Levels of any class are a highly subjective matter, and our view of class levels will inevitably be different from a teacher you may have had before. The main thing that defines our approach to levels is how far each level is on the overall journey. This is why we have more levels than most schools, because the Uptown Swing curriculum has so much material, and goes to a very advanced level, that we don’t like to hurry it. More levels also means a smaller range of abilities within each group.
To give you an idea:
Beginners = 12 weeks
Improvers = 18 weeks
Intermediates = 16 x 4 week modules
Intermediate/Advanced = 20 x 4 week modules
Advanced = You’ll stop learning when we stop learning, ie. never.
Below is a summary of expectations for students coming into each level. New students at higher levels than beginners should read these, and do contact us if you are unsure what we mean by any of the descriptions, and please do not be offended or disappointed if we encourage you to move to a different level from one you have previously been in, because the likelihood is that the only thing they have in common with your previous class is the name. The right level for you is not the highest one you can just about keep up with, but the one that is the most relevant to you.
Beginners classes run in 12-week courses, during which we cover the basics in 6-count and 8-count Lindy Hop. You will learn the foundations of the dance, the core moves and some extra fun moves and basic jumps. The full beginners cycle covers 6 weeks of “8-count” Lindy Hop, 4 weeks of “6-count” Lindy Hop, and 2 weeks of Lindy Charleston. These comprise the main basic rhythms/footwork in Lindy Hop, and you should attend from the start of each block of material.
You don’t need any experience for beginners classes. You don’t need special clothing or footwear – just what is comfortable for you to move around in. And don’t worry – if you’re nervous, you’re not the only one!
Improvers level classes are about refining material learned in beginners classes, expanding your repertoire and developing your style. You will learn a load of new figures as well as looking in more depth at technique – particularly for key moves such as Swing-outs – and develop an appreciation for principles of leading & following and partner connection. At this level we also start to become conscious of musicality in our dancing.
You should be familiar with the core moves including Tuck Turn, Change Places, Texas Tommy, Lindy Circle, Swing-out and Basic Lindy Charleston, as we build upon these moves and work on variations. We also mix up 6- and 8-count moves, so you will need to be very comfortable with these rhythms. You should be comfortable with triple steps. Even if you are a brilliant dancer, it is not recommended that you skip forward without doing beginners, or try to learn on the job – we want you to progress as quickly as possible but you cannot jump ahead without learning the basics!
Intermediate classes are for those who have a solid grasp of the core figures (Tuck Turn, Change Places, Texas Tommy, Lindy Circle, Swing-out and Basic Lindy Charleston) and a good knowledge of the repertoire covered in Improvers classes, including Send-outs, Basket, Catapult, Tandem and Hand-to-Hand Charleston, and some variations on key moves such as Swing-Outs. You will also have an appreciation of lead and follow connection, tension and frame, and your footwork should be second nature. You’ve also probably started thinking a little more about your relationship to swing music.
In these classes we will look at more complex combinations of familiar figures and develop a repertoire of entirely new material. We will look in more depth at technique and cover some interesting variations on Swing-outs and other moves. We will also look at different footwork patterns and develop styling and musicality across all of our dancing.
By now you are probably quite into your dancing and have begun to social dance regularly, or at least have a feel for improvisation. We encourage an atmosphere of constructive self-criticism but also of inclusion, so that everybody’s level improves. This is the time to make mistakes!
Note that Intermediate 1 and 2 follow the same syllabus. The only difference is the way they are pitched, and we aim Intermediate 2 at those who regularly social dance.
Here’s where it starts to get interesting! If you’re here, the chances are you’re not dabbling anymore: you’ve been bitten by the bug, it ain’t going away, and now you want to be a kick-arse dancer. As the name suggests, these classes bridge the gap between intermediate and advanced.
You should be comfortable with all the material listed in the Intermediate level description, and you should be able to comfortably social dance all night to a range of tempos up to 180bpm.
For many teachers, the litmus test for an advanced dancer is the quality of your swing outs. We will continually look at technique for this important figure, as well as more complex combinations, footwork/styling variations, and fast tempos. And of course, more killer moves for your repertoire: fun Texas Tommy variations, Charleston figures, Slides, Followers’ tricks, and some non-acrobatic “airsteps”. We will also develop further important concepts in technique, a more in-depth look at musicality, partner response, free improvisation, and advanced floorcraft.
The general pace of learning also gets faster. But we encourage students to help each other with problems, share ideas and think critically. We like you to go away with material to digest and assimilate, not just regurgitate.
Please contact us before joining our advanced class.
Click on the links below to find the class that most suits your level.