Modern Jive is a social partner dance that is one of the easiest partner dance styles to learn which is what makes it so popular. It is also be danced to a very wide range of music and can be used pretty much anywhere where music is playing: parties, clubs, weddings, gigs, etc.
As a dance style it takes concepts and ideas from other styles giving it broad appeal to people of all ages and abilities.
It gives back by continually bringing new people into the dance community some of whom go on to try other styles whilst still enjoying the freedom of Modern Jive. It achieves this by giving people a really good introduction to partner dancing in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Why Modern Jive?
Reasons To Dance Modern Jive
Modern Jive is the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) of partner dancing. It's versatile, convenient, affordable and popular. Ok, it might not be the best for racetracks, cruising with the wind in your hair or ploughing a field but overall it does a pretty good job.
It has the following features:
- The people! People who dance Modern Jive are anyone and everyone from all walks of life, there's no pecking order and everyone danced with everyone else.
- It's easy to get started and after one lesson you can survive a whole song.
- It can be danced to a wide range of music.
- It's popular and appeals to a wide range of ages from teens to much older.
- It has a relaxed approach to footwork.
- The classes are fun and rewarding giving a quick sense of accomplishment.
- Classes and events have great sense of community and with a focus on being friendly and welcoming.
- Modern Jive dance competitions are some of the most enjoyable and rewarding dance competitions of any dance style. The main point is the focus on overall enjoyment and participation rather than just trying to win.
Why Fevah Modern Jive?
We've been running Modern Jive classes since 2005, the following is what people really like about us:
- We focus on community and creating a welcoming environment.
- Our classes and events are run smoothly and with great attention to detail.
- We have well trained teachers and crew who share our passion of growing the dance community.
- We have a comprehensive website packed full of information and interaction.
- We constantly innovate and improve what we do.
- We respect and support other dance styles and events.
Flexibility, Adaptability, Versatility
Many dance styles are created for particular tempos and styles of music. For example, Argentine Tango, Lindy Hop, Rock 'n' Roll, Salsa, West Coast Swing, Zouk, and the ten standard Ballroom styles (Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz, Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Jive, Samba & Paso Doble).
They have particular footwork patterns that match the tempo of the music they are commonly danced to. Play a different genre of music and that dance style might not fit. These styles tend to be focussed more on dancing than on people - they're undertaken with proper dance shoes on specific dance surfaces to achieve the specific requirements of a style.
Modern Jive is flexible because of the absence of formal footwork, body shaping and styling. It is to dance styles what the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) is to cars. It might not be the best style for certain genres of music but it can cope with pretty much anything!
At more advanced levels, the wide variety of music, interpretation and continuous evolution ensures that it is always fresh and rewarding.
Modern Jive doesn't have to be danced to the tempo of the music - we can also dance to the melody.
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
It can be danced anywhere where music is playing: parties, weddings, gigs, dance events, bars, nightclubs and so on.
You can dance Modern Jive in an area the size of a bus stop or on a big stadium floor.
You can half time fast music or double time slow music - it doesn't matter so longer as you're moving to some aspect of the music!
A Mathematical Approach
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 when learning Modern Jive. This is what makes Modern Jive so popular and is usually the first partner dance people learn.
Once dance gain success with Modern Jive they are better prepared to learn a dance style with lower entrop such as Ballroom, Salsa, West Coast Swing, Zouk.
Once other dance styles realise the mathematical reasons presented here we are better positioned to help grow the dance community in a way that helps all styles continue to flourish.
(If even a brief study of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics was made compulsory at schools then the world would be a much better place )
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.
Modern Jive does not use body leads
- This used to be case where it was characterised by large arm movements, however body leads are smoother and safer and now definitely encouraged!
Modern Jive Footwork has to be Right-Left for the Leader, Left-Right for the Follower
- You can dance many moves comfortably and in time with the opposite footwork.
- We can add triple steps, kick ball changes, miss out steps - the possibilities are endless without the constraints of a prescribed footwork.
- But - we encourage leaders to initiate on the right foot and followers to initiate on the left.
Modern Jive can only be danced to 4/4 music
- Not so! We can also dance to 6/8 time music and either add a Waltz style rise and fall or dance to each bar of music rather than each beat. The latter is very popular with dancers who like a slower more interpretative approach to dancing.
- 4/4 is the most common time signature for pop music and over 99% of the music we play is 4/4.
- At Fevah here in NZ, we are one of the few Modern Jive clubs in the world that show dancers how to dance to different time signatures.
Modern Jive is danced in a slot / circle (pick one according to your bias!)
- It can be danced in a slot (linear)
- It can also have a rotational feel (circular).
- It can depend on the dance surface, for instance dancing on grass or concrete presents its own challenging as there is high friction. Relaxing the constraint of dancing in a slot allows us to dance pretty much anywhere.
- Similarly it can depend on your shoes. For example trainers or shoes with a rubber sole have greater friction with the surface and so again it's better for your joints if you go with the flow rather than force a particular orientation.
- It can depend on your partner, an inexperienced partner may find it challenging to keep in a slot all the time, far better to dance in time than dance in a particular orientation.
- It can depend on the music. We can dance to a wider range of music and therefore the overall movement (linear v. circular) can change according to what is currently playing.
- Dancing in a slot is often recommended for dancers at competitions and performances where there is an audience. It can help with lead and follow due to keeping the overall movement consistent, but when you're down the pub where you don't care who's watching then it doesn't matter.
- The main point is to be consistent, even if each time you and your partner swap sides you add a 45 degree rotation then that too is fine - because it's consistent and the lead and follow conversation still works.
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