Swing Discussion Boards > Modern Freestyle Lindy Hop

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Daniel, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. Daniel

    Daniel New Member

    Greetings from Tokyo!

    Thank you for all the wonderful messages that all of you have posted here on this forum. I've benefited much from them.

    Recently someone mentioned that Kevin & Carla's dancing is an example of "modern freestyle" Lindy Hop. I'm just curious: who else do you include in this category? Would Doug Silton & Debbie Gitt be others?

    Daniel :D
  2. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Daniel! I'll leave it to one of our swing buffs to respond to your question to welcome you to the forums! :D
  3. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Kevin and Carla perform and dance socially a freestyle form of Lindy Hop, blending in many different elements from their L.A. inspired Smooth Style base. Break Dancing, Acrobatics, Carolina Shag, West coast, etc. The important thing is they maintain the true essence and character of Lindy Hop. This is exactly the way the dancers at the Savoy did it, stealing from other sources and adapting those steps or moves to fit their dance of Lindy Hop. This is not what they tend to teach though (unless specifically asked). What they teach is a smooth Dean Collins inspired form of Lindy Hop. They are excellent and dynamic teachers and dancers, and wonderful people.

    Debbie and Doug also do a modern freestyle form of swing dancing. Doug's style tends to be more staright freestyle swing socially (not that he can't bust out with Lindy Hop he just likes to mix it up a lot), while Debbie tends to keep her social dancing more in step with the traditions and charcter of Lindy Hop. They are also great teachers and great people.
  4. Daniel

    Daniel New Member

    Thank you, d nice

    d nice,

    Thanks so much for your explanation. Since I'm located in Tokyo, I can only follow some of the more modern trends via the latest competition videos, so I highly appreciate your insight.

    I understand that many dancers tend to dance a bit differently for competition than for social situations. However, what I have seemed to notice about the dancers I mentioned is that in both social and performance dancing, they maintain tight connection with their partners. That is what ultimately enables them to improvise and incorporate other dances into their Lindy Hop, which, as you mentioned, stays true to the spirit of Savoy. I have also noticed that they are extremely musical in their dancing.

    Do you know of other dancers in this category? Do you have any personal tips of improving musicality?

    I am quite well versed in Jazz music theory including composition. Should I supplement that knowledge with choreography theory? Were could I go to learn choreography theory?
  5. d nice

    d nice New Member

    I can think of lots of dancers in this category. All the former Moochers, Mat Smiley, Nina Gilkensen, Naomi Uyama, Peter Strom, Peter Loggins, Peter Vawter (currently in Japan as a matter of fact, though he's coming back to us pretty soon) Chad Kubdo (who has taught in Japan a few times) Peter Strom (God Peter is one of my favorite dancers), Peter Loggins, Janice Wilson, Justin Zilman, Jenn Salvadori, Manu Smith, my partner Ria DeBiase, I could go on and on.

    Funny you asked about tips on improving musicality. I just taught a packed class for this last weekend at the Sacramento Swing Festival. Watch your partner and listen to the music. I brake musicality down into three catagories...

    1. What Move I choose to lead.
    Certain moves fit more naturally in certain parts of a song than others. Mixing six and eights lets you easily play with what part of a two bar phrase you are going to emphasize with your movement.

    2. Styling.
    How I can alter my movement within a move without deviating from its set rhythm, or having to alter the move in anyway. Examples:
    • Isolation (exagerated movement)
    • Body Angle
    • Distance between leader and follower
    • Height

    3. Improvisation.
    Things that I do that change the rhythm of the move, the way that it is lead or followed, and/or breaks my normal movement for the improvisation which is picked back up after.
    • Height
    • Shading (taking a single beat movement and increasing for 2 or more beats
    • Jazz Steps
    • Syncopations

    Now you can probably come up with various things I have not named, but these are good general catagories that cover most of the average choices one will make.

    Choreography theory can be a good thing to add, knowing how the music is structured will greatly improve your ability to hear it and give you a set of well developed ideas to act as a base for what you can do. I wouldn't try and plan your moves ahead of time to much while dancing, it takes you away from the music being the point of inspiration.
  6. Daniel

    Daniel New Member

    Many thanks once again, d nice

    I've actually met with both Peter Vawter and Chad Kubdo during the Japan Lindy eXchange over the summer. Unfortunately, Peter is located in Osaka, so I don't get a chance to see him very often.

    I would love to have taken your class on musicality. I tend to approach musically from a musician's perspective: listening for motifs in melody line and applying that to styling, looking for call & response opportunities with your partner, matching the rythmic pattern of the 1st or 2nd melody with your footwork pattern. But your approach seems to make more sense from a dancer's perspective. Thank you!

    I don't plan my moves in advance. But sometimes I run into a wall and become discontent with the moves I chose lead. Specifically, I feel that the moves I end up leading would come out because my body felt like it (ie. move patterns that I've become comfortable with through practice) as opposed to having it be more "music inspired." I tend to get into this mode more and more, the harder I start to think about what moves I should lead. This happens usually when I see better dancers on the floor with moves I've never seen before and start thinking to myself: "Look, you have to put in more variation in your dancing. The good dancers are doing it!!!" I panic, start concentrating on moves, and become more distant from the music. My current struggle, a sad story.

    Do you have some ideas on how I can be more "music inspired?"
  7. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Moves to me are the simplest and there for "lowest" form of musciality in the hierarchy. Choreographing a specific song may help you come up with new moves, entrances and exits from moves you know already but don't normally do. YOu may find yourself creating variations of familiar and changing them so much that it becomes a different move.

    I wanted to focus on practical application for dancers in the class. I was working with Frankie Manning who had taught them phrasing and the like. SO I didn't want to get to much into music theory.

    How do you become more musically inspired? Listen to the music more off the dance floor. Make a compilation CD of the popular songs at the club you go to and just listen to it all the time. The better you know the songs the more comfortable you will be. The easier it will be to anticipate what is going to happen. You should also practice dancing to the music by yourself. Getting comfortable using the above techniques by yourself will increase your comfortableness with the movements.
  8. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep New Member

    Free Style Lindy Hop

    The best free style dancers I have seen is in Southern California are Debby Gitt and Nick Williams; they are awesome, together. I told Debbie only last Thursday after watching her dance with Nick, "Debby you and Nick can make a lot of money with your dancing. Just get an audition with any musical show that comes into town. They will hire you on the spot." They are that good. Incidentally Debbie Gitt is in my top ten right near the top. She can do any style dancing and do it better than the rest. Brian Lee is another free style Lindy Hop dancer who whales.
    I've been watching Joshua Castleman dancing almost on a weekly basis for the past three years. I think he is the 'source for free style Lindy Hop in this area of Southern California.'. Now I see other dancers beginning to imitate Joshua's Jive.
    Joshua has hosted the outdoor Swing Venue for the past three years that I know of:
    3rd St. Swingers' Dance!! -
    4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
    Event Location: Third St. Promenade (Near Wilshire Blvd.), Santa Monica, CA.

    The 3rd St. Swingers' Dances are typically scheduled to be held on the 1st, 3rd, & 5th Sunday of each month, from 4pm - 8pm, unless otherwise notified by e-mail or posted on our website, www.thirdstreetswingers.com.

    Black Sheep aka Joe Lanza (Don't Knock the Rock)
  9. d nice

    d nice New Member

    I'm sure that Josh is an inspiration to the local dancers in Santa Monica, but Free Style Lindy Hop has been around for years. It was the dominant style in San Francisco since '97. Steven Mitchell was teaching classes in it at Swing Camp Catalina in '98. The Moocher's made it famous through the North East with there "Love Me Or Leave Me" routine at NADC 2000.
  10. Daniel

    Daniel New Member

    d nice, Black Sheep,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, once again... for the advices and the reference information.

    Incidentally, I was in the NY area just last weekend, and I managed to dance with Debbie Gitt during the Yehoodi 5th Anniversary party. She's an absolutely fantastic dancer.

    Doug Silton also adviced me to work on a routine together with a partner to help improve my musicality.

    Thank you for all the sound advice.

    Yours truly,

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