Swinging Girl

Posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

What is that lift called in Swing/Jazz dancing where the boy picks up the girl,and swings her round his back?

I need to know the name of that lift. Because I am making up a dance with that lift in but i Don't know what its called. Its where the boy lifts up the girl, swings her round his back, and then puts her down. PLEASE! help needed!! xx

Well first off, you shouldn't be trying to learn this over the internet. Aerials or "Air Steps" are dangerous, and you should learn them from an experienced instructor, and practice them with spotters on a padded mat to help prevent injury. You may roll you're eyes at this, but I know a professional swing dancer from Los Angeles named Rusty Frank, who broke her neck practicing an air step she had done many times before. Luckily she lived, but she had to wear a halo for a year while her neck healed.

Now what you are attempting to do I know as "Around the World" but other people may call it something else. There are many different names for the same moves in the swing dance community. First off, this move is only really safe if the girl is much shorter than the guy, and the guy has to have a lot of upper body strength. If you do not meet this criteria, you should know there are many more air steps you can learn where this is not an issue, and in my opinion a lot more air steps that are actually more impressive and less dangerous.

Quite simply the momentum for you to get around comes from the guy lifting the girls weight using his left arm under the girls knees, but the remainder comes from the girl crunching hard after she comes around to his front. Again this only works if the girl is short enough (and the guy is tall enough) so that her head doesn't come near the ground when the guy is holding the girl upside-down by the knees. You should check this height before attempting this air step.

You can see the move being executed in this video around 4:50:

One thing you will notice from this video, however, is that there are a lot more air steps shown that are substantially more impressive and actually easier to execute the the "Around the World". If you've never seen this side of swing dancing, you should know that this is Lindy Hop, the original swing dance that came out of Harlem in the 1930s. The dancing in this video is inspired from the original Lindy Hoppers, like Frankie Manning, who you can see dancing in this video:

This clip was taken from the 1941 film "Hellzapoppin". It's considered to the be the greatest swing dance routine ever captured on film.

But of all this, one thing you should take away is that air steps aren't the same as swing dancing. They are impressive, and people do them during competitions and performances, but the dancing itself is the foundation for proper execution of air steps. Without strong basics, you're just doing tricks, so if you really want to learn air steps, make sure you are working on you dancing on the floor just as much. Swing dancing can be very impressive, even with your feet on the ground. Take this video for example:

Anyway, I hope this helps!

If you are interested in learning more swing dancing and air steps, be sure to find your local Lindy Hop scene. Just do a web search for "Lindy Hop" and your city/state and you should be able to find something.

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