Monday, February 6, 2012

Building the Swing Dance

The Swing Dance is another of those pattern dances that was introduced as a teaching dance in the heyday of roller and ice dance in the 1940's. Dance was immensely popular; it may have been a fad, but it was a fad that lasted three decades until the mid 50's. But as people began to learn ice dance without having learned figures, the beginner dances became necessary.

The inventor of the Swing Dance was Hubert Sprott, a 'pro' (what we now call a coach) at the All Year Skating Club of Los Angeles, California. The dance was introduced in Skating magazine in the November 1948 issue. Amusingly, it was published with an error in the official 1951 USFSA Rulebook. There was a RFO swing roll, LBO swing roll, followed by an RFO swing roll. The LBO should have obviously been an LFO. No one is known to have skated it 'as written'.

The Tropical Ice Gardens in the 40's--where the Swing Dance was invented

Coach is now working with me on the elements and has broken it down so far into doing the swing rolls and chasse's in waltz hold. I have to do them forward and backwards. Fortunately, I don't appear to have any problems with this (with the possible exception of NOT ENOUGH POWER!). Anyway, I interpret Dance Coach's comments as 'better than I expected.'

But we're not to the hard part yet. The Swing dance starts out in hand to hand, then the lady does a FO3 directly into a back swing roll in waltz hold! Who invented this thing!? Oh, right, Hubert Sprott.

I can do a waltz three in waltz hold. I can do a back swing roll in waltz hold. But mix the two together?  That's going to take time to learn. I feel that part's like a Reese's Peanut Butter cup. "You got chocolate on my peanut butter!" "No, you got peanut butter on my chocolate!"

You got swing roll in my waltz three!
NO, you got waltz three in my swing roll!
This will be the first tricky bit that I get to handle as an ice dancer. I'm rather eager to see how Dance Coach will break down the skills and teach it to me.

But as I continue to learn ice dance, I've developed an enormous respect for the pros and judges who developed the ice dance testing structure. It's actually a very well crafted program to teach advanced learners better skating skills. By skating skills I don't mean the jumps and spins, I mean the actual skating of edges, with turns  and body position all designed to create a graceful balanced skater. I now see why solo ice dance has exploded as a sport. If you want to skate better, it's really the best way to go.


  1. The 2011 test book has an error in the second step of the Canasta Tango.

    1. I don't know why, but that makes me want to laugh.

  2. Just started the swing dance and felt it's difficult to keep a nice posture for all the backward skating. (sit back!! upper body upright!!! heads up!!!)

    OTOH for me 3 turn into the waltz hold is like a mini highlight of the dance though :)

  3. The three turn into waltz hold terrifies the bejeezus out of me. I always have to take a deep breath first as I wonder if I'm going to come out the other end of it in one piece.

    Bunny Hop

  4. New to the blog, just catching up. "By skating skills I don't mean the jumps and spins, I mean the actual skating of edges, with turns and body position all designed to create a graceful balanced skater." I heartily agree - that's what gives me real pleasure when watching skating.


  5. Wow, I had no idea that the swing dance was still being used for teaching.