One of the big selling points of modern jive is that anyone can learn it, and that after only one beginner’s class, even a non-dancer can be up and dancing by the end of the night. It’s unlikely they’ll be amazing, but they’ll have 3-4 basic moves, hopefully an understanding of the beat and rhythm to dance to, and can grasp dancing with a partner.
But how much can you really learn in one modern jive class? Some people don’t believe it’s true, and others may be scornful of one lesson meaning someone can dance (obviously there’s different levels of ‘dance’ to take into account), but there’s a lot you can learn. Even without any dance background.
For beginners, one dance lesson…
Gets them moving by breaking down moves and giving them the chance to repeat them and remember them
Gives confidence that dancing IS within reach
Provides different ways of taking in the moves – through watching, listening, and moving
Teaches people about personal space
Removes some of the awkwardness of dance being a contact ‘sport’
Gets most beginners up on the dance floor at the end of one beginners class
Puts beginners into a dance environment, where beginners are welcomed and encouraged
Removes the embarrassment factor. Everyone was a beginner once
Gets people listening to the music and beat, by the end of a lesson most people can move to the beat
Can get them hooked on dance and is the start of their journey
Gets them meeting new people
Provides enjoyment in learning something new
For improvers and intermediates
Obviously once you’re past the beginners stage, you’ll learn faster through private lessons. These tend to be rare in modern jive compared with other social dances like west coast swing, where many more people have privates. Yes, a normal class night lesson will help improvers learn, but after privates, workshops are the next best things.
Workshops provide more structured and detailed learning in a smaller class environment. The teacher tends to be on the floor with the class rather than on stage, and there’s often more input from the demo. A workshop may be about moves and building on those you already know, providing revision or increased confidence.
But they can also be about styling or bringing certain other styles of dance into modern jive. So, they could bring in tango or blues flavours, or have a musicality theme running through. Or about bringing more style to your dancing.
A workshop should provide you with either the tools or confidence to try new ways of dancing, or make you more proficient than you already are.
Intermediate class at regular modern jive night
While modern jive teachers on a stage aren’t there to teach dance techniques, providing dancers listen and watch, you can still learn something from 1 class.
Travel to a different venue to get different style or type of moves from another teacher
Perfect known moves through practice and dancing with different people
Swap role – be a follower if you normally lead and vice versa
Learn to put moves together in different ways. Many leaders use the same moves in the same pattern in freestyle. A class teaches you variations, and different moves you can lead into and out of, increasing your repertoire.
Learn that even as an intermediate or advanced level dancer you can still learn from a class and from other dance partners.
Practise reading each partner in the rotation and perfect your lead or follow technique.
What you can learn in one class just shows how regular classes (especially mixing them up – whether modern jive venues, or including other styles of dance classes on top) can help much faster progression.
I don’t get to many modern jive classes any more – I tend to do west coast for classes, and go to modern jive freestyles, occasionally getting to a class. But I know that just missing a few sessions (or 4-5 weeks over this winter – argghhh) really impacts my dancing and it takes a while to get back into it again.
So enjoy your classes and keep topping up that dancing knowledge and practice as well as enjoying freestyle dances.
How often do you get to class? How did you find starting out as a beginner?