WCS Futureshock

Tatiana Mollman and Jordan Frisbee unveiled their new routine at the USA Grand Nationals over Memorial Day weekend, and now their performance from the Liberty Swing Dance Championships a few weeks ago has been circulating the webs.  I swear, given their popularity, I think they could build a whole dance event just around that and make a killing.  It would be like Lebron’s “Decision” except with more integrity.

Interestingly enough, when I saw this the first time, I thought there was something odd, which I could only put my finger on when I saw it again.

This is a good piece except for the parts where they’re swing dancing. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Day for a New Theme, New Videos, and a New Social Media Account

Just needed a change in scenery as you can tell.  Besides the light background is less conspicuous when viewing from work.  Not that I would ever do such a thing.

Also for your Sunday viewing pleasure, a beautiful and inspirational video created by a dancer from Seattle named Cheryl Crow which I found through the magic of Facebook.  She created this for the 2010 Swing/Jazz Dancing Video Contest.  Watch it and share with others.

And because sometimes you can’t let the Man keep you down, I got an account on Dailymotion.com.  I probably won’t post there very often, unless its stuff like this that won’t go down the YouTubes properly.

Decade of Domination

While we’re on the topic of Jordan and Tatiana, can I say that after watching tons of footage of them this week that I can’t be more impressed by a pair of dancers who can be so good yet get even better over time?

I’ll wrap up this week’s side trip through West Coast Swing territory with an overview of probably one of the most dominant couples in any partnered dance genre.

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WCS OCD: Jordan and Tatiana in 2009

I made a few offhanded observations in my US Open post about Tatiana Mollman and Jordan Frisbee’s winning performance in the Classic division this year to Coldplay’s “Viva LaVida.”   They took the unorthodox (for West Coast Swing at least) approach of performing a routine they’ve been doing for most of the year instead of performing a new one.

I thought I’d put those theories to the test by watching every YouTube example of this routine that I could find.  See what I do for you?

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US Open Swing Dance Championships 2009 Reactions

Yet another event I didn’t go to that I can comment thanks to the generosity of the interwebs.

First off, I’m impressed.  Leave it to the westies to get results and videos online the very next morning after the this year’s US Open Swing Dance Championships ended.

We didn’t send any Lindy Hoppers this year, but DC still represented big time with the DC Hand Dancers winning the Strictly Swing Challenge.  That contest caps the entire event,  pitting the winners of all the Strictly divisions (West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, Hand Dance, and Shag) up against each other.

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AIR pt. 9: NADC Fallout

This is part of a paper I wrote entitled “Artistry In Rhythm: Dialogue Through Dance in the Lindy Hop community.”  Previous and future posts can be found by searching my blog for the category “Artistry In Rhythm”

I’d also like to thank Paul Roth for his help this week in getting up the ALHC clip below.

2001 was a pivotal year.  Sensing the various trends I have outlined, many instructors and dancers were beginning to make serious efforts to actively influence the overall dance style of the community.

Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas returned to active teaching after their long hiatus from the community for their run on the Broadway musical “Swing!”  In the aftermath of the 1999 WLHC debate Ryan talked of forming a “united front” to address the issues that came up in that original debate[1].  Nothing formal ever happened after that, but he was clearly dismayed at the state of dancing when he returned in 2001 and was not shy about making his thoughts known.[2]

He and Jenny along with Steven Mitchell and Swedish dance teachers such as Kenneth and Helena Norbelie, actively began re-emphasizing Charleston movements and faster dancing.

Southern California dancers such as Peter Loggins, Jenn Salvadori, Justin Zillman, Rueben Brown, and their supporters made more pointed and sometimes antagonistic arguments about what was and was not Lindy Hop through their posts in various online discussions.

On the dance floor, in late 2001, Skye Humphreys & Ramona Staffeld performed a routine to Glen Miller’s “Jeep Jockey Jump” at that year’s ALHC in an early attempt to dispel their growing reputations as slow groove dancers.

Even though they brought the crowd to its feet with the weekend’s most energetic Lindy Hop routine, their impact was probably mitigated by the fact that they were disqualified on a time technicality. The routine was short by a few seconds of the minimum time required.  The song was long enough, but the actual routine was not since it started a few seconds in to the song.[3] Despite that, they did inspire a number of dancers to begin re-examining their approach to the dance.

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AIR pt. 8: Competition Concerns

I see a lot of people checking the blog in the wake of ILHC this past weekend.  I’m still in the process of recovering myself, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to post the next part of  my already completed paper entitled “Artistry In Rhythm: Dialogue Through Dance in the Lindy Hop community.”   I think it’s very apropos since it digs into the state of Lindy competitions earlier this decade.  Previous and future posts can be found by searching my blog for the category “Artistry In Rhythm” ILHC coverage will continue later this week.

“[I]t is obvious that artists reflect their times and backgrounds and their art works are oftentimes more eloquent than any politician’s speech or sociological study.”[1] Marco Pignataro

Also at the ALHC 2000, Ben Furnas and Lucy Dunne performed one of the competition’s most infamous routines where they lampooned the general state of competitions in both the Lindy Hop and West Coast Swing worlds.

They start out by dancing to Eva Cassidy’s version of “Wade In The Water,” which by 2000 was already hopelessly overplayed in both dance communities.  They move with dead pan expressions on their faces as they exaggeratedly accentuate the numerous musical breaks that make the song so popular.  Before long, they stop the music with one of the more cliché competition tropes: the abrupt costume change from flashy to more flashy.  Clad in sparkly sequined clothes and a change in facial expressions, the song shifts to “Play That Funky Music, White Boy” before their performance is interrupted by a disembodied voice admonishing them for their insufficient “Lindy Content.”  They cheerfully ignore it and continue their skewering of the WCS competition style until the voice stops them again, this time threatening them with disqualification.  Feigning concern, they break into a Lindy Hop routine to “Mildred, Why Don’t You Behave” by the Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra, and proceed to go through all the Lindy Hop competition clichés complete with endless spins, swivels all around, and a generous helping of rock steps.

Although they got a huge reaction from the crowd, future competitors missed the joke.  As it turned out, the routine was as much a parody as it was a harbinger of things to come.

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