EEEEk!!! I did it! WE did it!! Thank you Atomic Cherry Bombs for working so hard to get this number together. Nikki, thank you for all the extra time you dedicated to this number for me. This number wouldn’t have been half as good as it was if I didn’t have you and your girls. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Two notes about the video: this is not high quality footage, but it is footage nonetheless. The lighting made filming this number rather tricky.
I am so very pleased with how this turned out. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some high quality footage of this number. Let me know if you find anything!
The story behind Honolulu:
I’ve had the idea in my head for the last year or so that I wanted to do a tribute to Eleanor Powell by recreating her Honolulu number. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tap and didn’t have the choreography broken down. About 3 months ago I finally started breaking down the first third of the routine and even though it was difficult, I had such a great time doing it. The routine is broken down into three parts: jazz, hula, and tap. I performed the jazz section at Swingin’ in Spring in Gotenborg, Sweden. The following week, the Icelandic Volcano erupted and I got stuck in Sweden for another 10 days. In that time, I managed to break down the tap section.
Mind you, I still don’t really tap and I am not a trained dancer – two very important pieces that would have made my life significantly easier. I downloaded the clip off of youtube and then frame-by-frame went though the entire routine and tried to learn the shapes as best as I could. I first learned the general outline of the leg movement (for the tap section), then added arms, and then tried to add in the actual taps. Luckily for me, the wildly talented Nathan Bugh helped break down some of the tap for me months ago and I used that as a starting point.
Relatively, the choreography wasn’t that difficult, but refining the details of my movement was (and still is). Eleanor Powell has technique up the wazoo and trying to learn her signature mannerism was very challenging. The way she holds her shoulders, her hand shapes, her arm positioning, her natural body movement, and her ability to spin are things that I have to constantly keep an eye on when I am running the routine. I often record my rehearsals and then go through them frame-by-frame and look for the missing details. Talk about tedious (but oh-so necessary)!
The greatest challenge for me has been learning how to spot. Before working on this routine, I could basically spot my partner, but in general, I’ve always had a pretty good awareness of where my partner was in relation to me and didn’t use spotting all that often. Eleanor Powell, on the other hand, spots like her life depends on it! Just check out this clip (fast fw to 5:05 and watch from there)!! So needless to say, I wasn’t going to be able to learn how to spin and spot like that in a month (in heels no less), but I certainly tried my best.
All the while I was working on the jazz and tap portion of the routine, I had to break down the choreography for the supporting dancers. This is where the amazing Nikki Marvin and her Atomic Cherry Bombs come into play. I sent Nikki some crappy videos of me trying my best to break down the supporting part, and nothing about that process was easy; from breaking it down, to emailing; from music cutting to uploading, all if it was a hassel. I’d send videos (which were filmed in mirror image – thank you MacBook camera) and emails trying to explain what I wanted, but really, Nikki watched the clip just like I did and broke the stuff down. She did such a great job and so did all of her ladies. To top it off, the Monday before Camp Jitterbug, I flew down to OC and rehearsed with the girls. Dang….I am sooooooo glad I did that.
I am thrilled with how it came out. Now I just need to find us more places to perform it!
On a final note, I must give a shout out to Claire Pedroza for doing my hair. I wouldn’t have looked that gorgeous (* toot toot) if it wasn’t for you. Thank you for making this (*running hands up and down body) look good!
I’ll admit it, I love Sex and the City! I have seen every episode, saw the first movie all dressed up, and had a stint where I only drank Cosmos. This year I am getting my SATC fix by glaming up, attending a cocktail party, and then seeing the premier. EEEEPPP!
Here are some pictures of the gals at Radio City Music Hall to for the NYC premiere of Sex and the City 2 last night.
Sarah Jessica Parker in a neon yellow Valentino couture :
Kim Cattrall was glowing in Naeem Khan
Kristin Davis looked very “Charlotte” in a bright pink strapless Jean Desses vintage gown….
…and Cynthia Nixon was the picture of simple elegance in black strapless Carolina Herrera:
You did a wonderful job at rehearsal tonight. Thank you so much for taking the time and putting in the effort to learn Honolulu. And Nikki, thank you so-very-much for learning this routine via video (that was poorly recorded off of my mac), emailing back and forth with me, and doing all the additional work on the side. You did an outstanding job with all my emails and video clips, and you’ve done an outstanding job with the girls. Thank you for working so diligently to turn my “hawaiian dream” into a reality. I hope you are proud of your girls and what you’ve accomplished.
Girls, I am so excited for you! Regardless if this is your first performance or your 100th, performing in the Benaroya Hall is an incredible opportunity, one that you’ll always remember. Be proud of yourself!
Click on a photo below to enlarge.
S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall
Here is the song we are using: Honolulu routine Camp Jitterbug Cut Please download this and LISTEN TO THE BEGINNING over and over again. It might be hard to count, but it’s easy to hear (once you know what to look for).
Here is a reminder of what you’re doing:
Good luck girls!!
– Make a check list of what costume pieces you need. LITERALLY write down the costume pieces you need and check them off after you put them in a bag. Do the same for each routine you have.
– Double check that you have all the pieces. Don’t forget your shoes, stockings, bows, hair pieces, and appropriate underwear (super important).
– Space backstage will most likely be small and hard to come by. Bring a brightly colored bag or something to keep your belongings in. Get into the habit of putting your things back into your bag in between numbers so you don’t lose your stuff.
– Black anything (i.e. bras, underwear, tights, bags, etc.) will disappear into the abyss of backstage. Just an FYI.
– Bring a hand mirror. You don’t want to fight for mirror space any more than necessary.
– Eat before you get there. Have a snack bar on you as well. Don’t forget water or a water bottle.
– Set your hair the night before or the morning of.
– Have your base makeup on.
– Ask yourself “What else do I need so I can be self-sufficient? What else do I need to be awesome?” and then figure out the answer.
– Remember, you’re part of a group and you need to do you part. Be watchful of your partners and remember to smile.
– When you’re performing, don’t fuck up. Haha, in spite of my warning, just keep dancing regardless of what happens. No one will know you missed something unless your face tells the audience otherwise. Smile and be confident in your movement!
– Listen to the music if you get lost. You can find your spot again….don’t give up!
– Don’t worry if you have a crappy run-through right before the performance. If you hit it perfectly before the show, you’ve probably already used up your good one. Save your best for last.
– Remember to have fun while you’re performing The audience wants you to succeed and they want to cheer for you. Everyone is there to support you. Enjoy your moment on stage and don’t stress too much.
And a final shout out again to Nikki. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for you. Thank you for putting so much time in effort into getting this done. xoxo
I must applaud Silvia for putting on such a wonderful event this year. Swing, Brother Swing was originally a boogie woogie event, yet billed as a lindy event, and has finally turned the corner and has become a proper lindy event (thank goodness). I’d say the biggest change has come from the clientele; three years ago there were very few, if any, Italian lindy hoppers, and now they number in the low hundreds. The ex-boogie dancers can’t escape their roots, but the new slue of beginning and intermediate dancers are truly lindy hoppers (in the sense they have no other dance background).
Silvia and Bruno are the organizers of Swing, Brother Swing and put countless hours into turning their boogie event into a proper lindy hop extravaganza. This year had a lindy-only line-up of instructors: Steven & Virginie, Dax & Alice, Mike & Nina, Joseph & Trisha, Joel & Valerie, and all the Killer Dillers: Kevin & Jo, Sharon & Juan, and Nathan & Evita. What a great group! From my perspective, it was fantastic to have my entire team there as well as some great friends. One of the highlights of the weekend was on Sunday night after our late dinner. Mike, Nathan, and Kevin had their instruments out and Nathan and Evita sang along (yup, Nathan does both). Sharon kept rhythm with some brushes; Dax and Sarah social danced; Mindaugas, Alice, and I worked on moves; Juan went back and forth between dancing and watching videos; and some Italians watched the spectacle in awe. The group just clicked and we had a blast! Definitely one of the best late nights I’ve had this year.
So the teaching line-up was solid, and so were the DJs. Silvia brought in Swingin’ Swannee (from Berlin) and Mindaugas (from Lithuania) to DJ when we didn’t have live music. They played some great stuff….stuff I think most of the Italian scene hadn’t heard before. To top that off, we had The Nine Pennies and The Nine Pennies Big Band, with whom the Killer Dillers performed live. They’ve come a long way since Kevin and I first danced to them in 2008. Roberto, the director and composer for the NPBB, did an outstanding job of writing out 9 songs for the show we did on Saturday. Given, he’d written out the score for The Big Apple the year prior, but still….that’s a ton of work!
So here’s the run down of the show. On Saturday, each Killer Diller taught 2 classes, did a double rehearsal, and put on a live 30 minute show to the Nine Pennies Big Band. For us as performers, this was a huge opportunity. This was our first show to a live band in Italy! EEEEKKK!
Some challenges that made the show all the more exciting:
1) We all live in various places and subsequently have very different travel schedules
2) Because of that, our rehearsal time as a group of 6 is extremely limited (6 hours total this weekend. Last group rehearsal was in December for Lindy Focus)
3) To top it off, we have to do choreo via video (eek….what if we weren’t perfect on video? What if we weren’t specific enough? etc.)
4) We were not able to get the music before the show, so we had to assume what we’d be performing to was going to be similar to our recordings
5) When we did our run throughs with the band, not all the members were there, so we weren’t quite sure what the final sound would be like
6) Due to an Icelandic volcano erupting, I couldn’t get back home and get our costumes together. Evita and Nathan had to scramble around NY and find something suitable. Needless to say, they found better costumes that I originally did.
7) During a live show, anything can happen: the band might play at a different tempo than in rehearsal, the solos sound different, costume pieces don’t do what they’re supposed to, lighting might be in the wrong spot, etc.
In regards to the rest of the weekend, the food was great, the company was fantastic, the rooms were nice, we had water, the sounds systems worked, the students were great and our translators were awesome. As an organizer, Silvia and Bruno took great care of us, threw a great event, and were all around awesome. Oh yeah, and the Showcase and Team competition were tons of fun! This year we saw significantly more lindy hop!!
To be honest, I didn’t think Swinglandia was going to be one of my favorite events of 2010, but it was. Instead of it just being another work weekend, it was a dance and party weekend for me. *smile
My first gig with Kevin was Swinglandia 2007 and it was fun, but rough. Kevin and I had never taught together before meaning we had to plan all 15 hours of classes on top of teaching them and we put together a piece to perform at the cabaret (i.e. long working hours). “Because it was spring” the heat was not on in the rooms, but it was snowing out. At that point in time, I was living in Southern California where it’s typically warm year round and had no need for proper winter clothing. Needless to say, I was fucking freezing almost the entire weekend. To top it off, our room was super janky: the bed was too small for Kev and the “springs” drooped heavily in mine, we had no toilet seat, and someone had ripped the mirror in that bathroom off the wall. Overall the weekend was challenging, but the students were amazing and the energy was outstanding. Now, a few years later, I realize that a camp of that size was perhaps a bit much for me at that time in my career with Kevin.
In all, Kevin and I had a fun time and we went back the following year. We had a much nicer room and it didn’t snow. Already a step up! Again, the students were great, the food was similar, the music was fine, and the people were fun.
But this year it was a freaking party! And not to say that it wasn’t a party before, I guess I just wasn’t participating in camp life to the fullest. Highlights of Swinglandia 2010:
1. Dax & Sarah were there. I absolutely adore the two of them and don’t get to see them nearly enough. Getting to pal around with them really made my week. ♥ you two!!
2. The Rhythm Junkies were there!!! Mindaugas, Milda, Vytautas, Dangiras, Tomas, Juste, Marius, Andrius, and Giedrė represented. Not only are they great musicians, but they are awesome dancers as well. How crap, I had such a blast dancing with them! On top of that, their English is outstanding, they have a great sense of humor, and they’re all gorgeous. I think I fall in love with each one of them every time I see them. Girls and guys both! All of them, even the ones that stayed back in Lithuania are absolutely studs! I am secretly (or not so secretly) hoping to marry one of them and work on getting my E.U. citizenship. =)
3. The parties were a blast. Perhaps the biggest difference this year for me was that I partied (what the hell did I do the other years?). I stayed up late, I danced around, I drank, I dressed up, I had a blast! Swinglandia is big on having a theme (similar to Herrang) and this year it was “army”. Oooh ooh, guess who has an aviator outfit? That’s right… me! Here’s a video of an Aviator and someone from Naval Intelligence dancing together:
Yup, that’s Kevin swinging me out in flippers. What a guy!
4. The Jack & Jill. The prelims were ridiculous. We had 60 couples to judge and we started judging at 2am. Let’s just say that was a long night. =) Now the finals….wow….they were awesome to watch:
You’ll have to click on the related videos to see the other 6 videos.
Mindaugas was freaking awesome. He is such an elegant mothertrucker. If you don’t know him, he’s the second leader that comes out. Fuck, check out his swing outs! And Veit freaking killed it!! I was super impressed (he’s the second leader in the second clip of Jack&Jill finals). To top it off, the music was great!!! I want to compete to those songs!!
5. The social dancing rocked. I had such a fun time!! Haha, it felt like I was a camper again and I got to dance for me. I felt like my soul had been fed. I had some great dances with too many people to name, but in particular Dangiras. I don’t think I’ve had that many dances with one person in a row for quite some time. Thank man for putting up with me =)
6. The cabaret! Uncle Aubergine were off the hook! “Дядя Баклажан” [dyadya baklajan] Members include Jimmy Monahan (George III), “Rhythm Junkies”: Dangis, Tomas and Andrius, and the one and only Fedor Nedotko!
7. New friends. I had such a blast (hahah, are you seeing a trend?) with so many new people. Wow, I dig that side of the world. Thank you to all the people that made Swinglandia happen, the staff, The Rhythm Junkies for holding it down, George III (Jimmy Monahan) for killing it on the clarinet and being one cool cat, Vitalii and Oksana for hosing Kevin and me, and Dax & Sarah for being awesome. xoxoxo