The Break-A-Way ... (a Swing Dance) was originally a syncopated Two-step. The dancing couple would split or "breakaway" from each other still holding hands (open position) and perform a solo impromptu of the same rhythm/beat of the music and come back together again (closed position). The Break-Away was the name of swing before being named the Lindy Hop by Shorty George in 1927. The Breakaway was a cross between the "Texas Tommy, Two-step, Apache Dance, Turkey Trot, Cakewalk and Grizzly Bear.
Prior dances, with the exception of the Apache and Texas Tommy did not have sections that you "Broke-away" from your
partner (or Danced in open position), they mainly danced in closed position. A popular step in all swing today as well as yesteryear is for the leader to take his left hand/ followers right hand down and behind the followers back as she turns away from the leader, this originated in the infamous "Apache Dance" and was used in the Texas Tommy a little later... (in the clip on the right its at 0:36) some dancers today still call this move the "Texas Tommy" while others call it the "Apache" Whip/ or Turn. During this time away (apart) from each other, the follower would stay out for "X" number of beats then the leader would lead the follower back into closed position. Occasionally they would show off their Tap Dance ability and syncopate their steps or grind etc. while in this "Open" position.
The Break-Away was only danced by African-Americans at the time. Whites were just starting to find entertainment in Harlem and were not very fond of "Race Music" (the blues), they just were not quite ready to dance those "Negro Dances" of those (unfortunate) racially segregated times. It was mainly danced to slow to medium Ragtime music and Blues. Shorty George Snowden was the "King" of the Break-A-Way in the mid 1920's.
When the Charleston became popular in the 1920's, the Breakaway and Charleston merged, as Harlem grew, it to grew. The "Break-A-Way" was now ready to be called the "Lindy Hop" but would take a Newspaper, a Dance Contest (marathon dance actually,) a man named "Shorty George" Snowden and the "Savoy Ballroom" to do so in 1927/28.The Breakaway quickly lost a lot of the Turkey Trot and Grizzly bear, however the Texas Tommy, Charleston, Cakewalk and Apache remain in the Lindy Hop to this day!. The breakaway as a dance is no longer done today however. The Landler Dance of the 1720's also used a breakaway/ freestyle basic as a variation to the dance, it was almost described as a "solo Jam", done by the man.
Spellings used are Breakaway (most common), Break-away, Break-A-Way
Hey Flappers ... This Way,
Hey Flappers ... Let's do the Break Away...
You'll Never Breakaway...
Hot! What! "The Breakaway"
Wow! How! "The Breakaway"
Catch This Dance! See Sue Prance
Once You See It, Your Feet Can't Make A Stay!
Once It Gets You, You'll Never Breakaway!.