Factors in the Development of Swing

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Around the turn of the nineteenth century, new musical forms such as ragtime and jazz saw development in urbanized areas particularly through the influence of the African-American community. These contemporary genres compelled the evolution of dance toward expression that was more “exuberant with exaggerated body movements” (Edmondson). By the 1920s, this led to the creation of the Charleston and the Lindy Hop, the direct predecessors to Swing. In particular, the Savoy Ballroom, opened in 1926 in New York, was central to this development because there “dancers soon incorporated tap and jazz steps into their dancing,” led by individuals such as Benny Goodman and Herbert White (Heikkila). The East Coast Swing, often associated with the Jitterbug, Lindy, and Triple Swing, was a redefinition of the Lindy Hop as the characteristic eight-count step was simplified to a six-step swing during the 1940s. Much of the formalization of this dance was performed by the Arthur Murray dance studios which began to teach Swing, thus introducing an otherwise wild street dance to the ballroom dance community. Meanwhile, Dean Collins introduced Swing to California and, though he did not explicitly invent West Coast Swing, was influential in its popularity and stylistic development through his “smooth and anchored style of dancing swing” which became imported into Hollywood’s own portrayal of the dance (Powers). Originally named “Western Swing,” the name was changed in 1959 to “West Coast
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