Step Movements

The rhythm structure of Lindy Hop describes how the footwork for longer moves is broken down into smaller units. These smaller units are two beat intervals in the music, against which the dancers perform either an odd or an even number of steps. There is a huge range of possible movements for the individual steps, but the majority of the movements in common use are a much smaller subset.

A simple step is a movement that transfers the dancer's weight from one foot to the other. Because Lindy Hop is danced to fairly fast music, it is important that the dancers take these steps with their knees slightly bent and their weight forward on the balls of their feet, so that they can react and move quickly.

Each step can move the dancer in a variety of different directions—forwards, backwards, to the side—but it's also possible for a step to leave the dancer in roughly the same place. The simplest in-place steps are to replace the moving foot back in its previous position, or to bring the moving foot next to the stationary foot. However, the moving foot can also cross in front ("cross") or behind ("hook") the stationary foot, often in preparation for a rotation.

The only variant of a straightforward step that is commonly used in Lindy Hop is the twist step. In a twist step, the dancer steps forwards with their foot pointing out to the side; this also means that the dancer's hips turn slightly in that direction. With a second twist step, the dancer's hips rotate back in the other direction; this also results in the back, non-stepping foot swivelling in place on the floor. For a sequence of twist steps, the net result is a hip and foot swivelling action.

For foot movements that don't transfer the dancer's weight from one foot to the other, there are a wider variety of possible actions for the free foot.

  • The foot can be placed flat on the ground, as for a normal step but without the transfer of weight.
  • The foot can be placed on the ground with either the heel or the toe of the foot lifted.
  • The foot can be held off the ground, with the knee bent (known as a "stag" position).
  • The foot can kick in any direction. In Lindy Hop, kicks are normally done with the toe pointing down.
  • The foot can tap percussively off the ground, using the toe, the heel, or the whole foot.

The foot that is holding the dancers weight can also do things—the dancer can jump or hop on that foot, or slide across the floor.

front view reverse view detail
Step. The dancer extends their free foot to a spot on the floor, and transfers their weight to the free foot, onto the ball of the foot. Except for this brief moment of weight transferral, the dancers weight should always be on one foot at a time. (image: weight on the ball of the foot)
Hook Step. The dancer steps with their free foot behind the other foot. To keep their weight on the ball of the foot, the heel should not touch the ground. (image: close up)
Cross Step. The dancer steps with their free foot across in front of the other foot, so their legs become crossed. (image: close up)
Twist Step. The dancer steps forwards with their foot pointing out to the side, swivelling their hips to point slightly in that direction. This hip swivel also means that the back foot also rotates in this direction. If the previous step was a twist step, then this means that the toe of the back foot changes from pointing to the side to point to the front. (image: close up)
Kick. The dancer bends the knee slightly, then straightens the leg to flick the foot out in a kick. The toes are pointed and the kick is normally directed towards the floor (as if to kick an object across the floor). For a backwards kick, be sure that no other dancers will be kicked. (image: side view)
Tap. The dancer extends their foot and then swiftly straightens and re-bends their ankle, so that the ball of the foot strikes the floor. (image: close up with direction indicator)
Stomp. The dancer puts their foot down flat on the floor, like a tap but with a flat foot, without transferring their weight onto that foot. (image: close up with direction indicator)
Heel Tap. The dancer lifts the heel of their foot off the floor and then drops it back onto the floor. (image: close up with direction indicator)
Point. The dancer extends their foot straight out from the leg and touches it to the floor, without transferring their weight onto the foot. (image: side view)
Stag. The dancer lifts their free foot a small distance off the floor, next to the other foot, so that the free leg is bent at the knee. (image: side view)
Slide. The dancer either pushes off with the free foot or uses their momentum to travel on the foot that has their weight, sliding across the floor. The feasibility of sliding varies depending on the slipperiness of the floor and the sole of the shoe; however, standing flat so that weight is evenly distributed over the foot helps stability. (image: foot closeup)
Hop. The dancer bends the knee of the leg supporting their weight, and then travels slightly as they jump up, landing on the same leg. (image: preparation)
Jump. The dancer bends both knees and jumps up by straightening their knees. (image: preparation)