Stealing Dance Moves
Creative dance has always been about stealing. Dancers get ideas from each other and make it their own. After you steal the idea, you change it to suit your own style and it no longer belongs to the dancer who inspired you.
The First Lindy Hop Air Step
Frankie Manning used to tell the story of how he invented the first Lindy Hop air step. His friend Shorty George Snowdon, generally considered to be the father of Lindy Hop, used to have a signature step for ending his performances with his partner Big Bea. Six foot tall Bea would pick little Shorty up on her back and carry him offstage with his legs kicking in the air.
Frankie got the idea to continue that lift so his partner would go sailing over his back and land on her feet in front of him. When they did the new move in a contest against Shorty and brought down the house, Shorty asked him “Where in the world did you get that step?”
“I got it from you,” said Frankie, telling him the origins of his idea.
“Yeah, I guess that could be done,” said Shorty.
“Yeah, I know,” countered Frankie. “I just did it.”
All’s Fair in Dance!
Everything is fair game in the world of dance as long as you don’t copy it exactly and claim it as your own. Check out this clip of the great James Brown showing lucky us his interpretation of classic moves and his own creations. The Funky Chicken is in fact a step from the Lindy Hop then called called Crazy Legs. The camel walk is another Lindy jazz step. Both no doubt have histories before Lindy. Feel free to share your knowledge of earlier incarnations of these moves!
Here’s James Brown:
Here’s Hep Jen teaching Crazy Legs at Lindy in the Park
Here’s the great Al Minns from Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers demonstrating the Camel Walk
Now for a real treat, compare the James Brown Robot with the wonderful hip hop champions, Les Twins”
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By LaurieAnn Lepoff