Thursday, July 16, 2009

The "hip" hop

I recently got back from dance camp: Beantown Lindy Hop Camp -- 7 days of dance classes all day and social dancing all night. It was intense.

I had the fabulous experience of taking a Hip Hop "mini-track" (1 hip hop class per day, plus a performance at the end of camp) taught by Eric Fenn, the primary choreographer for the Hip Hop dance troupe called Loose Change. The series was a ton of fun; Eric was a great instructor; and I feel like it really improved my individual body movement.

Much of the fun and art of Lindy Hop is about the interaction and connection between you, your partner, and the music. But another important part of Lindy Hop is individual body movement, which includes things like balance, dexterity, rythm, posture, and moving from your core. Someone once gave me succinct words of advice for improving body movement: "Dance. A lot." More specifically though, one thing you can do to develop your individual body movement is to study and practice other forms of dance. Solo Jazz is the obvious one, because it is so closely tied in with the roots of Lindy Hop, which is sometimes referred to by dance geeks as "(partnered) American Vernacular Jazz Dance" -- Say that five times fast! Solo Jazz can help you do things like increase your dance vocabulary and styling variations. Tap, a slightly less obvious option, can help you improve your dexterity and rythm. But what about Hip Hop? How can Hip Hop help improve your Lindy Hop? Besides being a ton of fun and giving you cool moves for club dancing, Hip Hop can help you focus on initating movement from your core and improve your expressive range, along with learning fun stuff like body isolation (hard! but awesome!).

Check out these clips of Eric Fenn and his troupe, Loose Change.

"Human Nature" --

"Day" --

"Currents" -- -- This one has some Lindy Hop mixed in.

"Evolution" --

At OSDF 2003 --

If you're interested in improving your individual body movement, I strongly encourage you to go out and take a solo dance class, especially Tap, Jazz, or Hip Hop. It's lots of fun AND great exercise, so it will help increase your stamina, too. . . Next time you go out dancing Lindy Hop, you can dance all night long!

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