Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Before class last week, I was considering the standards for considering oneself able to dance Lindy Hop at a proficient level. When we understand these elements, we should be able to improve upon them.

Perhaps being able to do a number of swingouts in a row might be a good marker. It takes solid technique to repeat 4-8 swingouts in succession. To me, this sounds like more of a measuring stick than an actual standard.

However, it's more than just doing swingouts.
Connection: There's too much to say about connection in the time that I have. At least one should consider how much they are connecting with their partners in the most mechanical and efficient way possible. Keep in mind the pain factor: if you cannot tell whether your partner is feeling pain, you might want to take a look. That's a really great yardstick.

Timing: If the swingouts are off-timed, not keeping up with or racing ahead of the music then you've got a problem. At the most basic level, one should be able to keep those eight-counts happening every 8 counts. When one becomes more proficient, varying tempos should be no problem.

Stamina: How much can you keep up with the faster songs?

These notes are pretty general. I'm sure you can come up with more. Any ideas?


  1. The only point I would debate is timing. On one hand, I agree with you wholeheartedly that one should be on rhythm at all times. That said, a good half of the dancers that many would consider experts (i.e., competing at national levels and/or winning at local levels) are not on the beat. Their footwork is impressive, but it's not in time to the music, and I have seen so much of this that I would question whether or not the swing community at large values being on the beat.

    Perhaps we can convert some more dancers to our way of thinking.


    P.S. The metric I was once given by an unknown dancer at a Boston dance club was: the ability to improvise and not to stick to well-established combinations.

  2. The improvisation metric is a little beyond the most rudimentary skills I'm considering here. Improvisation is certainly important, but almost entirely unmeasurable.

    With regard to timing, I see good dancers who are off time and it never helps. Some who look good if you turn down the volume. I'm not in favor of this. Of course, this isn't a set of standards for advanced dancers. The rubric is for beginners who might need a set of rules to give them focus.

    My intention is to establish a standard which will eventually be transcended.

  3. In that case, I'd say the ones you have are great, and perhaps the ability to improvise (i.e., generate your own routines) might be an extra clue to having transcended "beginner" status.