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Archive of Dance Forum Articles From August, 1999
This is the archive of DANCE FORUM articles which appeared during August, 1999
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Houston Swing 99
Hey all you Lindy Hoppers, three of the Young Titans of Lindy Hop (whoever came up with that name for them spoke the truth!), Nina, Naomi, and Jeff - will be rocking the house down in Houston in August. The Board Members of the Houston Swing Dance Society will be hosting one of the hottest swing event of the summer. The Southwest region Lindy Hop Competition as well as "fantastic" worshops. Check out their new website (nice sampling of swing music also!) at www.hsds.com. So tell any Lindy Hopper you know in the surrounding three state area that they better get "on down to Houston" to the workshops with Marcus and Barbl, Chris Yee, Chachi as well as Naomi, Nina, and Jeff (oh guys by the way remind my sister Tena that she's from here and is just temporarily transplanted to Texas - I'm so proud of you - show 'em Hollywood and DC sass!)
Swing in Europe
I Just returned from the first week of Herrang and stopped in Stockholm and Paris on the way back for sightseeing and of course dancing.
In Stockholm, there is a dance hall called Nalen that has monthly Saturday night swing dances. It's an old historic ballroom, having been around since the early 1900's and was very popular during the 1930's as a dance venue. This particular night there was a band from NYC - Ron Sunshine and Full Swing, and about 20 of us that had been to the first week of Herrang showed up to dance and practice what we had learned. Many of the Herrang instructors (members of the Rhythm Hot Shots) and Frankie Manning also stopped by. They were all incredibly friendly and helpful to us 'learners', as they had been all week. It's an exciting but humbling experience to dance with them. The highlight of the evening was a shim sham with Frankie as the leader! The band was excellent - great variety of tempos and tunes from both 40's and 50's and some outstanding harmonica work by Ron Sunshine.
In Paris I visited two places (Le Slow Club and Le Caveau de la Huchette) which were also great, with both DJ and live music - Gilda Solve and the Patrice Galas Trio. The Caveau is particularly interesting, as it is part of a cave system that was developed sometime in the 1500's. Neat atmosphere, and the local dancers were showing their stuff! I had not seen the French style of swing before (it's referrred to as "be-bop" in their "learn to dance" flyers) and was impressed with several of the dancers' abilities to do very high tempo triple step and rock steps that literally were done off the wall, band stage, bench, or table near the dance floor. An interesting twist to air steps! Click here for good Paris Lindy information.
Updates... A Natural Ball
SWING DANCE EXTRAVAGANZA
September 3-5, 1999
Gwinnett Civic & Cultural Center
6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, Georgia 30097
FRIDAY, September 3rd:
SATURDAY, September 4TH:
SUNDAY, September 5TH:
MONDAY, September. 6th
On this holiday, we encourage all attendees to enjoy the historical sights, the wonderful playgrounds and famous shopping opportunities of Atlanta, many of which may be found in A NATURAL BALL's Weekend Event Souvenir Program.
All weekend attendees will receive a program with their full weekend pass. Programs will also be on sale throughout the weekend while supplies last.
Various ticket options are available:
The Hollywood Palladium is Back
You and your readers may like to know that we are bringing back the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles as one of the most beautiful and largest ballrooms in the entire US! It was built in the 1940's expressly for swing and has recently been used mostly for rock concerts. But, due to the love and passion of a couple of LA swing dancers - yours truly, called The Swing Thing - the Palladium is swingin' again! Our last event there on July 3 featured two of the best big bands from both coasts of America and was a huge success with over 1100 dancers. Capacity at the Palladium is 3,500 and we plan to reach this over the next few months with our events, which happen every two or three months.
The next one is called "Swing Through the Ages", features a three-band lineup and happens on Saturday September 4th. Click here to check out our website with full details on the event.
Dancing in Australia
I crossed both the Equator and the International Date Line for the first time, arriving in Sydney on July 27. I stayed there with Dennis and Mary Klumpp. Dennis and Mary run the F.J. (as in F.J. Holden automobiles) Rock and Roll School. Australian Rock and Roll is similar to American Jitterbug. They have produced videos showing beginning and intermediate variations in R&R, and have an advanced video in the works.
Dennis and Mary are particularly well known in Australia for their "liftwork" (aerials). They were the Australian national acrobatics champions for 1994-1998, and they have produced both a video and a CD teaching a number of lifts. (If you remember the "knee hang" that I was spreading about D.C. about a year ago, that was one of the simpler moves from their CD.)
The Klumpps travel every year or so to California to teach and perform, but so far haven't made it to our coast.
On Wednesday night I went to their Australian rock and roll class in Hoxton Park. What was perhaps the noteworthy aspect was the range of ages in the class. Of course, Tom and Debra have done very well in attracting teenagers to Lindy Hop back home, and even have a few preteens. But at Hoxton Park, the youngest dancer was five years old!
On Thursday afternoon I met Lee Nielsen, who was the Australasian Jitterbug Champion for 1945-1955. She reminesced about the many band leaders she had known. For example, Gene Krupa watched her dance to "Sing, Sing, Sing", told her she had magic legs, and gave her his drumsticks.
Lee was well enough known that people were always coming up to her and saying, "are you Lee Nielsen?" She went out to lunch with a friend who commented, "I love you, but I must say I'm glad no one has come up to say 'are you Lee Nielsen?'" A little while later Lee excused herself to go to the 'loo. She made a secret detour by the bar and offered a fellow $4.00 to come to her table later, and ask, 'Are you Lee Nielsen'". He showed up on schedule and said 'Are you--what was that name I was supposed to say?" I leave to your imagination what her friend said next.
On Friday night, Dennis and Mary took me to hear the "Jive Bombers", a group just making the transition from 50s rock and roll to 30s/40s swing. (The transition is so recent, that they have zoot suits on order, but they haven't arrived yet.) The venue was the Amateur Fisherman's Association. This was apparently a relic of the old British private club system, that allowed one to circumvent the limits on pubs vis-a-vis serving of liquor. We had to sign in at the door as "temporary members".
The dancing at AFA was mostly rock and roll (jitterbug), but I did see a little Lindy. I was surprised that hardly anyone danced during the recorded music break between sets.
On Monday I taught a Balboa class: on-ramp, basics, side-to-side and walks. We had about 20 dancers for this class, including two other local teachers, Dennis Blackburn and Tia Sneyd. Mary helped me teach the class. Fortunately, I didn't have to master any Australian slang to teach them, although I was informed that locally a "rock-step" was known as a "back-replace". Hopefully Dennis and Mary will be able to keep Balboa alive in Sydney.
I am off to Melbourne tomorrow; I am giving a law lecture on "Recent Developments in Patenting Biotechnology in the United States" at 1 p.m., and then I perform a jekyll-to-hyde transition and give a private lesson in Balboa to two Melbourne Lindy teachers that night.
Glenn Miller Gigs
This is a shot out to any and all Glenn Miller fans. The official Glenn Miller Orchestra, the one that was run by Tex Beneke after Maj. Miller's death, will be playing four dates in the Baltimore-Washington area in the next few months. I just thought that you might like to know about it...
The Turf Valley gigs will be Dances, the other two are concerts only. This band is great fun even to watch, and the audiences usually get really into the swing of it.
Check out the Glenn Miller Website for any updates on coming attractions or to book them.
Ask Me Any Swing
From coast to coast, in clubs and dance studios, swing dancing is experiencing a new wave of popularity. Not only is this lively dance form fun and a good way to meet interesting people, but it can also help you stay fit and flexible.
It's hard to believe you can get a good aerobic workout in a skirt and heels, but swing dancing definitely provides that opportunity! Heart and breathing rates increase to moderate-intensity levels while you work up a "glow." The average female uses about 6.5 calories per minute while swing dancing comparable to walking briskly uphill or bicycling at 10 mph. If your dance card is full, that adds up to more than 300 calories an evening. And the intermittent nature of dancing the night away at a club allows you to rest between songs. You can dance more vigorously with each set, much like athletes doing interval training.
There are other health benefits. Swing dancing is what fitness experts refer to as an "on-your-feet activity" and may therefore help stimulate maintenance of bone density. And those who advance to aerial techniques may improve their bone health even more because jumping movements help increase bone mineral density. Like gymnasts, overall body strength may improve for advanced swing dancers who train for aerial and acrobatic moves. And your balance will improve, decreasing the risk of injury from falling.
Swing dancing is also a great way to meet people and make social connections. Research indicates that enhancing your social life may promote longevity and increase vitality by reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and perhaps some cancers. And this creative workout can help relieve stress and tension. How can you possibly worry about work while you are listening to the lively strains of Big Band sounds and learning to jitterbug?
To get in the swing, take a beginner's class at a local dance studio, university extension or dance club. Some clubs, like The Derby in Los Angeles, offer free nightly lessons with a modest cover charge. You can take a lesson, meet potential partners and then practice moves on the dance floor with a live band. Wear casual clothes that are easy to move in. Jeans or business clothes mark you as a "newbie." Women often wear flared short skirts with dance pants underneath. Avoid unstable high-heeled shoes that can lead to a turned ankle.
You can expect sore muscles at first, but beginners rarely suffer significant injuries. It's a good idea to stretch calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back and arms daily to maintain flexibility and range of motion in critical muscle groups. Strengthen abdominal and lower-back muscles at least three times each week to prevent strain. Warm up on the dance floor by doing toe circles, knee circles and shoulder rolls to help lubricate joints. Dance two - three songs at low to moderate intensity before revving up to high gear. You'll know your body is warmed up when you start to sweat.
Before you try aerial moves, take lessons with a qualified instructor who teaches with hands-on spotting techniques. Never perform aerial dance moves on a public dance floor! You could not only hurt yourself or a partner, but also injure innocent "by-dancers." Most public dance clubs don't allow aerials except in competitions or during lessons.
You don't have to dance like Norma Miller to learn the basic steps. Part of swing dancing's universal appeal is the diverse number of forms that have evolved as unique styles. There's even some rivalry involved. East Coast Swing style embodies the Savoy Ballroom type of dance developed in the 1930s. It showcases original styles such as the Lindy and Jitterbug, performed to fast-paced Big Band music. West Coast Swing (the official state dance of California) evolved later and is a slower, more sultry variation of the Savoy Lindy Hop. It seems East Coast aficionados find West Coast Swing overly sexual while the West Coasters find New York's traditional Lindy style too wild!
No matter which style you choose, once you've mastered a few basic steps, you can get creative and develop your own expressive style. Strong females beware: you must let the man lead, but only on the dance floor!
It can be done!
Thought you might get a kick out of this. I found this article in an old jazz journal someone sent to Rob. If you run it in the forum, please be sure to note that I render it here word for word, without having edited it, and that I do NOT share the author's intense dislike of rock and roll!
Jazz Dancing on the Way Back
One important ingredient comprising the lifeblood of American Jazz music is the element of participation which places jazz in the realm of dance music. During the past decade, following the end of World War II, jazz has been denied this basic function in dance music. The year 1946 marked the end of the swing and jitterbug dances which swept the country during the thirties. It marked the beginning of bop and modern jazz introduced by men like Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and the late Charlie Parker.
The bop dance of 1946 was the Apple Jack which was a sort of chopped up Big Apple. There is no solid beat to bop dancing. In bop dancing, the performer picks out an instrument to follow and dances to the solo passage. It is primarily a mental or personal dance.
Thus the year 1946 is important to jazz, for with the beginning of bop and modern jazz, the death knell was sounded for jazz ballroom dancing. And jazz lost millions of followers who loved to dance to swing music. Worse still, a lot of excellent mainstream jazzmen either lost their jobs or were forced to join the ranks of mediocre Latin-American or Rock n' Roll bands.
But that isn't the entire story by any means. The new generation of teenagers demanded some form of rhythmic music with a solid beat which could not be found in modern or cool jazz. The promoters and practitioners of this new musical form apparently forgot the younger set and concentrated on the lucrative business to be found in night clubs, cocktail lounges, concerts and festivals. So the young generation took to the only dance music available to them-Rock n' Roll. And the teenagers continue to dance, flatfooted and deadpanned, to this boring, droning, monotonous form of hillbilly music with a beat. This sad state of affairs will prevail until something drastic is done on the part of promoters, writers and musicians to educate and encourage an interested and receptive public, particularly our youth, to bring back jazz ballroom dancing. It can be done!?
The poignant summary of the program given by the famous semantist [sic] and jazz authority, Professor S.I. Hayakawa, is worth repeating: "This demonstration of the jazz dance is the kind of thing we don't get through the study of history. It is an example of the building of an American culture from the ground up. Here is a highly successful and unique method of interpreting and overcoming the problem of a non-verbal art? "
One cannot resist casting a quick glance into the past-back to the mid-thirties and the swing era-when it seemed that a new jitterbug step was coming out almost every month. And there was jazz music to fit the dance steps. In those days, the writers, composers and musicians actually joined hands with the dancing instructors and contest winners to introduce a new jitterbug or swing dance for the public to try.
If "The Jazz Dance" has done nothing else, it has proved conclusively something which has been uppermost in my mind. There is a huge abyss to be filled; a tremendous opportunity for the music profession to answer a great demand of the public for a participating form of jazz that has been missing for many years. It is the jazz dance and the music of the swingers and mainstream jazzmen. A revival of the jitterbug and swing dance with an intelligent promotional campaign over radio and TV cold spark a trend. If the TV networks (shows like American Bandstand) would sponsor dance contests such as the old Harvest Moon Ball, the youngsters would do the rest. Rock n' Roll would be dead. And healthy, honest, swinging jazz would be with us again.
Upcoming Fidgety Feet Classes
Fidgety Feet's fall semester at D.C. Dance Collective begins the week of September 13. We had a great time with all our students during our first semester, and we've made a few modifications based on your feedback. Following is a list of our classes:
For more information, call D.C. Dance Collective at 202-362-7244 or check out their web site at www.dcdance.com. Or, feel free to contact me directly at 703-526-0562, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out the Fidgety Feet web site at www.fidgetyfeet.com.
Fidgety Feet One-Day Intensive Workshops
Summer is almost over, so brush up or learn something new with Fidgety Feet's one-day workshops. These workshops feature something for everyone!
Gottaswing Server Crash From: Debra Sternberg Perhaps many of you have heard of Uncle Tom and Auntie Deb bad luck--our web server's database crashed and that lovely list of email recipients of our Nobel Prize for Literature-winning weekly SwingMail email newsletter is gone! So please, please, please visit Tom and Debra's website, http:///www.gottaswing.com, and enter your email address in the pop-up window! It's the best way to stay updated on all the fabulous goings-on in Tom and Debra's world of swing!
Hollywood Classes from Steve and Carla
Finally at long last, we are holding another series of Hollywood classes starting on September 16th. Carla Heiney and ISteve Bailey want you to come and learn the smooth style of Hollywood lindy in Thursday nights. We are going to be focusing on technique, style, along with new moves never taught in the DC area!
You do not need a partner. We are going to limit the size of this class and I encourage everyone to sign up early. Remember, this is not a workshop in Hollywood that is over in a day or two, this is a 6 week series. The continued exposure over an extended period of time brings excellent results and you will see dramatic improvements in you smooth style Hollywood lindy!
For detailed info, check out: www.swingdc.com
There is a registration form on the web. Print it out and send it in with your check and you can reserve your own spot. Also, there is a discount if you sign up with two or more people.
Fundance at Laughlin, NV
Here is a capsule version of my trip to Laughlin and the Fundance Workshops.
I haven't enjoyed a trip like this for a very long time. The dancers and teachers were great and very cordial and friendly. The dancing was superb.
Jonathan, Sylvia Sykes and myself conducted two Bal-Swing workshops and would you believe there were over 200 dancers in each class. I was overwelmed with their desire to learn Bal-Swing (mostly basics). Takes a lot longer to learn the many breaks and tricks associated with bal-swing. Jonathan and Sylvia did their usual best and with lots of humor (making it more interesting to learn)
All in all everyone had a great time and went home with a lot more knowledge of bal-swing uner their belt. I'm looking forward for Fundance to have their next bash.
If any of your D.C. dancers have the desire and time, they should attend one of these great workshops. They conduct about 12 a year. Two days of continious workshops, with great and well known teachers---Lindy-Swing--and Bal-Swing and in the evenings, open dancing to a live band and a great D.J.
Fun - Fun - Fun
Wedding Dance Invite!
JACKI's and MY WEDDING!!!
Anyway, not the wedding exactly. The pre-wedding party-bash-gala Saturday the 4th of September, at 8-oclock, our 'reception' will be open to the public for general dancing to Bill Eliot's trio. We'd love to have the best show up to show off, so by all means send it around.
It'll be at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Sterling Virginia, (495 to Rt7West, Rt7 to Sterling Blvd.(Left), SterlingBlvd to W.Holly (Rt.), KnightOC on the Left .2 mile. Right after the soccer fields.
Anyway, the jivin' duo is finally going to tie this not. Hopefully it'll be a blast. Friends, family, and friends of friends, as long as they're well behaved!!
See ya all there!
Slam-bang Swingin' Birthday
This is Luke (Royce White's son), and we're throwing a big slam-bang, swingin' birthday party for him, Monday, the 30th at the studio in Centreville, after class. Come if you can, tell all your swinger friends about it. Starts around 9:30 PM, if you need directions email.
Come, come, come, it's sure to be a lot of fun!!! It'll mean a lot to him, especially if those of you that were his students, past and present, show up. So , pretty please, come! Email me if you need directions. As always, they are on www.swinghop.com
Hope to see ya there!
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