Lindy Hop Class Curriculum: Then and Now

 

A frequently debated topic among instructors for their local weekly beginner series is the best way to go about it. You’ve probably heard some of these phrases mentioned,

 

Six count moves?

Eight count moves Without triple steps?

Four or six week series?

Heavy technique or make it fun?

 

… an interesting comparison would be to take a curriculum from an existing scene and compare it to one that existed in the early 2000′s. 

… curriculum from GottaSwing in 2001

next to New School Swing‘s curriculum which offers lessons these days.

 

GottaSwing Curriculum (2001)

 

Description:  An unusually thorough and entertaining Beginners course. You’ll learn over 20 moves, turns, spins and dips in just 6 weeks, plus expert technique tips. Throughout, we’ll strongly emphasize good (momentum-based) leading and following technique, because that’s the key to becoming a superb dance partner. After our Swing I course, you’ll know more Swing moves — AND you’ll have better dance technique — than after any other Swing I course on the East Coast.

 

  • Prerequisite: Ability to count to 6.
  • No partner or experience needed.
  • We often have several Swing I classes running concurrently. If so, you are welcome to attend any or all of them for no extra charge (e.g., to make up a missed class, or for extra practice time).
  • 6 weeks – 1.5 hours each week – 9 hours total. (Occasionally shorter or longer, depending on calendar constraints.)

 

Swing I – Summary List. …

 

  • Good (momentum-based) Leading & Following Technique
  • Basic step – Single, Double, Triple
    • Closed Position
    • Open Position
  • “Simple” change of places (low hands)
  • Arch Turn
  • Lady’s Inside Turns (aka ‘Loop’ Turns) (left side; right side)
  • Sweetheart (2-hand version of Lady’s Inside Turn) (left side; right side) — also known as Cuddle or Wrap or Basket
  • Lady’s Outside Turns (left side; right side)
  • Parallels (2-hand version of Lady’s Outside Turn) (left side; right side)
  • Man’s Outside Turns (left side; right side)
    • High-hand version
    • Break through the hands — 2 versions
    • Fred Astaire-inspired version
  • Man’s Inside Turns (left side; right side)
  • Man’s Sweetheart (just for fun)
  • Various Alternating-Person and Mix-and-match Turns Series
    • Almost every conceivable combination
  • She-Go/He-Go (5 different versions)
  • Double Arm Slide (aka Dishrag or Drape) (3 different exits)
  • Simple Dip [if we have time]
  • As far as we know, no other 6-week (or even 10-week) Swing I class comes even remotely close to teaching you this much!

 

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New School Swing Curriculum (2014)

 

…  curriculum  –  two different 4-week series that classes go for an hour each in 6-count move and 8-count moves and both are required to move up to the next level of classes.

Included with beginner classes is something known as Lindy Dojo

 

Description 8 – Count:

 

…. In these four sessions, we’ll focus on basic 8-count Lindy Hop moves for the brand-new dancers, but we’ll concentrate on good technique and connection so there is always something for more experienced swing dancers, too.

… You must know all the material in the 6-Count and 8-Count Lindy Hop Basics and Fundamentals Classes before moving to advanced beginner classes.

 

Description 6 – Count:

 

… we’ll focus on basic 6-count Lindy Hop moves for the brand-new dancers, but we’ll concentrate on good technique and connection so there is always something for more experienced swing dancers, too.

 

6 – Count Curriculum:

 

  • Pulse
  • Open and Closed Frame (Position)
  • Weight Shifts and Triple Steps
  • 6 – Count Basic and Rotating Basic
  • Tuck Turn
  • 6 – Count Circle from Closed
  • 6 – Count Circle from Open
  • Send Out
  • Return to Closed
  • Right Side Pass

 

8 – Count Curriculum:

 

  • Pulse
  • Open and Closed Frame (Position)
  • Weight Shifts and Triple Steps
  • Side by Side 8 – Count Basic
  • Follow in Front
  • Leader in Front
  • 8 – Count Circle from Closed
  • 8 – Count Circle from Open
  • Swingout from Closed
  • Swingout from Open
  • Side by Side Charleston Basic

 

Comparison

 

Funky Move NamesReading the older curriculum a thing that stood out to me at first was the unusual names of some moves. After some thought I realized though it’s just because probably some of these names or even the moves themselves may have faded out of the common vernacular. 

…some of those moves have become unpopular such as “The Drape” … or “The Pretzel” from their Swing II curriculum.

 

Time CommitmentNew School Swing asks for 4 one hour classes, whereas GottaSwing asks for 6 hour and a half classes. A total of 4 hours expected for New School Swing and 9 hours expected for GottaSwing it is obvious they have slightly more than twice the time to cover material. However, there is an optional 45 extra minutes each week a beginner student can commit to on top of their courses at New School Swing due to Lindy Dojo, bringing the potential time spent by beginner students to 7 hours.

 

I would say the advantage GottaSwing had was due to the large time commitment teachers could cover a fairly comprehensive body of material. However the disadvantage from a marketing standpoint is that produces a larger barrier of entry. New School Swing’s approach shines in that area because there is an optional component for making more motivated students have a clear avenue to spend extra time to improve.

 

Conclusion: Making a guess, I would assume GottaSwing’s curriculum catered toward dancers coming off the tail end of the 90′s neoswing craze who after watching Malcom X or the Gap Add thought of swing dancing as a series of flashy moves.

 

 

 

 

 

… An … element of some homogenization.

GottaSwing in Boston was (to my knowledge) a branch of the original GottaSwing out in Washington D.C.

New School Swing utilizes the common method of teaching swingouts by starting students doing an 8 count pattern in side by side and continues to work towards the lindy circle, then finally the swingout.

 

 

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