"When you dance your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way." -Wayne Dyer
Do you want to dance? Do you even enjoy the thought of dancing? Is their rhythm running through your veins?
If you answered yes to all of the previously posed questions, dancing is a keen interest of yours, and you should cultivate the desire to hone your passion and learn more about dances practised all over the world.
Therefore, without further ado, we will examine some of the world's favourite dances such as the swing, the foxtrot, breakdancing, and the pop and lock.
The Swing Dance
"Swing your partner round and round."
Swing dancing is an extremely energetic type of dance that is still practised by people all over the world, and like all dances, the swing has intriguing origins.
The swing dance originates from the United States of America in a period known as the "Swing Era" in the 1920s and 1930s. During this period of time, big bands were all the rage, and new dance moves were necessary to complement massive jazz hits.
It is crucial that since its conception in 1920s Harlem, New York City, swing dance has influenced many modern dances and has been responsible for subgenres such as the lindy hop, the jitterbug, and the boogie-woogie. The most notable of the previously mentioned dance styles is the "lindy hop" which is a mixture of new dance movements and mimicking older methods such as the foxtrot.
The swing in its different versions is still practised to this day in Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania.
Certain elements that distinguish the swing from other dances is the type of music/tunes that are listened to when dancing and the specific steps.
For example, the most iconic moves of the swing dance include the following:
- The Cuddle Turn or Step,
- The Inside Turn,
- Kicks and Flicks,
- Stop and Go,
- The Hand Slide,
- Lunge and Turn,
- Man's Hook Turn.
These moves can be observed and practised by watching very informative Youtube tutorials of professional dancers. Now, what about the songs? What are some of the best songs to dance the swing to and have a good time? The following are select songs recommended by experts that have beats to match the swing's joy and electric energy:
- Sentimental Journey by Frank Sinatra,
- In the Mood by Glenn Miller,
- Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman,
- Mack the Knife by Louis Armstrong.
If after listening to these songs multiple times and need a change when practising the "lindy hop", consider searching for similarly themed songs from the same dazzling artists who made the "Swing Era" something truly remarkable in American history.
Also, if you have the urge to hone your swing dancing skills at a professional dance academy, we highly recommend attending either the SwingdanceUK school, Donahey's Dance School, or The Swing Era Academy located in different parts of the UK. If the previously mentioned schools are too far, consider learning with a private dance teacher via online classes.
Glamorous, elegant, and rapid, the foxtrot is one of the planet's favourite dances. Upon its conception in the 1910s, the foxtrot became a go-to-dance at weddings, parties, and important social events. The true essence of ballroom dancing is experienced when gliding across the dancefloor doing the foxtrot.
The origins of the foxtrot are a little trickier to determine than other famed dances of the 20th century. Nevertheless, it is believed that vaudeville actor Henry Fox developed the moves of the pre-foxtrot or "slow step" in 1912 to the background of relevant music.
However, in 1914 the foxtrot indeed became popular when Vernon and Irene Castle premiered the foxtrot to the world in their home; they are responsible for ironing out the correct steps of the foxtrot and giving it its style, fluidity, and grace.
After 1914, ballroom dancing enthusiasts became thrilled and exhilarated by the foxtrot's quick steps, fine lines, and fancy footwork. It can truthfully be said that no other ballroom dance has achieved the same universal appeal as the foxtrot; a real feat indeed!
The foxtrot, just like other evolving dances, has different styles depending on where it is practised. For instance, the following is a brief description of two of the foxtrot's most popular methods:
- American Social Foxtrot: known by many as the original version of the foxtrot, the American Social Foxtrot is taught to beginners in dance institutes all over the world. The American Social Foxtrot uses six-count and eight-count figures.
- International Foxtrot: also recognised by dance enthusiasts as the "British Foxtrot", the International Foxtrot is social and fun yet competitive at the same time. One of the main rules is that partners must maintain body contact throughout the entire dance. The International Foxtrot follows a four-count unit figure to a slower melody than the American version.
When dancing the foxtrot, the perfect song will transform a dull moment into an ideal instant. Therefore, it is best to choose the soft melodies of jazzy crooners when dancing the foxtrot. The subsequent songs are the most highly recommended:
- A Wink and a Smile by Harry Connick Jr,
- Ain't That a Kick in the Head by Dean Martin,
- Don't Get Around Much Anymore by Tony Bennett,
- All of Me by Michael Buble,
- Busted by Ray Charles,
- Better Together by Jack Johnson,
- Baby, it's Cold Outside by Dean Martin.
- Call Me Irresponsible by Bobby Darin.
When selecting music to dance to remember that rhythm is everything. Nevertheless, if deciding upon music and learning the steps of the foxtrot seems daunting, we suggest visiting a professional dance school to receive guidance. Some of the best dance academies to learn the foxtrot in England include the Zig Zag Dance Factory and the Arthur Murray Dance Centers.
If you're not into the structured elegance of ballroom dancing and prefer to stick to something a little bit more laid back and less strict, there are many dance styles to choose from.
Salsa, bachata, popping, locking, hip-hop, and breakdancing are still quite precise and technical, yet they allow for more imagination and wiggle room than the Viennese Waltz, for example.
Now, let's focus our attention on breakdancing. A subgenre of hip-hop, breakdancing originated in the 1960s and 1970s in New York City among US Latino and African American gang members. Breakdance moves mostly have roots from martial arts technique developed by the gangs to defend themselves against enemies.
Although derived from self-defence moves, after the 1970s breakdancing movements became far more demanding and physical; not just anyone can roll around on the floor and bust a move!
But why the term "break?"
Many people have been confused by the terminology of breakdancing. Nevertheless, it is essential to state that "break" comes from the rhythms and beats produced by DJs to create a continuous sound that doesn't stop. The technique of smashing hits together was initially pioneered by Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc.
Herc created an inspiring rhythm that was perfect for breakdancing and was known as "cutting breaks."
Breakdancing really took off in the 1980s and was extremely popular in the 1990s and early 2000s being featured in many famed artists music videos. Some of the unique characteristics of break dancing rely on challenging movements and positions. Some of the most recognisable breakdancing moves include The Windmill, Headspins, Flares, and Boomerangs, to name a few.
Specific beats make breakdancers rejoice, and the following jams fit hand-in-hand with breakdancing:
- Get On The Good Foot by James Brown,
- The Mexican by Babe Ruth,
- Dancing Machine by The Jackson Five,
- Planet Rock by the Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Crew,
- Beat Box by The Art of Noise,
- Paid in Full by Eric B & Rakim,
- It's Like That by Run DMC and Jason Nevins.
By dancing to the previously mentioned beats, the breakdancing moves will be a lot easier than expected!
Also, we highly recommend attending dance classes at the following institutes in the UK to master breakdancing techniques:
- Stage Pro Academy: located in Warrington, near Manchester and Liverpool, the Stage Pro Academy has fantastic classes for boys, girls, and daring adults.
- B-Better Dance Company: London's most qualified breakdancing studio, B-Better Dance Company helps students learn the moves while at the same time become familiar with the history of the dance.
Studying a modern dance like breakdancing is an enriching experience that should never be overlooked.
Popping and Locking
Becoming one of the world's best dancers is not about technique and years of practice but rather a passion for dance and raw talent.
Some of the world's most excellent dancers have contributed to pioneering and working to evolve the best dance genres known to mankind. A few of those dance genres include the hip-hop movements of popping and locking.
Distinct in their own way, popping is more about pushing out certain parts of the body and locking is about tightening specific muscles for a small period of time and then moving them again at the same speed as before. It is essential to state that locking originated first when dancer Don Campbell made some significant mistakes trying to imitate movements in front of a crowd. Popping was the result of Boogaloo Sam observing dancers "locking" on television.
Popping is very robotic yet smooth and gentle at times. Locking is very intense at times and "lockers" follow the music to stop and start at appropriate times.
Both popping and locking have helped pave the way for more modern hip-hop dances that can be seen on television, at concerts, and in-person at dance studios.
There are specific moves in each popping and locking that make it unique from other genres of dance. For example, lockers frequently use the alpha and the knee drop as part of their steps. On the other hand, essential popping rhythms include chest pop and forearm hits.
Like any other dance, there is appropriate music that must be played to get into the mood and yield the best results as a beginner. The subsequent songs are the best for popping and locking:
- Pop Lock Funk by Dogg Master,
- We Boogie by Busta Brown,
- On the Come Up by Mofak,
- Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk,
- Get Up Offa That Thing by James Brown,
- Let's Groove by Earth, Wind, & Fire.
Try finding the previously mentioned songs to create a playlist on Spotify and Apple Music that will help you succeed as a popper or locker.
Also, consider the possibility of attending UK-based dance schools to better your pop and lock abilities. The Body Work Company in Cambridge and the Dance College in London have popping and locking sessions open to all.
There you have it, an exploration through some of the world's most special dances. We hope that you have enjoyed today's article and that you will be inspired to dance to the rhythm you feel on all occasions; indeed dance like no one is watching!