- East Coast Swing
East Coast Swing (ECS) is a form of social
partner dancethat evolved from the Lindy Hopwith the work of the Arthur Murraydance studios in the 1940'scite web|url=http://www.centralhome.com/ballroomcountry/swing.htm|title=Swing History origins of Swing Dance|year=1996|accessdate=2008-03-22] . East Coast Swing can be referred to by many different names in different regions of the United States and the World. It has alternatively been called Eastern Swing, Jitterbug, American Swing, Lindy (not to be confused with Lindy Hop) and Triple Swing [cite web|url=http://people.cornell.edu/pages/kpl5/east-coast-swing.html|title=East Coast Swing History|year=year unknown|accessdate=2008-03-23] . Other variants of East Coast Swing that use altered footwork forms are known as Single Swing[cite web|url=http://www.swingcraze.com/ussds/other_swing_dance_styles.html#SingleSwing|title=Swing Dance Styles: Swingle Swing|year=1993|accessdate=2008-03-22] or "Single-step Swing" (where the triple step is replaced by a single step forming a slow, slow, quick, quick rhythm common to Foxtrot), and Double Swing (using a tap-step footwork pattern) [cite web|url=http://www.swingcraze.com/ussds/other_swing_dance_styles.html#DoubleSwing|title=Swing Dance Styles: Double Swing|year=1993|accessdate=2008-03-22] .
This form of swing dance is strictly based in six-count patterns that are simplified forms of the original patterns copied from
Lindy Hop. The name "East Coast Swing" was coined to initially to distinguish the dance from the street form and the new variant used in the competitive ballroom arena (as well as separating the dance from West Coast Swing, which was developed in California). While based on Lindy Hop, it does have clear distinctions. East Coast Swing is a standardized form of dance developed first for instructional purposes in the Arthur Murray studios, and then later codified to allow for a medium of comparison for competitive ballroom dancers. It can be said that there is no right or wrong way to dance it; however, certain styles of the dance are considered correct "form" within the technical elements documented and governed by the National Dance Council of America. The N.D.C.A. oversees all the standards of American Style Ballroom and Latin dances. Lindy Hop was never standardized and later became the inspiration for several other dance forms such as: (European) Boogie Woogie, Jive, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swingand Rock and Roll.
Ballroom dancers and instructors often mistakenly believe that East Coast Swing evolved from Foxtrot. However, numerous dance historians, including Ballroom dance historian, Lori Heikkila, write that the ballroom dance studios "stripped down" the
Lindy Hopand "bred and developed a ballroom East Coast Swing" in the 1940's. As East Coast Swing was developed and introduced to Ballroom dance communities, Ballroom dancers drew associations between East Coast Swing and Foxtrot. They also drew associations between East Coast Swing, then codified as an American Rhythm dance and other American Rhythm dance styles.
East Coast Swing has a 6 count basic step. This is in contrast to the meter of most swing music, which has a 4 count basic rhythm. In practice, however, the 6-count moves of the east coast swing are often combined with 8-count moves from the
Lindy hop, Charleston, and Balboa.
Depending on the region and instructor, the basic step of single-step East Coast Swing is either "
rock step, step, step" or "step, step, rock step". In both cases, the rock step always starts on the downbeat.
For "rock step, step, step" the beats, or counts, are the following:
Steps for the "lead" (traditionally, the man's part) Rock Beat 1 - STEP back with your LEFT foot Step Beat 2 - STEP forward with your RIGHT foot (to where you first started) Step Beat 3 - STEP with your LEFT foot Beat 4 - Begin to shift your weight back to your right root Step Beat 5 - STEP with your RIGHT foot Beat 6 - Begin to shift your weight to the left and back
Steps for the "follow" (traditionally, the woman's part which mirrors the lead's part) Rock Beat 1 - STEP back with your RIGHT foot Step Beat 2 - STEP forward with your LEFT foot (to where you first started) Step Beat 3 - STEP with your RIGHT foot Beat 4 - Begin to shift your weight back to your left root Step Beat 5 - STEP with your LEFT foot Beat 6 - Begin to shift your weight to the right and back
For "step, step, rock step", the rock step occurs on beats 5 and 6, but the overall progression remains the same.
The normal steps can be substituted with a
triple stepor double step "step-tap" or "kick-step" instead of a single step. This is commonly used during songs when a slower tempo makes the single step difficult (an example progression would be "rock step, triple step, triple step").
Arguably the most important part of traditional partner dancing is "frame", a connection between partners manifested in a mutual supporting of weight. In a swing dance, each partner must counterbalance the other's weight by slightly leaning back (as if you were about to sit down into a chair). This gives the leader a clear connection to the follower and allows the leader to effectively lead the dance. (In terms of dance steps, this technique will force the dancers to keep their feet under his/her center of gravity.) During the basic step, the leader can establish the frame in several ways, including "open position" (connection through the hands) or "closed position" (connection through the leader's hand on the back). When done properly, both partners will be able to feel both the location and movement of the other person's center of gravity. With proper frame, both the leader and follower have a proper connection and the leader can clearly communicate the progression of the dance.
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