Skippy Blair, ever observant and creative, saw young dancers jump around in Southern California
during the post-rockabilly swing revival of the mid-late 90s. She noted
the common practice jumpy 6-count kick pattern, made adaptations, and
arranged a syllabus for her teacher workshops. In the early 00s, Skippy
adopted the name JUMP SWING for her classes, abandoning the original homegrown name RETRO SWING. She has helped to spread the dance around the USA. Her video on this topic is currently out of print. Skippy
Blair has trained and adjudicated numerous USA top dance champions. She
pioneered her own exceptional instructional approach, popular with many
Sonny Watson compiled some of the Retro Swing repertoire, with additions, in his Retro Swing video. Sonny's Swing History website is the international standard. Every known style and variation is represented in detail. Sonny Watson is a successful competitor, choreographer, top teacher and swing VIP in California.
Joyce Marks Codner & I had been teaching the usual regional approaches to swing at Cornell since
1997, but we were unsatisfied with Triple-Step, Touch-Step, or
Single-Step 6-count patterns to rockin' uptempo music, the kind that
our students loved. DJing on campus, I observed totally untrained
students doing various improvised bouncy kick patterns. I wondered,
what kind of dance groove could be made out of this natural response to
the music? Something that could easily segue in and out of charleston
patterns would be nice..... I saw the amazing Nathalie Gomes perform
before she discovered Lindy Hop. I noted the extreme European "rock 'n'
roll" kick basic. In Europe, "Acrobatic rock 'n' roll" is an entire
genre, and Nathalie was 5 times French National Champion. Hmmm... More
research... Admittedly, I was intrigued by the idea of creating a dance
style that jived with the music I liked, and could share with others.
one of Skippy's students, and a successful competitor / instructor
himself, posted a description of a kick 6-count pattern in a web
article. I played with it, and liked it. It rocked. It segued easily in
and out of kick charlestons. I freely added more and more fun stuff,
drawing on Lindy, St. Louis Shag, Collegiate Shag, anything and
everything, etc. Then followed years of experimenting, cutting through
pre-conceptions, exploring basic movement, reflecting on learning
psychology, evolving better dance teaching methods that drew on
developments in music education by Koday, Dalcroze, etc. Long time
pedagogy partner Iska Ziver contributed ideas.
The name Retro Swing? I wasn't crazy about it: what about all the great modem rock&roll and R&B swing? Well, the editors of the comprehensive Swing: The New Retro Renaissance were calling the music Jumpswing. Historically, dances have often taken the name of their musical styles. Joyce and I had been using the name Jump Jitterbug, but
it really didn't tell the whole story. And the dance certainly does hop
and skip at faster grooves.... I wrote to Skippy in the early 00s, and
was surprised to discover her almost simultaneous and independent
decision to abandon the term Retro Swing in favor of Jump Swing, Talk about being on the same page….
Cornell Rooftop Mayhem Jumpswing Club
enthusiasts and teaching assistants have been coming up with plenty of
new ideas. Of course, aerials galore. One of our students, Mike Goldberg, founder of the club, went on to study with Nathalie Gomes, and perform with her troupe on TV. Voila: a 24 week Ithaca Jumpswing syllabus, and a growing set of possibilities.