Favorite Videos 2010 Blues & Balboa

Last stop.  My top favorites will go up some time next week after I get home.  Until then, I wish everyone a Happy New Year!!

Steven Mitchell & Virginie JensenBarswingona 2010

The masters hard at work playing.

Laura Keat & Jeremy Otth vs. Nelle Cherry & Adam SpeenEastern Balboa Championships 2009 Open Classic Finals

This contest was last year, but this video came out this year.  Close enough for my purposes.  Lindy, Blues, and Balboa dancers are still getting used to working with the heads up format.  Everyone take note: This is how it’s done. Read the rest of this entry »

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Favorite Videos 2010: Solo Jazz

A bit of a misnomer since most of these are done in groups, but I trust that you get the idea.

You can tell I’ve been doing these all at once because my descriptions are getting shorter, but at least a lot of these performances speak for themselves.

Swing-amajig

I take this as a good sign that dancers are becoming more and more comfortable integrating other kinds of movements into their vocabulary and making good use of them. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Videos 2010 Other Dancing

This is a combination of dances that don’t quite fit any of the traditional jazz dances done by Lindy, Balboa, or Blues dancers.  They’re either more modern or they are a combination of several influences into something new. I wish there was a term for that . . .

Naomi UyamaInternational Lindy Hop Championships 2010 Cabaret

Here’s another performance I wanted to write about after ILHC.  I mentioned previously how the 2006 ULHS Liberation division looms large over Lindy Hop, but the Solo Blues division from that year is another one that casts a long shadow.  It’s almost a running gag to see how many ideas that Naomi introduced have been beaten to death in blues/slow routines since.  This performance takes those conventions and turns them on their head. Instead of building up tension and releasing it in short bursts (i.e. successive slow movements followed by a sudden one) this whole piece is one long exercise in tension, and doesn’t let go until the end. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Video 2010 Lindy Hop Couple Routines

The reason why there are so many posts is because there was so much good dancing that I had to break them up to keep each update from being too long.  This post is a good example of how that’s still a problem, but at least it’s a good problem to have.  That’s why I had to break out a separate post for my favorite of favorites which will come out right after the New Year.

Bethany Powell & Stefan DurhamJump Session Show 2010

You can tell when a couple is getting popular when you can watch other performances and say that it’s in their style.  I did that a lot this year in relation to these dancers.  It’s hard not to notice when Bethany & Stephan have the most eccentric styles out there.  Here they continue to show us how to innovate and add new elements to a vintage dance. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Videos 2010: Music

Just a note: This blog is going on automatic for the next week.  There should be a post every day Monday through Thursday with the rest of my favorite videos.  I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to check it while I’m at home or at Lindy Focus next week, but feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply whenever I can.

Northeast Girl Jam 2010 Mable Lee with the Boilermaker Jazz Band

The people who organized Northeast Girl Jam did a great service by giving people the opportunity learn and be entertained by the legendary Mabel Lee.  Here she sings with the Boilermaker Jazz Band who once again demonstrate their versatility and virtuosity. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Videos 2010: Lindy Hop Teams

Just a word about wording.  The title means what it says, says what it means.  This is just stuff that I like, and is by no means meant to be any sort of definitive compilation of the year’s best performances.  I like dancing, and I don’t always have a good reason for stuff I like more than others.

The intro is here and social dance highlights are here.

I also just figured out how many of these posts there will be.  The magic number is 9, but that includes the introduction.  Although I haven’t quite figured out what to call them.  They will encompass the breath and diversity of the current practitioners of American Vernacular Jazz Dance.*

The Last Bounce – The Harlem Hot Shots

The Harlem Hot Shots rock out to an immense crowd for the last show of the Swedish dance company, Bounce.  Just epic. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Videos 2010: Social Lindy Hop

This is the way it’ll work: I’m posting videos under a bunch of different categories, and then I’ll post my overall favorites last which will be right after the New Year. The overall ones won’t be listed with the rest.

I’m using the term social very broadly here since I’m including a couple of competitions, but I didn’t feel like breaking them out into their own category. Most of this is improvised Lindy Hop though.

Check out the introduction to get an overblown description of what I take into consideration when watching videos.

Now onto the dancey dancing!

Lindyfest 2010 – Instructor Jam

If you wanted to show someone the state of Lindy Hop in 2010, I would show them this clip featuring 18 of the community’s most influential dancers from Skye Humphries to Dawn_Hampton dancing to one of the best swing band leaders in the country, Jonathan Stout.  No competition, just straight up, super casual social dancing by the best of the best. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Performances 2010: Introduction

I watch a lot of Lindy Hop clips.  And Balboa. And Blues. And Charleston. And even the dancey dancing.  I don’t watch very much else.  I stopped watching TV several years ago after my cable got accidentally cut off.  I didn’t have it turned on again after discovering how productive I became.  That didn’t last very long before YouTube hit the scene.  It took awhile, but now there’s a pretty steady stream of American vernacular jazz dance clips to kill my free time.

I originally thought I would do a weekly update of fun stuff I found, but I like to go beyond, “Hey look! This is eff’n kewl!” and provide a little context.  Theoretically this would have made my year end list easier to compile.  It didn’t take me very long to fall behind and I stopped about halfway through this year.  I still favorite videos on YouTube like a mofo, foolishly thinking that I would be able to at least search just those clips, but it doesn’t look like Youtube lets you do that.  At least this made going back through the year a little easier.

There really is no method to my favoriting madness.  The actual dancing in a video doesn’t necessarily have to be good for me to like it.  Given the volume of videos I see, I tend to appreciate effort more than execution. Random things will often jump out at me in a clip that have nothing to do with dancing.  I’ll even favorite videos of dancing I don’t like if only to watch it later to make sure I don’t.  I have some vague hope that I would help compile some sort of sociological/anthropological/psychological study/historical record of our scene. Until then I’ll have to settle for “Hey look! This is eff’n kewl!” along with the occasional wardrobe malfunction and people falling down.

Or in this case, thrown.

One thing that jumped out at me as I prepared these lists is how much outside factors that have nothing to do with dancing have an effect on the way you perceive a dance.

Check out this video of Giedr Paplaityte & Mindaugas Bikauskas performing in a showcase competition at this year’s Lindy Shock. Read the rest of this entry »

Swing & Soul: Serious Fun

I went to Swing & Soul last weekend.  It was big fun.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Usually event reviews detail the music, venues, and classes in order to give a recommendation or not.  But what’s the point in this case?  I don’t make it a secret that I’ve worked for Tena Morales (one of the event directors along with Manu Smithand Peter Strom) on a few events, so most anything I say has to be taken with a grain of salt.  Or at least it should be.

Besides, this event ain’t happening again any time soon.  The organizers just have too much on their plate to put on what is essentially just a party.  But that’s what made it such a fun time.

Think about this for a second.  A couple of years ago, Tena organized or co-organized the following in the span of one year

Dude, I don’t even go to six events in a year.  And these aren’t small events either.  These are big honkin’ conflagrations.

She’s also a damn fine dancer and teacher

Despite that, Tena does a good job of making sure each event she does has a slightly different flavor to it.  Swing & Soul is probably the most distinctive of them all.  Not just in terms of music, but it’s focus as a more casual gathering.  Any place that serves buffet style full scale meals is going to have a more family  feel to it for me.

In fact there, I felt a slight urge to be more involved with the event than just being there just from watching everyone in the kitchen shoot the shat while getting the food together for each late night.  Tena has a knack for getting together groups of fun hard working people or at least hard workers that know how to have fun.

It’s the reason why I didn’t mind too much paying to go at the last minute.  I’ve had a lot going on, so I wasn’t sure I was good to go until last Thursday night, just under 24 hours before I landed in Atlanta.  I went mostly to be with friends I don’t get to see often enough anymore.  Swing & Soul reminded me of the kind of people that I enjoy being around. Read the rest of this entry »

Proof

I remember back in ye olden days of the early aughts and surfing Lindy Hop message boards, trying to figure out who knew what they were talking about was such a pain in the ass.  Often times people who were actually knowledgeable would be the least serious commenters.

Rayned Wiles would answer half the time in verse while Reuben Brown delighted in threading the line between snark and trolldom.  I remember thinking that Peter Loggins and Jenn Salvadori needed editors or be a bit less quick on the draw with their posts and how polite Mike Faltesek was when he was slamming you and everything you stood for.  Out of frustration with less knowledgeable posters, David Rehm half jokingly devised a whole merit system where people would only be allowed to post on a topic based on their dance experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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