I had a wonderful time at Inspiration Weekend, that is a truly great event I highly recommend to add to your swing calendar. I’m feeling very inspired! Thank you to all my lovely students for the messages and emails since the weekend, and I’m so so happy to hear that you were inspired by our classes! Since this kind of question has been popping up a fair bit, I thought I’d just put together a post for you all. Here is my list of twenty things you can do to improve your Lindy Hop! Aaaaaand… go!
1. Take Classes
Take classes, from as many different teachers as possible. If you’ve got limited access to teachers, try DVDs, iDance.net or RhythmJuice.com
2. Social dance
Social dance as much as possible, and dance with as many different people as you can (beginners to advanced)
3. Listen to swing music
Listen to as much swing and jazz music as you can, even if it’s just in the background, it makes a big difference
4. DJ for a dance
Curating your collection and selecting music for dancers will make you think about swing music differently
5. Travel to dance
Go to swing events and workshops in other cities and countries if you can
6. Film yourself dancing
Film yourself dancing and watch it analytically. Film > watch > improve > repeat.
7. Take private lessons
Take private lessons with your teachers and/or get personal feedback from friends.
8. Work on your solo dancing
Charleston, jazz steps, blues, even tap. At the minimum make sure you know all the classic solo choreographies (Shim Sham, Trankey Doo, Keep Punchin’ Big Apple, Al & Leon Shim Sham, Dean Collins Shim Sham, etc). Practice improvising.
9. Join a swing team
Join a performance group, if you can, or form one with friends if there isn’t one around
10. Choreograph a routine
Even if you never perform it, the process of choreographing makes you better. Learning other people’s routines will also give you a new perspective.
Yes it’s scary, but performing makes you think about your dancing differently
Also scary, but competitions give you something to train and aim for, and again, it makes you think about your dancing differently
Teaching something forces you to really understand it. If you don’t want to teach a class, just teach a step to a friend
14. Be inspired by the past
Watch vintage film clips from the 1920s-1950s of the original dancers. Watch > break it down > steal > repeat.
15. Be inspired by dance in general
Watch some old Gene Kelly films, go see a tango show, watch some hip hop on YouTube, rewatch LXD for the sixth time…
16. Read about it
Start with Frankie’s book if you haven’t read it already, and go from there. Try this and this and this and this and this. There are also some great Lindy Hop blogs out there – my favourite is Bobby White’s Swungover.
17. Look after your body
Firstly, take your injuries seriously. Secondly, Lindy Hop alone will not give you the dancer’s body you need to dance at your peak. You need to stretch and do some resistance training in addition to dancing. My personal recommendation is Yoga or Pilates as they will improve your strength and flexibility, but also your balance and body awareness, which will make you a better dancer.
18. Learn the other dances
Learn the other dances in our jazz dance family – Balboa, Collegiate Shag, St Louis Shag, Charleston, Blues. They will all improve your Lindy
19. Accept that you will never be satisfied
Great dancers are proud of their achievements and comfortable in their bodies, but never ever satisfied. We are always our own greatest critic. So enjoy the journey, find happiness in where you are now, keep striving, but don’t expect to ever be satisfied.
20. Just keep dancing. Never stop.
If in doubt, just keep dancing. If you’re in a rut, your progress has plateaued, or you’re not feeling motivated about your Lindy, just go out social dancing. The joy and inspiration always come back, as long as you never stop.