Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crossing over at Swingtime

Last weekend Scott, Vanessa, Laura and I all went to Swingtime in the Rockies in Denver, Colorado. SwingTime has been a West Coast Swing, aka WCS, event for years, but this year they decided to add Lindy Hop to the mix. There aren't too many Crossover Events, so when I found out about it, I was really excited. Overall we had a great time, though there was a bit of disorganization due to all the new Lindy stuff they added.

Laura and I got to teach a few classes and Scott did a whole bunch of Soul/Lindy DJing, more than he expected actually :). He even ran the competition music for several divisions.

WCS events have a lot of competitions, and with the addition of Lindy, there were way more this year. All 4 of us competed, and did pretty well!

Scott and Vanessa placed 2nd in the Advanced/All-Star Strictly Lindy! (Strictly means you choose your partner and dance to a random song). As Teachers, Laura and I got to do the Invitational Strictly Lindy together and the Invitational Jack and Jill (JnJ = random partner random song). Laura placed 2nd in the JnJ with Dax Hock, a real badass! We got 4th place in the Strictly somehow, and as a result we had to do the Crossover Jack and Jill.

So what's a Crossover JnJ you ask? Take the top five couples from the Pro Strictly WCS and Lindy divisions and throw them into a Jack and Jill where Lindy leads have to dance with WCS follows and vice versa. You get one WCS song and one Lindy song. Crossover JnJ's are the BEST! Everyone usually hams it up really hard. Needless to say, Swingtime was no Exception.

Laura and I were quite stressed about having to dance WCS so we got Scott (who's done a ton of it in the past) to give us some pointers. I saw Jordan Frisbee (yes this Jordan) practicing some Lindy with Jessica Cox, so I shouted some moves he should do. Instead he and Jessica came over and we started trading moves and styling for WCS and Lindy. Eventually Max Pitruzella came over to show Jordan some of his ninja moves. It was an amazing experience getting to really work on stuff with such amazing dancers.

When it came time to compete/perform several really cool things happened. First we all decided to trade clothes. WCS dancers dressed up like Lindy Hoppers. Yup I wore rhinestones and Laura wore sequins. The best part was that I drew Jessica and Laura drew Jordan in the JnJ! Getting them made everything way less stressful. When videos popup, I'll be sure to post them.

We competed in heats of 2 couples and Laura's Heat consisted of her and Jordan and Max and Jennifer Deluca. Since Max and Jordan worked out those sweet moves, they did them in sync. I wish there was video already, cause it was sooo sweet. In the end Laura took 1st place with Jordan. Jessica and I got 4th. It was awesome.

Other highlights of the weekend: A hilarious Truckin' contest and a super fun strictly blues contest. Words wouldn't do them justice, they need videos. I'll post 'em when I see 'em.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What is dance camp, and how do I get there from here?

Some of you may be thinking . . .
"Gosh, this Beantown Lindy Hop camp thing sounds really awesome from reading Angela's post last week about "the hip hop". I'm up for some punishment, uh I mean fun, like that. But I missed it this year. How do I get in on it for next year?"

You can learn more about Beantown Lindy Hop camp at their official camp URL here:
You can also become a fan of "Beantown Lindy Hop Camp" on Facebook. If you become a fan, you'll get notifications (and I think a Facebook invite) next year when registration opens up for the next Beantown camp.

Dance camp is a fun way to immerse yourself in swing dancing and meet lots of friendly dancers from around the world. It will take your dancing to the next level, and you'll go home exhausted, but happy and in much better shape.

There are lots of other fabulous dance camps that you might consider attending, too.
Many are on Facebook as groups that you can join.
Here's a list of some of them, in chronological order:

Herrang -- -- June/July -- Herrang, Sweden
Camp Hollywood -- -- July 30th - August 2nd, 2009 -- Los Angeles, CA
Studio Hop Summer Camp -- -- August -- Toulouse, France
SONH -- -- Labor Day weekend, Sept 2-7, 2009 -- Hebron, NH
Lindy Focus -- -- December 27-31, 2009 -- Asheville, NC
Swing Camp OZ -- -- January 24-29, 2010 -- Adelaide, SA, Austrailia
Lindyfest -- -- March 11-14, 2010 -- Houston, TX
Camp Jitterbug -- -- May 28-31, 2010 -- Seattle, WA

Monday, July 20, 2009

Michael Jackson - dancing extraordinaire

Here is some rad footage of Michael Jackson on the Jackson variety show. It's awesome to see just how talented that family is.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The "hip" hop

I recently got back from dance camp: Beantown Lindy Hop Camp -- 7 days of dance classes all day and social dancing all night. It was intense.

I had the fabulous experience of taking a Hip Hop "mini-track" (1 hip hop class per day, plus a performance at the end of camp) taught by Eric Fenn, the primary choreographer for the Hip Hop dance troupe called Loose Change. The series was a ton of fun; Eric was a great instructor; and I feel like it really improved my individual body movement.

Much of the fun and art of Lindy Hop is about the interaction and connection between you, your partner, and the music. But another important part of Lindy Hop is individual body movement, which includes things like balance, dexterity, rythm, posture, and moving from your core. Someone once gave me succinct words of advice for improving body movement: "Dance. A lot." More specifically though, one thing you can do to develop your individual body movement is to study and practice other forms of dance. Solo Jazz is the obvious one, because it is so closely tied in with the roots of Lindy Hop, which is sometimes referred to by dance geeks as "(partnered) American Vernacular Jazz Dance" -- Say that five times fast! Solo Jazz can help you do things like increase your dance vocabulary and styling variations. Tap, a slightly less obvious option, can help you improve your dexterity and rythm. But what about Hip Hop? How can Hip Hop help improve your Lindy Hop? Besides being a ton of fun and giving you cool moves for club dancing, Hip Hop can help you focus on initating movement from your core and improve your expressive range, along with learning fun stuff like body isolation (hard! but awesome!).

Check out these clips of Eric Fenn and his troupe, Loose Change.

"Human Nature" --

"Day" --

"Currents" -- -- This one has some Lindy Hop mixed in.

"Evolution" --

At OSDF 2003 --

If you're interested in improving your individual body movement, I strongly encourage you to go out and take a solo dance class, especially Tap, Jazz, or Hip Hop. It's lots of fun AND great exercise, so it will help increase your stamina, too. . . Next time you go out dancing Lindy Hop, you can dance all night long!