Camp Jitterbug 2010 Roundup

Camp Jitterbug is THE most important Lindy Hop event in the Western Hemisphere right now.  The killer instructor line up; great live and DJ’d music, uber high level contests, and the one of a kind Jump Session Show. I’ve never been actually, but it’s significance is such that it cannot and should not be ignored.  

This roundup almost a month late, but fortunately a lot of people have been talking it up.  It feels like the Lindy Sphere-o-blogs is becoming more and more active.  Check out Mary Freitag’s experiences on her blog Art and Dancing, a Canadian perspective on Hamfats.ca, and Mikey Pedroza’s ongoing series of reactions on his blog.

My favorite post, by far, coming out of the event is by Jo Hoffberg writing about her experience of learning and choreographing her tribute to Eleanor Powell.  This is what dance blogs should be about.

Jo also put up videos of the contest finals online complete with placements.  Sharon Davis adds a little bit of commentary on the Strictly Lindy Hop final on her blog.

Finally the ever present Dave The Wave recorded and posted videos of all the prelims and finals for all the contests on his blog Jazzpirations.

Videos from the Jump Session Show are going up as I noted last week.  I’ll break out a separate post about those later.

I do want to go back and highlight a couple other videos of the Lindy Hop Couples’ Finals.

This one is from YouTube User Takajymi.  I really like the camera work on this video because it zooms in on each of the dancers during their spotlights.  You also get a nice taste of the warm up song and some clever editing weaves in some post contest pictures of everyone taking their bows.  Not being at an event like this, it’s always nice to get to experience as much of it as possible even if it second hand.

Then there’s this HD video from the other side from Littlefeetoffury.

The HD quality of the videos makes a huge difference.  I was a little surprised to find out that Pontus Persson and Frida Borg won the contest at first, but these videos clarify a little bit more what the judges saw.  The Harlem Hot Shots’ other Frida is a ball of energy, but Pontuss outshines everyone on that floor.  Combined with their tight execution its pretty obvious why they won.

Check out Pontuss and Frida at the end of both of their shines.  At the end of the first one they peck like it’s the greatest move in the world, and with so much conviction that they get people in the audience and other competitors to do it with them.

Laura & Nick’s trick combos are pretty damn impressive and Laura’s Matrix like freeze during her second shine amazingly makes you forget Brittany & Michael’s showstopping aerial right before.  However, the aftermath of that trick also highlights Nick’s weakness:  As brilliant a technician as he is, he still lags behind his peers in terms of stage presence.  Watch them as they come out of that second shine in the second video and see how Laura oozes attitude as she struts off compared to Nick who is just a blank slate.

That’s just an example.  Seems like a little thing, but in a competition where everyone is whipping out insane moves with tight technique, it’s the little things that separates 1st from 2nd place.

I guess the other thing to talk about is the use of a lot of pre-choreographed patterns by the top placing couples.  I’ve gone on record about my feeling towards the subject , but this contest highlights the advantages.  In this line up, Brittany Johnson & Michael Darigol are the obvious dark horses, but they placed 3rd because they came up with some truly original stuff ahead of time.  It’s hard to argue with those results.

Although I’m sure you could, which usually triggers a debate on how to do well in competitions.  My standard answer is:  Just do your best.  Every competition is going to be different.  Even if it’s the same event, there will be different dancers, different music, different crowds, and different judges all coming from slightly different frames of mind from the last competition they saw.  You can’t control most of those things, so just get out there and bust your ass.

The last thing you should do is dress up in matching 80’s tennis outfits.  I’m looking at you Thigpen.  Not so much Turman, because something like that has to come from a sick, mustachioed  place.

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22 Comments

  1. David L said,

    July 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I enjoyed your post thank you for gathering all the thoughts and videos of CJ.

    Have to disagree with you on Nick Williams. He certainly doesn’t have an in your face performance quality. Rather I see him at times invite the audience in to his dance through brief looks to the audience etc. For the most part, I experience his dancing as an invitation to look in on the subtlety of movement and musicality. This is a different performace approach, but wouldn’t say it is lesser than his peers. Just my two cents.

    • Jerry said,

      July 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      In general, as good as Nick is, subtle is not one of the words I think of when it comes to his dancing. He’s great at physically interpreting what he hears. When the music breaks, he breaks; when it slows down, so does he; if there’s a neat syncopation, he does footwork to match it. But that’s not subtle. Quite the opposite in my opinion.

      With Nick, what you hear is what you see. He does it better than everyone else, but there’s little nuance to it. He can do it faster or slower, but it’s usually the same kind of dancing with the same kind of feel every time out.

      Then there’s Nick stage presence which I consider as something different although related. It’s about his ability to project outward; to connect with the viewer. It’s not just about looking up and smiling or mugging to the audience. It’s about communicating different moods and nuances through your posture and movements. Stephan and Bethany are masters of this.

      There’s also Sakarias Larsson and Frida Segerdahl. Sakarias is another dancer like Nick who doesn’t look and mug at the audience but he projects a power and confidence that I don’t think Nick is as successful in doing.

      You can see a little bit more of Sakarias in this clip of dancing with Ramona Staffeld (fifth couple in). But also check out Skye and Frida as they turn down the intensity midway through their first shine. The music doesn’t quite say it, but their movements compliment it in such a way that it still looks like they’re dancing to the music.

      Even here where Nick is dancing to something a little different, there’s little difference in the way he carries himself in comparison to his other clips. Although you can see a couple of different looks from Laura here.

      The Silver Shadows Frankie tribute routine is another great example that shows contrasting moods within the same piece.

      They dance with a respectful deference during the “Shiny Stockings” portion, which turns into unabashed joy during the “Jumpin at The Woodside” part.

      More main stream examples would be Lauren’s dance on So You Think You Can Dance a couple of weeks ago.

      Or the cancer piece from last season.

      The Expression Crew Marionette routine is another great example of emotional physicality especially since the dancers are all wearing masks.

      It would be one thing if Nick is able to demonstrate a wider emotional range but just chooses to tone it down, but I’ve only seen Nick display a very limited range in this manner in the 10 years or so that I’ve been watching him dance. Maybe he has no interest in such experimentation. I don’t know.

      He’s still better that 99.99% of the Lindy population, but it does put him a step behind that other .01%. Until he does something truly outside of the box, or at the very least something a little different than what he usually does, and not just a new aerial or cool footwork, this perception is going to persist.

  2. David L said,

    July 2, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Yes those are some wonderful examples of performers who choose to emote outwards as part of their performance. However strange that you should choose Ade who performs more like Nick, ie the performance is directed more inwards towards the partner. In this case the song and quality of movement with the song demonstrate the performance more than a feeling you can see in their face.

    Nick does have wonderful micromusicality as you mention but this is just the top layer of the cake. You have to keep watching and it engages your mind to see how his phrasing and overall quality of movement ie pulse and relationship with the floor change with each song. However I certain enjoy and respect the more emotional performances cited above.

    • Jerry said,

      July 2, 2010 at 9:36 am

      I see you’re looking at this issue as if it’s a spectrum with Nick choosing one end, while still being equal to the other. The way I’m looking at it as cumulative ability for both technical proficiency and artistic expression. While I see some dancers as “scoring” well in both” I’ve only seen Nick excel in one.

      Put in another way: I’m not convinced that Nick performs inward out of choice. I think he does so because he can’t do it in any other way. That’s not a creative choice. It’s a limitation.

      Even though I’m making fun of Thigpen, I admire to his ability to “say” things with his dancing even though he’s technically limited compared to Nick. And I’m not referring to his performance pieces. His casual social dancing has a certain level of personality that he can adjust. If it was a line you would be able to see it fluctuate not just between dances with different people and songs but also within the same dance. Nick’s is just a straight line, albeit one that functions on a higher level technically than Andrew’s.

      Nick’s mastery of various technical aspects is certainly obvious, but my ultimate criticism is that he doesn’t take any true creative risks with those skills. I’m not talking about creating a new aerial or swingout variation. I’m talking about making a statement. Any statement really; other than demonstrating that he can do things really well. Again.

      It’s kinda like watching someone get straight A’s in all their English classes only to write automobile user manuals. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s certainly useful and can be admired for its functionality, but it’s not Shakespeare or even Twilight.

      • Jerry said,

        July 2, 2010 at 9:54 am

        One other thing. It”s not that I don’t admire a dancer’s ability to demonstrate skills like their relationship to the floor or their phrasing. Plenty of dancers can do that. What separates them from each other and what ultimately makes them interesting for me to watch is their ability to employ these skills to create something greater. Back to my English example: It’s like a choice between hearing someone lecture me about grammar or listening to Martin Luther King, Jr. give his “I Have A Dream” speech.

      • Jerry said,

        July 2, 2010 at 10:00 am

        Or if we go back to the cake analogy. Nick’s cake is great all the time but it’s the same cake every time. Maybe better than the last, but still the same kind of cake. Other dancers can make chocolate cake one day, then an angel food cake the next, maybe even pie the next, or cup cakes later.

  3. David L said,

    July 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I too am looking at the issue in terms of cumalative abiltive of technique and artistic expression. Artistic expression can mean many things and one part of that expression is whether you are inward or outward focused. Thank you for posting the clip of Ade who is an example of an inward focused dancer who gives a great performance. With the swing dancers you have mentioned where you admire their performance quality, I have not noticed that their dancing in performance or social dancing variates between inward expression or outward focus. Rather I do see many dancers who are outward focused in their dancing express silliniess, fun, playfulness, or just pure joy, but I rarely see those dancers be anything other than who they are.
    I do think that Nick intentionally keeps the focus of the dance between him and his partner and have had performance classes with Nick where he discusses just that. This allows him and his partner to privately share the experience of the song from it’s general tone, to phrasing to the micromusical elements. Even if you are inward focused their are subtle ways of inviting the crowd into your performance through move choice, presentation, and other elements. For someone choosing to keep the focus on the partner there is a spectrum of how much you let the crowd in on the dance and I see this spectrum in Nick’s dancing. Namely if you are looking for personality you see it in the very structure of the dance he creates. Bobby White wrote a great post about Nick’s performance at ILHC with Carla Heiney that clearly illustrates for me how Nick’s dancing can evoke for you far more than a grammar lesson.

    I appreciate the discussion and see that we see things a little differently. Know that there are many people who find his dancing inspiring on far more than a technique level.

    • Jerry said,

      July 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      This I agree with “I rarely see those dancers be anything other than who they are . . . I do think that Nick intentionally keeps the focus of the dance between him and his partner” I’ve written ad nauseum on this blog about the value of honesty in creative expression, and that’s why I don’t find Nick’s narrow approach particularly compelling.

  4. David L said,

    July 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Don’t agree to call it narrow in any sense other than it’s not primarily focused outwards, but it that sense the dancers you named are narrow in that they are only primarily focused outwards and not inwards. In other words it’s a creative choice and I find both not just the one interesting.

    • Jerry said,

      July 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm

      I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m creating some sort of dichotomy where it has to be a choice between one or the other. That’s not my intention. In fact the dancers I admire the most can do both and are most interetsing when they are trying to strike a balance. For the record, I see more similarities between Ade and the other dancers I’ve mentioned than to Nick.

      To quote myself: “I’m not convinced that Nick performs inward out of choice. I think he does so because he can’t do it in any other way. That’s not a creative choice. It’s a limitation.” I’d be inclined to believe it was a choice if I’d seen any indication that he could pull it off successfully any other way, but in 10 years I haven’t.

  5. Nalla Kim said,

    July 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Hey guys… I really enjoyed your discussion 🙂
    In my opinion, Nick… he is incredible “CLEAN” dancer…
    It means that he is super awesome, good at micro musicality, aerials,… Everything is very good (I agree he is better than 99.99% of other lindyhoppers )… but not always GREAT…

    I think that Lindy Hop is kinda “BADASS” dancing (I’m not good at English… so it’s very difficult to express my feeling haha…)

    Actually, my favorite dancers are… Todd, Falty, and Andy… 🙂
    They are not “CLEAN”… they are more Jazzy… 🙂

    Anyway, his dancing is so much CLEAN … so that is the reason why I like his balboa than his lindyhop…

    🙂

    I’m lindyhopper, instructor, and organizer in Seoul, Korea…
    hope you guys come to Seoul~!! Seoul is the Biggest Swing Scene in the world

    thanks…

    Nalla

  6. Nalla Kim said,

    July 2, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    and if i was a judge…
    1st… Dargoff & Brittany
    2nd.. Nick & Laura…I love Laura haha
    3rd.. Pontus & Frida

    🙂

  7. Jerry said,

    July 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the comments Nalla. You bring up an interesting points.

    As David says ” . . . Nick intentionally keeps the focus of the dance between him and his partner . . .” Nick knows what he’s good at and he only tries to show us that part of him when he dances. The end product is super polished looking, but it always feels like he’s holding some thing back.

    “Leaving it all on the floor” is a expression you may hear in relation to dance performances that really move people. I never get that feeling with Nick because it feels like he’s not bringing everything he’s got. It’s all good, but it’s not everything.

    Artie Shaw had some great things to say relating to this kind of approach. I’ve quoted him before on this blog, but it bears repeating in this case. http://www.pbs.org/jazz/about/pdfs/Shaw.pdf On the weakness of his Swing Era contemporary, Glen Miller:

    “But the biggest problem, his [Miller’s] band never made a mistake. And it’s one of the things wrong, because if you don’t ever make a mistake, you’re not trying, you’re not playing at the edge of your ability. You’re playing safely, within limits, and you know what you can do and it sounds after a while extremely boring.”

    Artie Shaw once noted this of Duke Ellington and his band,

    “Duke’s essential thing was total freedom. The men could do what they wanted to do, and as a result, when they were good they were good, when they were bad they were horrid. The little girl with the curl in her forehead. The band could be terrible. And other times it could be absolutely great. So there’s a great price for freedom.”

    Check out these two videos of Nick dancing with Ria DiBiase and then of Todd Yannacone with Naomi Uyama dancing back to back in the slow round of the American Showcase division at the 2006 American Lindy Hop Championships.

    Nick and Ria do well, but there’s something missing. And Todd picks up on it. At 1:02 Nick does some slip slop foot work which Todd notes and proceeds to to repeat them, but served with a side stank. This is Kid Ory we’re listening to after all, and the Kid is not a polished and dainty player. Quite the opposite actually which isn’t really reflected in Nick’s dancing.

    The things that makes Todd & Naomi’s dance super engaging to me is that you can see Todd teetering on the edge towards the end of their shine. They suck you in because it doesn’t quite look like he’s in complete control and you wonder what the hell is going to happen next. Even Naomi told me afterwards that it didn’t seem like he was quite sure what was going to happen from beat to beat, but they pull it off with amazing results. It’s sloppy and rushed at times, especially compared to Nick & Ria’s previous shine, but they came out it with some awesome combinations. Bigger risks reaped bigger rewards.

    I helped to select the songs for that competition and our head DJ spoke with Nick afterwards and asked him about it. Nick complained that the song wasn’t as interesting or familiar like Jonathan Stout’s version of “Six Appeal” that we played earlier in the round. Although he did well enough anyway, coming in second place in this round out of a dozen couples.

    Interestingly enough, about half a year later I witnessed a pretty cool sight at the 2007 DC Lindy Exchange where Todd and Naomi were dancing in front of the stage while The Robert Bell and Erin Schwab Hot Swing Combo performed on the last night. In the middle of a steamy version of “Long John Blues”, Robert Bell stepped off from his chair and sat at the foot of the stage next to Todd and Naomi. He then proceeded “translate” their dancing with his guitar. Coincidentally, with Todd taking the lead, Robert threw down a dirty riff based on a modified slip slop step that Todd kept repeating.

    This is another thing that we’ve touched on , and as you can see in the Nick clips above, Nick usually reacts to the music while Todd will often dance with the music, complimenting and adding to it like another musician in the band.

    Going back to “Leaving it all on the floor” I think this is why it makes it look like Nick never seems to go there. He always seems to have a pre-determined agenda of looking awesome, so that he doesn’t respond well in unfamiliar territory.

    David mentions that Nick only looks up every once in awhile as an invitation to an audience to his subtle dancing that’s akin to Ade Obayomi in the SYTYCD clip in one of my previous comments. To me, it always looks like Nick is being super self conscious, and he only looks up when something inside of him reminds him, which he will usually stop after a bar or two to go back to concentrating on what he’s trying to do. He never seems to be quite in the moment; more like somewhere else, not necessarily all on the floor.

    Todd is another one of those dancers that rarely seems to look anywhere past his partner nor does he deliberately try to emote something while he social dances, but he does exude a confidence even when he’s not sure what he’s going to do next. That ability to be completely present, totally honest even with his faults is why I think a dancer like Todd or Sakarias or Skye or Frida or Stephan or Bethany have more in common with Ade than Nick. They have an inner focus that’s easier to identify from without while Nick’s inner focus on the form and structure of the dance for it’s own sake rather than what can be “said” with it just goes . . . even more inner. There’s a lot to admire about Nick’s dancing, but I can’t help but feel like there can be more.

    This is why I take issue with David’s assertion that a dancer’s ability to be themselves on the floor is a limitation in the same way that Nick chooses to be so self selecting in his dancing. It reminds me of this quote by Bruce Lee:

    “Most people only live for their image, that is why where some have a self, a starting point, most people have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that, wasting, dissipating all their energy in projection and conjuring up of a facade, rather than centering our energy on expanding broadening their potential or expressing and relaying this unified energy for efficient communication, etc. When another human being sees a self-actualizing person walk past, he cannot help but say “Hey, now there is someone real.”

    This clip illustrates that idea another way.

  8. Kevin said,

    July 6, 2010 at 3:29 am

    So, as far as I can tell, the boiled down critique is that Nick isn’t black enough.

    Personally, I’ve seen Nick do some Crazy Sh*t. Stuff like the African Style leaps from Last years SYTYCD group dance to “Higher Ground”. He just does what all the “hotshots” of the scene do to perform, which is to dance how they like dancing anyway but smile and look up more. It isn’t that they’re performing so much as their dancing is so compelling one way or another that it draws you in and you get caught up in the vibe of the dance, and that’s what Nick does. They tend not to move beyond “this is how the music makes me feel” or “this is the groove I’m feeling” to ” Go on this journey with me.” The REAL issue with Nick’s dancing is that the recent trend in what wins and what dancers want to see doesn’t line up with what Nick tends to put out there on the floor. I feel like Nick puts it all out there most of the time, he just does it in a different way. If he tried to follow trends and didn’t dance the way HE felt the music, it’d come off as fake and contrived.

    Honestly, I think even the best of our dancers and performers have a long long way to go in performance quality and ability. Lindy Hop Performance is so specialized to its peers that it doesn’t get pushed the way other dances do. Frankly, even Sakarias and Frida, some our best performers, look amazing mostly just to lindy hoppers and that’s it. The clip you posted of Sake and Frida is probably the closest to speaking to the field of “dancing” en masse rather than just focusing on appealing to Lindy Hoppers. To me, the difference of the performance ability between Nick and Sake or Skye or Stefan or anyone is so slight that it must be seen with a magnifying glass. I just don’t think splitting hairs is worth it when the entire head of hair needs attention.

  9. David L said,

    July 6, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Exactly Kevin, each of them dances how they usually dance. When I watch the clips above of Todd at ALHC, I see the same type of dancing I see from Todd in Balboa (see ABW 2009), Partnered Charleston (see RAF 2007). Namely he always seems to be teetering on the edge of control but creative and musical. So I don’t think it is just the song choice that makes up Todd’s style as Jerry states. For example in the balboa clip of Todd that energy and quality of being on the edge would not seem as appropriate at first, but it’s great dancing nonetheless. He’s dancing like Todd. Looking at clips of some of the other dancers mentioned like Stephan and Bethany, they also appear to move in the same way through different performances. The routines at ILHC 2008, Frankie95, and CJ2010 all have a fun and relaxed style of dancing that’s a joy to watch. I have the same experience watching clips of Nick. He’s not just a collection of technique, but when you watch him dance, he is his own person. I think being able to dance like yourself is what makes the great dancers and great performers.

    I aslo can’t agree that those other dancers are taking bigger risks and hence get bigger rewards. In context Jerry follows by saying Nick placed second in one contest and Todd first. I can think of many contests where Nick ended up winning against the same dancers. Perhaps you would then say it’s not about winning contests and I agree. But it’s helpful to find some common ground or else it’s just a matter of preference. For most judges I have talked to the actual places of a contest can often times be a crap shoot. Namely you group the bottom third, middle and bottom. You can’t consistenly be placed in the upper third of contests by a group of peers unless you excel in all the categories of judging including performance. Nick, Todd, etc are all some of these dancers. As Kevin said at that level you are spiltting hairs and talking more about your own performance preferences than any objective standard.

  10. Jerry said,

    July 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    First of all, I’d like to remind everyone that this is my blog. And most everything I say is my subjective opinion. That’s kinda the whole point here. I’m all about hair splitting here.

    That Nick is a great dancer or that he can do Crazy Shit is not in question. That he isn’t black enough I think over simplifies my criticisms. In fact my last comment quoted Bruce Lee which was a product of his work to towards reconciling eastern and western philosophies. However, the whole blackness and whiteness of the dance and its dancers issue seems to be a popular topic again. I wrote my my initial reaction to that last year. I may break out a continuation of this part of the conversation to another post though.

    I do find it amusing that the same variation of Nick’s acceptance or lack thereof keeps going around: people don’t get his dancing, he’s not with the current trends, blah, blah, blah. I feel like I’ve been hearing this stuff for years if only because he keeps repeating it. All this despite the fact that he’s won everything twice and he has his own followers that rivals Faltesek’s cult-like following. I don’t understand how this persists for someone who gets hired more than anyone else and wins and places as much as he does in every contest that he enters.

    I’m willing to accept that Nick is putting everything he’s got out there, and his dancing is admirable in it’s own way. I just don’t find it terribly compelling. And I don’t think it comes down to smiling at the audience because if it did then all of the dancers we’ve talked about here wouldn’t be regarded as any good. I’m talking about an inner spark. A je ne sais quoi (that’s French which is a mostly white culture last I checked) . Maybe Nick displays that in his own way, but my issue is that I think that Nick deliberately covers that up with the way he dances. That ILHC J & J performance is a pretty good example of that. Sure he got through that by ignoring everyone, but the flip side to that he can and does shut himself off from his audience. It’s a double edged sword.

    And it isn’t about taking bigger risks to get bigger rewards. It’s just about taking risks at all which I don’t see very much out of Nick’s dancing. As Artie Shaw said in the quote I mentioned above, taking risks can lead to some terrible crap. I just don’t think that as a bad thing. I feel that Nick does what he can to avoid looking bad at all costs. And he has to accept that those costs also include not appealing to everyone.

    As for the quality of performances in Lindy Hop in general, I’ll give a spolier to the original ending of my paper “Artistry in Rhythm” which directly addressed that. I originally advocated for more performance style setting for dancers to explore their creative side. Hwever, I bailed on it exactly because of the price I’ve seen other dance communities have paid in having to choose between personal expression and continued connection with the people, both veteran dancers and casual observers. Yes, Lindy Hop and Lindy Hoppers have a ways to go to be comparable in perfoprmance quality to other dances, but the question is: Do we really want to go there? And if so, how to do that without cutting ourselves off from the larger community of more casual social dancers? But that’s a continuing conversation for another post.

  11. Kevin said,

    July 6, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Ok, so I’ll apologize. I meant the black thing as a joke more than anything, and I wasn’t trying to reduce your argument as an insult. My bad.

    I’ll also redact my earlier statement. Frida is a good performer by any standards, Max has an intrinsic understanding of how to compel an audience. Sakarias, Frida, Max, all do a good job performing. And by Performing, I mean that they convey the emotions they want to in the manner they want the audience to receive. They, at least, are constantly pushing forward as performers.

    I’m not sure where other dances have gone (or rather, to where you refer that they have gone), but I don’t see anything wrong with improving the performance quality of the scene as a whole. I’m not talking necessarily about doing new and creative things (though that would be nice), creating wacky new moves, adding fireworks and props and whatnot. I’m talking about learning to perform with your whole body, pushing to the point where a simple raising of the arms can draw the entire audience in, learning about intention of movement and focus of your gaze and what that can do to or for the audience, how to share something more than just an interesting dance. Our (the lindy hop scenes) performances can get pretty boring after you’ve been watching them for more than four years. They get predictable, aerials get old (and worse yet, new aerials are more like new toys than effective dancing), and it all becomes more of the same. That’s why pieces like Mike and Laura’s blues/modern piece are such a breath of fresh air.

    They take a chance trying to share some of the different emotions that Jazz has to offer. Now just imagine that same piece but performed by Ade and Jeanine from SYTYCD. What’s different?

    It’s the same choreography, the same song, but the quality of the performance, the clarity of what the dancers are feeling and the journey of how they get there are all so much more poignant. THAT’S what I’m talking about, not making the scene any different. Will it require a lot of work? Yes. Will we have to expand our horizons about how we use, train, learn about our bodies? Yes. Will it be easy? No. But it’s worth it.

  12. Tien said,

    July 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Hey Jerry,
    I wanted to thank you for linking my post about my experience about Camp Jitterbug on your blog post! It seems like there’s quite a discussion here going on here about dance.

    There are a lot of great points coming out of the discussion going on about the styles of dances. I will admit that I agree with your points about Nick’s style of dance and that he plays more on the safe side of the movement then other dancers. I know that he is a very proficient dancer and is very great technically, but I’m not as inspired by him as I am with others.

    I think what resonates with me most when it comes to dance performances is letting the music into the soul. If the dance has soul and it is let out for everyone to see, it draws myself and the audience in. I feel that with Nick’s dancing, the music flows through him, but it’s filtered, contained, and controlled by his movement. He has great musicality, nuances, syncopation and technique, his dancing is very honed, clean and seems calculated, most likely due to his familiarity with the music, and I feel like he just needs to add some variability into the movement/lead to keep himself and his partner on their toes.

    I really like your comment on how ‘Nick usually reacts to the music while Todd will often dance with the music, complimenting and adding to it like another musician in the band.’ This the same approach I take in my dancing and is possibly why I felt the way I did when it came to my dancing at Camp Jitterbug. The problem with this approach for me, is that it covers up my not so solid technique and that’s something I could learn from the way Nick dances.

    I view Mickey Pedroza’s dancing as the extreme opposite to Nick’s dancing, and while he makes many mistakes, there’s no denying that he’s a great dancer and he’s pushing the limits of his dancing each time. You can feel the great joy he has for the music and the dance and that you can’t help but be inspired to keep dancing. I’ll also say that Mickey is not my favorite dancer nor do I want my dance to look like his, but he inspires to keep dancing and to keep my own style, like he does with his.

    I have great appreciation for every dancer I saw at CJ and each person inspires me to continue working on different aspects of my dance abilities, just from watching them.

    ~Tien

  13. Freddie said,

    July 9, 2010 at 4:33 am

    I mostly agree with Jerrys observations, although it’s worth saying again that this is when comparing Nick to the best Lindy dancers in the world. One thing to add though is that the video of Nick and Laura (Balboa that is) from this years ABW really shows them pushing boundaries and not playing safely.

  14. July 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    […] Jerry at has sparked an interesting discussion about Nick’s dancing over at Wandering & Pondering. Jerry’s criticisms are subtle and cleverly argued and I agree with much of what he […]

  15. Kevin said,

    August 16, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    just noticed that Nick is doing an LED talk on acting skills and performances.

    Coincidence?

    • Jerry said,

      August 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm

      Actually no. We’ve been working on the LED talks for awhile now. Plus I doubt that he’s even heard of this blog, and if he has I doubt he’d care.


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