecting step, consisting of passing the free leg through the passing demlplie in I position forward or backward, then the weight of the body is transferred to the leg with some deviation from the vertical axis.
PASSE [passe] - a passing movement, which is a link when moving the leg from one position to another, can be performed in the first position on the floor (passepar terre), or at 45 ° or 90 °.
PIQUE [peak] - a light injection with the fingertips of the 'working' leg on the floor and lifting the leg to a given height.
PIROUTTE [pirouette] - rotation of the performer on one leg en dehors or en dedans, the second leg in the sur le cou-de-pied position.
PLIE RELEVE [plie releve] - the position of the legs on half-toes with bent knees.
POINT [point] - the extended position of the foot.
PRANCE [price] - movement for the development of foot mobility, consisting of a quick change of position 'half-lalse' and point.
PREPARATION [preparation] - a preparatory movement performed before the start of the exercise.
PRESS-POSITION [press position] - the position of the hands, in which the arms bent at the elbows with the palms touch the hips in front or side.
RELEASE [release] - expansion of the volume of the body, which occurs on inspiration.
RELEVE [relevé] - lifting on half-fingers.
RENVERSE [ranverse] - a sharp bending of the body, mainly from the atitude croise position, accompanied by pas de bouree en tournant.
ROLL DOWN [roll down] - a downward-forward spiral tilt, starting from the head.
ROLL UP [roll an] - a reverse movement associated with a gradual unwinding and straightening of the torso to its original position.
ROND DE JAM BE PAR TERRE [ron de jamb par terre] - a circle with an outstretched leg, touching the floor with your fingers.
ROVD DE JAM BE EN L 'AIR [ron de jamb anler] - circular movement of the lower leg (ankle) with a fixed hip, set aside to a height of 45 ° or 90°.
SAUTE [saute] - classical dance jump from two legs to two legs in I, II, IV and V positions.
SHIMMI [shimmy] - a spiral, twisting movement of the pelvis to the right and left,
SIDE STRETCH [side stretch] - lateral stretching of the torso, tilting the torso to the right or left.
SISSON OUVERTE [sisson overt] - a jump with flying forward, backward or to the side, upon landing one leg remains open in the air at a given height or in a given position.
SOUTENU EN TQURNANT [sutenu en turnan] - a turn on two legs, starting with the retraction of the 'working * leg into the fifth position.
SQUARE [skvea] - four steps in a square: forward-to-side-back-to-side.
STEP BALL CHANGE [step ball change] - a connecting step, consisting of a step to the side or forward and two steps on half-toes (synonymous with step pa de hour its
SUNDARI [zundari] - head movement, which consists in shifting the cervical vertebrae to the right and left and back and forth
SURLE COU-DE-PIED [sur le cou-de-pied] - the position of the extended foot of the 'working' leg on the ankle of the supporting leg in front or behind
SWING - swinging with any part of the body (arm, leg, head, torso) in a special jazz rhythm.
THRUST [frast] - a sharp jerk of the chest or pelvis forward, sideways or backward.