Has Strictly Come Dancing inspired you to join a dance class?
So its all over on Strictly Come Dancing, as Joe lifts the Glitter Ball trophy. It did take me a while to realise that Joe might be a contender, and I was a little disappointed that my favourite Debbie didn’t win the prize. However it’s been without any doubt the best Strictly ever, and we’ve been treated to some amazing dancing and choreography. These been a few surprises and indeed a few shocks along the way to make this series compelling viewing. As I sit watching all the drama unfold, I can’t help wondering how many people Strictly inspires to give partner dancing a try and actually join a dance class.
I then wonder if any of these people will join a Modern Jive or Ceroc class. I suspect the main beneficiaries of Strictly Come Dancing’s promotion of dancing will be Ballroom Classes. I’m sure that Tango lessons and Salsa classes will also see an uplift in interest, but I wonder if Modern Jive classes will also see an increase in the numbers coming through the door.
Modern Jive lessons are a great place to learn to dance
Realising that people will be searching round for dance classes to join, I thought I’d make the case for Modern Jive lessons as the best place for people to start their partner dance journey. I’ll start now by saying that Modern Jive is perhaps the easiest form of partner dancing you can try, and it has all the fun and excitement that you see on Strictly.
Modern Jive is a fusion of many of the dance styles you see featured on Strictly Come Dancing, but done in a much more easy-to-learn format. It has elements of Jive, though without the emphasis on the flicking and kicking. It borrows heavily from Salsa, but without the worry of perfecting a figure of eight hip action. It uses moves from The Quick Step and Tango but all without the worry of looking at your feet.
Watch this space for more info on Modern Jive dancing
Each week I’ll be adding two or three articles to this post to illustrate just how Modern Jive lessons are the best place to start your partner dance journey. I’ll be featuring some of the action from Strictly Come Dancing and relating it to Modern Jive. I’ll be pointing out the moves that have found their way from the ballroom floor in to the Modern Jive dance style, and I’ll show you how you can have as much fun as the celebrities have on Strictly.
So what is Modern Jive and Ceroc?
Firstly I should explain that Modern Jive and Ceroc are essentially the same dance style. Ceroc, however, is the name of the largest organisation that provides modern jive lessons – more of which later.
Modern Jive is essentially a fusion of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Salsa, with a lot of moves borrowed from a whole variety of other dance formats. Whenever I watch Strictly Come Dancing, no matter what dance is being performed, I see elements of Modern Jive.
It’s Ballroom and Latin made easy
The main appeal of Modern Jive is that it is easy. The people who created it wanted an easy to learn style of partner dancing and the first thing they did was take away the need to count steps. They also designed their lesson format so that by the end of a forty minute class, you could dance through a whole three minute dance track.
I’ll be explaining more about the style of dancing and looking at some of the basic moves in future postings but for the moment please watch this video. It was taken at Ceroc freestyle dance in Sheffield, and it shows people dancing at different ability levels.
Some of the dancers will have been doing Modern Jive for several years, but many of them will not be long out of their class nights. This is the thing about Modern Jive – it doesn’t take long to be good enough to dance with fluidity and style – and have a whole lot of fun at the same time.
How to find a Modern Jive dance class
Modern Jive dance classes are held in all areas of the country. Below are links to two websites that between them list all these Modern Jive classes. I’ll be talking about what happens at these class nights in a later posting, but for now please have a look for your nearest class.
UK Jive Directory: This website lists all the Modern Jive classes by County across the country
Ceroc.com: This website has an easy to use Ceroc class finder
Modern Jive is a lot easier than Strictly’s Jive
I’m sure that like me you were amazed by Alexandra Burke’s Jive on Week 4 of Strictly Come Dancing – it was an outstanding performance done at breath taking speed. I said in my previous post (see below 30 Oct) that Modern Jive was a lot easier than the dancing on Strictly Come Dancing, and I should say right now that it is nothing like the jive you saw Alexandra and Gorka perform.
Jive is just one element of Modern Jive
Perhaps the name Modern Jive suggests it’s a modern form of jiving, but that would be to give the wrong expression. Remember Modern Jive is a fusion of a lot of partner dance forms – jive is just one element.
Alexandra and Gorka’s Jive was done at an amazing speed and quite frankly most of us would probably experience a heart attack trying to match it. Modern Jive can be danced to fast music, but it’s generally danced to tracks with a gentler rhythm. Think Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling, any of Jess Glynne’s recent No 1 hits, or the disco tracks from The ’70s (I’ll be featuring some of the great music you will be dancing to in a later posting).
The people that devised Modern Jive in the late 1980s were concerned that it should be an easy dance technique to master, and that is one of the reasons that the pace of the music is mid range. Going to a dance class for the first time can be daunting. Being expected to dance with the power and energy of Alexandra Burke is just going to put people off.
The thing about Modern Jive, is that it’s a gateway in to social dancing. Once you’ve mastered it, then you can then look to do some of the more conventional dance styles like Salsa or Tango. If Strictly Come Dancing has inspired you to dance then why not take an easy route into partner dancing – a route that enables you to quickly enjoy your dancing.
It’s like Salsa without the figure-of-eight hip action
I said above that Modern Jive is a fusion of many other dance forms. The dance form it resembles the most is probably Salsa, but you’ll be pleased to know you don’t have to worry too much about what your hips are doing. You see, that’s the thing about Modern Jive – it’s designed to be easy to pick up. There are moves that resemble Salsa ones but they are all done thankfully without the figure-of-eight hip action.
We were all wowed by Aston and Janette’s Salsa on Week 2. Considering it was only the second week in, Aston’s hip action was quite amazing. As you watch the video focus on the parts of the dance where Aston and Janette are in hold. All these moves easily transfer to Modern Jive, but without the need to mimic Aston’s over emphasised hip movements.
Don’t worry about counting the beats either
I remember trying Salsa before I was introduced to Ceroc. I really struggled with it. One of the reasons was the timings. Salsa is danced to a one – two – three and four, five – six – seven and eight beat pattern. I found myself constantly counting in my head. With Modern Jive its just a simple one – two – three – four pattern. In fact you don’t really ever find yourself counting out the beat. This means you can concentrate on the footwork and hand movements, making it a whole lot easier than Salsa.
A first look at a Modern Jive Class
I thought it was about time we took a first look at a Modern Jive class. When you first sign up you’ll join a beginners lesson. This first video actually shows an intermediate lesson. I’ll focus on beginners lessons in a later posting, but I’ve chosen this video because it gives an indication of the type of moves you’ll be doing after a few weeks, when you progress to the intermediate level.
The video also illustrates a point I was making above about Modern Jive being a lot easier than Salsa. The second move involves a Mambo, where the dancers simply rock forward and backwards. This is a move borrowed from Salsa, but you’ll notice that there’s none of the exaggerated hip movement. The Mambo has become a very popular move in Modern Jive and you’ll be soon be able to enjoy the fluidity of its simple rhythm as you move across the dance floor.
A network of teachers dedicated to teaching Modern Jive
The video I’ve used above is one of a series produced by Janice Kenyon who runs Modern Jive classes in Doncaster, Wakefield and Leeds. Janice is one of a network of dance teachers, who are dedicated to teaching this wonderful social dance style. When ever Janice teachers a lesson a video is made and put on her Jive Infusion YouTube Channel.
These video are a great teaching resource. I particularly love the way Janice goes through the moves again in slow motion. This is a great help if you are trying to learn them at home. I’ll be featuring more of Janice’s instruction videos throughout this article. You can find out more about Janice, her dance classes and the Modern Jive dances she runs by visiting the Jive Infusion Facebook Group Page
You can find a list of Modern Jive Classes on The UK Jive Directory Website
Moving Pro dance routine for Remembrance Sunday
The highlight of the Remembrance Sunday Results Show was without doubt the moving pro dance. As I watched it I couldn’t help thinking that a lot of the partner dancing in the wonderful and at times emotional, routine was something very similar to an advanced form of Modern Jive. In the run up to the weekend Strictly it takes two showed the pro dancers rehearsing their routine. Janette Manrara explained that the dancing was a more contemporary style of ballroom dancing.
Modern Jive and Ceroc are Contemporary dance styles
Modern Jive is a Contemporary dance style, that has developed to stand shoulder to shoulder with contemporary ballroom formats. Though I’m constantly making the point that Modern Jive is an easy entry in to partner dancing, there really are no limitations on your development as a dancer.
This next video shows Matt Blain and Victoria Pollard, two amateur dancers, in a Modern Jive competition. It makes compelling watching and it shows the full potential of Modern Jive as a contemporary dance form. I doubt if I will ever achieve this level of skill, but there are moves in the routine that I can do, and there are many dancers on the Modern Jive dance circuit that have developed their dancing to this level.
The whole aim of this article is to connect with the people who have been inspired by Strictly Come Dancing. I hope you are also inspired by Matt and Victoria’s award winning style of dancing
Your Dance Journey starts here
Your dance journey will start at a beginners class, where it ends is up to you. It’s about time we looked at a beginners lesson. Ceroc, as I mentioned above, is a nationwide dance organisation that runs Modern Jive classes. The success of Ceroc was built on the way they structured their classes and made them so accessible to beginners.
The first thing that makes Ceroc classes stand out from many ballroom classes, is that you don’t have to go with a partner. You can turn up on your own and still join in with everyone else. At the beginning of the class every body pairs up and stands in lines. The first move is demonstrated and you and your partner give it a go. Then the ladies move up to the next partner in the line.
You get to practice with everyone else in the class
The move is repeated again, and the ladies once again move up the line to a new partner. In this way you get to practise your moves with every other person in the class. This means you’ll do it with beginners like yourself, but also with other more experienced dancers. Practising your moves with these experienced dancers will help you get to grips with the moves more quickly than if you just did it with another beginner like yourself.
You’ll be dancing after your first lesson
You’ll learn three moves at your first Ceroc Class, which are linked together, so that you can dance through a whole three minute dance track with them. A little later in the evening there will also be a thirty minute Beginners Refresher class. Here you’ll join all the other beginners and get an opportunity to go through the three moves over and over again.
In these classes you’ll be taught by a couple of taxi dancers who are also there to help you in the freestyle dancing session after the class. It’s a teaching format that works very well and quickly gets people dancing. The lessons are still a bit of a challenge, but they are great fun too, and in a few weeks you’ll be surprised how much progress you’ll make and you’ll soon get the Ceroc and Modern Jive dance bug.
Ceroc offers you a great dance lifestyle
Here’s Ceroc’s own official video showing you every step along the way to a great dance lifestyle. In the video you’ll see excerpts from the lessons, including the point where the ladies move up to a new partner. The video also shows scenes from one of their amazing dance weekenders. It’s a real flavour of what Ceroc has to offer you.
It’s more than just dancing. If you get the dance bug then Modern Jive can offer you an amazing fun filled lifestyle.
What kind of music do you Modern Jive to?
Every kind that has a well defined beat. Strictly Come Dancing results show this Sunday opened with a Pro Dance tribute to Northern Soul, as The Blackpool Mecca Ballroom (not the Tower Ballroom) was one of the iconic venues Northern Soul in The ’70s. The dance featured three songs. The tribute opened with Frank Wilson’s Do I love you (Indeed I do) a song considered to be the greatest of the Northern Soul anthems.
Northern Soul and Motown tracks are popular
Because Northern Soul tracks have a strong four-four beat they work very well on the Modern Jive dance floor. Do I love you (Indeed I do) was recorded in the Detroit Studios of Motown, and you’ll find yourself dancing to other well loved Motown songs like The Isley Brothers This old heart of mine.
You’ll dance to Club Anthems too
The second track in the Strictly Come Dancing Pro Dance tribute was Love you again by John Newman a club anthem from 2013. Just like the strictly pro dancers you’ll find yourself dancing to all the latest club tracks. In fact you’ll be dancing to modern tracks you know so well. This past year the most popular dance tracks on the Modern Jive circuit have been DNCE’s Cake by the ocean and Justin Timberlakes Can’t stop the feeling.
Dance music from every genre
The beauty of Modern Jive is that it’s so appealing in lots of ways, and that’s the same with the music. As well as the most popular tunes of the day, DJs play music from every genre. You’ll dance to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Swing, Motown, C&W, and Latin inspired tracks. You’ll dance to tracks that accompany Cha Cha Cha, Tango and Salsa. Anything goes as long as it has a well defined beat.
Dance to the great Disco Divas and even Kylie
If you love ’70s Disco you’ll get a chance to dance to The O’Jays’ Love Train, the Trammps Disco Inferno and tracks from the great Disco Divas like Gloria Gaynor and you can even dance to Kylie Minogue. Here’s one of my favourites – Gloria Gaynor’s Never can say goodbye.
The Strictly Celebs dance to all types of music
I’m amazed just how varied and often how contemporary the music is on Strictly Come Dancing, and it’s the same on the Modern Jive dance floor. So if you want dance to the same music as the celebs do every Saturday night then come and join us at Modern Jive or Ceroc Class soon.
Susan showed us the fun of dancing
Susan Calman was never going to get to the final of Strictly Come Dancing, but like a lot of people I was sad to see her go. As well as the wonderful comedy she brought to the show, Susan also showed us that you can have fun dancing even when you are not technically proficient.
Take your inspiration from Susan
Remember Susan had never danced before, so it was always going to be a challenge. It’s the same for Modern Jive and Ceroc. If you’ve never danced before you are going to find your first Modern Jive lesson a little testing, but that shouldn’t stop you having fun from the off – just like Susan.
There will be other people in the same boat and you’ll soon find yourself making friends amongst the other beginners and you’ll get a great sense of achievement when you complete your first three move sequence at the end of the session. And if you go wrong occasionally just remember that Susan made it to Blackpool and had a lot of fun on the way.
So what will your first lesson be like?
Ceroc, along the many other independent Modern Jive organisations, offer a nationwide network of classes. A visit to the Ceroc Website is a great place to start your dance journey. On there I found this wonderful video, that explains what will happen on your first night. Have a look – it will put your mind at ease. Click here for the link
Below is an extract from my Quick Step: Quick Notes section of my blog featuring the Rev Richard Coles.
Strictly’s Rev Richard Coles rocks The Shed
A great performance from The Rev Richard Coles last night at The Shed freestyle in Beeston, Nottingham. I should explain that he wasn’t there in person, though I have heard that he has been seen at Ceroc lessons in Higham Ferrers, but featured on the song that gave me the best dance of the night.
The Rev played piano in the Communards along with lead singer Jimmy Sommerville. Last night DJ Gary Wharton played the Communards Don’t leave me this way. What a fantastic dance track this is, and it gave me the best dance of the night. One of my favourite moments in the track is the piano break half way through. It’s a wonderful piece of piano playing and The Rev’s one of the reasons that this song is actually better than the Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes original
It’s a wonderful piece of piano playing and, along with the horn section, makes this song such a great dance track. With his musical background I was surprised that The Reverend didn’t do better with his dancing on Strictly, but at least he achieved a level of immortality with this great performance.