Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Smooth and Technical, Close and Slow

While searching through some old 920 special instructional videos I came across this one with Jean Ma and Bromley Palamountain detailing some slick moves I'd really like to try out.  

I'd love to see someone locally pull off these moves in a social dance without telling me ahead of time.

I've been focusing recently on building a broader range of expression with my dancing.  I've spent a lot of time over the last year working on fast and big - on being more showy.  I didn't feel like I had much to "throw down" in a contest or a jam circle.  I'm happy to say that I've begun to make some strides in that direction, but I've noticed that I'm lacking also in the tight and technical area too.

When it comes to smooth movement, slower tempos, close or neutral connections I feel less sure, less practiced.  The video up top isn't particularly close or slow, but it's smooth and technical - one of these areas I wish to improve in.

So let's talk about close, slow, smooth Lindy Hop.  You've probably seen this video (cough cough, Skye and Frida).  They're close, smooth, connected, and the tempo of the song is slow, but they work in both slow and quick movements while remaining tight.
And that's one of the things I love about Lindy Hop.  These are all broadly different movements and steps, but they're all the same dance.

Do you have any suggestions for inspiration when it comes to smooth, technical, close, and slow?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Chase!

This last year's International Lindy Hop Championship showcased many couples performing a move (and variations) found originally in the movie Hellzapoppin.  Performed by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers this move has come to be known as The Chase.

Warning: I've hot linked the heck out of this post.  I hope you take the time to follow these links and learn about all the awesomeness I'm too lazy to recap here.

The first video is a compilation of all of the different performances of the Chase throughout the ILHC 2011 competition.  I know, it looks crazy - and that's why it's so cool and why you should take some time to try it out.

I've included a video below of Ann Mony and Carl Nelson doing their video recap thing from the 920 Special (a wonderful venue in San Francisco) lesson on the Chase.  

Just like the Jam Cellar, the 920 Special video recaps are a wealth of information from some well recognized instructors.  I highly recommend spending a few minutes a week just searching through the lessons for new ideas.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lone Star Invitational Jack & Jill Craziness!

2012 Lone Star Invitational Jack & Jill

Every January in Austin, Texas something magical happens.  It's called the Lone Star Invitational Jack & Jill.  

There's a Lindy Hop spirit in Austin that's unmatched.  The scene pulses with energy and a love of the dance - and the Lone Star event is no different.

What is quite different, as you'll see in these videos, is the way they run their invitational Jack & Jills.  

Each year we're treated to National Level dancers and instructors paired up at random and given two songs.  The first is a typical 30's or 40's Jazz staple - the kind of songs that are played regularly at every event.  The second song is some sort of surprise.

This year, the surprise was a selection of 70's, 80's or 90's music.  In years past there has been everything from Sweet Soul Jams to Neo-Swing.  What these great dancers do with these songs is both hilarious and amazing.

I've posted the last three years, but feel free to follow these to youtube to search out all of the other great videos from this awesome event.

2011 Lone Star Invitational Jack & Jill

2010 Lone Star Invitational Jack & Jill

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peter and Naomi - Dancing to Vocal Jazz

Here are two more dancers recognizable by only first names, Peter Strom and Naomi Uyama, doing a choreographed routine at last year's ILHC.

Most of my friends know that my favorite type of music to dance to is mid 1930's instrumental Jazz.  I love the really chunka-chunka rhythms and the syncopations.  I find inspiration in the energy of an era in music where Jazz was still a bit rough around the edges and full of innovation, but not every dance is filled with this kind of music.  

The playlists at the large dances here in Tampa are much wider and include everything from the occasional 20's Hot Jazz, 40's and 50's pop vocal Jazz, 50's and 60's Rock-n-Roll, modern songs, current remakes of old songs, Neo-Swing, and even the occasional 70's R&B, Soul, or Funk.  The DJ's cater to a wide variety of tastes and, as would be expected, Vocal and Pop Jazz from the 40's and 50's makes up a significant percentage of the regular mix.

"Where are you going with this, Tom?" you ask.

Good question.  Did you notice the song in the clip?  It's "I Could Write A Book" by Sarah Vaughan.  

This is not the thumpy chunka-chunka 30's Jazz you find most often in these competitions as of late.  This is a song that would be much more common in our scene.

I picked this clip because I felt it was relevant and shows some very creative uses of Jazz movements and musicality to a vocal Jazz number.  Of course the routine is choreographed, but take apart the pieces and look at how they fit into the song.  Watch how they play off the hits, the melody, the loud and the quiet moments.

Bury these ideas deep into your mind (and your feet) and see what you can do.  I hope this inspires you to break out of old patters.  I know it inspires me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tranky Doo Follow Up

In the time since I posted about the Tranky Doo I've noticed a lot of talk and excitement from fellow dancers in Tampa and Orlando.  I know a number of you have been practicing and joining in at the local dances.  That's great!

My friend Don Kruse recently found and shared a list of all of the moves and the order they go in.  Everyone learns differently and I know that having a written list like this is helpful to me since I'm very much a visual learner.  I hope it helps you too.

Feel free to print for your own use, and if you know Don tell him thanks and ask him for a dance.  He's one heck of a dancer and a gentleman.

*Not a picture of Don Kruse

Tranky Doo Choreography

Breaktime - 2 bars (comes during the last 2 bars of the intro)

Fall of the logs - 2 bars (comes during the first 2 bars of the head)

Scoot Around with side to side - 2 bars

Fall of the logs - 2 bars

Scoot Around with side to side - 2 bars

Push Downs - 2 bars (8,1 hold 2, hop 3, 4,5 hold 6, hop 7)

Boogie Forward - 2 bars

Push Downs - 2 bars (8,1 hold 2, hop 3, 4,5 hold 6, hop 7)

Boogie Forward - 2 bars

Apple Jacks - 4 bars

Rocks - 2 bars

Side Rocks - 2 bars

Shorty George - 2 bars

Boogie Back - 2 bars

Shorty George - 2 bars

Breaktime - 2 bars

Knee Slaps - 2 bars

Crossover - 2 bars (clap on

Suzy Q - 2 bars (hop and kick with left foot on 7)

Reverse Break - 2 bars (left leg up on 4, down on 5, hop back 7)

Messaround - 2 bars

Fall of the log Break - 2 bars (spread legs on five, together on 7)

Eagle Slide - 2 bars

Drop Boogies - 2 bars (right foot first, together on 7, kick right foot

Mambo Step - 4 bars (right point on 2, left 3, cross with right on 4 hold 5, left point on 6, step 

right 7, cross with left on 8 hold 1)

Step around - 2 bars

Jump, Fall, Hop - 2 bars (jump one, fall 2, hop 5 6 7

Truckin - 4 bars (cross on seven to hop back)

Hop Back with Left foot - 2 bars (kick with left on 7)

Kick Around - 2 bars

Strut - 4 bars

Box Step - 12 bars

Shout - 8 bars

Clap and Point - 8 bars

(song starts over from the head)

Fall of the logs - 2 bars (comes during the first 2 bars of the head)

Scoot Around with side to side - 2 bars

Breaktime - 2 bars

Fall of the logs - 2 bars

Scoot Around with side to side - 2 bars

Push Downs - 2 bars (8,1 hold 2, hop 3, 4,5 hold 6, hop 7)

Boogie Forward - 2 bars

Push Downs - 2 bars (8,1 hold 2, hop 3, 4,5 hold 6, hop 7)

Breaktime - 2 bars

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dax's Triple Step Practice

Quick update!

I was talking with David Toop tonight, as we practiced swingouts, about the importance of pulse and carrying the pulse through in your triple steps, and I recalled these two videos featuring Dax Hock showcasing some triple step practices.

Take a quick look and feel free to copy his movements either by yourself

or with a partner.

Notice how he keeps the pulse even and steady regardless of what his feet are doing.

If the three beats of a triple step can be stated as "tri-ple-step" there's a downward movement into the ground on the "tri" and "step" while the "ple" goes no higher than the starting neutral point.

One of the things I notice a lot in our scene is a "ple" that moves upward above the neutral point, creating a bump movement that breaks the pulse and looks uneven.

Try these out and see if you can mimic the steady pulse shown in these videos.  Practice doing this in front of a mirror or video camera to get a good view of yourself and see how solid you can make your pulse - and then see what you can do on the social floor with a partner.