How to Dance the 1920s Charleston

The Charleston is a dance that originated in the 1920s, and was a form of Jazz dance. It was very popular and is still performed all around the world. This article will demonstrate the 1920s Solo Charleston.

Steps

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    Stand upright, feet shoulders-width apart.
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    Basic Charleston move: 1. Twist heel of left foot outwards (toes point inwards) while kicking right foot sideways.
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    Basic Charleston move: 2. Twist heel of left foot to the opposite direction so toes point outwards. Right foot lands at the same time in front of the left foot, right foot is the opposite direction of the left foot.
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    Basic Charleston move: 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 but change feet (left becomes right etc).
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    Basic Charleston move: 4. Do step 3 again but land behind the twisting foot instead of in front.
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    Basic Charleston move: 5. Improvisations is allowed and even required. You can swing the non-twisting foot inwards instead of landing.
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    Back-kick Charleston move: 1. On the 1st beat, hop on your left foot while bringing the heel of your right foot backwards to your left butt cheek.
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    Back-kick Charleston move: 2. On the 2nd beat, hop on your left foot again but kick out your right foot in a 45 degree angle.
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    Back-kick Charleston move: 3. Repeat step 1 and 2 but switch right with left and vice versa.
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    Swing-kick Charleston move: 1. Swing your right foot in front to the left at a 45 degree angle on the 1st beat.
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    Swing-kick Charleston move: 2. Return right foot to original position by swinging it back on the 2nd beat.
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    Swing-kick Charleston move: 3. Tap the behind your right foot's heel with the ball of your left foot. You can reach down to your right foot with your left hand. All these happens on the 3rd beat.
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    Swing-kick Charleston move: 4. Return to normal standing position on the 4th beat.
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    Illusion Knees: 1. Place hands on knees (bend down a bit but not squat).
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    Illusion Knees: 2. On the 1st beat, bend your knees outwards with your hands following it.
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    Illusion Knees: 3. On the 2nd beat, go back to the closed-knee position (step 1). Quickly put right hand on left knee and left hand on right knee. The right arm is over the left arm.
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    Illusion Knees: 4. Repeat step 2 but with hands in opposite position.
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    Illusion Knees: 5. Repeat step 3 but go back to normal hand position.
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    Illusion Knees: 6. feet (1.8 m) can face outward and become pigeon-toed to let knees move in and out between steps. This also allows you to move left and right while performing this move (think shuffling).
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    Twisting feet: Basically the same as illusion knees but no hands are used to create the illusion. Hence, the dancer should stand upright.
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    Twisting feet: Hands can be used for improvising. E.g: Arms by the side while palms turn out when feet face outwards and in when feet are pigeon-toed.
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    Rotating Windmills: This move can last as long as the dancer wants. Bring the right foot to the left butt cheek by swinging it up clockwise. Continue rotating clockwise until you decide to stop. Same for left foot but foot swings anti-clockwise. Note: Only the parts of the leg below the knee move. The thigh remains close to the dancer.
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    Knee bends: 1. Hop on both feet while bending knees towards the right in a 45 degrees angle (dancer can face that direction too) on 1st beat.
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    Knee bends: 2. Hop back to original position on 2nd beat.
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    Knee bends: 3. Repeat step 1 but to the left on 3rd beat.
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    Knee bends: 4. Repeat step 2 on 4th beat.
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    Around the world: 1. Kick twice 90 degrees outwards beat with right foot.
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    Around the world: 2. Continue on left foot.
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    Around the world: 3. Repeat and spin a full circle while doing so.

Tips

  • Hands are to be swung freely (like walking, when the left leg is forward, right arm swings up naturally but bent to the front and vice versa) unless they are engaged in a movement.
  • Improvisation is necessary. You can create steps while dancing.
  • It may be necessary to watch videos of the dance being done first before you attempt to learn it.
  • This dance should be danced to 1920s Chicago-style Dixieland Jazz which is really fast. Examples will be "The Charleston", "Ain't She Sweet" (not the adapted Beatles version) and "Sweet Georgia Brown" (make sure it's 1920s version).
  • Watch videos on youtube to get an idea of the steps.
  • The step-names in the article is self-named, there are no actual names for each steps as this dance is highly improvised with basic structure.

Warnings

  • Calluses might form on feet.

Article Info

Categories: Dancing