Acrobatic Rock'n'Roll is a very athletic, competitive form of dance that originated from lindy hop. Unlike lindy hop, however, it is a choreographed dance designed for performance.
It was also in the movie Grease.
It is danced by both couples and groups, either all-female or four to eight couples together. This is normally a very fast and physically demanding dance.
During the development of the musical genre rock and roll, dances to go with the music were also created. From swing, which came into being around 1920, Lindy Hop emerged, the first partner dance ever to feature acrobatic elements. Lindy Hop was modified around 1940 to suit faster music, creating the style known as boogie woogie.
A 1959 dance book describes "Rock 'n' Roll" as "performed without undue tension, the body and legs being flexible, so that there may be a physical rhythmic expression of co-ordination with the beats of music." "...a dance which leaves much scope for personal expression and interpretation in style, movement, rhythm, and even in the manner in which the figures are constructed." The basic rhythm is Quick, Quick, Slow, Slow. The Slow steps "will be taken first on to the ball of the foot, the heel then lowering".
Technique and Basics
Like other forms of dance, Rock and Roll has evolved around the world over time. Depending on your location, the basics start with the Basic 6 step:
Leads take 2 steps to the left, 2 steps to the right, then do a rock-back motion on their left leg (known as the backstep or Linkstep).
Follows take 2 steps to the right, 2 steps to the left, then do a rock-back motion on their right leg (known as the backstep or Linkstep).
The most obvious feature of the Acrobatic rock and roll dance are its kicks (into thin air) and its acrobatic elements like lifts, jumps, throws and flips.
Today's rock and roll is focused on show and competition dance and - with the exception of its name - has nearly nothing in common with the former rock and roll movement. It is danced in pairs or in formation.
Over the years rock and roll dancing has experienced several important changes: the former 6-basic step was converted into the modern tournament's 9-basic step with its typical kick ball change.
Other characteristics are techniques such as the man's body wave movement, that he uses to fling his partner from a sitting position upwards, and the throwing basic movement, where she steps onto his hands and is catapulted upwards into neck breaking jumps. Because of its demanding technique, high speed, and acrobatics, rock and roll is a straining high-performance dance and is most often performed by young dancers.
The name of the basic comes from the number of separate actions.
With the 6-basic one counts
(1)step (2)step (3)kick (4)settle (5)kick (6)settle or
(1)kick (2)settle (3)kick (4)settle (5)kick (6)settle
with the 9-basic it is
(1)kick (2)ball (3)change (4)kick (5)settle (6)settle (7)kick (8)settle (9)settle.
This means that a correct rock and roll kick will have the supporting foot settling on the floor a tiny moment before the kicking foot settles.
The World Rock'n'Roll Confederation recognizes the following dance categories for international competitions:
Youth: No acrobatics allowed. Couples are 14 years old or younger.
Juniors: A maximum of four acrobatic moves are allowed under the category's safety regulations. Couples are between 12 and 17 years of age.
B-Class: Two dances per couple and round. One is a dance program with no acrobatics allowed (footwork, or foot technique), the other an acrobatic program (acrobatic) requiring six acrobatic moves. The male may throw the female into the air, but no flips are allowed. Minimum age is 14 years.
Main Class: Two dances, like in B-Class. Only difference to B-Class is that almost all acrobatics (e.g. lifts, jumps, throws and flips) are allowed. Minimum age is 15 years.
National associations usually have additional classes (e.g. a C class for beginning competitive dancers). However, all have the four classes listed above (though some rules may differ).
Rhythm and Music
Rock and roll dance works on the 4/4 measure. One basic comprises six beats and therefore one and a half measures. Differently than the offbeat of rock and roll music, the dance puts stress on the first and third beats of each measure. The music is very fast, between 176 to 208 bpm. Due to non-offbeat stressing and speed traditional rock and roll music has been replaced by modern disco and pop music.
Currently advanced tournament rock and roll dancers don't wear petticoats and jeans - as the original rock and roll dancers did - but rather multi-coloured costumes that are made of elastic artificial fibre and can only be purchased as individual pieces by special tailors. One reason for that is that acrobatic elements have grown more and more dangerous, requiring both freedom of movement and enough durability to avoid tearing.
The shoes worn is one of the most important elements in Rock & Roll dancing. Their soles need to possess both "slip" & "grip" characteristics. The most common footwear are light jazz shoes for the dance programs, while the acrobatic programs require more support for the female so sneakers made for aerobics dancers are usually chosen.
The World Rock'n'Roll Confederation is the organization that takes care of national and international rules and guidelines for tournaments. They organize the World Cups, European championships and World championships that occur every year for couples and formations. All international competitors are ranked according to points acquired during competitions.
The future for acrobatic Rock 'n' Roll seems bright, the hope and main goal is to have the dance as a part of the Olympic games within the near future. WRRC is today recognized by the IOC.