Sunday, April 26, 2009

Frankie Manning - get well soon!

Lindy Hop legend Frankie Manning has been hospitalized. Frankie can be viewed elsewhere in this blog in the dance clip from Hellzapoppin', in which he danced one of the most memorable and influential routines of all time.

Here is a re-post of an email sent by the organizers of the upcoming Frankie 95 event. That's the event celebrating Frankie's 95th birthday later this month.

Dear Friends of Frankie,

As you might have heard, Frankie entered the hospital a week and a half ago, due to problems with his medication. Then on Friday, he was taken into the intensive care unit after he developed pneumonia. It is a very serious situation.

Although he cannot talk or move his limbs, he recognizes people and responds to their messages of caring and love. Throughout all of this, his spirit remains strong and his family and close friends are with him.

Please take some time during your day to send Frankie healing energy, prayers and love, and tell everyone you know to do the same. You can also send him a personal note of encouragement here:

Frankie Manning, PO Box 737648 , Elmhurst NY 11373

Frankie needs our support!

Of course, we will keep you all updated as his condition changes.

The Frankie 95 Team

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers

I'm really looking forward to John M. Chu's new project.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Up Close and Personal

Here's an unusual clip featuring Carla Heiney and Nick Williams.

Any thoughts?

The full Time Warp episode, entitled Blades and Volts, aired yesterday on Discovery. If you set your DVRs, you might be able to record the whole thing soon.

edit: at least for a time, the full clip is available for watching here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


During a private lesson the other day, I quipped "Lindy Hop is the dance of Freedom!" It was funny if you were there. It's also true.

When dancers are just beginning Lindy Hop, it's easiest to think that the Lead is the boss and that the Follow is the subject. Stated another way, the leader has control over the follow. While this may be true in a rudimentary way, it seems to me to lack a certain dynamic.

Here's a thought that occurred to me the other day, mostly unedited:

"I've always rejected the notion of control in dance, especially with leading and following. It is often suggested that the Lead is in charge of the dance. While there are good reasons to suggest this (to beginners for instance - ed) I prefer to consider that the partners are cooperating, collaborating, synthesizing."

Why don't I like the word 'control'? It has too many nasty connotations. Also, there are better words in almost every case. If someone uses the word controlled with regard to their own movement, there are words like precise, balanced, dextrous and a host of others.

I often have used the phrase "leads, you're driving the bus." While it is a bit more romantic to suggest a carriage, the reason I go with the bus image is that there's something very physical in that image for me. I imagine a bus driver really using their body in a way that a carriage driver wouldn't. Maybe it's a tour bus driver, since they're also in charge of showing their passengers a good time.

This is also a really over-simplified view. I think later it becomes more like a bicycle for two, where one person is responsible for steering and both need to be engaged or fall.

I think both of these metaphors fall short of the potential of the dance. After you get past the driving metaphors, then it might be time to consider the dance as a conversation. That, however, is a much longer discussion which will be taken up elsewhere.