The Savoy Ballroom

This is a lovely 5 minute video with Norma Miller talking about the famous Savoy Ballroom and her first dance there.

A must watch for any swing dancers!

Burlesque Assassins #1

I had the good fortune recently of being a 50s dance extra on the set of a locally-made film called Burlesque Assassins.

(You can find out more about this movie here:      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Burlesque-Assassins/195377843827439?sk=wall    )

It was a lot of fun and although there was a number of highlights, one of them had to be the vintage cars that they brought it in for the street scene.

I took a real shine to this old Dodge and snapped a few photos I thought I would share with you.

On a side note, the owner of this car had been the owner of the vehicle since he was 18 years old and it was absolutely immaculate inside!

And here’s that same beauty with a bit of film glamour: breathtaking!!

Music I’m loving: Benny Goodman

In keeping with great music to dance to, you just can’t go past Benny Goodman.

An interesting contradiction in Goodman is that he was known as a task master and musical perfectionist and yet he broke with tradition in so many instances. Here’s three that really stand out:

Firstly by playing his own brand of jazz, and in doing so kickstarting the Swing movement.

Secondly in the racist 1930s, he was one of the first bandleaders to lead a racially-integrated musical group. He was able to avoid arrest in the deep south because his financial success enabled him to stay out of there.

And thirdly, he was the first jazz bandleader to play the ‘respectable venue’ of Carnegie Hall to raging success.

This clip is from a movie called ‘The Powers Girl’, and though there are better videos out there for sound, I just couldn’t resist the lindy hop in it.

Kick up your heels: the Lindy Hop

The Lindy Hop is one of those dances that almost didn’t make it.

Along with swing jazz, it developed hot on the heels of The Charleston, peaked in the 1930s but then fell into rapid decline after World War II.

It stayed dormant until the 1980s when it was revived by dancers in New York, California, Stockholm and the Untied Kingdom.

During this time, some of the great original Lindy Hop dancers such as Frankie Manning, Al Minns and Norma Miller came out of retirement and toured the world teaching Lindy Hop. This was to jump start a Lindy Hop resurgence that has since grown into a healthy international scene.

Today there’s Lindy Hop communities all over the world, including one right here in Calgary ( www.toetappinswing.com , www.swingdancecalgary.com )

And to give you a taste for this vibrant flashy dance, I’ve posted a clip for you from ‘Hellzapoppin’ which features a famous Lindy Hop sequence choreographed by the great Frankie Manning, who also dances part of it himself. (He’s in the overalls)