In my last post about fusion dance I wrote about hip hop and swing. A friend of mine just posted a video of a fusion between Swing and Tap, so I wanted to comment on that as well as on the Swango phenomenon that I’ll address in another post.
Lindy Hop has its roots in tap, so it’s surprising we don’t see more of this fusion, but it’s rarely done. Jenny Thomas is a professional dancer. She’s a British national tap dance champion and has performed Lindy Hop all over the world, including on Broadway, so it’s not surprising to see her take an interest in this combination. In this clip, she’s teaching a workshop in lindy/tap fusion, demonstrating the improvisational use of tap in freestyle Lindy.
As a performance, Lindy can be choreographed but it is primarily a social dance with lead and follow. Tap is a performance dance that is not danced socially and is not a partner dance. Putting the two together can be done with a specific choreography or the dancers can improvise their lindy with tap variations.
Because Lindy is a jazz dance, there is free play built into it. The dancers use jazz variations of their own during a dance, so if they are tap dancers they can use tap variations instead. You can’t combine these two dances unless you are skilled in both of them, so it would be fun for tap dancers to use their tap knowledge to add creativity to their social lindy.
Unlike combining Tango with Swing (keep your eye out for future post on Swango) it is not necessary for both partners to know tap for this fusion to work. As with any jazz variation in Lindy Hop, each partner improvises in their own style, so it would work to have one using tap and the other just dancing. A lot of the jazz variations that Lindy Hoppers use regularly in their dancing have their origins in tap, so this is a natural progression for tap dancers who know Lindy already. I’ll bet this workshop was a huge delight for the students!
In this next clip a performance troupe is using the same concept so you can see how it could look in a performance. This is choreographed and rehearsed, not invented on the fly as in the first example. In order to do fusion, whether choreographed or improvised, you have to be skilled in both dance styles in order for it to look good or be fun to do. Looks great, doesn’t it? If you didn’t know it was unusual, you’d think the two dances were always combined!
by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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