The Lindy Equation: Lindy is 50% Newtonian physics, 30% musicality and 20% magic ?

Interesting post on Yoyomarules about how much of dancing Lindy Hop is to do with physics, the conclusion being that:

“Lindy is 50% Newtonian physics, 30% musicality and 20% magic”

Can’t say I’ve really thought much about what percentage of Lindy is down to physics but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to depend heavily on the style of Lindy that you dance. Hollywood style needs a huge amount of ‘physics’ to work. Light as a feather, super relaxed connection, Savoy style needs an awful lot less.

This post reminded me of Damon Stone’s article about ‘The Science of Following’ in which he writes about the technical aspects of what makes following work (or what makes up Yoyomarules 50% physics ?):

“I believe that all social dance can be identified by 4 Technical Elements, Posture; Physical Connection; Rhythmic Footwork; and Partner Dynamic. While it is possible for you to create your own elements or categories that define social dance, they will need to break down very similarly and cover the same sort of areas, what really changes is where you draw the dividing line. The one thing that has been left out is music… not because it does not drive the movement, but because it is not a universally defining characteristic of a dance. ”

Both posts are worth a read.


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3 responses to “The Lindy Equation: Lindy is 50% Newtonian physics, 30% musicality and 20% magic ?”

  1. yoyomarules says :

    First of all, thanks for reading! I’m glad someone pays attention to my nerd-outs. I’m a massive fan of Damon Stone, and did some of his workshops recently, so I’m happy that we’re both working along the same lines here.

    I hadn’t really thought about comparing Hollywood to Savoy before, as I don’t do that much Hollywood. I’d say that while the Hollywood connection is much stronger and heavier, so the Newtonian physics is much more obvious, I think it is still very much there in Savoy, although a lot less obvious. Maybe it’s something that, while it is essentially physics, appears more as the magic side of things?

    • sleepingglitter says :

      Lindy Nerd outs are fun! As a social dancer I’m more worried about how to dance with the guy with the tremor, or how to make my partner smile, or how to make that beginner feel like he’s had the best ever and has to come back next week for more but I still like reading people’s theoretical musings.

      I don’t dance much Hollywood style either but based on my experience if I’m led into a whip there’s a whole lot of physics happening. The mechanics of the move mean that I am going to end up facing my partner and whilst I can style the swivel there’s not a lot of scope for me to do more without breaking the lead/follow dynamic (I’m sure if you’re an awesome follow and experienced is this style of dancing this probably isn’t the case). The joy of this style of Lindy for me comes from the lack of ambiguity and the “whee!” feeling caused from the use and redirection of my momentum and being that ‘frictionless particle’.

      Contrast this to a very open style of Savoy Lindy (I’m thinking something that Daniel and Asa might teach). The first part of a swing out is largely down to physics but if I’m led out sideways on 5 I am almost a free agent at this point. The leader has given me a general direction and I’m connected to my partner via my arm but what happens next is largely dictated by me and not physics. I decide whether or not to turn to face my partner or go out forwards, and I can decide whether or not I am going to be back facing my partner on the 7&8 or if I’m going to take the 7&8 and the 1,2 to do my stuff. Physics still plays its part in this style of dancing but I would say musicality and creativity plays a much larger role in this style of dancing and this is what makes it fun for me.

      Interestingly I would say that the style of Savoy that Ryan and Jenny teach requires the greatest knowledge (but perhaps not use) of physics by both leads and follows and might be the style that fits your equation best. Personally I find this style of dancing extremely challenging because the moves they tend to teach (admit I have limited knowledge) seem to involve an awful lot of rotational momentum that’s fairly subtly led. Hollywood style moves tend to be linear and easy to follow but add in rotation and things get a whole lot more challenging. I remember one lesson of theirs where the followers had to be rolled, like a basketball, from the end of one of the leader’s arm to the other whilst keeping their arms fairly high so that they could be caught and spun the other way at the end. Sounds easy but as a follow there’s a huge amount of stuff that gets in the way of doing this, not least the feeling that you’re going to hit your partner on the way. Physics is what makes their moves work but you have to believe and trust that Nature will do its job which I think is not so easy.

  2. ladyD says :

    To quote star trek ‘ye cannot change the laws of physics’

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