Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shuffle Music: Practice Mix 4. Swing - Dorothy Dandridge

mix title: swing
shuffle music genre: swing
to develop smooth full body motion.
 beginners > advanced
speed: nice and easy 90 -120 bpm
time: 9 mins

Swing is a 1930's-1940's development of tap dance. Tap is a fusion of Celtic clogging and African-American folk dance from New York around 1900.

Swing is also the music style that dominated the scene. Swing is a development of 1910-1920's trad jazz combined with European styled marching military band orchestrations typically called Big Bands, 15-40 members. A small band was typically 4-7 members usually for smaller venues, clubs, speakeasy's etc.

The Big Band was for big occasions in big venues. Such as Earls Court in Melbourne 1950 (pic right) getting it's dance floor resurfaced. 

Swing loosened up the tempo to allow for a broader louder dance style, generally called 'dance hall' these days.

Dorothy Dandridge is a fantastic singer and dancer from the era. She has a faultless sense of timing and a personality that simply glows on the screen. It is little wonder she went on to a successful movie career.

Swing is a full bodied dance. You really need lots of room and you literally swing yourself, and partner around.

Shuffling in relation to swing is a soft shoe dance routine [1:40 in first vid], actually called a 'Shuffle' at the time, and is where the name Shuffle today originates. Basically a shuffle is tap without the wood or metal taps on the shoe soles, performed in a small area concentrating on the footwork. Just as we think of shuffling now. Swing lets loose and takes up as much space as it can get :)

In these clips you'll find lots of big suits (Zoot Suits) baggy pants,  gliding, shuffling, spins and splits.

And a warning...the Nicholas Brothers are seasoned pro's, if you try doing the splits like them, without years of training first, you'll pop hamstrings all over the place and end up in hospital for weeks ! (True - be careful !)

Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Nicholas Brothers, & Dorothy Dandridge Chattanooga Choo Choo!



Boogie was a bar room stomp, which people such as Count Basie elevated to high art. It often has coded sexual euphemisms in the lyrics.

There's no real dancing in this last clip, but Dorothy's amazing voice and cowgirl outfit more than make up for it.


  1. damn they are fantastic! i saw a few moves id love to try to somehow incorporate :)