Blues dance is an art form that relies on improvisation in direct relationship to the blues music it is danced to. Most dance forms have developed “basic steps” or “patterns” that come from the rhythmic structures of the music they are danced to, and thus provide you with a shortcut into the feeling of the dance.
Blues dance has refused to divorce itself from the improvisational nature of “street” or vernacular dancing. It does not give you just one basic step to rely on, but a multitude of steps, patterns, intricate body movements, and systems of connection. This can make the dance both incredibly exciting, easy to begin, and difficult to get very good at.
Because we have not distilled the art form of blues dancing for mass production, understanding the music and history is a very important element to learning to be a better dancer. There are many ways to learn more about blues dance, such as watching YouTube videos, reading books, or reading the many informative websites. Look below for a brief list of some places to start.
Books on blues history
- Jookin’ by Katrina Hazzard-Gordon
- Jazz Dance by Marshall and Jean Sterns
- Stomping the Blues by Albert Murray
Websites on blues history
- A Brief History on Blues
- Blues Moves by Paul Mandel and Jenny Sowden, a curated collection of videos detailing blues moves and blues dances
- A History of Contemporary Blues Dance History by Dave Madison (rather opinionated and one-sided, but he says some important things)
Websites for our contemporary community