Tuesday, September 22, 2009

International Lindy Hop Championships

What to say about ILHC...

If I had to describe it in one word:

I couldn't.

My name is Sarah. I'm from the junior performance team Bam! Dynamite, and I attended the international Lindy Hop championships this August. All in all, probably one the most overwhelming, intense, fun, wacky, crazy, humbling yet confidence boosting, educational (could I be more full of cheese) experiences of my life.

Watching -and participating in- a lot of the competitions was... well, it was terrifying. I know that sounds bad but it was terrifying in the best way possible. The competition level was, too say the least, high. Every routine pristine. My favorite part of the competitions would have to have been either the Cabaret, held at night, with everything from dancing puppets to a rousing performance of "Singing in the Rain", or the absolutely mind-blowing oh-my-god-did-that-actually-just-happen-are-you-serious performance of the Champion's Strictly Finals. THAT I can describe in one word:


Are you kidding me? It made me realize that someday we juniors could be doing that, or even something CLOSE to that. Which was a pretty awesome realization.

Comparing it to other dance events I've been to is practically impossible because um... I haven't exactly been to many. I have no job or car and I live with my parents, so traveling around the country for a weekend at a time isn't exactly up there with "Sarah, for the love of god, get your permit already" on my parents' to-do lists. But they try as hard as they can to make it happen and to be supportive, even if being supportive is paying for a trip to New Orleans. I guess in my own terms I'd say Lindyfest (one of the few dance events I've been too besides ILHC) was like "Class class class! Fun fun fun!" and ILHC was more "Compete! Perform! Go go go!" Class in the morning, rehearsal in the afternoon, social dance, get dressed, competitions, and then dance until 5:00am.

I loved it.

I loved everything but the elevators (glaciervators) that went about negative 20 miles an hours. But even those were fun when they took you to the supposedly unoccupied 16th floor at 3 in the morning. Fun and scary. And though there were a lot of humbling moments throughout the weekend, and a lot of sore muscles and basically no sleep, it was worth all of the fundraising, and all of the money, and the plane rides, and the asthma (Ok that part was pre-existing...) and I'm lucky to have been involved. Oh, and our performance was AWESOME!! Check it!

Here's a few competitions I saw at the event. Hope you enjoy!:

Champion's Lindy Strictly Finals part one:

Part two:

Ben and Laura's Pro/Am!:

Joe and Delilah's Pro/Am (from the side... sorry):

This is a video from Lindy Focus because as of now there is no video of them doing this routine up from ILHC. Mike and Laura performed this in the Cabaret competition and places 2nd!:


(addition from Scott)

Here is a video of the juniors team performing their routine at ILHC!:

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Think, Therefore I Dance

Joe DeMers
For my first blog ever, and the first installment of my philosophies of dancing and connection, I begin with a single question asked by Dax Hock about 2 years ago- what is dancing? At the time, I could not answer his question. I made silly and naive guesses like an artistic form of nonverbal communication and to skip, leap, or move up and down or sideways; but over time I’ve come to realize that the answer is relative. My definition of dancing is probably very different than yours, and yours very different from another’s. As you follow my blog, you can expect to learn how I came to my definition of dancing and everything I have learned over the last two years about partnered dancing and connection.

Firstly, let’s continue with what I’ve learned in my first conversation with Dax- we are limited by what your minds can perceive. Think of flying. We would not have dreamed of going into the air if we never saw a bird fly. Like exploring unknown universes and laws, our mindset will govern how far we can go. For example, a move may be very hard, but in the span of 5 minutes, by allowing yourself to open your mind to a new way of moving, your body will naturally follow.
Often times we hear teachers make analogies such as “connect like the hitch of a trailer” or “be a frictionless object in space.” These analogies can sometimes limit our body’s motion, by trying to emulate a movement or connection that isn’t natural. For instance, when we ask follows to roll through their feet like the wheels of a car, they tend to mimic “wheels” instead of allowing their bodies to step in sync with their partners. We need to be able to understand how to move our bodies naturally and to relax.
Our minds are our limits. By opening up our minds to new possibilities of moving, we invite in new ways of dancing and connecting. Our theoretical and educational knowledge of the philosophies of dancing will allow us to improve our physical boundaries. Much of dancing now is spent on improving our physical awareness of our bodies, but until we improve our mental awareness of our bodies, our physical movement will be limited. Free your mind and the rest will follow.


(addition from Scott)

Joe DeMers is an awesome dance instructor from Denver, CO. And for being such an awesome dancer, he is incredibly humble, open minded, and cool! The Lindy Project is very pleased to have him as an author with us! You can find more information about Joe at http://www.joeandnelle.com/.

Quick side thought: If you want to check out Denver, go to Lindy on the Rocks next year! LotR is an incredibly fun event in August every year. It's primarily a workshop weekend, but they have a good number of contests at night along with a ton of social dancing. I've been for 4 years straight and it really is one of my favorite events to go to... it's really fun in general, but being in Denver makes it extra great because they have such a great scene.

And here are a couple of Joe's performances!

Joe and Nelle at Blues Shout:

Joe doing a pro-am with Delilah at ILHC (1st):

23 Skidoo performing at Lindyfest in 2008:

Joe's voguing moment is at 2:49 :)