Fusion Dance Part III: Swango!



swango dancers

Swango dance experts Lynne and Topher demonstrate their expertese

In my first article about fusion dance I wrote about hip hop and swing. In the second, I wrote about Lindy and Tap. This one is about Tango and Swing.

Unlike Tap and Hip Hop, which can be used to embellish or change the style of Swing, Swango is literally a combination on the two dances. You can use Tap or Hip Hop to play with your own styling without affecting your partner, but here both partners must be competent in both dances. The leader is moving from one dance to the other as the music moves him and hopefully makes the transitions seamless.

I’m using three videos here to illustrate what’s happening in this fusion. The first is an example of West Coast Swing. I’m using this because West Coast is the Swing style that is used in my Swango example. Here’s a bay area local favorite, Michelle Kinkaid, dancing with Jason Taylor:

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In this clip, a classic Argentine Tango is flawlessly performed. You can see why the follower has to know this dance in order to follow Swango.

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And finally, here’s a West Coast Swing version of Swango from Lynne and Topher who specialize in Swango in their Monterey studio. See if you can recognize the merging of these two beautiful dances in this example:

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Tango can also be fused with Lindy Hop as well as Blues, but no matter what, it’s extemely challenging because it combines a knowledge of the most difficult partner dance (Argentine Tango) with an equally proficient knowlede of another challenging partner dance.  Something to look forward to as you progress in your dancing!

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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More Fusion Dance!

Jenny and Ryan

Jenny Thomas sans tap shoes dances with partner Ryan Francois

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.

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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!

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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