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PureDWTS Ask Courtney: What’s the Difference Between Jive/Lindy/Jitterbug/Charleston/etc.?

This is a very good question :-), but unfortunately one that required a bit of research on my part…so please bear with me as I give you guys a brief history/background of the swing dances.

First things first: all of the above dances are related, and evolved from one another, so that’s why they all look so similar to the naked eye.  Even I often have a hard time discerning between them, especially within the context of DWTS, where I think sometimes even the pros themselves aren’t quite sure about some of these dances – especially the Jitterbug & Lindy Hop. The lines between them are very blurred, because there’s often a lot of overlap in terms of steps, timing, & styling.

Charleston was the earliest of the swing dances, originating in the speakeasies during the 1920′s, and is usually associated with the “flappers”, who danced it alone or with each other to mock the “drys” – people who supported Prohibition.  At the time, it was considered to be a pretty provocative dance.  It has a bouncy feel to it, and the basic step does have the backward rock-step characteristic to almost all of the swing dances.  Here’s a good example of some other Charleston steps – note how it also has some twisting movements, high kicks, and very jazzy arm styling. The music was a swing beat, with perhaps a bit more of a ragtime feel than other swing styles to follow – think “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago. These days, it more often lends steps to jive & quickstep, rather than being danced as its own, exclusive dance – my boyfriend’s studio doesn’t have an official Charleston syllabus (just not enough steps), but he does often incorporate Charleston steps into other dances.  One example many of you may have noticed is that funky leg flick that the pros often add to their quickstep routines – Mark does it at about the :55 mark of he & Chelsea’s quickstep.  Yep, Charleston moves fit Mark’s jimmie legs perfectly :-) Which is probably why he & Melissa’s Charleston in season 9 sticks out to me as the best representation of the dance on the show – it has the characteristic steps, and they stuck with the 1920′s flapper theme.

Out of the Charleston came the Lindy Hop, which had its heyday in the big band era of the late 1920′s-40′s. It was a product of the Harlem Renaissance, and was born in traditionally black clubs like The Savoy & Cotton Club in New York.  Its footwork was similar to the Charleston, but it had elements of other vernacular/folk dances (such as the cakewalk and Texas Tommy) and also included a breakaway/throwaway step, which allowed the couples dancing it to do more open work than in the Charleston.  It was also quite a bit more daring – when wealthy white patrons descended upon Harlem clubs to watch the black dancers, the dancers themselves upped the ante, and began doing increasingly more dangerous & eye-catching lifts, flips, and tricks (“air steps” or “aerials”) to entertain them.  This often resulted in the dancers being hired to perform or teach Lindy Hop to the patrons. I would say it’s definitely the “showiest” of all the swing dances, due to all the tricks that have come to be standard fare in the Lindy – and with the pros on DWTS, nothing seems to scream “Lindy!” more than some crazy lifts.  In terms of said lifts, I would say that Melissa & Tony’s Lindy in season 8 is the best example; but in terms of overall “feel” (and good use of basic steps), I’d say that Ty & Chelsie’s Lindy is the best example. Read more..

January 7, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

The New Dancing with the Stars 2009 Dances

Okay well it seems as if there is some controversy over the new dances that are being added to the mix this year. So I decided to try and get some more information for those of us who aren’t familiar with these particular dances. The only one of these that falls into the list of “traditional” ballroom dance is the Bolero and it is in the American Rhythm category.

Let’s start with the Charleston. It was developed in the early 1920’s and it turns out that the Lindy Hop was developed from the Charleston. It can be danced in a partnership, in a group, or as a solo. Check out this website with instructions for the steps from the 20‘s. Also take a look at this dance with Lucille Ball and Ginger Rogers.

Next, let’s take a look at the Bolero. Originally from Spain, this is the only traditional ballroom dance. Wikipedia mentions that this dance is different from the other American Rhythm dances because it requires Cuban motion, the rise and fall of the waltz, as well as the contra body movement of the tango. The videos that I found on Youtube reminded me of the Rumba. What do you think?

Okay next on our list is the Lambada, the “Forbidden Dance.” From Brazil, a couple of the forerunners of this dance are the salsa and the merengue. It is very fast-paced. Everything that I’ve seen makes it look like this will be definitely be one of the sexiest, hottest dances of the season. There are some instructional videos on Youtube that you should check out but I wanted you to see a dance.

The last of the new dances is the two step. Now there are a few kinds of two step,
nightclub, country, and ballroom. To me these all of these seem a lot alike and remind me of the Foxtrot. This video is of Lacey’s father Buddy teaching the nightclub two step. I thought it would be fun to see where she got her moves

Okay so now that we know a little more about these dances let’s talk about them. Can the pros handle these? Well, I have a feeling Lacey will be able to do the two step since her father developed it. Now the question is will that give her an unfair advantage? I personally don’t think so. All of these dances contain steps and movements that are familiar to other dances used in previous seasons. The Charleston contains elements of the quickstep and may be a “kiss of death” dance like the quickstep seems to be. The Lambada may be too spicy to get votes from some people but may be a very memorable dance that draws a ton of votes…we’ll have to see. The others are a lot like other dances and that might be a vote killer too. If a couple does a Rumba one week and a Bolero the next…people might not vote thinking ‘this isn’t new, I just saw this.’

Now, I know that most of you are not looking forward to these new dances but now that we know a little more would you choose to keep any of them? I’m excited for the “Forbidden Dance” myself. I have to wonder though, will any of the older dances be replaced by the new ones? I loved all the dances from last season and don’t want to see them go-especially the Paso. In the end, I think that maybe these dances were added because there are SO MANY couples this season. Hate the added dances or love ‘em but it’s gonna be a great season. It’s time to get those dancing shoes on!

August 26, 2009 I Written By