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Moves are broken down into constituents. There are four different types and you can inspect any one from the pull-down menus below. Click the "i" for more information.

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Constituents of Jive Moves

"Jive Constituents"  is a system to list the key "essence" of each move, without giving all the detail, normally required to be able to learn a move.  It lies somewhere between "pet names" and "detailed descriptions".

Pet names, such as a twizzle-stick, Nigel's move, gate or basket flip-flop are short and memorable but convey insufficient idea of what the move entails. Many organisations use very different names for the same moves.

Detailed descriptions can be useful to someone learning a move or recapping some finer point eg direction the dancers are facing, which way they turn, by how much and the hand-holds.  However anyone wanting to be reminded about the "essence of the move", particularly whether it was one they already knew, would find it tiresome to read through all the detail.

Jivemove's solution is to provide a "generic ingredients list" for each move.  Let us call these "constituents".  Consider what you might take if you had a snuffly nose....."Contac" possibly.  Such a memorable brand name tell you nothing.  How it is manufactured would be too much detail, but a generic names such as "pseudo-ephedrine hydrochloride" can aid you comparing with another brand, even if it is a bit of a mouthful..

When you remember a jive move, what comes to mind?  Possibly there was an "arm-jivey" bit, followed by a basket-like hold....ah yes, we rotated together in that for a while.....and then there was some sort of unwrap.  These all represent "constituents".

Jivemoves has detailed a set of generic jive constituents that should be immediately recognisable (with perhaps a few exceptions and dialect variations).  Rather than develop some new set of names, it builds on much of the terminology that has caught on over the years.  Before detailing these, it must be understood that constituents come in 4 categories:

  1. "Movements".  These represent the essence of a sequence of steps and hand-holds.  These are essential to many classic moves which have names (eg first move, pretzel, lady spin), but such moves often contain a number of movements.  For example, the essence of a first move is really pulling the lady forwards into the man's right hand side, turning her out 180 clockwise and back again. The turn or spin and return after this are common to many other moves..  A "movement" is the unique characteristic, in this case - a pivoting of the lady half a turn CW and back.  Hence First Move is a move name, but Jivemoves also uses it to describe the main constituent of the First Move, which is then followed by two further constituents, "turn" and "return".  A movement (eg turn) to considered to include the preparation phase.
  2. "Positions";. These represents static bodily "entanglement" (eg teapot, Flamenco, bow-tie). How one gets into and out a position, however, and what one does when in it, does not change the essence of the feeling. For example - a basket can be understood as the lady being on the right of the man with her arms crossed in front.  Whether she is swayed back and forth, walks or the partnership rotate together does not change this from being a basket.  In general the turns and returns to get into positions are often suppressed in order not to clutter up the description.
  3. "Embellishments".  These are expressive additions (eg hallelujah, hand-click, wiggle) that do not alter positions or footwork much.  It adds to the move to make it more interesting.
  4. "Modifiers". These alter moves or positions (eg false:, left-handed:, mans:, mirror:). They take something we know and describe a noticeable difference (eg half: tunnel, false: pretzel, left-handed: catapult, mirror: basket).  Many modifies will already be understood, eg left-handed:, others can be worked out eg mirror: and pull: can be readily learned.  "resume:" indicates that the move before the embellishment just performed continues from where it was interrupted.

Some jive terms have had to be limited to become unambiguous movements:

Some jive terms have not been used as movement names as they are too specific:

Some jive moves have been split as they are used for both movement and position:

Some movements contain a little less than one would expect:

Some new terms have been introduced:

When viewing a list of constituents, it might look complicated.  First ignore the modifiers in lower case and "feel the capitals".  Remember that although this is tough, it may be easier than wading through all those descriptions! eg:


This consists of two side-to-side movements followed by a basket (without a sway).  One of the side-to-sides is performed as a mirror image.

short: YOYO, cross-handed: WURLITZER

A yoyo movement is started but rather than pulling her arm back to the shoulder, both hands are prepared for an anti-clockwise spin.

There are some moves that are not easy to describe using constituents.  At the end of the day it is important to record what it feels like rather than what it is.  If it feels like a first move, but not quite, then "nearly:FIRST-MOVE" is used.  If it feels like starting a catapult but completely changes, then "false:CATAPULT" is used.

Constituents of  a move, where available, can be viewed by checking the box to the right of  the "quick select menu" when in database mode. The constituents are first listed in a line a above; click on these for a definition of each one, and the detailed descriptions of each move are also broken up by constituent.  In gallery mode, the constituents, if switched on, will be appended to the appropriate jive count and form the colour of the text until the start of the next constituent.

Don't like them?  That's ok, just uncheck the box to the right of  the "quick select menu" and you will never see them again.  However, they do no harm and you might find they provide some structure to the long list of descriptions by count.  They are not perfect and work better on some moves than others.

Lists of the different constituent types can be viewed from the pull down lists at the top of this page.

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