Home : Indroducing Partner Dancing : Hollywood Style
Hollywood Style and Savoy Style
In the '90s two new swing styles emerged in California that for a while were strong rivals with each other, the Savoy Style which can be traced back to the ‘80’s revival of interest in lindy, and the 'Hollywood Style' which Erik Robison and Sylvia Skylar from Los Angeles put together in 1997. The latter combined west coast swing techniques with '40s dance stylings, most specifically Jean Veloz (who is featured in the 1940's short 'Groovie Movie' along with a number of major feature films), and "a look" derived from the dance sequences of various 1940’s and 50’s Hollywood films.
Despite the name a sizeable proportion of the LA swing dance scene continued to adhere to the basic Dean Collins technique, which they see as quite separate from the Hollywood Style. For a while the Hollywood Style enthusiasts defined what they were doing in contrast with the 'Savoy Style' that was originated primarily by Erin Stevens and Steve Mitchell of Pasadena, Cal.
'Savoy Style' dancers usually danced to slow music, and not necessarily swing, often in a semi-walking mode with a light and low lead whilst executing various set choreographed patterns that has little in common with anything danced at the original Savoy Ballroom. The ‘rivalry’ didn’t last long and the bulk of Savoy Style dancers continue to attend their two main events of year on Catalina Island off Los Angeles in July, and the Swedish Herrang Camp in July and August. Camp Hollywood has grown into the major event for the new Hollywood Style.
In the past couple of years various Los Angeles dancers have been teaching Hollywood Styles in the main UK Lindy events and now British teachers are offering regular classes.
Dean Collins Style
Virtually constant in the background of the LA scene, up to the present day, has been the influence of Dean Collins. Starting out as a Savoy Ballroom dancer in New York, Collins moved to LA at roughly the same time as Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers hit town in 1937 to perform in the Lindy Hop sequence in the movie 'Day At The Races'. Collins stayed and his name became associated with this shock dance therapy that acquired even more impact when Collins teamed up with the remarkable Jewel McGowen in 1939.
Their dancing partnership lasted for eleven years, and its unusual longevity has had a potent influence on many dancers up to the present day. Some caution is required though when talking about 'Dean Collins technique' as he constantly tinkered with it over the years, no doubt influenced by his various commissions to work in Hollywood films and changes in the prevailing music fashions.
He can be seen dancing in Hellzapoppin' with one of the stars Martha Raye, but can be better appreciated in the Abbott and Costello film Buck Privates where he dances with Jewel alongside other dancers he trained. He left a huge legacy via the films he danced in personally and those dancers he trained who performed in others, and through the actual 'scene' he did so much to create. The distinctive 'leaning back' postures and whip like character of its 'swing outs' are clearly demonstrated in Buck Privates.
Some US teachers have visited the UK recently teaching Dean Collins style.