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.