Americans Can Teach Us Rhythm

More from the archives of the Nottingham Evening Post, this time it’s an article about the Big Apple. I wonder if Victor Silvester had ever seen the Big Apple danced in Harlem or was just passing on someone else’s description? There’s a fantastic quote at the end:

“I do not think, therefore, that we have a great deal to learn from the Big Apple except in the matter of rhythm. It is worth studying from this point of view, for the Americans can still teach us a lot about rhythm, though we beat them every time as regards style.”

 

The Big Apple – Americans Can Teach Us Rhythm – Some New English Variations

(by Victor Silvester)

Many people have asked me about the Big Apple dance.

It is the latest craze from Harlem and, through you may have heard a good deal of it from the wireless and gramophone records, I doubt whether you will ever see it in English ballrooms. For one thing, it demands a solo performance from each couple taking part, and English dancers are as a rule shy of performing solo.

The routine of Big Apple is this:

A “caller” is chosen, and as the couples dance round the room, one behind the other, he shouts out the figures they are to do.

This part roughly resembles our own old-fashioned sequence dancing – except that the Big Apple sequences are all of the swing variety. Truckin’, Susie Q. Lindy Hop, &c, &c. The sort of steps, in fact, that we have already incorporated into Swing Step.

Then the “caller” gives the sign to one couple who come into the centre and dance their individual interpretation of the music whilst the rest either dance round or move rhythmically at the side of the room.

When they have finished. the sequence dancing is taken up again and then another couple is called out.

So, you see, the individual dancers do not have the independence that our dancers like. Most of the time they are doing what they are told, and when they are dancing for themselves they are in the limelight.

The Englishman likes evolving his own combinations and variations, but he does not like turning them into an exhibition.

I do not think, therefore, that we have a great deal to learn from the Big Apple except in the matter of rhythm. It is worth studying from this point of view, for the Americans can still teach us a lot about rhythm, though we beat them every time as regards style.

From the Nottingham Evening Post, Friday, December 17, 1937

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One response to “Americans Can Teach Us Rhythm”

  1. Sara says :

    Haha! Stuffy Englishman. Bless him.

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