About Swing School

Our aim is to dramatically improve your swing dancing.

The Lindy Hop community is full of exciting but exhausting weekend swing camps where the focus is divided equally between classes and evening parties. Then there are swing exchanges where the bias is in favour of socials. Swing School tips the balance in the other direction so that it’s all about the classes. But it’s more than that: we give you consistent technique and we do that by having one class and one set of teachers.

The goal of swing dancing should be to enjoy yourself – the socials are both the training ground and the destination – but we want to offer a different type of training ground, one that resembles professional training.

When you train as a professional dancer, you keep your energy levels high for your classes. You expect to work hard and to get results. You know your teachers, they know you, and they know what you need to do to improve.

At Swing School you’ll learn choreography and swing moves but there are also going to be drills and conditioning exercises, with an emphasis on good technique in everything you do.

After Swing School you’ll feel the difference when you return to the social dance floor.

This from one of our students:

‘Thank you all so very much for an amazing and transformative week. I don’t think I have made that much progress with my dancing since my first ever classes.’

Ryan says:

‘This type of training is common in other dance styles and is long overdue in the Lindy Hop world.’

Lana says:

‘I’m looking forward to being able to teach others the way that I have been taught. I was taught with a real focus and aim to get better, and to develop quickly but also as a well-rounded dancer. There were no short-cuts. It was intense. I’m really excited to work with people who want to learn at this level.’

Stage 1

On any journey, it’s always wise to start at the beginning.

Stage 1 of Swing School is your beginning. It is the gateway of the path to your development and your understanding of the foundation steps, movements and techniques that are at the core of the Lindy Hop.

Stage 1 is not low-level. No matter what your level of dance experience, this is where your journey begins with us.

Each course within Stage 1 lasts for five full days, during which you will focus on clear and rigorous training methods to widen your base knowledge and your ability to accomplish competent and inspiring dancing.

You will be taught to both understand and execute clear foundation steps and ideas, learning not only their structural purpose, but their connection to music and history.

Ryan and Lana will take you through the same processes that professionals use to develop their bodies’ and minds’ capacity to dance. This is the key, and the unique element of a Swing School course. You are trained with the same approach professionals use to train themselves.

You will be encouraged to be patient, precise, and focused on minute details, with lots and lots of repetition. In a learning environment that promotes energy and concentration, you will work hard and get real results.

Swing School Stage 1 will give you the tools to dramatically accelerate your growth, and to work towards the next stage . . .

Stage 2

You must have completed Stage 1 and have a clear understanding and good execution of all the vocabulary and fundamental ideas before you can progress to Stage 2.

In Stage 2 you will immerse yourself at a higher and faster level. You will be challenged to build on your foundation vocabulary in a more sophisticated and precise way.

The base methodology of Stage 2 remains the same as Stage 1 – repetition, focus on core mechanics, and professional training – but our aim at this level is to move you away from your comfort zone and push you, with guidance, to take the responsibility to self-improve to whatever level you set for yourself.

You are looking for a way to get past what Ryan calls the ‘sticking point’, where you feel you are no longer improving. You have settled on the same floor for long enough and need help to start developing in an upwards direction again.

Swing School Stage 2 is here to get you closer to your top floor; it is quite simply the answer to your sticking point.

Stages Applications

Here’s some guidance to help you plan your courses for 2020:

All dancers are welcome to apply for any of the Stage 1 courses.

Stage 1 February and Stage 1 May are brand new courses for 2020. Students who have already done a Stage 1 week should be aiming to attend these courses next; but they are also open to you if you’ve never done Swing School before, as is Stage 1 August, which will have very similar content to Stage 1 2017/18/19.

To be eligible to apply for any of the Stage 2 courses, you must have completed Stage 1. Applications for Stage 2 will be individually assessed by Ryan and Lana.

Stage 1 is the foundation stage. You should spend time within this stage to acquire the breadth of knowledge you need, as well as to practise and consolidate your learning. You need to have mastered all the Stage 1 techniques and material before looking to move to Stage 2.

Stage 2 is the progression stage. If you are already in Stage 2, we recommend that you take the April course. You may also wish to take Stage 1 courses to refresh fundamental skills and knowledge.

We are very happy to offer individual advice. Email us at dance@swing-school.com and Ryan will be able to recommend the best approach for your own personal learning. Remember, it’s not about progressing as quickly as possible – we want you to be the best dancer you can be.

Bristol weeks take place at Ashton Park School, Blackmoors Ln, Bower Ashton, Bristol BS3 2JL

London week takes place at Haverstock School, 24 Haverstock Hill, Chalk Farm, London NW3 2BQ

Days run 11 am – 6 pm

£285 per person (you will have the option of paying in full or paying a deposit of £85 per course, the balance due 6 weeks before the course begins)

Application form

Stages Refresher Weekends

Stage 1 Refresher Weekend – 4th/5th January 2020

open to anyone who has completed a Stage 1 week, including 2017/18 week 1 or 2.

Stage 2 Refresher Weekend  – 11th/12th January 2020

open to those who have completed Stage 2 week 2019 only.

Circomedia, Bristol, BS15 8DB. Cost £130 per person.

You must have completed any Stage 1 week to do the Stage 1 weekend refresher. If you have completed Stage 2 week 2019, you may attend either weekend, or both!

Teachers

Ryan Francois

Ryan Francois is one of the original revivalists of the Lindy Hop from the 1980s. Mentored and trained by some of the original Savoy Lindy Hoppers such as Frankie Manning, Pepsi Bethel and Mama Lu Parks, he is considered by one of the greatest Lindy Hoppers of his generation, Frankie Manning, to be his third son – an honour Ryan works constantly to live up to.

Ryan can look back on a stunning career. He is without question one of the best dancers, choreographers and teachers of our time.

One of the most influential figures in the modern Lindy Hop world, teaching, competing, performing and choreographing for over 30 years. He’s taught, well, everywhere and directly or indirectly almost everybody. His credits include Hollywood movies Swing Kids, Malcolm X, Idlewild, and others; the hit Broadway show Swing! and of course choreographer for the hit TV shows Strictly Come Dancing, So You Think You Can Dance and Britain’s Got Talent, amongst many other credits both as a dancer and choreographer.

Simply put, he is a pioneer with a near Yoda-like knowledge of the Vernacular Dances who has a passion for sharing his knowledge of the Swing Era to dancers and non-dancers alike.

Lana Williams

Lana has been a professional dancer for over ten years. She dances as a soloist, ensemble dancer, partner dancer, and works as a choreographer. She has performed within all aspects of the industry, including film, TV, theatre, musical theatre, commercial and corporate events.

Lana began her professional training in classical ballet, progressing to tap, jazz and musical theatre. Then she found and fell in love with partner dancing. Working and training with three-times World Salsa Champions early on in her career, she specialised in latin and ballroom dance styles. Competing on the TV show Strictly Dance Fever, Lana met Ryan, who introduced her to swing dancing.

Ryan invited her to join his London-based dance company in 2006. Under his tuition she learnt Vernacular Jazz, Lindy Hop, Charleston, Black Bottom and Cake Walk, along with the historical roots of the Swing Era. Her debut into the global Lindy world was performing in the re-creation of Hellzapoppin’ at Frankie ’95. From there she continued to perform Swing worldwide, including the Dance Manifesto Launch in London, Assistant Choreographer for BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, BBC’s Dance House 1944, the boys of Tap Dogs at the Savoy Theatre London, and with Winton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center, NYC.

Lana has a teaching career to match her performance career, and has always taught multiple dance styles. Working and teaching with Ryan at swing camps across the UK and Europe is a particular joy. Over the past few years they have taught at Gloucester Swing, Bristol Swing Festival, Camp Savoy, Jazz Au Source and Jazz Cat Dance Camp, Montpelier.

Her approach to teaching begins with her passion for music, then technique and style. She teaches across the spectrum, from absolute beginners to advanced and professional dancers. Combining over 27 years of learning with some of the greatest teachers, Lana fuses a multitude of techniques and frameworks to develop dancers’ understanding of their own bodies and movement whilst expressing their own flavour, energy and joy. Whether swinging out fast or slow, throwing aerials, or fancy footwork, teaching and dancing swing is a pure passion of hers.

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