Monday, April 27, 2009

Frankie Manning

I'm really having trouble working today. I just keep watching videos of Frankie and can't concentrate. If you didn't hear, Frankie passed away today.

Frankie Manning: May 26, 1914 - April 27, 2009

It is with great regret that we inform you that legendary lindy hopper and inspiration to tens of thousands of dancers around the world Mr. Frankie Manning passed away peacefully early this morning.

More information about memorials and an official announcement as we hear it.


Frankie Team

He was one of the most influential people in Lindy Hop. Ever. And I'm very very fortunately to say that I have taken classes from him and heard him speak about his experiences.

It's heartbreaking.

Here is more info on Frankie: his book | bio | bio 2

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lindy Hop on Dancing With The Stars... Not.

So did anyone see "Lindy Hop" performed on Dancing with the Stars? Well you can now on the YouTube clips below. But before we get to that, I have some general complaints.

First, DWTS obviously didn't use Lindy Hoppers to choose the music, the look, or the choreography. As a result, to me, this wasn't Lindy Hop. It looked like jitterbug / jive dancing that ballroom dancers do. And that's fine. I wouldn't want to do it... but it's fine. The problem is that by calling it "Lindy Hop", when it's not, distorts people's perception of what Lindy Hop really is. How many times can they say "Lindy Hop is all about kicks and tricks"? And people will be left with this nonsense.

Going hand in hand with the choreography-that-was-not-lindy-hop, was the music. The music wasn't music you would Lindy Hop to. They had a plethora of ridiculous songs ranging from rock n' roll, to rockabilly, to neo-swing. Not a one would you actually Lindy Hop to. Not one song was a swing song or big band song or hot jazz song... or anything that swung at all. How can we expect the dancers to swing? Bleh.

In sum: watch So You Think You Can Dance. They have amazing dancers that are actual up-and-coming dancers that want to do this as their profession. And not only do they have these great dancers that can actually perform the styles of dance presented to them, but they also hire top dancers in the field to create the choreography for them.

So, on to the videos. The last one actually has something interesting in it!

Steve-O and Lacey*

*Lacey was on So You Think You Can Dance.

Melissa and Tony

Shawn and Mark

Ty and Chelsie*

*Chelsie was on So You Think You Can Dance.

Also, wow, whoever choreographed this one actually looked at what Lindy Hop IS and tried to create a routine that incorporates it. We actually saw some swingouts, swivels, and charleston sans pointy toes and upwards bounce... With a real swing / big band song I think this routine might have actually felt right. For me, this was the best attempt. Get it Chelsie.

Julianne and Chuck

David and Kym

The awesome thing about this last video is they actually went out and saw what Lindy Hop is! LindyGroove is one of the, if not the, biggest weekly swing dances in the country. It's in Pasadena, CA every Thursday night. (Side note: the Austin Swing Syndicate hosts perhaps the second biggest weekly swing dance in the country right here in Austin!) Unfortunately, they dubbed over the music that was playing at LindyGroove with some god awful tunes... but at least you can actually see a real swingout!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Al Minns and Leon James

Last week at the Syndicate's weekly dance we had what I'm guessing is one of the biggest shim shams in the world... many many scenes around the world are doing the same thing and taking that footage, splicing it together, and giving to Frankie Manning, one of the founders of Lindy Hop, for his 95th Birthday. Happy Birthday Frankie! I can't wait to see what the end result looks like.

Here is a video of Al Minns and Leon James doing an amazing version of the shim sham:

Al Minns and Leon James were two other founders of Lindy Hop. Check out Al Minns talking about the Savoy and creating air steps:


April Classes!

The Lindy Project classes start up again tonight, Wednesday April 1st. I hope you can make it out!

April @ Tapestry on Wednesdays (4/1, 4/8, 4/15, 4/22)
Level I @ 7:30 - [A] Swing and Charleston w/ Jonathan & Laura
Level II @ 8:45 - [A] Lindy and Swing w/ Scott & Laura
Level III @ 7:30 - [B] Momentum & Flow w/ Thain & Vanessa
Level IV @ 8:45 - Dips and Tricks w/ Jonathan & Vanessa

April @ Uptown on Mondays (4/6, 4/13, 4/20, 4/27)
Level I @ 7:30 - [B] Lindy Hop w/ Mike & Angela
Level II @ 8:30 - [B] Lindy and Charleston w/ Mike & Angela

Check out our classes page for the full schedule and class descriptions.

And if you are coming to our Wednesday night classes, be sure to register early online to get the best deal:

The Lindy Hop Workout

Think of learning to dance like getting into shape. When you are getting into shape, the most important thing you can do is to eat right. Next is working out. And you may take these even farther by getting a personal trainer and dietitian, taking supplements, going to a boot camp, etc. It really just depends on how in depth you want to take it.

The same is true for Lindy Hop and Swing dancing, or any dance for that matter.

1) The most important thing for learning how to dance is to actually go out and do it. That may seem counter intuitive to say that you should go out and do something that you do not know how to do, but just by going out and watching you will get to see what dancing looks like and see a picture of what you are shooting for in classes. Classes will only be able to show you little snippets of dancing, and without the big picture, you won't have a clue why you are learning what the teachers are showing you. Further, you should participate... watch what other people are doing and then mimic. Trust yourself, you can do it. By getting out there and trying, you will learn something about how to dance, guaranteed.

Going out dancing should be the meat and potatoes of your learning to dance.

And in Austin you are really fortunate! Going out swing dancing in Austin is like an extra healthy meal. There is a huge Lindy Hop scene here, with over 300 people that come out on any given Thursday to the Fed, some of whom travel the world to teach and compete. Check out the Austin Swing Syndicate. Hope to see you there!

2) Classes. Classes are like your work outs. You won't be able to gain muscles or lose weight nearly as easily without doing your work outs. And you won't be able to learn how to dance nearly as fast without classes.

There is a ton of great instruction in Austin every single week. The Lindy Project teaches every Wednesday and Monday night. Wednesdays we teach at our south location, Tapestry Dance Company, which is our biggest night of classes each week. And Mondays we teach at our north location, Austin Uptown Dance. Check out our full schedule of classes: The Lindy Project.

3) After getting the basics to your food and workouts, you can think about getting a personal trainer and dietitian, taking supplements, going to a boot camp, etc. Here are some extra things you can do to improve your dancing:

The Lindy Project teaches private lessons... you can focus on the intricacies of leading and following... new moves and styling... etc.

YouTube has a ton of videos on lindy hop, jazz, and just about everything under the sun. Watch a lot of videos! Steal moves... make them your own!

Attend workshop and competition weekends. There are a lot of really fun weekend workshops and competitions with classes and tons of dancing. These boot camps can greatly improve your dancing. Check out some suggestions.

Get started! Ask questions! Good luck!