What is Rock and Roll?

Rock and Roll

This dance form is an example of a partnered dance. In classes a choreographed sequence is generally taught but this may not be the case. In practice it is also an improvised dance.
Editor: Mark Stephens

Rock and Roll dance emerged in America from the Swing dance Lindy Hop. It became popular when West Coast dance instructors attempted to reintroduce Lindy Hop, or Jitterbug, as Roll and Roll after popular interest in the dance style was aroused from the success of the film 'Rock around the Clock' in 1956. Nevertheless, East Coast professionals refused to change the name and eventually the West Coast also abandoned the term. However, Europeans continued to use the term Rock and Roll long after the Americans had abandoned it.

This Rock and Roll of the 1950s became popular with teenagers, much to the dismay of the parents, and it soon gained a 'bad boy' image that gave rise to Teddy Boys in Britain. Rock and Roll was thought to be both the result and the cause of youthful rebellion against the nation's social problems at the time. As a result of parents' complaints, the Rock and Roll industry was told to clean up its act and provide better role models for the youth of the time.

Acrobatic Rock and Roll requires a lot of skill and stamina and is a highly demanding sport. Kicks and acrobatic elements such as lifts, throws, jumps and flips, are all characteristic of Rock and Roll dancing. Although it may have started off as an improvisational and social dance, it is now mainly a performance and competition dance, where routines are choreographed beforehand, whether in pairs or in formation. Another vital change came from the original 6-basic step being replaced by the 9-basic step that is seen in modern tournaments. Over the years, these changes in Rock and Roll dancing have meant that it now has very little in common with the original movement of the 1950s.

Changes have also occurred in the music that the dance is performed to. Although Rock and Roll is danced to a 4/4 beat that is found in Rock and Roll music, the music has an off-beat stressing that the dance does not follow. So instead, contemporary pop and disco music has become a more popular choice due to its high speed and its on-beat stressing.
Editor: Nichola Manning