Maxie Dorf on BalboaMaxie Dorf on Balboa
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Maxie Dorf
Maxie Dorf
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Maxie Dorf on Balboa

By: Maxie Dorf

It's nice to know that there is much interest in "bal-swing" and appreciate your interest. Explaning to accomplished dancers, as yourself and many others, it's much easier to write about it. So below is a capsule size version of the past.

I started in 1935/36. I was only 14. I was around when Bal started, but know from talking to the dancers at the time, it developed from the Charleston. Charleston was big at the time, from the Flapper days, but took a lot of room on the dance floor. The ballrooms were so crowded, the dancers had to shorten their steps and little by little became the Balboa. Originating at the Pavilion at Balboa Island in Southern California. So no one really invented the dance. It was a group thing.

I came on the scene when the dance was growing. It was pure bal at the time, with no breaks. The ballrooms didn't allow breaks--again too crowded. Everyone had their own space. In late 1937, the ballrooms became more lenient and allowing breaks. Bal was too boring for me so started inventing breaks, which you have seen on the tape that I sent. The Purest Bal dancers refused to change over. But the progressive dancers, such as myself moved forward and invented many dance breaks and steps that the swing dancers of today are doing, little knowing where it came from. Pure Bal was very boring to me, altho it was great fun at the time. As you know the "dance" will always progress in many ways.

Unfortunately there is only one movie that I can recall that has a little Bal-Swing. And that is "Start Cheering". Right after the tap dancer is finished, Lolly and I come downstage doing Bal Swing turns. Most of the movies at that time and into the 50's, the dancers were doing Dean Collin's Lindy. That all died during the sixties and eventually became West Coast Swing. I am very happy to see the Lindy and the young kids really swing out.

Mary McCaslin and I did the original live animation for a cartoon that showed two grasshoppers doing swing. I have never been able to find a copy. Our type of dancing was called "Swing" and thru the years, kept its name for the various styles of dancing you see today.

As you probably know, I taught Sylvia and Jonathan and very pleased with what they have done the last 10 years. They are the only ones that I know of that has broken down the Balboa. Balboa was a street dance and never was taught. You had to watch the dancers and practice at home. My main purpose of teaching them was to keep the dance going. And thanks to their tapes and personal teaching throughout the world, I know now that it won't die. That is, teaching my style.

Hope the above will help and want to add that "love is in the eyes of the beholder"---meaning there are many styles of Bal that's progressed thru the years. My style is just one of them.

Note: Iver Cooper will be Teaching Balboa (Click here for details)

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