Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—
In the roaring 1920s, a new exciting jazzy type of music swept the
nation, along with a way to dance to it. Many different variations
were done – Lindy Hop, Swing, Jitterbug, Shag, Jive and others. By
the 1940s and 1950s ballroom studios had written down and
standardized what they taught as East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing,
and Jive. During the 1960s and 1970s, swing/jive became part of round
Round Dance Jive takes many of its figures from the International
Jive Syllabus, but dances them more slowly, more akin to the tempo of
American East Coast Swing. Jive dances at about 44 measures per
minute while East Coast Swing can be done at about 36 measures per
minute. Round Dancing does not distinguish between the various forms
of jive, swing, lindy, etc. and simply calls them all “jive”. The
most common figure timing for round dance jive figures is – quick,
quick, quick, a/quick, quick, a/quick, which takes six beats or one
and a half measures to do. Think of this generally as a rock, recover
followed by two triples. A round dancer can choose different styles
when dancing jive. He/she could dance the highly energetic
international style with a pronounced “up and up” bounce,
stabbing action of the feet, and Latin hip motion. Alternatively,
he/she could dance the relatively smoother American style or even one
of the undocumented styles of the 1920s.
Some General Tips --
the Jive is a relatively fast rhythm, make your steps small. In fact
the chasses are “compact”, not traveling much more than shoulder
length when going sideways.
using a pronounced Latin hip action at the end of each triple.
doing side chasses, keep facing partner and keep shoulders and feet
pointing toward partner. In other words, don’t turn these into a
skate left and/or right.
(i.e. what part of foot contacts the floor) is mostly ball/flat on
all steps except for the middle step of a triple or the first step
of a triple when stepping back when you simply use ball of foot.
work should be punctuated with sharp/quick movements. Keep arms in
toward body during spins. Extend outside arm completely when in open
bend over (and consequently stick lower body out). Instead keep head
and chest straight up with stomach in.
you are connected to partner only by one set of joined hands. Keep
that connection firm but not muscled. It is enough for the man to be
able lead with his hand forward or back and for the lady to feel
that lead and respond by moving her body forward or back at the same
time. It helps to keep the elbow of the connected arms close to the
is common to do the triples with Q&Q timing, but you can add
more emphasis by using QaQ timing instead. Do this by slightly
delaying the second step of the triple and then doing it very
quickly. This technique sharpens the look and feel of the jive.
doing triples forward or back, you can often do them as locking
steps instead, i.e. forward/lock, fwd or back/lock, back.
Some Figure Tips --
WALKS : This is simply a “Rock, Recover” followed by “Two
forward triples”. The triples should be very compact and use the
“up and up” bounce. Look at partner when swiveling in on the
first triple. Ballroom includes what we call “Swivel Walk 4”.
BALL CHANGE: Kick with pointed toe angled to the floor. Most are able
to do the kick but have trouble with the ball change. To do the
“ball” of this figure, take the foot you just kicked with and
point the ball of this foot to the floor directly beside the foot you
are standing on. Then step onto ball as if your toe hurts, i.e. start
to put weight on it but then almost immediately
shift the weight back again to the other foot. This step illustrates
the QaQ timing of many triples in Jive, with the “ball” step
being the very short ¼ beat “a” count.
SHUFFLE: XIB/Side, Side, : What makes this difficult is that, after
doing the XIB, it seems awkward to do the side side steps. Try doing
the side side steps as if you were Elvis Presley and doing the first
two steps of a “Side Break”, i.e. the “out out”. ROUNDALAB
has defined a sailor shuffle as a full measure and thus you do two
sailor shuffle actions to fill the measure.
WALKS : Without styling this is simply walk backward 2 slow steps and
then 4 quick ones (other combinations can occur). Of course styling
makes the difference. Both man and lady should keep their knees
together and then counter-balance each other while slightly leaning
apart. As the man steps back, he toes in very slightly (which keeps
the knees together). As the lady steps forward, she swivels and
points out and then takes her step (while keeping knees together).
The lady should use her free hand to move in a flirtatious fashion.
LEFT & RIGHT : Many people seem to do these with no sideways
movement at all, doing them entirely in one place. While the first
two steps of the left or right chasse are done almost in place, there
should definitely be a side movement in the third step. The chasses
should also be done with QaQ, QaQ timing. Use latin hip motion on the
third step of each triple. You should also think of dancing each
triple “up off the floor” by flexing and unflexing the knees and
ankles. Think of jive as being on the “up and up”. Keep feet and
shoulders toward partner and avoid doing these as if skating left and
right. Your head should stay almost in place and not move side to
AND GO: This uses the “Lindy” timing of QQQaQ QQQaQ. Start with a
Rock Apart, Recover and then triple together to a Tamara-like
position except that the man should place his right hand on the
woman’s left shoulder blade. Then take the next step very sharply
as the man rocks forward while the lady steps past the man and
sharply turns left face half with lady often shooting her left hand
straight up. Then as both recover, the lady quickly brings her hand
and turns under to face. Finish the figure similar to the last triple
of Change Right to Left.
SPIN : This follows the basic pattern of Rock, Recover and two
triples. On the first triple the lady should come in toward the man
and then spin right face a FULL turn at the end of the first triple.
This is similar to doing an open hip twist in cha except the lady
spins instead of doing a hip twist. If done correctly, the last (i.e.
second) triple should simply be a right chasse or triple in place
completely in balance with no turn.
SLIDE: This is another figure which uses the “Lindy” timing of
QQQaQ QQQaQ. It is a fancy way to do a full wheel. In a double
hand-hold position, Rock Apart, Recover and raise hands up and over
still joined. Begin wheeling right face with a forward triple and
both man and woman let go of their left hands allowing right hands to
lower to partner’s right shoulder. Continue wheeling with 2 forward
steps while sliding right hands down partner’s right arm. Finish
wheeling with a final triple to face partner back to where you
OFF THE ARM: Yet another “Lindy” QQQaQ QQQaQ timing figure. The
figure begins with right hands joined. If beginning with lead hands
joined then switch hands so the right hands are joined as you do the
Rock Apart, Recover. Next the man does a forward triple turning right
face about a quarter while the lady does her forward triple turning
left face a quarter letting her joined right hand go behind her back
and moving her body into the crook of the man’s right arm in a very
compact skaters-like position. The figure then continues by wheeling
right face (man going forward 2 steps and lady going backward 2
steps). Finish by doing a final triple to face partner with woman
rolling out right face. This figure rotates a full turn so you begin
and end in the same place.
TO WHIP TURN : Here is another “Lindy timing” figure (QQQaQ
QQQaQ). The first half of this figure, the “Link” is just the
same as the first half of the phase 3 figure “Link Rock”. Simply
Rock Apart, Recover and do one forward triple coming together to
closed position while turning one quarter right face. Then on the
next two steps you rotate right face three quarters turn to usually
end with man facing wall. On these two steps the man will use a
“7-11” technique where he crosses his right foot behind forming a
“7” with his feet and then steps side with his left foot making
an “11” with his feet. The woman will step side and then cross in
front. Finish the figure with a Right Chasse.
WHIP : The Curly Whip is just the same as the Link to a Whip Turn
except that the lady does an Inside Turn during the first triple. You
begin with a Rock Apart and Recover; then as the man triples forward
he raises the lead hands bringing them between his head and the
woman’s head thus leading her to turn left face finishing in CP
approximately the same place where a Link would end. The man should
keep the woman in close as she does her left face twirl (i.e. inside
turn) and can do this by placing his right hand on woman’s waist.
Finish the last half of the Curly Whip the same as in the Whip Turn.
KICKS : This is an unphased figure that is used in the classic dance
“Sunflower”. It is an entire amalgamation of movements and
actions as follows: Start with the normal Rock and Recover, then a
Touch and Step (Note that this is similar to the start of a Double
Swing basic). Next you Kick through to man’s left and woman’s
right and then quickly point side to man’s right and woman’s
left. Then do a Right Chasse. Now you repeat the above except instead
of just one Kick through, you do two (i.e. Kick thru, Point Side,
Kick thru, Point Side). Finally you repeat the first sequence a third
time except for doing the “Kick thru and Point side” three times.
The timing of the figure is QQQQ QQ QaQ – QQQQ QQQQ QaQ – QQQQ
QQQQQQ QaQ. It is a seven and one half measure figure.
Tim Eum originally prepared these Tips for Calls 'n' Cues,
(WASCA) and with Cindy Hadley, for the
Roundalab Journal, fall, 2009. Reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council
(DRDC) Newsletter, April thru July, 2012.