Guest Post: The Evolution of “The Evolution of Lindy Hop” Pt. 8

The penultimate chapter of Karen Turman’s autobiographical tour of inspiration.  Read the rest by clicking here.

In January 2008 Mikey Pedroza asked me to partner with him for a group routine with Laura Keat and Jeremy Otth for the Jump Session show at Camp Jitterbug in Seattle.  I was so flattered and excited to be included in the show.   Mikey really wanted to do a spoof on the groove era of lindy hop.  So he introduced me to a whole bunch of clips from 2000-2003 that exemplified this style very reminiscent of West Coast Swing, all using some serious micro-musicality.  Huge pants and body rolls were a must.  I definitely remember the UFO pants at Herrang 2000 and Janice Wilson’s class on body rolling in lindy with Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin” as the soundtrack.  The clip we kept going back to in order to steal moves was Todd Yannacone and Emily (aka Jo) Hoffberg’s “Love me or Leave me” routine from ALHC 2001.  At the time, I’ll admit that we were poking fun, but the joke was on us—that stuff was extremely hard to execute and Todd and Emily nailed it.   This clip has turned into one of my very favorites.

The Jump Session Show routine had two parts to it—first the groove spoof, including all black costumes complete with snap-on track pants, then a tribute to Mama Lu Parks, involving a costume change into leotards and powder blue seventies tuxes.  This was a direct reference to a Mama Lu Parks dancers clip that Mikey showed me—full of random spotlights, tricks, aerials, loose kick-step swingouts, a guy doing a dozen barrel rolls and someone twirling plates on his fingers.  In this clip they rocked out the jazz routine, Stops, which Andrew and I included in the evolution.   We wanted to pay tribute to both this clip as well as the Basie Ball performance in 2004, so we used “Hand Clapping,” the song they chose for Basie Ball.  Using Stops in our routine also serves as a reference to Al Minns and Leon James in the “Spirit Moves” videos, and I believe it is originally Frankie Manning’s choreography.

2008 was the first year that Nina Gilkenson, Tena Morales and Sylvia Sykes put on ILHC, an event that has grown to truly epic proportions both in size and value.  I remember sitting right in the front, a few people away from Dax Hock, when he tossed the celebrated hat out to Max Pitruzella so that Annie Trudeau could do a killer Lotus and freak everybody out by wearing the hat when she landed.  I didn’t even notice it at first until a few seconds after the fact.  This was the iconic moment of that first ILHC, and Andrew and I really wanted to pay tribute to Max and Annie for all of the innovation and strength they exude in their dancing.  They are constantly raising the bar with air steps and their intense and precise choreographies.  We put forth an honest attempt for many months to get this aerial—involving many falls and head bumps and wrist injuries—we even took a private with Max and Annie but sadly we had to turn it into a joke reference.  Just wanted to pay our respects!

Another  favorite moment from ILHC 2008 for me was Stefan and Bethany’s “My Blue Heaven” piece.  I just love these guys and their commitment to thinking outside the box and doing things their way.  They take inspiration from so many different places—African dance and America’s Best Dance Crew for example, and always present something fun and unique in the end.   I really wanted to include a reference to these guys in our choreography, but at that point  we already had bitten off more than we could chew.

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