A Great Demo by Marc and Ellen
The "A Kick"
A long time ago, we used to teach Lindy Hop. We don't do this anymore (mainly because of work responsibilities) and we reccommend that you seek out current instructors in the DC Area. This section is included as a historic artifact that demonstrates the difficulty of developing
So, read along and have a chuckle at our attempts at pedagogy.
Lesson Three: Lindy Charleston
Dance historians have puzzled over the origins of Lindy Hop. Analysis of the dance reveals all sorts of influences. The most popular theory holds that as the new "Swing" music with 8 beats and syncopated fourth began to supplant the older "Two Step" music (Compare "Five Foot Two" with "Flat Foot Floogie"), dancers scrambled for a way to adapt what they knew to what the music was saying. Under this theory, the two most popular uptempo dances in the late 1920s were Fox Trot and Charleston -- - and we can see their influence in Lindy. The Whip probably is the 8-count adaptation of the Foxtrot "corkscrew" (there is also a similar movement in Waltz).
In this lesson, we are going to study the influence of Charleston. We should mention that the Charleston elements of Lindy were among the first to be forgotten as the dance spread westward away from New York. In the Marx Brothers' "A Day at the Races" (1937), Lindy Charleston is featured. The last Lindy Charleston scene on film is a very minor sequence in Olsen and Johnson's "Hellzapoppin" from about 1940. However, we believe that Lindy Charleston is a very important component of the dance, because it both lends itself to huge amounts of variation and is deeply embedded in other Lindy movements. Some movements are almost impossible to teach on their own, but given knowledge of Lindy Charleston the same moves are very easy to grasp.
Lindy Charleston is NOT mirror-symmetric --- Lead and Follow have the same step. This is because Lindy Charleston is done in TANDEM position with the Follower behind the Lead. There are exceptions, of course. The step is deceptively simple; here is the Mantra:
"Rock Step, Kick,Down, Front, Middle, Back, Down"
Here's what it should look like
Here is the ELEMENTARY version:
We will practice this for a while. You will find that after a while, one leg or the other will refuse to do this. This is a left/right handed difficulty that can be overcome with practice. You must practice Charleston at least 15 minutes a day to drive this into your muscles.
You will have learned Charleston when you understand an alternate form of the Mantra:
"Back, Middle, Front, Down, Front, Middle, Back, Down"
In order to effectively dance Lindy Charleston, the elementary version must be modified slightly:
Lead stands behind the follower. The Follower presents hands palms up, behind the body. The Lead grasps the hands with thumb and forefinger (like a pincers). The grip is very light. The Lead moves the hands back and forth with the kicking foot:
Getting into Tandem Position
The basic movement is the "Tuck Turn" which can be done from open position or side by side position.
The Tuck Turn:
On the next sequence, the Rock Step is part of the Lindy Charleston movement.
Note that in Lindy Charleston, your weight is on both feet on counts 4 and 8. And, it is on 4 and 8 that you make moves.
Exiting from Charleston:
This is the same as the whip, but you don't let go after the step around -- the Lead draws the partner to right side. Triple step in place. You end up side by side. This is the starting place for side by side moves like Saint Louis Shag (future lesson). You can also get into tandem Charleston off the whip with a lindy circle:
Tuck Turn from Lindy Circle
You are ready for tandem charleston
About our Photo: This is a picture of Ellen Engle and Marc Shepanek doing the "A Kick", perhaps the ultimate expression of Lindy Charleston. Marc and Ellen compete widely and teach Lindy Hop --- in fact, we took lessons from them!
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