Friday, December 21, 2012

Matching the Music - Dax and Sarah

Looks like I've been on a little Dax and Sarah kick lately.  I just discovered this recent post of a social demo they did at GLHC.

First thing, the song, "Lindy Hopper's Delight" is just great.  This is one of those tunes that comes on and makes my feet want to move.

Second thing, I really enjoy social demos from the pros.  They give a sense of what's possible in a social dance where the lead/follow dynamic becomes the primary focus.  Yes, the pros have so much more practice, larger vocabularies, and are much more familiar with the music, but they give us something to aim towards.

Notice how they change in and out of different types of steps?  They throw in some Charleston, some break away Jazz movement, some large sweeping lines, and some close and tight movement.  They dance with how the music speaks to them.  They creatively play with instrumentation in the song. 

You can also tell that there is a conversation happening in their dancing.  He offers up a movement, she accepts and offers something back.  At one point when they break apart she isn't ready to come back in yet, and he catches this and continues with a new movement while separated and then waits to reconnect a few phrases later.

Personally, I've been striving to expand my dancing to match more closely whatever I hear in the music.  I find that my preferred mode tends to be faster and larger, but that isn't always a fit, so over the last few months I've been working more on smaller, tighter, slower, more nuanced and more efficient movement.

What do you think is your preferred dance mode?  Where do you need to find balance in your dancing?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Social Stealing - Sarah, Dax, and Max

A special thanks to our friend Cynthia from the UK for pointing out this great video.

These three dancers are well known to be top competitors and teachers internationally. I would like to point out how the dancing here is so calm and connected to the music. These three are all known for tearing up the floor with high tempo (and high flying) routines, but given a slower, calmer song they are just as capable.

Though the big crazy performances get more views, we shouldn't forget that songs and dances like this are much more similar to what we do socially.

Also, have fun and steal a dance every once in a while.  And make it look smooth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sharon and Juan - Showing Off the Follower

I absolutely love Sharon in this routine.  Juan's not so shabby either.

They're wonderful here for a number of reasons:  A fun and playful song with matching musicality, a spot-on performance, smiles that light up the room, but there's something more going on.

I believe, and I could be wrong because I can't find a quote confirming this, that Frankie Manning used to teach that the Leader's responsibility was to focus on the Follower - 
making her feel comfortable and showing her off. In doing this it allows her to shine and makes the dance, as a whole, better.  (You'll have to forgive me.  I'm digging back into the recesses of my late 1990's memory on this one so even if I'm wrong about Frankie just go with me here.  Oh, and please correct me if I am and I'll edit the post.)

The clear focus in this performance is Sharon.  She moves with certainty adding flourishes to each swingout and extra personality to every hit.  This works because Juan has purposefully taken on a supportive role.  He creates the foundation and she thrives upon it.  He builds the canvas and she paints.  He cooks the meatloaf and she brings the cake for dessert.

This is a team effort and works to great effect.

I believe that there's something very similar happening in Skye and Frida's performances over the last few years.  The video below from 2010 is a good example of when this really dawned on me.  I'm sure I have enough material for a future blog topic, but a quick look at the history of Skye's performances pre-Frida, and then his performances with her afterward seem to show a trend of Skye moving from being the focus of attention to becoming an extremely solid foundation and allowing Frida's personality to shine.

Please note that this is all based on my own observations and I haven't had any conversations with any of these amazingly talented individuals to back this up.  I can't say for sure if this is a conscious effort on their part while determining choreography or their own dancing styles, or if this is simply something that grows out of maturing as a dancer.

Whatever the cause, I can say that especially while social dancing this philosophy works.

Leaders, take care of your Followers.  Make them shine.  Work on your pulse, your connection, your core movement.  Create a solid and clear foundation for your Follower, and then leave her room in your patterns and movements to express herself and play.  If you do all of these things and also treat them with respect socially you will never lack for a good dance.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why you should know who Laura Windley is...

At EBC this year I met a Care Bear.  Well, I didn't actually meet a Care Bear, but a woman dressed as a Care Bear during the first night's Halloween costume contest.

But that's not exactly true either, you see.  I didn't meet her when she was dressed as a Care Bear, but 3 nights later when she was dressed in a nice vintage outfit.  Confused yet?

Her name is Laura Windley and she's a pretty awesome individual.  Yes, she created a home made Care Bear outfit, but even cooler than that she's also the singer and co-creator of the Mint Julep Jazz Band AND runs the blog Lindy Shopper about vintage clothing for the Lindy Hop Scene!

I know, right.  How cool is that?

The Mint Julep Jazz Band played the 2nd night of EBC, and they were spectacular.  They're a new group based out of North Carolina and they're just starting to play shows out, but they already sound like a seasoned and professional dance band.  I told Laura that her voice and performance was great.  She has a tone and phrasing that sits "right in the pocket."  You can tell she's studied the original Jazz vocalists and manages to both pay homage to their styles while creating something completely her own.  I was very impressed.

They've also started a kick starter campaign to fund their first album recording!  I'm all for more and more great current musicians playing the types of Jazz music I enjoy dancing to, and I know that many of you are too.  So get in early and help fund their awesome music!

Another thing I know that many of you are into is vintage clothing, so be sure to check out her blog, Lindy Shopper.  Set a bookmark and visit it regularly.  There's a lot of great information and you can tell that vintage EVERYTHING is her passion.

Enjoy the links and let her know what you think of her blog and music.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Double Events, plus Clips

With two simultaneous events next weekend, A Floor Divided and The Eastern Balboa Championship, I thought it would be keen of me to post some associated material.

First up is a recent Intermediate lesson recap featuring Peter and Naomi.  Peter is a master social lead and everyone attending A Floor Divided next weekend will benefit immensely from his instruction.

On a side note, check out all of the Uptown Swing lesson recaps for more great stuff to use in your dancing.

EBC is the other event happening that very same weekend.  My last visit to EBC was back on 2008, and if any of you have been to EBC you know that wackiness is a fundamental component.

During the event in 2008 they featured all of the instructors and had them dance to a previously un-announced song.  Nick and Sylvia were fortunate enough to get this gem; the original video is posted below for context.

Oh the magic of deleting just a single word.  Nick and Sylvia were great sports.

I'm sure both events will be awesome and I know I'm looking forward to more wackiness.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Lindy Connection T-Shirt!

I posted this on our Facebook page, but couldn't resist sharing it here too.

New Lindy Connection T-Shirts are on their way and we have a special deal to celebrate!

This Saturday, come at 7pm to pre-purchase a T-Shirt for $10 and you can attend the Advanced Lesson (a $5 value) for free! That's like half off a shirt!

Shirts come in both Men's and Ladies' cuts and will be here in the next few weeks.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators - Skinny Minne - A Review

There's a new jam I've been listening to with my ears, and my feet are getting jealous.

Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators released a live album just this last weekend and it hasn't left my playlist - now we just need to work some of these sweet tunes into the set list this Saturday at The Lindy Connection!

It's hard to decide which of the 17 tracks I'd like to dance to first.  The uptempo tunes like Bottoms Up, Grabtown Grapple, and Yacht Club Swing immediately grab my attention, but the more I listen to some of the slower jams the more I'm just not sure.

They've managed to capture a great mix of songs from their live performance at Midwest Lindy Fest.  There's a broad range of tempos, a mix of vocal and non-vocal numbers, and a wide pallet of instruments and tones.  There isn't a single dud on this album.

The song choices, the tempos, the rhythms, and especially the natural fluctuations throughout each song succeed in feeling just right to my dancer's ears.  After listening through the album a few times I begin to understand why they play so many national Lindy Hop events.  Glenn's band is first and foremost a dancer's band with a very high level of musicianship.  

By releasing a live recording they have managed to capture two very key things.  They've bottled the live energy of a band playing for a live dancing audience, but they've also managed something a little more subtle - this recording is not a perfect studio performance with auto-tuned horns, click-track drums, and a sterilized over-compressed sound stage - and I can't stress how wonderful that is.

This recording breathes, moves, feels authentic and alive - just like the old recordings we're so accustomed to listening to at every DJ'd dance.  This possibly minor detail makes a huge difference, and places them closer to the ranks of Sydney Bechet or Count Basie than any modern electro or neo-swing recording.  Of course, actually playing Jazz is probably the bigger and more noticeable component that sets them apart, but I digress.

All this is to say that they've put together a great recording that would fit perfectly into any Swing DJ's collection.  It hits all the key bullet points for a great new Swing Jazz album, contains a great mix of new and old tunes, and I know that I can't stop playing it in my car.  And my feet keep complaining.


Check out song previews at and let these awesome musicians know how much we appreciate their music by purchasing the album for only $12.

Also, send them a "like" on their facebook page and tell them Lindy Hop Weekly sent you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ULHS - Solo Jazz Fun

Sometimes you just gotta cut loose and have fun.  Enjoy the variety and energy.  Oh, and let's do more of this at The Lindy Connection!

Monday, October 1, 2012

ULHS 2012 - Jack and Jill Finals - Chaos!

It's Chaos I tell you, Chaos!!!!

...and I love it.

This Jack & Jill features some of the usual suspects and a mix of newer faces, or at least newer to me; but the real thing that stands out is the rough quality of the dancing in general. There are follows misreading lead movements and leads improvising and leaving their follows confused. There's a lot of slop in this dance, but the beautiful thing is that it's not for a lack of TRYING.

As I dissect this video a few things come to mind.  Why so sloppy and rough?  Well, for starters, it IS a Jack and Jill.  If the mix of dancers here are really that new to each other then it is going to match a social dance more than a polished competition between A list dancers who have been dancing and mixing at events for a decade or more.

Two, I get the sense that everyone is really trying hard.  They're pushing themselves to be creative, to stand out, to hit musical movements and break down tired patterns - and this really puts a strain on connection and the ability to read what is coming next.  I get the feeling that some of these leads AND follows are treading new ground, and with the energy of ULHS at their backs I can see how things might get a little sloppy.

Third, maybe we're a scene in flux.  Having watched a lot of videos from major events, I feel like we as a scene have hit a point of maturity over the last few years.  The pros are more polished than ever, we've moved beyond the wow of air steps to a real emphasis on jazz and musical movement, and many of the smaller events (heck, even the ILHC Pro-Am!) are showcasing an increasing level of lesser known competitors who are really starting to shine.  Maybe we're due to experience a growth spurt, a generational shift, and maybe that means that things will just have to be a little sloppy again until we gleam onto the new trends, the new language. I think we might just be experiencing the birthing pains of the next phase of our dance.  Or maybe I'm misreading the signs...

So yeah, this is Chaos, but it sure is exciting.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Featured Lindy Hopper - Youngwoo Joh

This week we highlight a musician, DJ, and dancer from Orlando who frequently travels to our scene in Tampa to guest DJ at The Lindy Connection or to just join in the dancing fun.  He also enjoys video games, late night "family dinners" at the Taco Bus after the dance, and long walks on the beach.  (I believe he's single too, ladies.)  

You've probably noticed by now that one of the key similarities between all of the featured Lindy Hoppers is their enthusiastic love of Lindy Hop, and that's something Woo has in spades.  Whether it's selecting just the right jazz tunes to play, or the way he moves on the dance floor, you can tell that the Lindy Hop is in his bones.

1) What types of dancing did you do before Lindy Hop? 

I didn't really do any other type of dancing (if you don't count the bit of hula I did for elementary school in Hawaii), though I did take two dance classes (ballroom and latin/salsa) at UCF before I started Lindy Hop.

2) How and when did you start Lindy Hopping? 

It was actually the UCF dance classes that finally got me motivated to check out the Swing Knights at UCF. This was back around the fall of 2008. However, technically speaking, I wouldn't say that I truly started Lindy Hopping until I went to Lindy Focus VII (2008), due to my fear of swingouts prior to that point. 

3) Have you traveled much for dancing? What is your favorite event you've attended? 

I've traveled a lot, but not as much as I'd like. The farthest I've gone for dancing thus far is Austin, Texas for Lone Star Championships. I'm not very good at playing favorites, though, but the fondest memory I have at the moment is of the latest Lindy 500 in Baltimore. 

4) If you could pick a song that makes you want to just get on the floor and cut-a-rug, what would you pick? 

Like I said, I'm not very good at playing favorites. I do, however, love pointing out songs that I feel are under-appreciated. One such song is Everything is Jumpin' performed by Artie Shaw and his orchestra. I also love songs that have subtle (and not-so-subtle) innuendo.

5) What drives you to keep dancing? 

This is a hard question. I'm not particularly competitive, but I do enjoy participating in competitions. I just enjoy Lindy Hop and finding new and exciting ways to express myself through the dance with and without a partner. 

6) Do you have a favorite dance memory? What is it? 

Again with the favorites! I don't really like this question, because I feel like my dance-related memories keep getting better as time goes on. So, instead, I'll be difficult and recall a memory that has stuck in my head. One time at a Southern Belle Swing Bash (a currently retired event), I ended up getting the bal-- *ahem* courage to ask Sharon Davis to dance. However, I was so concerned with the worry of her not thinking I was a very good dancer that I ended up dancing extremely vanilla. To this day, I use this memory to either scare me out of asking superstars, or to make sure I dance with them like I would anyone else I just met. 

7) What advice would you give to new Lindy Hoppers? 

Realize that you're not the greatest dancer in the world, but don't let that discourage you from continuing to dance. There's always something to work on, but you won't get very far if you don't let yourself enjoy it on your way up. Also, don't be afraid to ask the more experienced dancers to dance! 

8) Please share one video you find inspirational and explain why. 

Remember what I said about favorites? This time I have one! At least for now. Peter Strom and Jo Hoffberg's J&J performance at ILHC 2012 exemplifies some of my favorite things about Lindy Hop. There aren't a lot of flashy steps, but everything they do is deliberate and musical. Also, they adjust their styles to match each other in both synchronized and call-and-response situations.

Great video.  Peter and Jo are two of my favorites and this dance was amazing.

Thanks, Woo.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Featured Lindy Hopper - Heather Warner-Dubin

Our next featured Lindy Hopper has submerged herself in the scene since 2008 and seems to barely come up for air.  In other words, is there a dance in Tampa or Orlando tonight worth attending?  Yes?  Ok, you'll see her there.

She's also an avid traveler for Lindy Hop events, a Lindy Hop video guru, and has an never-ending drive to push her dancing further and further.  Oh, and she's pretty awesome too if you didn't gather that yet.

1) What types of dancing did you do before Lindy Hop? 

None. I danced around the house as a small child, but learned to hide in my room when I did it so no one would laugh at my clumsiness or my grand attempts at glory! Wait, does shakin' my tail in clubs during college count? No, I didn't think so... 

 2) How and when did you start Lindy Hopping? 

In September of 2008, I was a bit lost after unexpectedly returning to the U.S.A. after mission work. I went on a blind date to Zendah Grotto, and fell in love--with dancing; not the dude! East Coast Swing bored me after a few months, and I tried to learn Lindy. It didn't first. I persevered, attended a workshop at USF with Forrest and Sarah, Brendan and Andrea, and Hurley, and a month or so later I was at SoFLeX! 

3) Have you traveled much for dancing? What is your favorite event you've attended? 

I have traveled perhaps too much. I went to SoFLeX, ORLX, and CHEX my first year dancing, and then in 2010 I made myself the challenge to go to 12 out-of-town events, which I met. I've been to Lindy Focus in NC (fourth year this year!), Beantown in MA (my present favorite), Swing into Spring in SC, Satchmo Fest in NOLA, and about 10 non-workshop-based exchanges. I've danced with many instructors from around the globe, and I'll never regret any of the thousands of dollars poured into Lindy each year... 

4) If you could pick a song that makes you want to just get on the floor and cut-a-rug, what would you pick? 

Melissa stole mine! Haha... Go check out her interview! Dat's my JAM! 

5) What drives you to keep dancing? 

Perfectionism. Ha! But seriously, to paraphrase M.C. Escher, I do it because I want so very badly to do it well. Dance is like a language; in order to fully communicate what you wish, you must know tons of vocabulary and proper grammar, so constant practice and education is necessary. Dance is also improv art in an impassioned moment, and without easily-accessible skills, there is no way to create art fit for that moment of passion! 

6) Do you have a favorite dance memory? What is it? 

I have too many to recall on a whim, but my recent fave was a workshop with William and Maeva (French pros) where I finally understood the stretch in Lindy hop. I squealed and spun in circles in the middle of class! Or was it dancing with Bobby White...? Or...? Hm, too many... 

7) What advice would you give to new Lindy Hoppers? 

Go to ALL the free lessons you can, at AS MANY weekly dances as possible. When that stops producing results, get a private lesson from a local pro or go to a local workshop. Then TRAVEL TRAVEL TRAVEL to as many workshop weekends or exchanges as your job and finances allow.

8) Please share with us a Lindy Hop video that you find inspiring to you.

I think I'm going to go with this video as I can't find any other where so much happens, and I gasped so often!

Thanks, Heather!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kevin and Jo and Ghosts?

Kevin and Jo Lindy Hop in the land of the dead.  I just love the cinematography and the dancing isn't half bad either.

This puts me in the mood for a Halloween dance where we all dress as ghosts.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Featured Lindy Hopper - Walter Ley

We're continuing our Featured Lindy Hopper series this week with another awesome individual, Walter Ley.

A fairly recent edition to the Tampa Lindy Hop scene, Walter has quickly picked up the dance and you can usually find him at almost all of the main dances every week.  Whether it's discussing this year's ILHC videos or making jokes over "Family Dinner" after the dance at Steak-n-Shake, Walter is as friendly and fun socially as he is on the dance floor.  He's not hard to spot, so ask him for a dance at the next Lindy Connection or strike up a conversation about something other than how tall he is.

I decided to highlight Walter because of the energy he brings to the dances every week.  He just exudes a love of Lindy Hop and you can tell that he is always practicing and improving.  A dance full of Watlers would be amazing to behold, for a number of reasons.

1) What types of dancing did you do before Lindy Hop?

East Coast swing was the first type of dancing I had ever done, and I began Lindy about 6 months after starting East Coast.

2) How and when did you start Lindy Hopping?

Janie Friedman and I first got seriously involved in Lindy Hop after going to a workshop taught by Sheven at the Zendah Grotto. After that we just learned from lessons that Seth taught at the Zendah Grotto. 

3) Have you traveled much for dancing? What is your favorite event you've attended?

Not nearly as much I would like to! My favorite, and pretty much only, event I've been to is Beantown 2012. There were so many great instructors who taught amazing lessons, and amazing dancers and bands that made to social dances a lot of fun.

4) If you could pick a song that makes you want to just get on the floor and cut-a-rug, what would you pick? 

Lately I've been listening to a lot of stuff by Gordon Webster. I think my favorite song of theirs is Five Foot Two.

5) What drives you to keep dancing?

I love the people and the music, and creating new patterns and variations. I love that no two nights of dancing are exactly the same, and there's always new things to learn, perfect, and make your own.

6) Do you have a favorite dance memory? What is it?

Definitely going to Beantown Camp with Margie Sweeny and Heather Warner-Dubin. The highlight of the camp for me was getting to dance with MaƩva Truntzer.

7) What advice would you give to new Lindy Hoppers?

Learn good technique early on from good dancers, because if you let yourself form bad habits, it can be very hard to break them early on. And also dancing and going to as many lessons as you can will really help you to get good quickly.

8) Please share with us a Lindy Hop video you find inspiring.

My favorite video is probably the ILHC 2011 Strictly because it's got so many great dancers with such a wide range of styles. 

Thanks, Walter!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Featured Lindy Hopper - Melissa Reilly

Here at Lindy Hop Weekly we're starting a new series featuring some of Tampa Bay's most awesome individuals who happen to love Lindy Hop.

This week Melissa Reilly was kind enough to answer some questions and send us some links. She's a very natural dancer with a diverse background and also happens to be one of the core group running The Lindy Connection every week.

(Photo: She's at the front with the red flower in her hair and the pink fan)

1) What types of dancing did you do before 
Lindy Hop?

Ballet, modern/contemporary, belly dancing, salsa, some tap, basic ballroom

2) How and when did you start Lindy Hopping? 

I started Lindy in 2005. I took a swing dance class at USF (not the Swinging Bulls) I received credit for it. The instructor brought up different places we can go social swing dancing. I first went to Gulf Port Casino and then I found out about Zendah. 

3) Have you traveled much for dancing? What is your favorite event you've attended? 

I haven’t traveled as much as I would like. I have been to SoFlex, Pittstop, San Francisco (9:20 Special and Lindy in the Park), Lindyfest in Houston, went to a Jazz Fest in Tokyo, Japan, and Dublindy in Dublin, Ireland. My favorite event would be Lindyfest and that is because I had instruction from the best. I also had the opportunity to dance with Skye Humphries and Peter Strom. This year I would like to go to Lindy Focus (finally!)

4) If you could pick a song that makes you want to just get on the floor and cut-a-rug, what would you pick? 

I love Sidney Bechet. If I would pick song it would be Blue My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me by Sidney Bechet. 

5) What drives you to keep dancing?

I really enjoy partner dancing. I also like the music and people. 

6) Do you have a favorite dance memory? What is it? 

Yes! It was when Dervon Chang, Patrick Foley, Mo’Joe, Matthew Keen, Pamela Stergios and I went in Bill Flanery’s motor home for SoFlex 2007. (Photo Right)

7) What advice would you give to new Lindy Hoppers?

My advice would be to social dance as much as possible. If you are able to, travel and go to different Lindy events. Dance with the pros!

8) Please share with us a Lindy Hop video you find inspiring.

I find this video pretty inspiring:)

Awesome pick.  That's one of my favorites too.

Thanks, Melissa!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Slow Lindy Hop from Barswingona

One.  We won't do enough slow Lindy Hop.  Let's do more.  

Two.  Here's some inspiration for you.  Enjoy the slow Lindy from Barswingona.  

Three.  Yes, that's a camera on that first guy's head.

Four.  There is a couple that starts out with her leading and him following.  Nice.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BARSWINGONA 2012 - Skye and Naomi

There's something about their movement that is always so deceptively simple, so practiced and perfect.  I feel like watching this video will say more than any words I can come up with.  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jazz Dance Film Fest - 1st Place Video

I probably should have saved this for a future post, but it's just too much fun not to share.

This is another one of those great videos the just oozes with the life and love we share for this dance.  I can't watch videos like this and not feel like sharing this excitement with others.  

Wouldn't it be awesome if our scene looked like the place they're dancing at in this video?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Smokey Feet 2012

This is just awesome and fun.  Who wouldn't want to try this?  Thanks for the link, Heather.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Most Played Lindy Hop Video

I happened to wander over to Wandering and Pondering's blog today and noticed a little post about the most played Lindy Hop videos on Youtube.

Interestingly enough, this is the most played Lindy Hop video to come out in 2012, so far.

So I've decided to candidly list all of my thoughts in order as I watched:

  • Oh, man.  Here we go.  Another modern song with "swing dancing" in it.  Great.
  • I remember this song.  Do they play this at the Grotto sometimes?
  • The color pallet is really kind of nice... I like the way these shots look.
  • The dancing seems pretty good, but it's off time from the song. Nice work, Director.
  • But wait... I recognize those dancers.  These are actually known Lindy Hoppers... cool.
  • And several different couples, and they're actually DANCING.  Nice.
  • Well, it's not my favorite song, but this video could be much worse.
  • I really like the scenery... the mood of these clips... 
  • Dancing at night... out in public... during the day, whenever, wherever.  I can dig this.
  • Yeah.  I really like the positive vibe.  
  • Why the hell are we not dancing out in public more?

And that's where I ended up. So let me ask you, why the hell are we not just dancing out in public more? What's wrong with us? Is this something we just grow out of?  

It seems to me that we all go through that phase.  We decide to try going out dancing one night, and before too long we're hooked and going dancing all the time, as often as we can.  After a few months we get over the initial difficulty hump and think we're the best dancers in the world.  Then follows the Lindybomb ALL The Things mentality, and we all make fools of ourselves dancing horribly in public and probably in videos that show up on facebook, all the while having a blast thinking we look soooo awesome.

We soon grow out of this phase and realize that no, we just look silly, and we stop just dancing when the time feels right.  So the pendulum swings the other way and we avoid it at all costs.

But, like most things in life, isn't there a balance?  Isn't the best time to dance in public after we've reached a point where we actually are better dancers, and when the mood is right?  When there happens to be music, or an outdoors event, or just a group of friends hanging out at the park with a boombox and we feel it?  When we think to ourselves that this song would be fun to dance to, and then we "act like adults" and hold ourselves back instead, but there's no reason not to dance. Aren't those the right times?

So let's dress up a little, stand out, look nice, have some fun, and make people stop and look.  Maybe it's time again.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beantown Camp Strictly Finals

Look who's standing in the back left!

Feel free to skip past the first 2 minutes of all-skate at the beginning.  It's just a warm up and not very interesting.

After that comes the individual couples.  The first thing I noticed is, wow, these aren't all flawless rock-stars.  The next thing I notice is the variety of styles.  This is all Lindy Hop, but clearly these people come from different scenes, use different kinds of connections in the same movements, and are influenced by different instructors and professional dancers.

Can you see the differences?  Which couples do you prefer?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beantown Bounce - Bobby & Kate

Thanks again to my friend Heather Warner-Dubin for another great video suggestion.  She recently had the time of her life at Beantown Camp and has been posting a ton of videos from the event.

This video features Bobby and Kate, who somehow just keep getting better.  Since Lindy Hop is the focus for this blog I don't usually post Balboa videos, but Balboa is another love of mine and with so many Lindy Hoppers also dabbling in Balboa I thought it was appropriate.  (Hmm, how many more times can I fit Balboa into a sentence?)

Is it odd that I find this performance refined, smooth, mature, and also cute at the same time?  Maybe the cute comes from the blending of their personalities - Kate's calm, confident demeanor crossed with Bobby's excited grin and wide eyes.

I highly recommend taking a class with them if you get a chance.  They're both very intelligent and clear instructors with a deep understanding of their profession.  I also recommend reading Bobby's blog, Swungover.  He's a wonderful writer who regularly presents very interesting insights about swing dancing and life in general.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Refined Yet Raw - Dax Hock & Sarah Breck

Thanks to Caitlin Greene for posting this on her facebook last week.  This is a performance from the ever talented and interesting Dax (sans mustache) and Sarah.

So let's just get to the point with this performance.  There is something happening here that is significantly different than what we're used to seeing in performance Lindy Hop.  On Caitlin's page I posted that this video, to me, seems completely refined and yet very raw.  Their steps, technique, coordination is really solid and still there's this almost animistic and aggressive quality I can't recall ever seeing in their dancing before.

The song starts out cool and calm enough.  "I like pie, I like cake..." They work in some typically (for them) solid jazz movements and coordinated partner stuff.  And then the song keeps building, and building.  Maybe they are feeding off the energy of the audience, or maybe there's a fire in their feet and something in their eyes that tells me they're really selling this.  He begins to swing out with more force, still coordinated yet a bit less carefully, and her hair ends up in her face.

Maybe they just really like pie and cake and everything she "bakes," or maybe this is a moment of inspiration.  Either way, I like the energy of this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Skye and Frida - Jumping Through the Window

I've been watching this video a lot lately.  There's always a lot to love about Skye and Frida and there's a reason why they are the go-to couple when people talk about Lindy Hop.  There's a certain magical ease with which they perform all of their movements.

There are a few things specifically that stand out about this video to me.  On a very basic level  watch their swing outs over and over again and you'll notice that they've refined these into a precise art.  They're about as perfect as they could get.

My friend Andrea also pointed out something a little less obvious.  Look at their roles in this dance.  I think she's right when she mentions that Frida is the focus - she really sells every movement with attitude and excitement, while Skye is understated, solid, a foundation for her sparkle and flair.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Frankie and Dean - Swingout Comparison

Thanks to Scot Alsop for the reminder about this comparison edited by Nick Williams.

In the video you can see clips from two 1941 movies.  One features Frankie Manning and the other features Dean Collins - two of the most influential Lindy Hoppers of all time.

They were dancing to different tempos, so it's not a perfect comparison, but tell me what you think.

Do they look similar? Different? How? Why?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Simply Playful - Thomas & Alice

When asked about being a dancer and choreographer Frankie Manning would respond that he was only doing what the music told him to do. This both sounds very simple and also sets a very high bar. 

Just move the way the music says.  It's that simple, right?

Here is another video my friend Heather Warner-Dubin reminded me of the other day. This is Thomas and Alice performing a social dancing demo at Fram.

I love how they play with their movements, matching them to what is happening in the song. To me there is always an inherent silliness to Lindy Hop and Jazz in general. It has something to do with a deep connection to joy and celebration, and this song exudes silliness with the scat lines and even the tuba bass line which I always seem to find a little bit silly sounding. 

If we break their dance down we see that most of their movements are very common - they do a swing out here, a side pass there - but they mix in extra flavors to match what the music is saying. They dramatically extend the 1-2 of a swing out, they add in little hops to emphasize the end of a phrase, they play with a melody line and hold a pose. It's simple and yet very difficult at the same time. 

Think of it like painting a still picture of a scene in front of you. As the scene (the song) plays out how are the characters feeling? What is the mood of the lighting? What is the pace of the scene? This is analogous to the feeling of the song. How does it pulse? How fast or slow is the song? How does the melody interweave with the instruments? How do you set the scene with your movement to paint this picture? 

Next, to paint a picture you need tools. Paint brushes, pencils, colors, different types of paint, inks, materials. These tools are your vocabulary of movements - everything from triple steps to swingouts to jazz movements. Anything you've learned about moving is a tool during your dance. 

Ultimately there is also a level of artistry that can't be taught or supplied to you. It's that spark inside that comes out of you and into your artwork. Some say it's part of you, deep down. Others claim it's the human ability to reach out and draw upon that which is outside ourselves. Either way, you, in your own personal way, are combining the things you've learned with something deep down to create something completely new. 

So easy, right? Just mix in how the music feels with the moves you know and add in a little of your own artistic interpretation and tada. And that's what's so wonderful about this dance. We can always keep learning more about each of these areas - and when we watch couples who have honed their skills in all three it creates art that inspires us.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pro-Am - Carl & Nina

Some of our readers are immersed in the digital world of Lindy Hop videos.  Some of you are even travelers who may have learned from or danced with some of the people featured in these videos.  Some of you a newer to dancing and hopefully you're using the videos I post to get up to speed on what's going on with our amazing dance.  It's this last group I have a question for.

Above is a Pro-Am event from 2007.  Yes, 5 years ago.  Pro-Am events are interesting because they pair a professional dancer, someone who makes a living dancing and teaching, with an amateur, someone who doesn't.

So here's the question.  Which of these two is the pro and which is the amateur?  Can you tell?

Those of you who know are probably yelling at the blog right now, but please don't comment.  I'd like to let people who don't know watch and see if they can figure it out.

This was a video posted by my friend Heather Warner-Dubin a few days ago.  Things have been busy for me and I requested some help with video ideas, so thanks Heather.

What isn't there to love about this performance?  Quality of movement? Check.  Solid connection? Check.  Traditional moves performed well? Check.  Creative use of musicality? Check.  Fun? Check.  Feels like a social dance? Check.

This is a great video to draw inspiration from and, in my opinion, the dancing they do here - 5 years ago - is still very relevant.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Frankie Manning

Frankie Manning's Birthday is this Saturday, May 26th.  He lived from 1914 to 2009 and is the most significant reason why we are all enjoying this dance today.

This video says more than I can ever say about this amazing man.  I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jack & Jill - Midwest Lindyfest

I love Jack & Jill competitions.  I love the idea of being paired with someone who you might not have ever danced with before and yet you could still potentially burn the place down simply because your social dancing skills, connection, and communication are amazingly solid.

This isn't always the case of course, but the mere potential is what enchants me.

Early this month Midwest Lindyfest 2012 featured some really fun dancing from a group of dancers who aren't the highest level, most well-known teachers and instructors, and they still throw it down.

Sit back, take some mental notes, and enjoy.

Any guesses who won, by the way?  Take a guess and then peek at the youtube comments.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Performance! - 9:20 Special

With the launch of our new weekly dance, The Lindy Connection, my mind is overflowing with visions of the future Tampa Lindy Hop Scene.

This future version of us will be awesome.

We'll break down old stereotypes; we'll shed our egos and make ourselves vulnerable in order to learn more from each other and grow in our dancing; we'll learn; we'll push ourselves; we'll travel; we'll connect; we'll enjoy; we'll dance.

Hopes and dreams are funny things.  They're hard to predict and hard to pin down - and oftentimes the vision is always a destination just over the next hill, and maybe that's how it should always be.  We have a direction though, and an enthusiastic group who are committed and ready for the next step down that path, and that's great.

My post today is a very recent video by the staff of the 9:20 Special in San Francisco.  (I've posted about them before. Their class recaps are great.)

This post is a group performance and stands as an inspiration to me.  I don't believe our scene has the quality of dancers yet to pull off something like this.  I know this is above my level, personally.

But here's the thing.  One day we will be able to do something like this.  We'll all work together and we'll get there.

I'm excited about the plans we are unveiling in the coming weeks and I hope you're all ready to jump in and join us.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Swing Dancing Memes - Yehoodi!

This is a first.  A non-video post.  Sorry to disappoint you, but hopefully the humor found here in the Yehoodi forums will help make up for it.

Memes.  Swing dance memes at that.  

Also, if you aren't familiar with Yehoodi.
com you're missing out.  This is one of the longest running Lindy Hop websites around.  I recommend the podcasts and forum conversations.  It's not the most active site in the world, but the content is usually interesting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shoop Doop Yah-te-dah - Mike & Nina

It's about time I featured these two.  This is a class recap by Mike Faltesek and Nina Gilkenson from the Seoul Lindy Exchange 2010.  

What I like most: Slapping the knee AND THEN turning and slapping the other knee!

I also really like:  Reversing the Susie-Q's and going the other way around.

What I don't really care for:  The swivel walk at the beginning.  It feels a little too effeminate for the male.  Maybe there's a way to do a different kind of walk instead?  Boogie forward?

Also, did you notice something similar to a video I posted recently?  I wonder if this is where the first video couple got it from.

Let's play with our social dancing more - I like the spirit of this.

And then there's this:

Shoop doop ya-te-dah...

You got that?  Awesome and fun stuff.  Who wants to practice these with me?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yoyos - Kevin and Jo

Here's a great exercise for both leads and follows.  Turn up the volume to hear the instruction as the recording is fairly quiet.

Pay particular attention to his rock steps and the way he leads the direction of this move first with his body and then uses slight changes in the connection allowing for a wind up in her rotation.  Also pay attention to how connected she stays with his arm and how she commits to the direction changes.

I also noticed how she holds his arm firmly.  This is something Kelly Adams first pointed out to me.  I find that with some follows, especially smaller, lighter follows, this can help add a certain solidness to their connection.  Of course this is not a necessity and I'm sure some people would argue against it, but it's also not "against the rules" so try it and see if it works for you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bonus: Tranky Doo with Dargoff and Lorraine

And just for kicks I have a double post today.  Here's Dargoff and Lorraine doing the Tranky Doo.

I suggest, if you are unfamiliar with Dargoff, that you do a youtube search for some other videos.  Highly entertaining.

SOLA 2012 Advanced Strictly Lindy Hop Finals

*As far as I know this video exists only on Facebook right now, so I can't place it directly into the blog.

Take a look at it HERE.

SOLA has become a yearly event in Orlando featuring two nights of competitions for beginner and advanced dancers.  The linked video shows the Advanced Strictly Lindy Hop Finals.  There are also Jack and Jill and Balboa competitions for both levels.

Congratulations to all of the competitors. Speaking from the perspective of a Tampa resident, I'm glad that our sister Lindy Hop scene in Orlando is working to continually improve and competes with such spirit and excitement.

So here's the the thing, Tampa.  What are we bringing next year?  What do we need to do to join in the fun and show them that we can throw down too?  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jazz Steps and Swing-Outs Taste So Good Together - Uptown Swing

I like this - a lot.

This is a lesson recap from Uptown Swing by Peter Strom and Stacia Martin.  There's a whole lot here so watch it a few times.

They begin with a small routine with Jazz steps and then expand these steps into swing-outs.  Very very good stuff.

The Uptown Swing Lesson Recaps are similar to the 9:20 Special and Jam Cellar lesson recaps I've posted about before.  There's a wealth of learning available online, so use it to your advantage.

Bonus.  Here's another one I found that I thought you'd like:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Breadth of Our Dance - Tri-Swing Tournament

I'll just leave this right here.  Be sure to watch the whole thing.

I'm interested to know what you think.