Dance Instruction with Movement Specialist Kara Fabina
What Is Blues Dancing???
Blues dancing is a family of historical dances that developed alongside and were danced to blues music, or the contemporary dances that are danced in that aesthetic.
Blues dances as a genre have been said to share a certain aesthetic:
An athletic and grounded body posture and movement, characterized by the weight being held on the balls of the feet, the knees bent, the hips pushed back, and the chest forward.
An asymmetry and polyphonic look/feel to the body, characterized by an equality of body parts. No limb or part has precedence, but they all work together both in a simultaneous and serialized fashion. The focus and weight shifting moves through various parts of the body; poly-centric.
Rhythmic movement. Not just a single rhythm being used in/with the body, multiple meters or rhythms are used. Articulated movement in the torso (chest, rib cage, pelvis, butt) identifying and emphasizing different rhythms.
Improvisation between dancers and on their own movements. Based on the rhythm section of the band.
A drawing of the beats, dancing in the space between the beats, pushing and pulling creating a sense of tension both in the body and the body moving through space, while remaining loose and relaxed.
Dance moves passed down through generations were revised, recombined, and given new flourishes. The cyclical re-emergence of similar elements marks the African-American dance vocabulary.
The revival of Lindy Hop in the 1980s and 1990s has prompted complementary interests in other dances from Black vernacular dance traditions of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. In America Lindy hop today, after the revival, Lindy exchanges, with their emphasis on late night programs of social dance events, saw the introduction of "blues rooms" to these events in the late 1990s. While the amount of Blues music played at these events varied widely the name and what Blues music was being played led to dancers patronizing blues music clubs and holding house parties that played a varying amounts of blues and blues-rooted music.
There are now blues dancing communities throughout the international swing dancing community, though local communities vary, reflecting local social and cultural values and contexts. The spread of blues dancing has been largely a result of individual dancers traveling between local communities and establishing blues scenes, individual teachers holding blues dance workshops in different cities and countries, and through the on-line community of blues dancers facilitating the spread of knowledge and music and encouraging dancers to found local blues dancing communities.
Lindy hop is an American dance that evolved in Harlem, New York City, in the 1920s and 1930s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. It was very popular during the Swing era of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.
In its development, the Lindy hop combined elements of both partnered and solo dancing by using the movements and improvisation of black dances along with the formal eight-count structure of European partner dances. This is most clearly illustrated in the Lindy's basic step, the swingout. In this step's open position, each dancer is generally connected hand-to-hand; in its closed position, men and women are connected as though in an embrace.
Lindy hop is sometimes referred to as a street dance, referring to its improvisational and social nature.
One alleged source of the dance's name is famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, nicknamed "Lucky Lindy" in 1926. After Lindbergh's solo non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927 he became incredibly popular and many people named businesses and other things after him.
Today there are thriving communities throughout the world, and Lindy hop can be found in almost every large westernized city.
Lindy hop today is danced as a social dance, as a competitive dance, as a performance dance, and in classes, workshops, and camps. In each, partners may dance alone or together, with improvisation a central part of social dancing and many performance and competition pieces.