by ESDC on 12 May, 2015
Levels & Auditions
What do the Lindy Hop levels mean?
Choosing your level for classes is not just about how long you’ve been dancing, or even how good you are, but it’s also about how quickly you learn in class, if you are comfortable taking dance classes in English, and how open you are to trying out new methods, approaches and styles.
Intermediate will suit you if:
You have a strong grasp of your basics. You have been working on your lead-follow connection through social dancing. You have control over your eight-count basic step, six-count basic step and Lindy Charleston basic, and you can comfortably move between these different rhythms. You have been working on your Swingouts and Lindy Circles, but you know they need more work. You are comfortable social dancing with a variety of partners, but perhaps you find very slow or very fast tempos challenging. You have a repertoire of some classic steps, including figures such as Sugar Push, Mini Dip, Tandem Charleston, Points, Jigwalks, etc. You’re interested to add new moves to your repertoire, but also work on your fundamental technique and style.
Intermediate/Advanced will suit you if:
In addition to being comfortable with everything described for Intermediate level, you have now taken classes with a number of different teachers, and maybe even taken some weekend workshops or private lessons. You now have more advanced classic steps in your repertoire, such as Sailor Kicks, Texas Tommy, The Chase, Hacksaw, etc. You have learned some solo dancing as well – you know the Shim Sham and some 1920s Charleston, and maybe even the Trankey Doo or Big Apple too. You are comfortable dancing at slow, medium and fast tempos, at least up to 200bpm.
Advanced will suit you if:
You are an experienced dancer and have been dancing for some years. You are respected in your hometown as one of the more adept and stylish dancers in your scene. You have years of social dancing practice and you are popular on the social dance floor. You have worked on choreographies in the past, and you are also comfortable improvising. You have previously attended workshops with international instructors, and taken the higher level classes at those events. You have social danced outside of your home city. You are a fast learner in dance classes. You want to be challenged. You love personal feedback from teachers. You have a large repertoire of moves and variations – both classic and modern – and picking up new moves is easy for you. To take your dancing to the next level you know you don’t necessarily need more moves, but want to work on fine tuning your technique, improving your style by taking control of your posture, shapes and lines, mastering musicality, exploring rhythm and trying out approaches/styles that are outside your box.
If you are still unsure, check out the videos by level at LindyHopMoves.com, powered by our friends at SwingStep.
If I sign up for the Int/Adv Lindy Hop, will I be able to move to the Advanced if the level is too low for me? Or if I sign up for the Advanced, and then find it too difficult, can I move down?
Probably not. These workshops are at different times in the schedule (Int/Adv in the mornings, Advanced in the afternoons) and we are trying to maintain leader-follower balance in both workshops. So unless someone in the other group wants to swap with you, you probably won’t be able to move groups. So please read the level descriptions carefully and choose wisely.
Can I register for both the Intermediate/Advanced and Advanced Lindy Hop workshops?
As long as you meet the minimum level requirements for the Advanced workshop, then yes. To do this you would need to buy a pass for both workshop tracks, but as they do not clash in the schedule, yes it is possible to do both.
What do the Balboa levels mean?
The Balboa workshop track will suit Intermediate through to Advanced Balboa dancers.
Intermediate level will suit you if:
You already know Balboa and Bal-Swing basics, including:
– single and double time Pure Balboa basics (up-holds & down-holds)
– Come-arounds in closed and open position
– Lolly Kicks
– Come-around into Lolly Kicks
– Exits from Lolly Kicks
– Out & Ins (Crossover Breaks)
– Throw outs (Toss outs)
– Texas Tommy (Apache)
You have been working on your lead-follow connection through social dancing. You can social dance musically with the above fundamentals, and also know some variations. You can switch easily between Pure Balboa and Bal-Swing movements, but perhaps need to polish your transitions. You are looking to expand your repertoire, improve your connection, work on improvisation, add rhythm changes, style and elegance.
Intermediate-Advanced or Advanced will suit you if:
In addition to being comfortable with everything described for Intermediate level, you are also comfortable with more advanced repertoire such as:
– Spin and turn combinations
– rhythm variations on Out & Ins
– Lolly Kick variations (ie: elbow catches, turns, footwork, etc)
– personal styling and rhythms independent of your partner
– connected (lead-follow) rhythm variations
– momentum changes
You have taken classes with a number of different teachers, and probably taken weekend workshops, private lessons and/or travelled to Balboa events, where you took the Intermediate/Advanced or Advanced level classes. You are comfortable dancing at slow, medium and fast tempos. You are confident breaking free of the standard 8-beat patterns. You have started to develop your own style. You might have even created some of your own moves. You are interested in being challenged with interesting moves and rhythms, exploring musicality, improving your flow, and refining your movement, shapes and lines to find your own unique style and elegance.
What do the Jazz Roots levels mean?
Your class level should not be only about how long you’ve been dancing, or even how good you are, but also about how quickly you can pick up new steps and rhythms in class, if you can handle class routines and choreography, if you are comfortable taking dance classes in English, and how open you are to trying out new styles.
Intermediate will suit you if:
You already have a strong grasp of your 1920s Charleston basics, plus a repertoire of vintage jazz steps that you probably know from learning classic routines such as the Shim Sham. So most of these names should probably be familiar: Fall Off The Log, Boogie Forwards, Boogie Back, Shorty George, Suzie Q, Tacky Annie, Boogie Drop, Apple Jacks, Truckin’, Messaround, etc. Maybe you have tried a little solo blues as well. You’re comfortable with the idea of dancing on your own to music (improvising), and learning a jazz routine in class sounds like fun.
Advanced will suit you if:
In addition to being comfortable with everything described for Intermediate level, you have studied more advanced classic jazz routines such as the Trankey Doo, Big Apple, Dean Collins’ Shim Sham, Al & Leon Shim Sham or One Man Dance. You might also have created your own jazz choreographies. You are confident improvising at slow, medium and fast tempos. You are not afraid to jump in a jam on your own. You have put some effort into working on your side skills, such as spinning, sliding, flash steps or tap/soft-shoe rhythms. You are developing your own, unique style and personality in your jazz dancing. You have taken Jazz Roots classes from a number of different teachers, and probably attended workshops with international instructors. You are a fast learner and can keep up with routines in class. You want to be challenged.
I read the level descriptions, but I’m still not sure!
If you’re still not sure which level you should register for, email us and we’ll try to help! firstname.lastname@example.org
Are there auditions? What is a “level split”?
Most of the workshops will have a “level split” at the beginning of the first class, to divide everyone that has registered for that workshop into two smaller groups, roughly by dance level. Those two groups will be in different rooms, but get the exact same teachers, teaching the exact same material, have the exact same class schedule and the same size classroom.
The “level split” will be run by the teachers. They will play music and ask you to dance, with half or the full group on the floor at once. They may ask you to change partners a few times, and they may ask you to dance to a few different tempos of music. They might even ask to dance with you themselves. But don’t worry, this is a casual and relaxed session – no pressure! The teachers are not looking for fancy or flashy moves, they mostly just want to see your social fundamentals, so feel free to stick to basic and classic steps, and don’t feel like you need to wear yourself out. You’ll be assigned to one group or the other, and your first class will begin immediately after the “level split” is finished.
The split is to create two groups with a roughly similar dance level. This is not to place a judgement on your dancing ability, it is only to try to create the best possible learning environment for everyone that has signed up. It has been proven that students learn more and progress faster when they are in a class of people with roughly similar dance ability.
Please be aware that ESDC is a highly international event, with students from all over the world. Dance levels are relative, so “Advanced” in one city might be “Intermediate” in another, or vice versa. People have different understandings of the meaning of these labels. So it is likely there will be some variety of levels in your ESDC class, more than you might be used to at your local events. The level split will help to balance this, but won’t be perfect. Please see this as an opportunity to practice dancing with partners from different scenes, with different styles and techniques – this is an amazing opportunity to improve your dancing, not to mention make new friends from around the world!
I don’t want to audition, do I have to?
Most of the workshops have a “level split” at the beginning of the first class, to assign you to your group for that workshop. Don’t worry, the level split isn’t too scary! But if you really hate the idea, and you’re happy to be in the lower level, you must still show up for the level split. But once there, you’ll be able to volunteer to be in the lower level, without having to dance for the teachers.
If I register with my dance partner / husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend / friend, can I stay in the same group with them?
If you are both the same level, you will be placed in the same group together. However, if the teachers think you are different levels, then you can only remain together in the same group, if the more advanced dancer is willing to join the lower level group. Please advise the teachers at the beginning of the “level split” session that you wish to remain together.
Do I need a partner to register for the Lindy Hop or Balboa workshops? If we will rotate partners in class, why do I need to sign up as a couple?
For the partnered dance workshops (Lindy Hop and Balboa) registrations will open first for couples only, to keep the leader-follower balance in class. This is only for booking purposes, you won’t be dancing solely with that person, you will rotate partners like normal swing dance classes. So find a friend to book with! Registrations for individuals will be made available at a later date, but only if there are places free. We expect many workshops to sell out, so we recommend you find a partner to book with, to secure your place. Many people have luck posting on the ESDC Facebook group to find a partner.
I booked for a workshop as a couple, but only my name is on the ticket and my partner did not receive any email or confirmation. Is he/she booked?
Yes! Because you purchased a Couples ticket, you have one ticket for two people. The ticket is in the name of the purchaser, but don’t worry, your partner’s details are in the system, and their place is confirmed. When they arrive at ESDC they will be able to check-in under their own name.
Do I need to have a Ballroom Pass to book a workshop?
No, you can come just for the workshop if you like, but then you will not have access to the ballrooms (which is where the parties happen, and all the competitions). Your workshop ticket will only give you access to the classroom for your workshop. So if you want to also attend the parties, watch the contests or enter any contest, then you must also buy a Ballroom Pass.
Can I do both the “Power Moves” and the “Ladies of Jazz” workshops on Friday?
Yes, if you buy passes for both workshops, you can take both. The times do not conflict on the schedule.
Can I take more than one 2-day workshop track?
Yes, if you buy passes for more than one workshop track, you can take both. But please check the schedule to make sure your planned classes don’t overlap or clash.
General Workshop Questions
What will classes cover?
The exact class material is teachers’ choice, but for the 2-day workshops you can expect a variety of topics over the six hours. This might include classic or new figures, variations or combinations, skills, technique, connection, style and dance history.
What exactly is Jazz Roots?
The term “Jazz Roots” refers to vintage solo dances from the American (and particularly African-American) jazz dance vernacular. The term “Jazz Roots” is the counterpart to the common term “Modern Jazz“, which refers to the later style danced from the 1950s onwards. So “Jazz Roots” refers to the solo dance styles danced primarily in the early to mid 20th century. These styles were danced to jazz, swing and blues music. The swing dance community is mostly interested in the solo dances of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This includes dances such as the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shim Sham, Big Apple and Trankey Doo. Some slightly later or slightly earlier dances (such as the Cakewalk) are also sometimes studied. Tap dance and soft-shoe styles from the same period are often also incorporated.
Other names you might hear used for Jazz Roots are: Solo Jazz, Authentic Jazz, Solo Charleston, Vernacular Jazz, Vintage Jazz, Jazz Steps.