Swing Discussion Boards > Lindy hop Basic Broken Down

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by d nice, Jul 25, 2003.

  1. d nice

    d nice New Member

    The lindy Hop basic as we all know is an eight count move refered primarily as the Swing Out. This breakaway step is also refered to as the whip. It is an open to open position move where the follow is brought forward on one of the first three counts (depending on the regional/generational style of lindy hop and type of swing song played the lead has amazing flexibility in when to bring the lead forward). I'll discuss the most common modern version. Just because it is different doesn't make it wrong... the relational body movement is what is important, not the exact placement of the feet.

    8 The Preperation: All movement requires a preperation in order to ensure the follower's weight is in the correct position and that unwanted slack between the partners is reduced. The partners are holding hands (leaders left, followers right) with their arms relaxed and hands level with the followers middle section (bewteen hips and lowest rib). The leader starts moving his center backwards...

    1 The Leader steps backwards with his left foot. This draws the follower forward (she of course should never come forward until her center is shifted by the lead) stepping with her right foot.

    2 The leader steps with his right foot close to and infront of the left. The follower continues forward, stepping with the left foot, with the same amount of momentum and in the same direction the leader caused on the first step. She does not adjust her path or alter her momentum, if the lead needs any of this to happen it is his responsibility to cause the change.

    3 The leader moves at a left oblique (just offside the followers right shoulder) stepping with his left foot and turning his body to keep the follower in front of his body.The arms which from 8 to 1 had developed a leveraged tension now create an inward compression and the follower is now being rotated, in a clockwise direction, as she steps with her right foot, while still maintaining the original direction of movement. Her orientation is changing not her direction of momvement.

    & The leader places his right foot next to the left, while continuing to rotate his body to keep his follow in front of him. He places his right hand on th efollowers left scapula, ensuring to use the whole hand, not th efinger tips or a stiff palm. The follower continues to rotate her body clockwise while moving (what is now most likely backwards) in the original direction the leader gave her. With the leader's hand on her back very little movement is possible, but the follower must resist the temptation to "help" the leader. She is stepping with her left foot .

    4 The leader steps left with his left foot, his body weight pulling back as necessary to arrest movement in his follower. The follower's body should be cushioned between the &-4, her right step taking place directly underneath her body, more of a weight change than a distance gaining step.

    5 The leader takes the kinetic energy he absorbed from the follwer in the &-4 and uses it to push himself backwards, stepping right with all of his weight, releasing the follower as he transfers his weigth. The follower steps with her left foot allowing her body to be directed by the leader. Here is one of th emajor differences in personal, regional and generational style. The leader can step backwards and face the follow, he can trun 90 degrees as he steps backwards turning his body like a gate into a shallow fencer's lunge, or he can turn and face 180 degrees as he steps. Each of these will determine how the follow ends up facing with her left step, forward sideways or backwards, respectively.

    6 The leader takes a small step with his left foot starting to square up with the follower. The follower continues with the new direction and momentum given to her by the leaderwith a rigth step, allowing her frame to determine how far out she should travel and when she should face her leader (assuming she has been sent out "backwards" in which case she is already facing her leader).

    7 The leader opens his body to the follower with his right step so that his right side is slightly more distant from the follower. The follower continues along the line of momentum allowing her frame and the leader's body movement to make any changes in distance, relation or orientation necessary as she steps with her left foot.

    & The leader is moving his body backwards countering the retarding the followers momentum with a left step. The followers body at this point should be facing roughly at a right angle to th eleader, her body slowing down... all because of her frame and interaction with the leader, stepping with her right foot.

    8 The leader should be stepping with his right foot the follower with her left. Leveraged tension should begin being generated here in preperation for th efollowing move... both leader and follower should have their weight into thehips of the foot they are stepping with. This is most often a failing on the part of the follower as she anticpates the "stop" from th eprevious move, which disallows the proper building of leveraged tension from their centers, forcing th eleader to create the momentum all over again.

    Now everyone should understand that there are numerous variations available that can make various parts of this breakdown not applicable. In a dance based on jazz improvisation it is impossible to catalog even the major syncopations and body movement variants.

    Next will come the Swing Out from closed position.
  2. d nice

    d nice New Member

    The above is the modern version of the swingout. There is a lot of leeway in the Lindy Hop basic that allows each dancer to create something unique within their own dance. The classic Savoy version (as taught by Frankie Manning and Al Minns, both legendary Savoy dancers) brings the follower forward in a full step not on the one or even the two (which is a somewhat shortend swivel-step) but on the three. The leads footsteps are smaller, his center shift is more subtle creating a springy tension which builds on the one, fully releasing on the three.
  3. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Hey d nice,

    Do you have any idea where the "whip" got it's name and when it started being incorporated into the Lindy Hop? I'm assuming there is going to be a relationship with Dean Collins, but I've never really heard the story. I'm also curious what influences caused the West Coast style of Lindy to be smoother.
  4. d nice

    d nice New Member

    I don't know where the name whip came from. Perhaps Joe knows, ask him in one of his threads. I'll ask Peter this weekend, if he doesn't know I'm sure he can find out.

    As to why the West Coast version of Lindy Hop is smoother as far as "bounce" or "pulse", it has more to do with changes in the music that happened in the later years of the Big Band era. The whip in the fourties and fifties is smooth on both coasts, Check out the Savoy Ballroom dancers on the Spirit Moves and the L.A. dancers on Groovie Movie. Now if you are are refering to the energy and style, the difference is a matter of cultural aesthetic. The black dancers in film use a very African rooted sense of aesthetic , one which prides athleticism and a carefree "devil may care" attitude. The height of this is an assumed frenzied movement, where it looks at any moment the partners will be flown apart, constantly on "the edge", but every movement is incredibly controlled. The white dancers in film use a more Western European rooted aesthetic, one which values a much more controlled demeanor, revealing the time and energy dedicated to making the moves look clean and practiced.

    Both forms are incredibly difficult to master, and there were numerous dancers of African and European ancestry that followed the other aesthetic, but for the most part, movie dancers displayed the aesthetic mentioned above.
  5. d nice

    d nice New Member


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