What is Jive Dance and How To Dance it

Jive is actually a variation of the dance called the jitterbug with patterns also derived from east coast swing. This dance has an African American origin and it is one of the accepted International Latin dances.

This dance is performed with a lot of energy. The legs will be performing a lot of pumping action. Notice that there will be triple steps and a rock step when you perform this dance.

Jive Origins

Cab Calloway first demonstrated this dance back in 1934. It immediately gained a huge following in the United States in the 1940s. Its popularity was bolstered in part by the popularity of African American swing, rock and roll, lindy hop, and boogie. The name comes from a kind of glib talk. The term Jive emerged as the term for the dance in the United Kingdom.

Details on The Dance Steps

Jive is a dance that is fast paced and it is quite spirited. This dance incorporates a lot of complex steps and maneuvers like flipping your dance partner and spinning. However, the basic steps of this dance are pretty easy in spite of the pace. It just takes a little bit of practice to master. The foot pattern of the basic step takes on a 6 six count – remember that even though it is fast paced it is relatively easy to master.

The first thing you should learn is the dance’s 6 count pattern. The important thing is to learn the basic foot movement and the foundational steps. If you have mastered that then you can put everything together and jive like a pro.

The counting pattern goes like this:

1, 2, 3, a 4
5 a 6

It should be noted that counts 1 and 2 are called the rock steps (you’ll find why later on in the step instructions. Counts 3 and 4 are actually triple steps going to the left. They are also known as chasse. Counts 5 and 6 are also a chasse but this time it is going to the right instead.

The Chasse

Another thing that you should understand is the chasse or triple step. This is done by gliding one foot to the side. Note that these should be short but smooth movements – this is also another key ingredient to make jive unique from other dances that also incorporate a triple step pattern. Make three short glides either to the left or to the right then you have a chasse.

The Rock Step or Link Step

The rock step or link step is another fundamental basic move in this dance. This is done by stepping one foot behind the other and then it is followed by the lifting the foot in front.

While doing so you should rock back on the trailing foot (i.e. the one that you used to step back). And then this movement is followed by rocking back on the leading foot (i.e. your foot at the front). Note that you should lift your feet up whenever you shift your foot either backward or forward.

It is recommended that you practice both the chasse first and then the rock step or link step. Once you have mastered these steps then you can incorporate them into the overall choreography of the jive. Now, we can move on to the dance steps for men and women. Yes, jive is a dance between partners too. For practice you should keep both feet parallel as the starting position. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.

Dance Steps for the Man

1. The first step is to do a rock step. The man will be taking a backward step with his left foot. This serves as the first count in the counting pattern for the jive. When you take a backward step with your left foot you should leave your right foot in place and then you shift your weight to your back foot (i.e. the left foot). And that is count 1.

2. Next for count 2 you should lift your right foot up bending the knee and then putting it back down to its original position. This completes count 2 for the link step or rock step.

3. Next for count 3 you will step to the side using your left foot. Note that this is going to be the first count in the triple step. The side step should be short and quick. This completes count 3 in the triple step – the first step in the chasse.

4. After that, you should drag your right foot and place it right next to your left foot. The right foot should move slightly slower than the left foot. You can even add a slight stomping motion when you make your step to the side with your left. This serves as the “a” count in the counting pattern in the chasse, which is also the second count of the triple step.

5. The next step is to take another step with the left foot going to the left. This is count 4 and the third count in the chasse.

6. Next, lift your right foot and bending the knee slightly; do this as if you were going to take a step with your right foot but this time instead of placing right foot right next to your left foot, you immediately shift your weight to your right foot and take a step to the right. This serves as count 5 in the chasse, which also begins your movement to the right side.

7. Next, step to the right using your left foot moving it right next to the right foot. This serves as the “a” count in this triple step pattern.

8. Step to the right again with your right foot and that is count 6 in the chasse and this is the last count in jive.

9. Now you can repeat everything from the top.

Dance Steps for the Woman

1. Again, the woman begins with the rock step as well. But this time she begins with the right foot instead. This is count 1.

2. She will also do the front leg lift, which is count 2.

3. She then steps to the side with the right foot beginning the chasse going to her right. This is the 3 count.

4. She then moves her left foot next to the right foot. This is the “a” count in the triple step.

5. She then steps to the side with right foot again, which also serves as the 4 count.

6. She then shifts her weight to the left foot, which is count 5.

7. She then takes a step with the left foot, and that is the “a” count.

8. Then that is completed with a step with the left foot.

And that completes the basic jive steps. She can then repeat the same steps from the beginning. To put things together the man and the woman will take their starting positions in front of each other. The man will be leading in this dance. The man and the woman should execute the steps mentioned above – the man starting with the left foot while the woman with the right. The man and the woman should hold hands in classic waltz style with one arm extended.

That means the dance partners will be taking a closed position. The hands should be clasped lightly and the arms should be held loosely. This is a more relaxed stepping pattern compared to Waltz and Viennese Waltz where your upper body would be held up rather stiffly.

Note that the bodies of the dance partners should be rotated slightly. Both the man and the woman should be slightly turned away from one another. This will allow better and smoother movement and it will prevent the dance partners from bumping into each other.

Bonus Video


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