Find out about the tracks you can sign up to and read about the level requirements. We offer:

Crash Courses Balboa, Lindy Hop, Shag, Solo Jazz  |  Explorers Shag, Solo Jazz  |  Intermediate / Advanced Balboa, Lindy Hop  |  Level check


The workshops are suitable for complete beginners through to advanced levels, so if you've never been on a dancefloor, or are used to regularly attending national and international workshops, there's something for you!

Please read the level descriptions before registering for the event. As you choose your level, please bear in mind that "experience" and "skill" are two distinct words. Experience refers to the amount of exposure you have had to a thing. Skill refers to your ability to do a thing well. Please choose your level based on your skill, not necessarily your amount of experience.


Do not sign up for a higher level than is appropriate for your skill set. This will negatively affect your learning experience, and that of other students.

When you register, you will indicate the level which you feel is most appropriate for you, though this does not necessarily guarantee placement in that level.


All attendees choosing Intermediate or Advanced will be subject to a friendly and constructive level assessment on Saturday morning. (See below for details.)

Crash Course (Balboa, Lindy Hop, Shag and Solo Jazz)

This level is perfect for those interested in learning from scratch or reviewing the fundamentals.
Attendees can choose to learn a variety of styles over the weekend. Please check the schedule to see how this will work.
All crash courses are suitable for complete beginners and those who have been dancing for less than 6-months. You’ll learn the fundamentals for beginners on the Saturday sessions and explore more complex moves on the Sunday. Each class will progress gradually and will provide enough material for a range of experience.

The solo jazz crash course is for you if you’re new to Solo Jazz and looking to learn the vocabulary of steps or you’ve had a go at routines like the Shim Sham or Tranky Do but haven’t quite mastered them yet.
These classes will feature 2.5 hours of tuition per style each day.

Explorers (Shag & Solo Jazz)

Solo Jazz: You’ve mastered the Shim Sham, and Tranky Do and you are keen to work on the quality of your movement, timing, technique and authenticity.  You would like to learn how to use solo jazz for competitions and jam circles.

You've been dancing Collegiate Shag steadily for about a year and maybe you take regular classes. You're comfortable dancing between 200-220 BPM and you can easily lead/follow figures and simple moves at this speed. You've mastered:

  • All three positions: Closed, Open, Side by Side

  • Basic 6ct Shag musicality: 4 basics + 8ct break

  • Different footwork variations, such as double kick, step kick, heel-toe, Fordham

  • Basic steps: tuck turn, pass by, shag out, sugar push

Intermediate/Advanced (Lindy Hop or Balboa)

Dancers at these levels must choose to learn Lindy Hop OR Balboa for the whole weekend. Dance styles cannot be mixed, due to scheduling restrictions.


As a minimum, dancers will need to know the following moves:



  • Pure Bal Basic (single and double time)

  • Ad Libs

  • Lollies

  • Scoots

  • Paddle Turns

  • Out and Ins

  • Come-around

  • Throwout


Lindy Hop:

  • Tuck Turn

  • Pass

  • Bring in

  • Swingout from closed and Swingout in open

  • Circle

  • Charleston - tandem & hand to hand

Other considerations:

  • You have been dancing regularly for at least a year

  • You should be used to attending regular classes and social dances

  • You should be comfortable demonstrating some musical changes in any of these basic movements and have a good knowledge of moves beyond the basics, adding variations

  • You should be comfortable dancing to all styles of swing music at a variety of tempos

  • You should be able to manipulate the moves you know to fit the music and adapt to your partner's ability

  • You can demonstrate the above movements without a partner if needed

  • You should be interested in improving your ability and adding voice and style into your social dances

The classes will progress gradually giving plenty of content and technique for a range of intermediate ability levels.

These classes will feature eight hours of tuition from our international teachers.


As a minimum, dancers will need to know all of the content in the Intermediate level, plus:



  • Triple steps in Pure Bal

  • Counter and contra-body motion

  • Behind the back moves

  • Timing changes in throwouts

  • Texas Tommy

  • Swivels

  • Pop turns


Lindy Hop:

  • Texas tommy 

  • Pop turn 

  • Barrel rolls 

  • Sugar pushes 

  • Transitions in Charleston moves such as 

    • Airplane kicks 

    • Hand to hand 

    • Tandem 

    • Hacksaw 

    • Side by side 


Other considerations:

  • You have been dancing regularly for at least two years

  • You should be used to attending national and international workshops

  • You teach in your local scene, or compete at events you attend

  • You are a faster learner than others in your peer group. You can watch a move or styling once or twice and replicate it without much explanation

  • You should be comfortable dancing to tempos in excess of 180bpm (Lindy) listen here, and 220bpm (Balboa) listen here

  • Leads are experimenting with new ways to add musicality and are able to watch a move and replicate it after a couple of tries with minimal instruction

  • Followers can adapt to a variety of partners and can follow moves and rhythms they have never been led in before. They could teach a friend some stylings and variations

  • You anticipate being in the top 30% ability level of all dancers attending classes at this event


The classes will progress gradually giving plenty of content and technique for a range of advanced ability levels.


These classes will feature eight hours of tuition from our international teachers.

Intermediate/Advanced Level Check

To maintain the integrity of Intermediate/Advanced levels, all dancers will be requested to attend a Level Check on Saturday morning from 11am-12pm, before classes. During this check, the instructors will group together dancers who are at similar point in their dancing and place them where they feel the attendee will be best served.


How will the level check work?

Our Level Check will work differently to the usual audition-style level test, and we're hoping it will be a lot less stressful and a lot more useful for everyone involved!


This will be run as an extra half hour-long class like any other class you would take. So nothing like the regular three-song tests where you have to somehow show off everything you've ever learned to impress the instructors, and no getting partnered with a dancer who can't lead or follow well enough to show off your ability.


Instead, two of our international instructors will run a class as normal, you will work through the move or concept as normal and rotate around the class as normal.


By the end of the half hour-long class, you will have learned something, whilst our exceptionally talented instructors will have grouped together individuals who learn at the same pace and are at similar points in their dancing. You'll also have an additional free half hour of classes from some of the best international instructors in the world! Why would you ever turn that down!?!

We promise to make it as pain free as possible, and we promise that you will be placed into the level where you will learn in the most effective and constructive way!

Our instructors will be rotating through the levels throughout the weekend, and will be teaching broadly the same content to both levels, they will simply adjust their teaching technique and language to cater for each level accordingly.

If you are placed in a different level from the one for which you registered, we ask that you respect the judgment of the instructors and attend the classes for the level you are placed in for the first period of the weekend (Saturday morning). If, after this session, you feel that your placement is not correct, you may discuss this with the instructors who assessed you. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be placed in the level you feel you should be in. Remember, you are assessed against all the attendees for this specific weekend, not against a standardised ranking, so your ability assessment is based on a moveable scale.

NB: Anyone who does not attend the Level Check will be automatically placed in Intermediate Level.

These guidelines were formed with advice from the organisers of California Balboa ClassicI *Heart* Bal and Bal-Ast Off!

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@2019 Birmingham Swing Festival