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How to Dance to Rock’n’Roll Classics

By Yann, published on 14/05/2018 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Dance > A Guide to Rock and Roll Dancing

Rock is heavily linked to all the big names in music, like Elvis Presley for example. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll quickly rose to fame in the 1950s thanks to his ground-breaking hip moves. So much so, they even earned him the nickname “Elvis the Pelvis”.

His swiveling-hips and quick feet didn’t just make him a star, but even changed the way people danced. A classic for a reason, rock dancing is still one of the most popular forms of dance today. Knowing how to put some basic steps together always makes an impact on the dance floor!

Are you inching to move your feet and finally learn how to dance to rock ‘n’ roll?

If so, here are our tips to make this happen. Whether it’s solo, with your partner or as part of a dance class, why not give rock dance a go?

Or if you’re looking for another rebellious dance form, check out urban dance!

What Are the Different Types of Rock Dance?

Before we being, it is important to clarify what we’re talking about. Rock actually includes several types of modern dances. Firstly, there’s a difference between 4-beat and 6-beat rock. However, these are not the only variants.

Even though rock ‘n’ roll was born in the 50s, some rock-style dances (6-beat) had existed before. An example of which is swing dancing (called the Jive in England and Lindy Hop in the United States), bebop and 6-beat swing. They were originally danced to swing music, a more lively branch of jazz music.

You can see their influence in a lot of rock dances.

Rock dancing, born out of the music genre of the same name, is actually four-beat rock. It’s actually the first dance for two with a 4-beat rhythm.

Either way, rock is a fast dance that requires rhythm. Rock music, traditionally characterised by the sound of the electric guitar, has a very fast tempo.

Today, there are essentially 4 types of rock dances:

  • 4-beat Rock: Also known as four on the floor or four to the floor, this style is easier to learn than 6-beat rock. To dance it, you essentially have to let the arms do all the work. The legwork is relatively simple. You can tap to the beat with your hands and do arcs movements with your arms between two moves. 4-beat rock can be performed to any kind of rhythmic music.
  • 6-beat Rock: This is the classic style of rock dance that is taught in dance schools. Learning this dance, however, is less straightforward. Legwork is very important. Dance steps are made by counting 6 beats but doing 8 rests. There are plenty of steps involved in rock dancing. It’s a pretty technical dance where you need to know the steps inside out so you can dance smoothly to very fast-paced music.
  • Swing Rock: Swing rock is a variation of 6-beat rock. What characterises it is its energetic leg kicks. We can say that swing rock jump lies somewhere between 6-beat rock and acrobatic rock.
  • Acrobatic Rock: Unlike the other, less lively, types of rock, acrobatic rock is a sport in itself, strongly linked to gymnastics. Dance partners perform acrobatics, holds, lifts, etc. They are required to relax their hands depending on the move.

If you like to be percussive in your dancing, you might also be interested in tap dancing!

The Basics of Rock ‘n’ Roll Dance

To learn 6-beat rock, currently the most widely practised, you will have to master the basic steps. This is where you will start at your first rock dance lesson.

Find rock dancing classes for beginners online. Get ready to be swept off your feet ! Source: Visual Hunt

As mentioned before, rock is about dancing to a 6-beat rhythm, but dancers count 8 rests during these 6 beats.

To help you find the right rhythm, you should count like this in your head (one, two, three “AND” four, five “AND” six). The “AND” lets you to do the 7th and 8th rests more easily.

Another important point is that rock ‘n’ roll dancers dance within an imaginary line so as not to disturb the other dancers. You must, therefore, bear this in mind and practice dancing in a limited space.

Let’s go back to the most fundamental step:

  • During the first 2 beats, dancers simultaneously move apart while moving their left foot back. (this is the rock step),
  • During the 2 following beats, they perform a chassé to the left (taking 3 rests),
  • During the last two beats, they perform one chassé to the right (with also 3 rests).

Once you’ve got the hang of this, you’re on the right track and can progress to the next step:

  • Learn the more complex moves,
  • Learn how to turn your dance partner,
  • Replace steps with your own footwork to add your own style to the dance,
  • And much, much more…

Rock requires perfect cohesion between the two partners. It is therefore essential to train as a two as regularly as possible to dance to rock ‘n’ roll properly. Unlike 4-beat rock where the man leads his partner, to dance 6-beat rock, both partners must know the steps and know how to move together.

Learn Rock Moves by Taking Classes

To learn to dance quickly, the best way is to enlist the help of a dance teacher. You can do an intensive rock dancing course to learn the basics or take dance classes over a long period of time. Regular practice at a specialised dance school will allow you to improve quickly. Moreover, you will avoid common pitfalls with the guidance of your dance instructor. A professional dancer will guide you in your learning, whatever your level. But where do you find a suitable class? Try searching the web for ‘dance classes near me’. Or if ‘dance classes near me’ doesn’t work for you and want to search for a particular location, then why not try ‘dance classes glasgow’, for example. Failing that, if you want to search for a style of dance like Rock and Roll or pole dancing classes, then give one of them a search on your computer.

Having a solid foundation beforehand is essential for rock dancing and helps you advance from beginner to intermediate level quickly. Once you’ve mastered the basic steps and learned a few simple moves, you will be able to dance with ease and continue to progress while gradually refining your dance style.

Learn rock n roll dance moves at a dance school. Acrobatics are reserved for the accomplished rock ‘n’ roll dancers! Source: Visual Hunt

Rock ‘n’ roll dance has countless moves and variations. Everyone can add their personal touch to the dance.

To take rock lessons, look if there are any of the following near you:

Taking rock lessons at a dance school is perfect if you want to learn and make friends at the same time.

This is a good solution if you want to take classes year round and practice dance regularly.

If you’d prefer to do a one-off dance lesson, opt for an intensive rock ‘n’ roll dance course or individual dance classes to prepare you for a special event such as a bachelor party or the first dance at your wedding. Make sure to ask if this kind of lesson is available.

For personalised dance training, private dance lessons are a great option to take into account. With a private teacher, you will be able to progress at your own pace and learn according to your level.

For example, with Superprof, you can find lots of profiles of dance teachers based throughout the UK.

Rates vary depending on the teacher, but also on the student. There are classes suitable for everyone’s budget.

Hourly rates vary from £15 to £60. Some teachers come to your home while others give classes from their own dance studio.

Learn to Dance to Rock ‘n’ Roll Solo

You want to learn rock moves, but it’s just you?

Make friends and have fun with rock dancing. Be careful not to step on your partner’s feet at the start. Source: Visual Hunt.

It is, in fact, possible to learn to dance without taking online Zumba classes. For this, you have a number of options, which can also help you in your approach:

  • Asking your friends and family: think carefully, you’re bound to have know someone who can dance to rock ‘n’ roll well? Start by asking them if they would showing you a thing or two,
  • Learning to dance at home has never been easier with online videos and websites. On the internet, it’s now so easy to find step-by-step tutorials to learn rock dances. They are available for all levels: beginner, intermediate and expert. You can find free online lessons on websites such as Learn To Dance,
  • Attending your local rock night: remember, to learn to dance, you have to dance. Imagine going to a dance party or nightclub and showing off your rock and roll dance moves. You will actually be able to put the steps you’ve learned from online videos into practice. If you have a good dance partner, you’ll not only improve but you’ll enjoy yourself,
  • Downloading mobile apps will also allow you to practice your steps at home or away or, with Map Dance, for example, you can easily find places to go dancing wherever you may be.

To learn rock dancing, any of the above methods will be helpful. From London Salsa classes to learn the basics of ballroom dancing, the most important thing is to have fun.

Your passion for dance may potentially lead you to try a new style such as the Argentine tango, Zumba, the waltz or even hip-hop!

Or, are you now too tempted by acrobatic rock?

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