This article was found on the muy worthy American Lindy Hop Championships.
The Slow Drag is featured in Jitterbug!s rent party scene where the dancical's protagonists Billy Rhythm and Tharbis Jefferson get it on in a crowded Harlem tenement apartment. Here's rehearsal footage of that scene by Emmy nominated choreographer Jeffrey Page. Because Billy and Tharbis are professional dancers from the Cotton Club, they take it to another level. Khalil Kain and Afi McClendon are the dancers. Music is Jitis Blues by Memphis Minnie (1930).
The Blues and Jazz Dance Book Club (BJDBC) has an informed and thorough examination of the Slow Drag's roots and interpretations with archival and new videos. A Landscape of Slow Drag borrows on first-hand observations from dancers who actually danced it back in the day. It also has a great video by Damon Stone showing the evolution of the steps-- from dancing in place in tight juke joints to moving across a dance floor (attributed to Savoy bouncers forcing dancers to "evolve" the dance in order to keep Slow Draggers from blocking the Savoy's "flow").
This article was found on the muy worthy American Lindy Hop Championships.
This year, National Arts in Education Week is celebrated September 9-15. Designated by Congress in 2010, the celebration recognizes the transformative power of the arts in education and calls for equitable access to the arts for all students.
Jitterbug! has an extensive list of free Educator Manuals available on this website. Based on the National Core Arts Standards, they are: Dance, Music (Composition and Ensemble strands), Theatre, Literature, and History/Social Studies. All of them include NCAS sections on empathy. On that same page (Educator Resources), free monologues are also available.
We love this idea of dancing among the tombstones of some of jazz's legendary greats-- with portions of ticket sales going to the Frankie Manning Foundation.
"Join us as we celebrate Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet, Max Roach, Jackie McClean, King Oliver, W.C. Handy, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, Cootie Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Milt Jackson, Jonah Jones, Ornette Coleman, Celia Cruz, Miles Davis, Harold Nicholas, our beloved Ambassador of Lindy Hop, Frankie Manning and others in a befitting tribute to them at their final resting place.
Date: Sunday, September 9, 2018
Time: 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Where: Jazz Corner at The Woodlawn Cemetery
Jerome Avenue and Bainbridge Avenue Entrance; Bronx, New York 10470
Cost: $40.00 per person.
Admission includes a tour of Jazz Corner, the final resting places of some of jazz and swing dance greats. Yes, there will be dancing!
A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the Frankie Manning Foundation.
This event is rain or shine. Tickets are non-refundable.
To purchase tickets for this event please go to www.WoodlawnTours.org
Event Producers in partnership with Woodlawn Conservancy
Julia Loving (1.646.319.7976)
Ronald Jones (1.917.913.6274)
Cynthia Brown (1.646.478.6642)
We look forward to spending a fabulous Sunday afternoon with you!"
Pablo Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. In his acceptance speech, he famously uses dance as a metaphor to describe our struggle as a species to find meaning in a harsh and unforgiving world.
“There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance…”
Many historians agree that the "enchanted place" he eludes to is the Savoy Ballroom where he not only became a legendary dancer as a young man but credits those years as some of the happiest in his life.
How he got there begins in Chile where he just couldn't dance despite his best efforts. Academic research attributes this to his profound shyness, now reexamined by some as "social anxiety disorder." Simply put, he was a lonely failure with women. Desperate, he traveled at considerable expense in 1931 to Harlem to learn how to dance at the most famous dance school in the world: the Savoy Ballroom (where the Jitterbug! climax takes place). At that time the Lindy Hop was all the rage. By the time he left Harlem a few years later, Neruda had mastered the Jitterbug and its air-steps, those jiu jitsu moves that were sending women into low earth orbit. He was so good it's reported Herbert White, founder of a slew of Lindy dance troupes-- the most famous being his eponymous Whitey's Lindy Hoppers which appeared in 1941's Hellzapoppin'-- wanted to add Neruda to one of them but the future Nobel Prize winner declined, citing his need to focus on his writing. When he accepted a Chilean diplomatic post in Barcelona a few years later, he brought the Lindy and the Jitterbug with him and is credited for establishing the first swing dance school in Spain at the height of the Spanish Civil War. Picasso and Hemingway were some of his first students.
In 1962 one of his poems was used by The Contours in their hit record, "Do You Love Me?"
Now you too can-- without any dance talent at all!-- dance like Marquese Scott!
Marquese Scott is a poppin'-lockin' dancer of the highest order that inspires moves for the breakaway in Jitterbug!'s climatic dance contest at the Savoy Ballroom (we ask choreographers to reach into the future for dance steps to blow the minds of the jaded Savoy regulars to win the contest). We've posted about him earlier. Now UC Berkeley has developed software that can transfer videos of one person to another person in a second video. In the demonstration above, Scott is the "Source Subject." But every dancer on video is up for grabs.
What does all of this mean? In a virtual world, everything is possible. At the touch of a button, you're a talented dancer, singer, or fighter. Muhammad Ali has nothing on you. Shed those pounds, break those records, no one has nothing on you. At least for that virtual magical moment where you can be anyone for as long as you want.
Henry Miller is a world famous author. His most acclaimed books Tropic of Cancer (1934) and Tropic of Capricorn (1939) broke with accepted literary norms especially those associated with describing sexual acts. Because of that, they were banned in the U.S. until 1961. During this period in order to survive, he became an occasional choreographer thanks to June Mansfield, a professional dancer he met in 1923. She was 21, he was 32 and married but subsequently divorced, leaving his wife and young daughter to marry Mansfield.
Mansfield is credited not only for introducing Miller to a wilder side of life that influenced his writing but also to the Charleston and the Lindy. Both were surprised how good he was at dancing. Before long they were winning dance contests around Manhattan and Harlem. Legend has it that Owney "The Killer" Madden, owner of the Cotton Club, hired him to choreograph one of the club's revues, 1931's "Rhyth-mania." Miller, however, insisted he remain uncredited, fearing critics wouldn't take his writing seriously. Furthermore, the Scronch, originally attributed to the legendary Lindy Hopper Shorty George Snowden, is generally believed to have been Miller's creation, a version of which is shown above.
Miller and Mansfield are also credited as being the first white couple to add air-steps to their jitterbug routine. Some historians believe this is the only film showing Miller lifting Mansfield over his head during an event at the 1939 New York World's Fair (lower right at beginning and ending of clip-- and in the frozen image below).
For those who are not aware, Tharbis is the heroine of Jitterbug! Her monologue captures the zeitgeist of the Harlem Renaissance. Made to be played under the performance, the free video uses music, sound effects, and archival pictures and film footage of Harlem, the Cotton Club, and the Savoy Ballroom to help "Tharbis" tell her courageous story about how she faced down death threats and the Mob for love.
You can learn more and watch the video here.
Today is National Dance Day! How cool is that? Thanks to the efforts of Nigel Lythgoe who-- in addition to his work on So You Think You Can Dance is also the co-founder of the Dizzy Feet Foundation (DFF)-- launched National Dance Day in 2010 to encourage all Americans to make dancing an everyday part of their lives. Part of the foundation's purpose is to increase access to dance education in the schools, something we can get behind at Jitterbug!
Clicking this Educator Resources link on the website will open access to five free teacher manuals for high school and college level classes. Based on the National Core Arts Standards, the manuals and student questionnaires are for DANCE, THEATRE, MUSIC (Composition and Ensemble strands), LITERATURE, and HISTORY/SOCIAL STUDIES. All of them include NCAS sections on empathy. Each pdf file if read online has multimedia reference links that allow students with just one click to see the kinds of dancing found in the dancical as well as to hear music from the swing era.
For those who follow this blog, you know that we encourage choreographers to "reach into the future for dance steps never seen before on the Savoy Ballroom dance floor circa 1931" in order to win the climatic dance contest-- especially in the breakaway. This year's National Dance Day routine has more than a few steps that could be appropriated from the future! So watch, dance, and enjoy!
The Empire State Building was under construction during Jitterbug! This 1930 picture shows a U.S. Navy blimp testing the airship mooring tower. Construction for the 1,250-foot structure began on March 17, 1930 with topping off 8-months later on November 21st with completion of the mooring mast. It opened on May 1, 1931, 13 and a half months following the first shovel of dirt and $41 million (over $535 million in today's dollars).
Love this inspiring dance scene from "Malcolm X." So much of it is oh, so... Jitterbug! right down to the Harlem invented Zoot Suits.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) was in dire need of a zoot suit for its collection some years ago. When this rare piece of clothing came up at an auction on the East Coast, the museum bid on it by phone. The opening bid was $500.00 but within minutes had jumped to "five figures." The museum's successful bid "set a new auction record for twentieth-century menswear." The museum is making this most magnificent suit of clothes (seen below) available as a garment pattern for free download as part of its Pattern Project: Undertaking the Making. You can learn more about the Zoot Suit here.
Multi-hyphenate with a penchant for writing.