Modern Jive originated in the UK and was initially based on a French form of partner dancing that arose after the Second World War that was derived from a mixture of Jitterbug and Rock 'n' roll.
Dancing, like language, is a form of expression and like languages, most dance styles often evolve and adapt over the years. Modern Jive is no exception and due to its casual footwork has been been able to adapt more than any other dance style. Since the 80's it has been influenced by: Salsa, Tango, Rock 'n' Roll, West Coast Swing and more recently, Zouk.
Modern Jive is popular in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries around the world. There are hundreds of clubs with weekly classes and dozens of events and competitions. The advent of competitions necessitated the need to come up with descriptions and definitions that judges could rely on when judging at Modern Jive competitions. However in attempting to pin down a definition some clubs have inadvertently choked the versatility of the dance.
Modern Jive is characterised by a concertina action along with stepping to the beat of the music. In Australia and to some extent here in NZ, the footwork is further defined and being right-left for the lead role and left-right for the follow role. Stepping to the beat is a great way to help beginners get used to moving in time with the music (you've got to know the rules before you can break them), but more advanced dancers can dance to other elements within song such as the melody, they can also pause the footwork to capture aspects of musicality such as the lyrics, phrasing, bridges and any breaks or highlights.
Some definitions state that Modern Jive is danced to 4/4 or common time time signatures.
Some of these definitions have arisen in order to keep Modern Jive distinctive from other styles rather than acknowledging that it is a style that can continuously evolve.
Music evolves and tastes change yet at the same time each generation is brought up listening to a particular era of music.
Modern Jive can adapt to shifts in the music industry whilst at the same time stays loyal to old favourites. Here's how it has adapted to music over the years:
- Motown, Rock n Roll, Blues
- Country Music
- Classic pop and rock
- Techno and fast music
- Slower music
- Zouk influence
Modern Jive has higher entropy than other dance styles. Entropy is the measure of the state or order in a system. Complex systems have lower entropy, the natural tendency is for entropy to increase. Owing to the absence of strict footwork requirements, Modern Jive is less ordered and allows for a greater number of permutations for a given set of movements or steps.
If there are a great number of permutations possible it follows that a greater number of people will achieve a higher success rate. This is what makes Modern Jive so popular and is usually the first partner dance that people learn.
Once dancers gain some success with Modern Jive they are better prepared to then learn a style with lower entropy such as Ballroom, Salsa, West Coast Swing etc. Start with Modern Jive and then branch out.