The dance history is one of the most interesting historical phenomenon as the dance reflects the condition of any society of the world, its cultural and mental characteristics, or status of individual…
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Dance and all of the ideas that go with it has evolved, just like any other art form has evolved. The way in which people danced in the 1930s and 1940s is very different than how they expressed themselves through dance in the 1960s and 1970s. Dancing in the 1930s and 1940s was still considered a partnered experience, men and women pairing off to explore structured dances in social situations. By the 1960s and 1970s, however, the nature of social dancing had changed as men and women parted and began to express their emotions through dances that were more primitive in nature. The nature of dance became a more solo experience, even though couple dancing still existed. As the nature of music changed, so too did the nature of dance.
The dance that was most popular during the early 1930s was the fox trot. This dance was done through medium tempo steps made by a couple (although some fox trots can be quite fast paced). However, swing dance had begun in the 1920s and had been made popular at the Savoy Club in New York City (Kassing 262). The form of dance had begun as an accompaniment to jazz music, the nature of the dance more freely expressed than had formerly been experienced. The East Coast Swing was the overall phrase used to describe the various versions of swing that were defined by their fast pace and their connection to big band music. The next evolution of dance that occurred was the ‘jitterbug’. The term ‘jitterbug’ was coined from the jitters that alcoholics get when they are withdrawing from drinking. The term was used to describe dancers who were not performing well on the dance floor (there bodies flopping about and not keeping time with the music), but eventually was transformed to describe a specific set of swing dances. The popular mainstream was introduced to the term through Cab Calloway’s song from 1934 “Call of the Jitter bug” (Young and Young 273). The dance was a wild and fast paced, but it was structured for swing music with specific moves and expressions. There were many versions of swing music that followed the basic concepts of jazz and fast paced movement. The Dean Collins Style was created by a Savoy dancer who moved to Hollywood. His influence created a “smoother, more contained” version of swing, and while he denied it, the West Coast Swing appears to be an evolution of his moves (Pener 66). The way in which clothing played a part in the dance innovations of swing was through the looser fitted pants that were worn by men to allow for freedom of movement, coupled with women in fitted blouses with puff sleeves and A-line skirts. The ‘Savoy’ style was defined by this type of look as the ‘lindy hop’, a version of the swing dance, came into popularity. Parties were held that were devoted to the style and the ‘lindy hop’ (Steele 194). Pener describes the lindy hop as a very social form of dance, providing for the interactions of men and women in a specific social setting. Etiquette was an important aspect of taking part in the dance, creating a defined amount of space that did not intrude on other dancers having the primary importance in the social experience. Dancing in the 1960s and 1970s went full swing from free form movement to clearly defined steps that were associated to a specific dance type. The Twist, a dance created by Chubby Checker to go with his song release, was designed so that dancers could dance with a partner or all alone (Kassing 235). This changed the nature of social dance. Where swing required a partner, ‘the twist’ allowed for one person to have fun without having to have someone along for the ride (although a partner made it more fun). This revolutionized social dance where people began to become free of prescribed dance steps and able to express their physical responses to the music. However, there were still ‘fad dances’ that came and went, including ‘the mashed potato’
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