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Highgate School has around 60 active clubs and societies for pupils to take part in and enjoy. The range of activities is diverse, ranging from academic societies such as Chemistry to non-academic ones like Bee Keeping. Alongside these clubs, for Year 9-13, Tuesday Afternoon Activities (TAA) take place.

Pupils have the chance to choose from a range of activities which they take part in for 1 hour after school every Tuesday. These can range from debating to sign language.

This week we interviewed Saffy, Sacha, Caitlin, Olivia and Issy who are taking part in the swing dance TAA to find out what it’s all about and what you can learn.


Q: Why did you decide to do swing-dancing?

A: Swing dancing seemed like such a fun thing to do.

A: I have always liked dancing but had never tried swing dance so I thought I would give it a go.

A: I did swing dancing last year and loved it so I wanted to do it this year as well.


Q: What do you enjoy about it?

A: The dance is so energetic and the routines are all so fun to do.

A: Every time I do swing dancing it just makes me smile, it’s so much fun.

A: The music is great, it’s fun and a bit different.


Q: What takes place during a normal session?

A: For each session we go through all the parts that we have done so far in the term, then we learn one new part for each session.


Q: What is the hardest part about swing dancing?

A: The hardest part is how exhausting it is.

A: The dance is very energetic, but it is hard to stay energetic throughout the entire session.

A: It is also really hard because the dance requires a lot of speed


Q: Why should others come to swing dancing?

A: It is just so much fun, we are all good friends here, and it is just something a bit different.

A: After coming to one session you get hooked and you want to keep doing it.


We also spoke to Ms Wijesuriya, who runs the activity to find out what is involved:


Q: What is swing dancing and what does it involve?

A: "Swing dance" is an umbrella term for group of dances that developed with the swing style of jazz music in the 1920s-1940s in America. During the swing era, there were hundreds of styles of swing dancing, but those that have survived beyond that era include: Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, Charleston and Authentic Jazz. Swing dance grew out of the African American community and eventually became popular with young people across America and Europe. What we focus on at TLA is Authentic Jazz which is an energetic solo form of swing dance which emphasises strong rhythms and individuality. A number of classic routines (like “The Big Apple” the one you saw us practising!) have survived the decades more or less intact with repertoire of steps, derived mainly from tap, African dance, Charleston, and earlier partnered swing styles such as Breakaway. 


Q: What do pupils learn in swing dancing?

A: Well I think primarily it’s about having fun, connecting with the music and expressing yourself through movement. The music we dance to is so joyful that you can’t help but leave TLA with a smile. In terms of skills though, it teaches pupils coordination, balance, rhythm, recall and most importantly not to be self-conscious. 


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