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.

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