Basic Elements of Swing Dancing

Learn about the basic elements of swing dance from dance champion Robert Royston in this Howcast dance video.

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Get into the swing of things by learning how to swing dance. Choreographer Robert Royston, a West Coast Swing instructor and former US Open Swing champion, teaches you the basic elements of swing dance plus how to do popular moves like The Shorty George, the Charleston Step, and the Texas Tommy. He also shows you how to Lindy Hop and the correct way to dip a lady.

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The best way to learn any dance is to practice the elements that make up that dance, much like practicing your scales on a piano. If you learn to read music and you learn your scales, you can play any song put in front of you. Same type of thing when it comes to the different styles of swing. If you understand some basic swing elements you can put them together a lot like Legos to make up the different style of swing. Some of those elements are walking, touch-stepping, triple stepping, and kick-ball-changes. Let's just do that in place. Just walk in place. Doesn't matter what foot you start with, just walk. Feel what that walking rhythm feels like. Now we want to make sure we're over our feet, not back here marching behind our feet, right? We're dancing over our feet, right? So there's walking. Then there's touch-stepping. Touch, step, touch, step. When get comfortable touch-stepping don't just do it underneath you. Touch to the side, touch forward and back. Get comfortable just moving around. And then of course we have our triple steps as well. Triple step underneath you, right? Triple step going sideways. I would even triple step going forward and back. Right? Just getting comfortable with what that rhythm feels like. Then we have our kick-ball-change. Kick, ball (it's the ball of the foot), change. From the side that goes kick, ball change, kick, ball change. You can even do it with both feet. Kick, ball change, kick, ball change. Again, kick, ball change, kick, ball change. If you don't pick the foot up it's touch-ball-change. Touch, ball change, touch, ball change, as opposed to a kick-ball-change. Some movement, just looks a little bit different because I'm not picking the foot up. So we're going to go ahead and take those elements and put them to music. You want to practice them a lot so that you can draw upon them as necessary when you're doing the different varieties of swing. We're going to do it to music right now. There you have all of your elements that make up swing dancing.

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  • Robert Royston

    Robert Royston began his professional career on the competitive couples dance circuit in 1989, quickly ascending through the ranks and securing the US Open Swing Dance Championship and the World Country Dance Championship, titles he held for four consecutive years (1995 to 1998). In 2007 he became the youngest person to be inducted to the UCWDC Hall of Fame. His exciting, high-energy and original work next led to his choreographing and performing in music videos. An internationally-recognized judge and instructor, Robert teaches 22 different styles of couples dancing and runs his own production company, RoRo Productions.