Swing Workshop - Twenty Swing Variations

Please make sure you watch the "Basics and Buzz-Steps" video first. Even if you are an experienced dancer you may pick up some useful tips.

#1: Basics & Buzz-Steps - How To Swing

This video covers all the basic concepts and techniques of the Swing, including how to lead someone into a Swing variation that they don't know. It also teaches the Buzz-Step which is the most popular footwork and give the best, fastest and smoothest Swing.

Balance & Swing is also covered, with a few variations demonstrated. I refer to an article entitled "50 Variations of the Balance"; you can find it in
Northern Junket, Volume 5, Number 1 starting on page 13.

Da Guizer's March from the CD "TAK", composed by Gideon Stove, played by English Contra Dance Band.
Calliope House from the CD "Elsa", composed by Dave Richardson, played by Token Women.

#2: Ballroom Hold Buzz-Step Swing, Foreshortened Hold, One Handed Swing

This video teaches the most common swing, with a couple of variations.

Music: Tam Lin from the CD "TAK", composed by Davey Arthur, played by
English Contra Dance Band.

#3: Two-Hand Turn, Double Allemande Swing

The Two-Hand Turn was probably the most common Swing historically, and is still widely used today in genres such as Playford and American ECD. The video also teaches the Double Allemande Hold which allows for a much faster Two-Hand Swing.

Spootiskerry from the CD "Elsa", composed by Sam Burns, played by
Token Women.

#4: Linked Elbow Swing, Forearm Swing, Hornpipe Swing, Travelling Swing

This video touches briefly on the simple Linked Elbow Swing, but focuses mainly on the Forearm Swing which I find is the best swing to teach new dancers at Barn Dances and other One Night Stands. We also look at the much slower Swings done to a Hornpipe Step in dances such as Nottingham Swing.

The video also looks at how to travel when Swinging, when you need to "Swing to the Bottom of the Set" or "Swing Around the Other Couple" (Swing & Change).

Calliope House from the CD "Elsa", composed by Dave Richardson, played by
Token Women
Bantry Bay from the CD "Elsa" (traditional), played by Token Women

#5: Ceilidh Swing, Wedding Cake Swing, Waist Swing

The Ceilidh Swing is one of the most common Swings used by experienced dancers at English Ceilidhs. The Wedding Cake or Sweetheart Swing is a popular variant. It can also be danced as a Waist Swing using just one hand each.

Dubuque from the CD "Elsa"(traditional), played by
Token Women

#6: Northumberland Swing , Galway Swing, Back Swing, Double Shoulder Swing, Quebecois Swing

The Northumberland Swing and the Galway Swing are two great variants for getting a great connection so that you can have a really good swing. The Back Swing, known as the Tulloch Hold in Scotland, is more complex and should only be done with great care! The Double Shoulder Swing is a simple variant of a standard Ballroom-Hold Buzz-Step Swing and can be very smooth and relaxing.

We also look at the Waltz Spin Turn and its relationship to a Quebecois-styled Swing which uses the Double Shoulder Hold.

March of St. Timothy from the CD "TAK", composed by Judi Morningstar, played by
English Contra Dance Band.
Green Valley Waltz from the CD "TAK" (traditional), played by English Contra Dance Band.

#7: Basket Swing, Sway Swing

The Swings in this video are asymmetrical and a little different. They need to be practiced well, but can be a lot of fun.

Music: Nail the Catfish to the Tree from the CD "TAK", composed by Steve Rosen, played by
English Contra Dance Band.

#8: Variations & Embellishments: Entries & Exits, Spin Away, Backhander, Spin & Catch, Lambada

In this final video we look at some standard ways of starting and finishing a Swing, especially the timing. Turning one person into or out of the Swing, is very common; both spinning to finish the Swing is a nice embellishment. The Backhander is an old move; it goes back to at least the 1920s when it was known as a Texas Tommy in Lindy Hop - it needs to be done with great care!

Spinning the Lady and catching her again, while still executing a Swing, is great fun, but needs a lot fo practice to do it well.

Modern American Contra Dancers with experience in other genres such as Swing Dance/Lindy Hop sometimes treat the 16 beats of "Balance & Swing" as "have fun with my partner", incorporating dips, drops, lifts, shimmies or anything else. We show an example here of a Shimmy Down and Lambada. I don't teach the Lambada in this video, but I do teach it
here (at 8:12).

Music: Devil in the Strawstack from the CD "TAK" (traditional), played by English Contra Dance Band.

More Information on the Swing

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