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Betty Drummond Grant Committee. Steve Healy Grant Committee. Alison Biggs Grant Committee. Lyndsey Naylor. Having "the intimacy of the Waltz and the vivacity of the Irish jig", the Polka was embraced with enthusiasm. The western population included such groups as Poles, Germans, French, Irish, Jews, Scandinavians, Czechs and Russians and each still enjoyed their own folk dances, but many found common refuge in the polka.
New hybrids were also developed, creating offspring such as the Varsouvianna and the Two Step. German settlers in El Paso, Texas developed the Schottische and line dances which were important precursors of modern western dances such as the Cotton-Eyed Joe. Folks gathered just about anywhere to dance -- on ranches, in barns, in the wide open spaces under the stars. Slowly a dance that was specifically "western" began to evolve. Novelty moves and styles popular in Appalachia and the South came west and were absorbed by the new settlers.
The freed Black Americans in particular exerted a stylistic influence that can still be seen in today's country swing dance. The cowboy paid little attention to traditional dance forms.
One observer commented in , that "some punchers danced like a bear 'round a beehive that was afraid of getting stung. Others didn't seem to know how to handle a calico, and got as rough as they do handlin' cattle in brandin' pens. The swing of the leg when dismounting from a horse became a mighty Polka gallop. Women were handled as if the cowboy were throwing a beating calf to the ground to be branded. Heavy army issue boots contributed to crude footwork.
The habit of wearing spurs even on the dance floor forced the cowboy to keep his feet apart and shuffle as he moved to the music.
Several of these cowboy mannerisms, although tamed, survive in today's modern western dance. The "double arms over" move is reminiscent of the final "tying off" of a calf's legs prior to branding. The basic "push pull" position recaptures the rhythm of grasping the reins. The beginning of the twentieth century brought new music and dance. In the middle of this explosion was the Black American.
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Their principal source of relaxation and entertainment had been their music and dance. In the old South, contests were frequently held on the plantation to see "who owned the fastest dancer. By the turn of the century carnivals, minstrel shows, medicine shows and eventually vaudeville routines frequently showcased Black dancers or White imitators.
The Black dance style was referred to as "jazz" or "eccentric dancing". Black dance was viewed as a novelty, sometimes ridiculed, but the intricate footwork and fluid motions of Black performers were slowly seeping into America's dance repertoire. By , two years after the War began, New Orleans jazz was in full bloom. Just one year later historian Bernard Grun proclaimed Chicago the "world's jazz center". Inspired by the improvisational elements in jazz, couples began to experiment on the dance floor: They separated, broke apart, twirled, and jigged.
Throughout the 's, radio brought music to the whole nation. A year later the now famous "Grand Ole Opry" from Nashville was initiated. In the late 's, George "Shorty" Snowden brought the entire Savoy Ballroom audience to its feet with his rapid, break-away solo steps. Charles Lindbergh had crossed the Atlantic in in one dramatic "hop", and when Snowden was asked what his dance was called, he replied, the "Lindy Hop". In Benny Goodman ushered in a new jazz style.
His big band swing sound was listened to around the world and soon the Lindy Hop gave birth to the Jitterbug, a fast moving combination of fancy footwork and elaborate spins, twirls and turns, many of which can still be seen in contemporary country swing moves.
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One of the many fascinated listeners out West was Bob Wills. When jazz hit, Bob was struck. Eventually he formed his own western big band and helped create a genre of music known as western swing. Today's modern country swing dance derives directly from the music Wills played and the way people danced to it.
A new musical tempo could be heard after the Second Word War.