Tag Archives: advanced

Am I an Advanced Dancer Yet?

Most Lindy Hoppers start out assuming that the dance is made up of a finite number of moves and variations and that becoming a pro is simply a matter of learning all of them. Somewhere along the line we discover that it’s both simpler and more complicated than this. There are actually an infinite number of possible moves and an infinite number of variations and being a great dancer has very little to do with how many of these you know. Having an extensive repertoire can be useful but you also need to develop your communication skills, reaction time, control and balance, expression and musicality. How quickly you pick up moves and develop these skills will depend a lot on how you learn and the amount of time you’re able to put in. If you make it to one class a week and attend a social dance every couple of months that’s awesome—enjoy every minute of it! Obviously, you can’t expect to progress at the same speed as someone who attends several classes, and weekend workshops, has private lessons, goes social dancing 3 nights a week and trains with a team. But who cares? Both of you are dancing and having a great time. The beauty of lindy hop is that regardless of where you’re at there is always more to learn so you might as well take it at your own pace.

What Level Am I?

So how do you know what level you’re at? Most of the time this isn’t worth worrying about. Find a class that feels like a good fit. When you feel you’ve mastered the material being taught at that class, ask your teacher what the next best step is for you. If you’re going to a big weekend event it gets a bit trickier. If you asked a bunch of international teachers you might get some consensus about what it means to be an “Intermediate dancer” or an “Advanced dancer” but there is a huge amount of variation in how these terms are used in local scenes and at dance weekends. In a newer scene where nearly everyone is a complete beginner, dancers who have learned enough to make it through a social dance may be considered “advanced”, in other scenes dancers might be expected to put in several years of focused training and be competing and performing in order to earn that label. It can be a real challenge for event organisers to navigate when trying to help dancers sort themselves into levelled groups of dancers with similar abilities and experience.

Maximise Your Learning

Our best tips for choosing a level are to keep in mind that the goal should be to maximise your learning not to go for the highest level that you can get away with. Choosing a higher or lower level doesn’t make you a better or worse dancer. For newer dancers there can be a temptation to think that progress will happen more quickly if you always go for the highest level—because you love a good challenge! The danger to this approach is that you get only a very superficial idea of what is being taught in class and you miss out on the opportunity to learn the skills and technique that would really make your dancing work. You’ll get the most out of classes that build on the skills that you have at a pace that works for you. To get the most out of an event follow these steps: Read the level descriptions (which should include a list of skills that you should know and/or be working on and not just the length of time you’ve been dancing). Choose the one that honestly describes you as a dancer at that moment (not where you hope to be in a few months). Don’t worry about what the label says.

How to be the Best Dancer

Hopefully it’s starting to become clear that no one can give you a list of boxes to tick in order to call yourself “Advanced”. We know that being “Advanced” isn’t about how many moves you know or how many years you’ve been taking classes, and that the definition can vary depending on where you are. Instead of focusing on getting your Advanced Dancer Certificate (not a thing) here is a list of higher level skills to work towards. These are skills that we think are essential for progressing as a dancer and they have no pre-requisites so you can start working on them at any time to be the best dancer you can be. In our experience its these skills that intermediate dancers often struggle with. So if you’ve been dancing for a while and feel like you’re ready for the next challenge read on and hopefully these tips will help you continue to move forward.

Deconstructing Moves: Because lindy hop is an improvisational dance, the “moves” that you learn in class are only a starting point. It’s helpful at first to have a common repertoire of moves that lots of dancers know but once you really start to understand how the connection works and how different rhythms fit together you can make up all sorts of things and really make the dance your own. Think about how a move might be broken down into its component parts. How do the moves you know relate to each other? What parts of a move could be replaced with something else? How can you put the parts together in different ways? Can you take the start of one move and the end of another move and make it work? You can do some experimenting on the social dance floor but if you can find another dancer to practice with occasionally you can discover all sorts of things.

Musicality: We like to think of lindy hop as a three way conversation between a leader an follower and the music. Most dancers start out by focusing on learning how to communicate with a partner to lead and follow different moves. Once you’ve got a few moves under your belt and you can make it through a social dance without losing the plot, you’re ready to start thinking about that third element—music. Feeling something happening in the music comes natural for some but even those lucky few need a bit of practice at translating what they hear into a physical action that looks cool and doesn’t throw their partner off. How do you work on this skill? Listen to lots of music, think about how each track sounds similar or different to the one before, try to notice changes and themes within a song. Social dance and try to take notice of how different people react to the music. Practice connecting what you do to what you hear instead of just executing moves the same way every time. We run a Musicality Course once per year that works on these skills.

Self-awareness: When you’re just starting out you need to put yourself out there and be brave enough to make mistakes so a little confidence can go a long way. As you progress though developing a critical eye becomes equally important. Some dancers start to take more notice of other dancers’ “shortcomings” at this point when really they should be starting to think about what is and isn’t working in their own dancing. Are there moves that seem to go wrong consistently? Are there common themes in the feedback you get from teachers or partners? When you see a video of your dancing what do you like, what makes you cringe? What do you see other dancers doing that you don’t know how to do? (if you answered nothing, widen your scope from your local scene to attending or watching videos from larger events). Like most other things in life, the more experienced you become the more you should become aware of what you don’t know. If you get to the point that you feel like you’ve learned all you can at the classes you attend, take a private lesson to help you focus on just the things you need to work on. If you feel like you’ve heard everything that your local teachers have to say, travel to a larger scene or a weekend event with other teachers. No matter how long you’ve been dancing, or how many moves you know there is always more to learn and there will always be things that you need to work on. At first you may need help identifying areas that need work but you should eventually get better at noticing these things for yourself.

Troubleshooting and Partnership Skills: Once you start to feel more confident with your lindy hop its easy to assume that if something doesn’t work it’s probably your partner’s fault, especially if they haven’t been dancing as long as you. Until you’ve properly mastered a move it can be nearly impossible to determine who is to blame when things go wrong. That’s why its important to develop the ability to work through a difficulty without blaming your partner. Honing this skill is about developing the right mindset (neither of us is perfect, we’re need to support each other to get it right, etc..) and the right language (“something doesn’t seem quite right”, “Maybe I can try…”, etc). It’s also about being able to experiment and make changes which comes as you develop more body-awareness and a better understanding of how the dance works.

Taking Responsibility: Most dancers go through a phase where they can dance well with their teacher or more experienced dancers in their scene but struggle to dance with other dancers in their classes or less experienced dancers. It’s an exciting time when you really start to feel like you know what you’re doing “with a good partner”. As you continue to work on your dancing the range of dancers that you can dance well with will get larger until you get to the point where you can have an awesome dance with an international teacher and an equally awesome dance with a complete newbie. Dancing well with new dancers requires the development of a range of different skills including control of your own balance, confidence in holding the rhythm on your own, being able to react to whatever your partner does without being thrown, and being able to dance musically on your own.

Active Learning: Once you’ve moved through the beginner and improver/intermediate classes in your local scene the natural progression may become less clear. At some point you’ll need to start to think about how you learn best and take control of creating a path that works for you. Try out different classes, some move faster than others, this isn’t good or bad, but you’ll get more out of a class that moves at the right pace for you. Do you do well in a big class or do you do better one-on-one? Can you learn from old videos or do you need someone to break things down? Does working towards a performance or a competition inspire you to work harder? Do you need a practice partner to keep you motivated?


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Advanced Charleston Challenge!

Are you ready to throw down and take your Tandem Charleston to the next level? If you’re up for the challenge we’ve got a course that will push you. Four weeks of tricky tandem and hand to hand Charleston craziness. This course is not for the faint of heart–you’ll need to come with a good grasp of tandem and hand to hand Charleston and be ready to work hard!

Wednesdays 6th – 27th March 8:30pm-9:30pm at the Dance Studio Leeds £32 for the 4 week course

As with all our courses places will be limited to keep a small class size with personal feedback so that you can get the most out of it.

To book email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

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2019 Wednesday Courses!

Drum roll please! Rattatat-rattatat-rattatat! Now announcing our Wednesday Courses schedule for 2019! Put these dates in your diary folks. All of these courses are 8:30-9:30pm at Dance Studio Leeds. We’ll also have Lindy Hop Fundamentals running alongside these courses on the same dates in the 6:30-7:30pm slot.

  • 9 Jan – 30 Jan Intro to Partnered Charleston
  • 6 Feb – 27 Feb Swingouts
  • 6 Mar – 27 Mar Advanced Charleston
  • 3 Apr – 24 Apr Classic Moves (Frankie’s Moves)
  • 1 May – 22 May Musicality
  • 29 May – 19 Jun Swingouts
  • 31 Jul – 21 Aug Intro to Partnered Charleston
  • 28 Aug – 18 Sept Classic Moves (Tricky Moves)
  • 25 Sept – 16 Oct Swingouts
  • 23 Oct – 13 Nov Tandem Charleston
  • 20 Nov – 11 Dec California Routine    

If you put in a request for something that don’t see here don’t worry we’ll be adding in a few weekend workshops as well at some point for those things. For a more detailed description of any of these courses visit our Courses Page.

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California Routine–Are you up to the challenge?

Our last course of the year is a very special one–we’ll be teaching the California Routine! A classic lindy hop routine, choreographed by the legendary Frankie Manning, it draws on all of the fundamentals of lindy hop, including 6 beat, 8 beat and Charleston footwork. Once you know this routine, you will see it everywhere! Most lindy hoppers learn it at some point so it’s an easy impromptu performance piece. Whether you want to do more performing or you’re just looking to challenge yourself, this course is a great way to do it!

We will need to move quickly to get through the routine in four weeks so there are a few prerequisites. You will need to be familiar with basic 6 beat moves (tuck turn, passby, bring back), swingouts, and tandem Charleston. The version we do on the course will have some flashy moves but no big aerials so that we can focus on the dancing (for those that are interested we’re happy to help you add aerials in later!).

California Routine Course
Wednesdays, 21st November – 12th December
8:30 – 9:30pm at The Dance Studio Leeds
£30 for the 4 week course

Email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com to book your place

Here’s a sneak peek of what the California Routine looks like (with aerials)


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Learn the Tranky Doo Thursdays in September!

Get these dates in your diary because we are excited to announce a series of Thursday night classes on the Tranky Doo, 6th, 13th and 20th September! The Tranky Doo is a classic vintage jazz solo routine from the 1940s. For some interesting factoids about the history of the routine and clips of a variety of performances of it go here.

We wanted to feature this little video because this simple class recap has long been the most popular video on our Youtube Channel. Dancers around the world are still finding it really useful for learning this great classic routine. Here’s your chance to learn this fabulous routine from Rob IRL (in real life) over the course of three weeks!

This will be offered as a short course of 3 classes. If you haven’t done much solo jazz before don’t worry–book on for all 3 classes and we’ll go at an easy pace with lots of repetition. If you’ve learnt the Tranky Doo before and want a quick refresher feel free to just drop-in for one or two classes.

Learn the Tranky Doo 

Thursdays, 6th, 13th & 20th Sept 2018

at Dance Studio Leeds

Cost: £15 for all 3 classes (pre-booking required)
or drop-in for £7 per class

Email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com to book your place!

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Filed under Charleston, lindy hop, News, Uncategorized, What's On?

Course Schedule

We’ve just updated our course list through December! Here’s what we have in store for the rest of the year!

Fundamentals Course (Wednesdays 6:30-7:30): Our very popular Fundamentals Course runs back to back with a new course starting each month! Appropriate for complete beginners or anyone who wants to really solidify their basics. You can find more information about this course series here.

Wednesday Courses (Wednesdays 8:30-9:30): These courses change each month. Most are Improver-Intermediate Advanced but there are a few beginner level courses. Here’s what we have coming up. Full course descriptions can be found here:

Musicality                                          9th May – 30th May
Swingouts                                          6th Jun – 27th Jun
Intro to Partnered Charleston    1st Aug – 22nd Aug
Tandem Charleston                        29th Aug – 19 Sept
Classic Move                                      26th Sept – 17th Oct
Swingouts                                          24th Oct – 14th Nov
California Routine                           21st Nov – 12th Dec

All of these Courses are now open for bookings: email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com to book a place on any of these courses.



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California Routine Course – 22nd November

Learn this classic routine choreographed by Frankie Manning!

California Routine Course
Wednesdays; 22nd November – 13th December
8:30 – 9:30pm at The Dance Studio Leeds
£30 whole course

– Small class size
– Individual feedback
– Progressive structured learning
– Appropriate for people who are comfortable social dancing
– Pre-booking and payment in advance required

The California Routine is a classic lindy hop routine, which draws on all of the fundamentals of lindy hop, including 6 beat, 8 beat and Charleston footwork.  It includes some small lifts and is often used as a performance routine.  You will need to have a good grasp of the fundamentals of lindy hop and be comfortable with swingouts for this course.  We won’t be doing any of the big aerials in the routine and have adapted them so that they are achievable for everyone!  As well as providing you with the moves and technique you need to complete this routine, we will also be focusing on its performance aspects.

Email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com to book your place

VE Day 70 at Leeds Dock


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