Jive Dance History: The Origin of The Swing Dance

in Ballroom Dance - Jive

Jive-dance-historyThe jive dance history can be traced to the Negroes found towards the South East of the United States, which was synonymous with war dances by the Seminole Indians hailing in Florida. There was some reference suggesting that the dance may have been copied by the Negroes from their Indian counterparts. Another suggestion made, claimed that the Seminole Indians copied the dance from the Negroes who had come with the jive dance from Africa. The last suggestion may be more accurate because there is likelihood that the “Jive” word was originate from the word “Jev” from the Wolof language in West Africa meaning “to talk disparagingly”. The “jive” word also bears the same meaning it has when it is used as a Negro slang to refer to exaggerations or misleading talks, even though this may have been taken from the English modification of the word “jibe”. The word “Jibe” also has a number of other slang meanings such as; sexual intercourse, gaudy merchandise and marijuana. It is not clear if these meanings made the term be used for jive dance and therefore, determining which metaphor is for what, can become quite a task.

History of Jive dance is known by several names. Sometimes it is referred to as Swing, Lindy, The Charleston or Lindy hop even though it is a different type of dance. The dances bare some similarities and have interconnecting steps. The jive music is in the 4/4 time meaning there are four beats to each measure, the dominant note of measure is the quarter note. It is normally performed using a series of triple and single steps. It is also possible for the jive dancers to move in a two beat jive, in which the forth and the third steps can be replaced on an occasional basis.

In a competition, jive ballroom dance is normally the last dance and is considered to be a very hard dance to perform compared to the other dances. It is because of this purpose that most jive dancers save energy for the last burst to end a night that was filled with competition. The jive dance consists of chasse turns, kicks and steps made with the feet. These in many cases, may be very complicated and the dancing partners should be careful to maintain their rhythm focus to prevent slipping off the track.

According to the jive history, the dance has some direct relation to the swing. This is as a result of its evolution from the various competitions held in America and other parts in Europe in the early eighteenth century. Eventually, the Jive music developed an individual flavor between the 1950’s and 1960’s. Today, it consists of easy melodies and bouncy rhythms. During competitions, dance partners are mostly judged on the basis of energy placed on the performance and including the steps. Foot kicks and flicks must not only be a form of decoration. Their importance should also be in the timing and rhythm including gestures, if it is being used in specific contexts. The jive’s moving center is handhold and must be kept firm. Evident from jive history; good coordination is vital specifically in the execution of hand movements and sharp turns that may be difficult.

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