Peabody: A Simple Introduction to a Jazzy Dance

What do we know about the Peabody?

The dance called the Peabody is a throwback to a really jazzy period in America. It started in the 1910s and held on strong through the 1920s and far beyond.

It’s essentially a fast (really fast) Foxtrot.

The Peabody is danced to Ragtime music at a tempo of 60-62 measures per minute (mpm) or 240-248 beats per minute (bpm). In fact, the Polka is the only other dance that moves that quickly. In contrast, even the International Quickstep is danced at 50-52 mpm.

Ragtime music

Think Scott Joplin, “Maple Leaf Rag“. It kinda feels a little like the Electro Swing music that I’m so fond of. It’s all right here in this Dance Safari post, “Electro Swing…Funky Feel-Good Music“.

Here’s a sample of music from a video promoting the 2018 PROFESSIONAL WORLD PEABODY CHAMPIONSHIPS in San Diego. As a matter of fact, the World Peabody Championships are a part of the Great Gatsby Gala Dancesport Championships. Moreover, the competition is organized by former professional Latin and Show Dance champion Kasia Kozak & outstanding ballroom professional and pro-am competitor Louis Bar.

Joy is the essence of the Peabody!

The high-energy music for the Peabody will bring a smile to your face. To be sure, it’s a happy dance. With this in mind, I believe it’s time to bring it back.

How does it go?

Well, it’s a walking dance sort of like Foxtrot. However, because of the speed of the music, some adjustments have to be made.

  • Small steps help you keep up with the fast tempo.
  • Moving quickly from right-side to left-side position requires a flexible frame.
  • It doesn’t use body contact because of the outside partner dance positions.
  • Unlike its relative Foxtrot, this dance has no side together step.
  • The Peabody dancer uses lock-steps, cross-steps, pivots, flicks, and syncopations to express the music.

Basically, when you and your partner are moving to the music, you have a choice of dancing on each beat (called a Quick), every other beat (Slow), or you can split beats in half and syncopate.

If you’re into the music, you can probably find a group that celebrates it through dancing and even costuming. Think Peabody, Balboa, Charleston, and Lindy Hop. Like the Peabody, these are all great dances from a jazzy era that are still fun to do today.

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