Ballroom Dance > Jive basic

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Masaya, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. Masaya

    Masaya New Member

    Hi all:

    I was wondering if any knowledgeable folk could help me with the mechanics and technique of proper jive basic. When are you on the ball of the foot, and when are you on your heel? (I know you put your heel down on the rock step, but what about at the end of each triple step?) How much weight transfer do you do on the triple step? (I feel like I just lightly tap my toes on the floor, instead of actually putting weight on the ball like I'm supposed to. But how do I transfer weight during the triple step without slowing down?) What do you do with your hips? (Isn't there supposed to be a swinging action?) How do you reverse momentum going left to right without fighting momentum? When are your knees straight and when are they bent, and when you do bend them how much bend is there?
    I have no problem with jive kicks (I can keep them up forever), but as soon as I start doing basics, I get tired out, which tells me that I'm doing something wrong. If someone could break it down for me step by step, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!
  2. xxtupikxx

    xxtupikxx Member

  3. BasicsFirst

    BasicsFirst New Member

    Agree with xx... but if you're getting that tired; consider that your triple-step basics are too LARGE. If so, see if you can shorten them up. Second to that there could indeed be a problem with your hip/rib cage action as stated already. Think of your hips as swinging "underneath" your upper body (rib cage) which is not really moving from side to side, but leading each direction respectively requiring a bit of rotation of the upper body.
  4. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Good points from xxtupikxx and BasicsFirst. Maybe this will get you going:

    - on your chasse take your first step very close under your body. So instead of "side-together-side", make it "under the body - together - side". If your first step is actually to the side then you will not have enough time to close on your next step and then drive to the next side step, as you will have only 1/4 of a beat to do so.

    - The hips and ribs will work very much like they do for a side step in rumba or cha-cha, namely, that the ribs will lead the motion and the hips will follow. So during the side triple to the right, for example, the left hip will remain left without settling, and will settle on the last step of the triple, and vice-versa to the left. So don't let the hips go back-and-forth on every step of the triple, just let the hip move on the last step of the triple. Without this delayed hip settling and ribcage action, your chasse will feel utterly stiff and you will wonder how it's possible for anyone to do it with rhythm and in time with the music.
  5. Nik

    Nik Member


    TH TH, T T TH, T T TH.

    Lift your knee before 1, before 3, before 5.

    Try to have a pendelum swing the whole time in the hips. Don't be afraid to get the hips further than your feet. To stop a sideways pedulum movement you must place your foot a little further out and actually go a little out of balance. Make sure to straighten your knee on 2, 4, 6.
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Am in dogged pursuit of decent jive...thanks for the helpful technical descriptions in this thread.

    I used to use the steps as training to strengthen my feet, now I'm using them as training to get my knees up high and fast...feel like I need that sensation to be 2nd nature and to feel good and natural rather than exhausting and forced. Those hip flexors are getting an unprecedented workout...
  7. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Be careful, were more correct the first time. Even though the current style of exaggerated high knee lifting seems to be accepted, it still doesn't look as nice (and isn't as authentic) as the 'up' action of real jitterbug/jive. The up action was always initiated in the feet and ankles. Today's high knee lifts are actually a result of not understanding how to properly achieve the up action, and faking it. The correct exercize...practice lifting the feet when stepping rather than pressing into or down onto the floor. Earlier posts regarding the hip/rib cage connection are also correct.
  8. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Angel, can you elaborate a bit on this? I can't visualize the exercise.

    As for my exercise, it's to develop strength & energy where I do not have it, and to begin to make lifting the knees easier & more natural, as if springing up is what they most naturally want to do. Are you saying that's not desirable in jive?
  9. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Also, in reading my previous post, I realize I was ambiguous...when I said "steps", didn't mean the steps of jive in general or the triple-step specifically. I meant the *stairs*, in my home...going up them, doing springy knee lifts. Have focused much of the last year on using the stairs for increasing foot strength, as well as changing alignment through my feet/ankles/knees. Very handy tool...:)
  10. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Indeed. Good Jive is kind of difficult, and becoming more rare, unfortunately. Also unfortunate is that the technique is practically impossible to simply describe. Hmmm...job security...;) To try to answer your question, lifting the knees is not what you want. A natural springing up from the ankles will result in a more natural flexing of the knees. What I was referring to was to practice a lifting of the feet (kind of as if stepping on hot coals).

    The technique of swing is to pull from the inside edges of the feet, thus causing the weight to be placed down...heavier...onto the floor. This results in the swinging action of the body that is indicative of the dance, hence the name. The technique of Jitterbug Jive is to lift from the inside edges of the feet, thus causing the weight to be held higher in the of the floor. This results in the up action of the body that is where it got its name (Jitterbug...remember that Jive is the successively termed Euro name for the dance). Though I have no proofs of this, I imagine that the currently popular high lifting of the knees came from euro dancers (who typically dance with a more uprighted posture and style in all dances than amers) trying to acheive this up action. Of course, having said that, I am aware of the high lifting of the knees in the original slave dance that is what we call today a one-step swing.

    The Jive is most wonderfully danced, and better to watch when the up action is kept in the feet and ankles; thus, still allowing the body to have a latin movement or cuban motion look and feel, rather than lifting the knees abnormally high, and stomping the floor. Though we all like her dancing, if you have a vid of Yamaguchi's final Jive you can actually see how hard she is stomping the floor and lacking a proper Jive action (not as a criticism, but just so that you can better see what we are talking of here).

    Lastly, as you practice, try to get both feet off the floor at the same time while maintaining the spring and speed in the feet, as well as the latin movement. Another great thing to do...get a skipping rope, and learn the boxer's drill.
  11. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, I agree, stairs are a "wonderful" exercize for developing good foot/ankle strength, and latin movement. I often make the students use the stairs of the studio as a part of class.
  12. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Thanks, angel...that's a mouthful. Exceeds my understanding for the moment but I'll see what I can make of it as I continue this journey. I appreciate your taking the time to share in detail. I know these things are difficult to describe. :D

    One thing I can say is that I'm definitely not being taught the "stomping" approach, and I *am* being taught that the motion is driven by the hip/body action and the use of the inside edges of the feet & the ankles.

    As for knees coming up, that seems to have a particular connotation for you that I have a feeling is beyond where I'm at, in that as a beginning latin dancer I simply need to train myself to feel that lifting them is natural and's a form of remediation or learning a sensation & developing a capacity that is foreign to me. High stomping is definitely not the objective.

    My instructor's jive seems so delicate and sensitive, it looks to me like he almost caresses the floor with the inside edges of his feet when he's creating the spring up through his ankles and then into his hips. That's ultimately what I hope to find, myself, but lordy, the mileage I'm gonna hafta put on to acquire it... :)

    He has recommended doing jive an hour at a time, just to find the feel for it in my body. Am endeavoring to make room for that in my schedule -- it's definitely a top goal to work on throughout this summer. I really want to feel that beautiful lightness in my body...
  13. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    All very positive thoughts and practices for Jitterbug/Jive. Sorry to have abandoned happened...ugh...getting better now. Good journey.
  14. TwoThreeFourAndOne

    TwoThreeFourAndOne New Member

    I have two small questions on the jive basic. I'm a beginner, so forgive me any amateuristic explanations :)

    1. When you do the rock step, how much does your foot go the side when going backward? I've seen a lot of different ways. Some people tend to go sideways quite a lot when rocking backward, others keep it small.

    2. Let's say you rock backwards with your left foot (first count). Do you actually lift your right foot on the second count when returning or does it remain in contact with the floor?

    Thanks for your help :)
  15. Active Member

    Reviving this thread because I have been dancing for some years now but this Jive still baffles me. I have no problem at all with the steps and stuffs, except my 'heaviness'. No matter what I do I still can't seem to be able to dance lightly. My instructor dances it so light he still has time to lift the other foot before he lands.

    I don't get it. I have the bounce, I have the inside edge, I have the swing, I have the hip. It seems like I have everything BUT the lightness! It's not only affecting my chasses, it's also affecting my flicks and kicks. When I land after doing the kicks/flicks, I ALWAYS create a 'thud' sound, and a loud one too. Not from the heel, but from the ball of my feet. Help me please?
  16. twothreefourone

    twothreefourone Active Member

    Perhaps, it's a style thing, my partner and I always have minor disagreements in making our styles match, especially with jive. Her Jive is very upright and bouncy, especially in her basics, which I fondly call "pogo steps" :). My jive is probably closer to swing jive, with less exaggerated bounce and a nice snap through the chasse. Whenever I dance to match her, I feel much heavier - maybe it's the exaggeration?

    But in any case, keeping loose knees and springy ankles I find helps minimise the thumping on chasses/flicks/kicks. Are you dancing upright or with a slight bend forwards at the waist? Too upright and I find it much easier to get all thumpy on landings. Without seeing you dance however, only those two things spring (hehehe) to mind. Do you do quickstep and are your hops heavy too?
  17. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    I agree with ttfo, check to make sure you are in the correct position over the balls of your feet and make sure you are using your ankles/knees correctly - on top of those two, make sure you are articulating and using your feet in addition to your ankles to cushion your landings, and use your core muscles to keep your body together (you will thud if the core of your body is not controlled and your weight collapses when you hit the floor).
  18. Active Member

    I find myself either too upright or too bent in front at any given time. Are there any ways/tips to get yourself to be in the correct position at all times? And no, I don't do Standard. I only do Latin so I can't say for the quickstep.
  19. Active Member

    How do I control it? Sorry, but despite dancing for years I am still totally clueless about this Jive.
  20. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    The easiest way to describe activating the core muscles is how they tell beginners in ballet to do it - pull your belly button in to your spine. This activates the core muscles and will allow you to keep the core of the body together and not flopping around in the movement - which will allow you greater control of your weight over your feet. You will need to experiment with how much activation is needed....too much and you will be stiff, too little and you won't be able to control your weight.

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