Monday, 3 September 2012

The Song - The Big Apple Contest

At Full Swing, the dance company where Luke and I learn swing dancing, we have recently been learning swing dance routines. I’ve been doing partner dancing for a few years, but my first introduction to dance was in the form of ballet, tap and mainly jazz, which was naturally all routine based.
We’ve learnt a few routines in class before - mainly when not enough leads turn up - so I was keen to add to my swing dancing routine repertoire, which until recently consisted only of the Shim-Sham.
A few weeks ago, our wonderful dance teacher Racheal decided to teach us the Big Apple. And oh my goodness, it was challenging. Not only is the music unbelievably fast, but the footwork is also extremely difficult, with multiple break steps that are very similar with slight variations. Personally, I would  like to question Frankie Manning about the reason for this.
So what is the Big Apple? Well, I’m glad you asked. It is a partner and circle dance (I told you it was complicated) which came from the African American community in the USA at the beginning of the 20th century.

However, the Big Apple is thought to have gained popularity during the early 1930s among the African American youths who danced at the Big Apple Club (hence the name, I guess). From there it spread as more and more people saw and fell in love with the routine's high energy and general madness.

By the end of 1937, the Big Apple had become a national dance craze. On December 20, 1937, Life Magazine even featured the Big Apple in a four-page photo spread. The magazine predicted that 1937 would be remembered as the year of the Big Apple.
Eventually it was immortalised in the movie Keep Punching, with Frankie Manning's choreography and performed by a swing dance group called Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. It is this version of the dance that is most frequently taught, and this is the one we learnt.

Curious to see how crazy fast a dance can be? Check out the clip below from Keep Punching.

Until next time :)

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