How’s your solo jazz?
Sometimes people think that doing a few Boogie Backs and Fall off the Log for one song during a class warm-up is enough, like a Lindy Hop checkbox you’re “supposed to” tick without really emphasizing its’ value. You might feel like you can get by in your Lindy Hop with minimal focus on your jazz for quite some time and think it’s not a big deal. You might tell yourself, “I’m more comfortable being a partner dancer – I’m not interested in being a solo dancer.” We’re here to tell you that you’re missing out on some of the best parts of Lindy Hop!
Plain and simple: if you want to be a great Lindy Hopper, you need to invest in your solo movement.
“But I’m just a social dancer!”
Even if you’ve set your sights differently and “only want to be a solid social dancer,” it’s still just as important to work on your jazz, movement, and rhythm.
“But I don’t really feel like it’s useful.”
“But it’s not as fun working on my dancing alone.”
“But I only have so much time to spend on my dancing and really want to work on partnered stuff.”
“But I’m always dancing with a partner anyways.”
But… but… but… INSERT other common excuses about what’s standing in the way.
Most people get into Lindy Hop because they love the social aspect of the dance —and we do too— but when you’re always dancing in a partnership, it’s easy to lose sight of how little you’re developing your personal body control and quality of movement. Solo jazz adds new flavors and textures to your basics, helps you work on your rhythm, and helps instil it in our fundamental understanding and interpretation of the dance.
Then there’s the historical context. The fact is that in the Black Community, where the dance originated, solo dance ability and all those classic jazz steps were as fundamental to the dance as triple steps. Don’t forget to watch videos of the great dancers in Harlem too! Here are just a few of our favorites:
The Spirit Moves
Al Minns & Leon James
More Al & Leon
The bottom line is, if you aren’t making jazz training part of your dance, you will never be as good of a dancer as you could be.
So what should you work on?
The first phase is simply knowing how to execute the mechanics of the steps. Kick here on 8, swing there on 1, etc. That’s just the beginning.
Then there’s making all that timing part of your natural muscle memory so that you don’t even have to think about how it will fit with the music. It will just feel right.
After that, you can really start to make the steps your own. You can expand your physical ability, agility, flexibility, get to know your dance lines, and unleash your creativity. That’s when your overall movement just starts to get better and not only does it reflect in your solo dancing but your Lindy Hop starts to grow too.
So, if you’re ready to start to really dig into your solo jazz, where you should you start?
Well, it just so happens, we have a course for that!
There are a lot of ways to approach your jazz training. We’ve taken our many years of professional Lindy Hop experience to create a jazz course that progresses from easier to much more complex steps with a great deal of learning and development along the way.
Here is a list of the moves that we teach and how we group the steps into a reliable Solo Jazz curriculum.
Essential Solo Jazz Moves part 1:
We get started first with a combination of classic solo jazz moves commonly used in Lindy hop. These can be found in line dances and with a little creativity, can be adapted as styling options to enhance your partner dancing too.
Essential Solo Jazz part 2:
Beyond the Basics part 1:
Beyond the Basics part 2:
Advanced Solo Jazz Moves part 1:
Anyone can jump in and learn theses jazz steps even if you haven’t learned all the simpler ones. However, primarily use these videos as a reference point in learning these steps. It’s important that eventually they become your own, but at the core the timing and general principles will be timeless.
Advanced Solo Jazz Moves part 2:
Crawls are simultaneously basic and really complex. So many elements of solo and partner dancing rely on these skills. So jump in and go for it. Depending on your previous movement training/practice these steps might seem easy and fun or difficult and frustrating.
- Two Foot Crawl
- Tick Tocks
- One Foot Crawl – “James Brown”
- One Foot Crawl – “Boogie Reds”
- Crawl Challenge Routine
Have you had experience improving your dancing using Solo Jazz? How often do you practice? Do you use a mirror? Leave us a comment!