This is a video of two very well-known international Lindy Hop instructors, Peter Strom and Nina Gilkenson dancing at our local annual event Lindy on the Rocks in Denver, Colorado. The video was two years ago during a Jack and Jill competition.
They're one of my two favorite swing dancers! During this competition a Jack, the "lead" (typically male) and a Jill, the "follow" (typically female) are selected at random with a song that is selected at random to dance together. None of this is choreographed and is all improvisation. This is an Invitational Jack & Jill, so only professionals (teachers or dancers who've won a lot of competitions) are invited to compete.
What is connection?
In Lindy Hop (and I think in most partner dances - I know Tango, Blues, Balboa and West Coast Swing for sure), follows have to respond to the leads instruction by traveling to a location given the information that is transmitted through the connection. The connection is mostly through the "hand hold" in Lindy Hop, but it can also be transmitted through other parts of the body (closed connection in Tango & Blues), visually, and through the music. There is a LOT of minute things that happening in a "hand hold," so its not your typical hand hold!
What is lead & follow?
To get to a destination a follow must get there using the same tone, speed, rhythm, posture, pulse, etc. However, how a follow gets there is up to them, so the better the follow you are, the better variations, syncopations, arm movement, etc. you can do while being in a relaxed state and following the lead with all the qualities I mentioned above. The better lead you are, the better you can "move" your partner, transmit information and lead your follow musically through the song. Also the better the lead and follow, the faster the tempo they can dance as a couple.
Not only is Nina's footwork totally awesome, his leading musical and the song a fairly fast tempo, they're joking around and playing a slapping game - "give me five, up high, down low... you're too slow!!" All while competing!!! Every time I watch this it makes me smile!! :)
Here's another video of Nina: Ben Morris and Nina Gilkenson Improv Lindy Hop
Check it out, her dress gets caught 1:43 and it totally doesn't faze her!! I however, would have tripped and landed flat on my face! She's my favorite - I totally want to dance like her!!
I actually haven't danced this year (so sad!) because my husband started a new job and hasn't accrued any vacations yet and needs to concentrate on finishing up his doctorate thesis in physics this year. However, last year we attended 12 workshop/events which were mostly out of state. It was so much FUN!! I was going to start competing seriously this year, but that's been put on hold for next year.
Another reason why I took up cello playing is to understand how music is structured and to improve my musicality once I start dancing again. Although, I'm starting to like playing the cello better! More of a solo sport! :)