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No More Jitters, When You Learn How to Do the Jitterbug Dance

Puja Lalwani Mar 17, 2019
Find out a short history of the Jitterbug, its basic dance moves, and how to improvise on this dance style, in this write-up.
Jitterbug was initially a slang term that described alcoholics suffering from jitters. The Jitterbug dance is a variation of swing dance (a type of ballroom dancing), and the term 'Jitterbug' originated when people performed the swing dance without knowledge of what they were actually doing.
The history of the Jitterbug goes way back into the 1920s, as a variation of different types of swing dances, including the Lindy Hop and the Charleston. It originated in the United States, and soon become a popular social dance during the Second World War.
Dancing the Jitterbug is now a common and popular activity across the United States, which can be learned even by you, after taking a look at the basic steps of this dance.

Dance Steps

The steps of the Jitterbug, though vaguely similar to ballroom dance, are essentially performed to various songs that have a two and four step beat, so keep these beats in mind while performing the steps mentioned here. These are basic dance moves, and can be improvised further after you have learned the basics.
1. Stand across your partner, slightly towards her right side. You should be standing very close to each other. Hold her right hand in your left hand, while resting your right hand on your partner's left shoulder.

2. Lift your left foot and step to the left, over a span of 2 beats. This means this step should be performed in a slow motion.
3. Now lift your right foot and place it in the space cleared by the left foot, over the span of the next two beats. Ensure that your left foot is in the position mentioned in step 1.

4. Lift your left foot, and place it behind your right foot, with only the toes touching the floor, and the heel up in the air, over the span of the single next beat.
5. Further, over the next single beat, move your right foot back into its original position. This step marks the end of the sequence of steps, which is to be repeated from step 1.
6. As the female partner, these steps have to be mirrored in order to be performed. If you initially feel uncomfortable performing this dance with a partner, first practice these steps individually, and then perform the dance with your partner.

Improvising on the Jitterbug

As has been mentioned earlier, you can improvise on the Jitterbug in a variety of ways, some of which are mentioned here.

● To improvise, first begin with regular practice, so that you can understand your own, and your partners moves, and timing.
The grace and balance that belongs to each other can only be determined by regular practice. The pressure towards each other should be firm, but should not lead to an imbalance.
● With the basic steps mastered, rotate along with your partner, and perform switches that use the palm of your right hand as a guide towards the sequence of the following steps.

● The Jitterbug involves several slides rather than the usual dance steps, which requires the performers to be prepared for the next move, after completing a set of steps.
● Introduce your own dance steps into the basic routine, to give it a twist. Following the two step beat that this dance adheres to, you may add your own steps for some jazz.

● As you master the basics, you may even improvise on your arm movements by making them slightly complex, such as elaborate hand movements, or incorporating a step with crossed arms.
To learn this dance, it would be ideal if you signed up for a class to understand its intricacies and complexities. It is a complex dance form that should be mastered under the right guidance for you to be able to perform it well and wow your audiences.