20 Ways to Become a Great Lindy Hopper

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers rehearsing for Hellzapoppin'

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.

11. Perform

Yes it’s scary, but performing makes you think about your dancing differently

12. Compete

Also scary, but competitions give you something to train and aim for, and again, it makes you think about your dancing differently

13. Teach

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.

Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown 2012: 1st Place!

Phew, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown 2012 is over! What an amazing festival and championship, with all live New Orleans jazz, so good you want to dance your feet off! Congratulations to Amy Johnson for running another great festival. The competitions were hard work, but we’re really happy with our results – Juan and I took 1st place in the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown itself, undefeated after what seemed like endless rounds of battles. Here’s a few:

We also won 1st place in the Showcase division! Special thanks to the oh-so-talented Ben Polcer for transcribing and arranging our showcase song so that we could perform it with a live band! The tune is “Shufflin’ & Rollin'”, originally by Buddy Johnson. There isn’t any really great footage up yet, but here’s a taste:

I was also very happy to share the Solo Blues finals with my fellow Killer Diller teammates, Nathan Bugh and Evita Arce, and congratulations to Evita for her win!

And also delighted to make the Solo Charleston finals, and congratulations to Nathan Bugh for winning – completely deserved! Nathan, I just love your work!

Aaaaaand, also proud to be a finalist for the Blues division, dancing with the charming Nick Williams:

All in all, not too shabby! Biggest thanks to my darling partner Juan Villafane – as ever, you are a breeze to work with, and a constant inspiration. I love you!

National Jitterbug Championships 2012: 1st Place!

Sharon & Juan win National Jitterbug Championships

Here is our new Classic Lindy Hop routine, to Buddy Johnson’s song Shufflin’ & Rollin’! We performed it for the first time at Camp Hollywood in Los Angeles on 28th July 2012 in the Showcase division at the National Jitterbug Championships, and won 1st place!

A million thanks to my wonderful dance partner Juan, I love you! We won trophies aaaaand…. jackets! I’ve never had a winners jacket before 🙂

Sharon & Juan win National Jitterbug Championships

We also won 1st place in the Classic Lindy Hop division:

And we both placed in the Advanced Jack & Jill as well. Thanks to Nick Williams for jamming with me in the finals!