Modern Jive


The history of Modern Jive from Lindy Hop involves a number of steps in both the form of the dance and in the geographical location of the dancers. During the second World War, American soldiers brought the Jitterbug across to Europe. In the UK, this evolved into the Ballroom Jive and Rock and Roll styles of dance in the years after the war, but these forms became more obscure with the popularity of disco dancing. However, in France the Jitterbug also evolved into Rock and Roll, which then evolved into a more simplified form (known as 'Roc') that remained popular there even after the introduction of disco dancing.

In the early 1980's an English dancer, James Cronin, who had lived in France returned to the UK and started the Ceroc® organization to teach this simplified dance, taking the name from the French phrase to describe the dance: "C'est Roc". The dance became hugely popular in the UK and later in other countries around the world, partly because of the ease of learning the dance, and partly because of the professional way that the Ceroc classes were run.

Teaching the dance soon extended beyond the Ceroc franchises, and with this wider variety of organizations the dance is now commonly referred to as "French-Style Jive" or Modern Jive.

Dance Character

The most prominent feature of Modern Jive in comparison with Lindy Hop is the hugely simplified footwork. For most steps, there is no set footwork—the dancers might be in open position at one beat, and in closed position by a later beat, but the dancers can use whatever steps they like to get from A to B.

With this simplified footwork comes a simplified system for counting out the moves. The Rhythm Structure section described how the two-beat units are important for investigating the structure of Lindy Hop. In Modern Jive, these two-beat units are counted, rather than individual beats, so a segment of music that would be counted "12345678" in Lindy Hop would be counted as "1 2 3 4" in Modern Jive. (This distinction is reflected in the move descriptions of this chapter, which use "One", "Two", … rather than "1", "2", … to mark the move counts).

Modern Jive also has an in-and-out character which is distinct from Lindy Hop; many moves involve the partners stepping in to be close to each other, and then stepping back away to arm's length. When taught individually, each move typically starts with an introductory step that starts with the partners standing close to each other, and then has them stepping away from each other, making a small semicircle with their hands. This lead-in step usually disappears when the move follows on directly from a previous move.

Finally, another innovation that the Ceroc organization introduced was to name each of the moves in a distinctive way. Moves names like "Catapult", "Octopus", "Pretzel", and "Windmill" may not be descriptive but they are certainly memorable.

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