ILHC 2014 – A Champion

I had SUCH a great time at ILHC this year because I was so freaking busy doing like I do: two Pro/Ams, Slow Division with Mikey Pedroza, Showcase with Kevin St. Laurent, and commentary on Swing Nation’s live streaming of the Invitational Strictly.

First things first: The Pro/Am! Tim worked his balls off to get this choreography together with me. I’m so proud of him and how well he did on Game Day!

Felipe and I worked on this choreography while at Herrang this year. He dedicated so many  hours to this choreography and it shows. Yeah yeah!!

And did I mention he is Brazilian 😀

What can I say other than dancing with Mikey is a blast. Just look at how silly we are together!

At ILHC 2013, we did pretty well by taking 2nd place, but this year we won. Huzzah!!

Showcase Division: Ha!!! It was our year (***reminiscent of Strictly Ballroom)!

First place in the Showcase Division. Pretty proud of ourselves.

And, last but not least, Swing Nation time!!

So, yeah, a great year. Can’t wait to see what I can create for 2015!

ILHC 2014 Jo & Kevin

Picture by David Soltysik

 

 

Lindy Focus XI – New Orleans Bump

Evita Arce is one of those women that you can never forget. She is charming, bubbly, sunshine, and a connector. She is a choreographer, a dancer, a creator, and an inspirational figure. This year for Lindy Focus, she invited me to perform along with her and Elyse Sparkes. This was the most challenging number I performed in 2012.

 

I had my eye on that dress for quite sometime, so when Evita said we were rocking the turtleneck dress, I was all over it!

I didn’t hit the number, but it doesn’t matter – I had such an amazing time being on stage with those lovely ladies! I am really looking forward to doing this number again somewhere so I can dance my roll the way I know I can. Regardless of that, it was an honor and pleasure to dance along side of these lovely ladies.

Camp Swing It 2012 – looking into the lights

Last weekend Kevin and I were in Seoul, South Korea and had one of those weekends that I’ll never forget. As per usual we were treated exceptionally well, over fed, translated, inspired, and supplied with Soju. What put this weekend on the top of my list were the performances. I was on a “performance high” during the weekend, and now having watched the videos, I’m getting to relive it.

The teachers performed both Friday and Saturday night. Due to the large number of choreography competition on Saturday, the teachers felt it was best to show their lindy hop numbers on Friday and cabaret numbers on Saturday.

Friday Line Up:

Juan & Sharon, Tommy & Alice, Kevin & Jo, William & Maeva, and the Fantastic Four (that’s not really the name, but I don’t have a better one. Suggestions?)

Friday Night

HAhahha!! Did you make it to the end and see BB bounce around while cheering?! Perhaps that is my favorite part!

So why was this performance so special? The audience! Good heavens, when Kevin and I were introduced, it sounded like the crowd went bananas. It was …… touching, and surprising, and heartwarming. Even now, trying to put words to the swells of happiness that rushed over me….. nothing I can write will do it justice. It was ineffable. (Regardless, I will continue. *smile) As we hit our “ready position”, I couldn’t see anything because of the spotlights.

As I looked into the blinding darkness, the crowd continued to cheer. It was an awesome experience not being able to see anything, but hear everything. After hushing them so we could start, Kevin and I danced, and we danced well. As we finished the routine, the crowd erupted again! Gaaaah!!! THIS is what a performer lives for – the roar of the crowd, the cheers, the applause, the noise, and the joy of doing what you love! If I hadn’t felt like I had “made it” before, the experience of performing for the crowd at CSI 2012 put me over the moon.

I watched the video of the performance and it doesn’t do it justice. The crowd was so much more than what was captured on film. Even though we were performing in an enormous space, the audience still managed to fill the room with their energy and appreciation. I am not sure if the other performers felt the same way I did, but I certainly hope so. So CSI 2012…..thank you for being apart of a performance I will always remember.

Saturday Night Line Up:

Tap, Jo & Alice, Three Boys, Sharon, and the Ninjammerz.

GAAAAHHHH!!!! I’m thrilled! Alice worked her booty off to learn this routine and I think she was freaking amazing! We. Were. Fabulous.

Originally, Alice started learning this routine off of the video of me performing this solo at Lindy Focus. I then sent her a video breakdown of the first half of the routine, and then again with more detail a week before the event. I don’t know how much time she was able to put in to learning it prior to seeing me – I know it was fewer hours than I put into it originally – but when we first checked in with each other, she solidly had the outline of the routine. We rehearsed for 3 hours on Thursday at a dance studio, an hour on Friday to check the floor, and on Saturday we got an additional hour to rehearse with mirrors. Holy cow, our lines were really together!! I was thrilled.

Costuming: Alice had gone shopping on Thursday and bought a LBD for the performance. On Friday, I went to the same shop and bought the same dress. Not only that, but Alice had black gloves on her, and as fate would have it, Maeva had a matching pair on her. Luckily I remember to bring garters, stocking, and fascinators for us (this might seem like a given, however, I somehow managed to forget a quarter of the things I should have brought with me). Goodness! Everything fell into place…more than I could have hoped for.

Back to the performance. As I described above, the crowd was marvelous. While performing, I rarely hear the crowd because I am so focused on the music, so I didn’t hear them until the end; however, as I watched the video, I was delighted with how the crowd “oooh-ed” and “aaaah-ed”. Oh Korea, how I love thee.

So there you have it. Enjoy!!

920 Open House – Performances

Throughout February and March, Kevin and I created two separate routines for students at Wednesday Night Hop and the 920 Special. The goal of the classes was to perform the routine at 920’s annual Open House, battle for Lindy Hop World Domination, to the cheers and adoration of hundreds of friends, family, visitors, and to inspire our dancing community. For most of the students, this was there first-ever performance. Not only that, but many of them have been dancing less than three years!!

What a fabulous job everyone did on Thursday night! To all the students: Thank you for hanging in there. Thank you for believing in yourself and sticking with you. Thank you for rehearsing and coming prepared. Thank you for your dedication, kind words, for serving as an inspiration to Kevin and me, and for adding to the lindy hop legacy.

Performances (in order of appearance)

The Careless Lindy Hoppers

The song is Viper Mad, by Rhythm Junkies, an amazing jazz band from Seattle!
http://thecarelesslovers.com/

Kevin & Jo

920 Vipers

Can you believe that these performers are ALL STUDENTS! About half of them have been Lindy Hopping for less than one year, and for most of them this is their FIRST-EVER PERFORMANCE!

The song is Viper Mad, by Rhythm Junkies, an amazing jazz band from Lithuania! http://ohsoswing.com/studio-by-the-rhythm-junkies

Teachers

Instructors and staff at The 9:20 Special perform a routine choreographed by Stefan Durham and Bethany Powell!

The song is “Swing is the Thing” by The Mills Brothers.

 

 

 

Inspiration Weekend 2012

Some favorite moments from this truly inspiring weekend.

Performances

Kevin and I kicked off our weekend with a little bit of “Shake that Thang!”

The Atomic Cherry Bombs were sexy as hell! I think it’s a great video of the performance, which means it must have been that much more incredible in person.

Hat Trick Initiation

James Bianco & Irina Amzashvilli were initiated into the Hat Trick Club this weekend. They are now members of the League of Extraordinary Hat-trickers.

This is one of the best versions of this routine I’ve seen them do. Sure, there were a few little flubs, but honestly, they freaking hit it. The crowd was awesome and Tips & Tops were men of legend. Well done men!!!

Saturday Competitions

1st Place – Augie Freeman & Irina Amzashvilli
2nd Place – Conrad Friesen & Sarah Stembridge
3rd Place – Andrew Jose & Alice Pye

Yeah!!! Lindy Hop has a future!! I was so impressed by how good everyone was in Orange County. Good heavens, those cats swing! The quality of their movement and swing outs assures me that lindy hop will continue to grow and thrive. Thank you to all the competitors; all of you won over my heart.

1st Place – Peter Kertzner & Irina Amzashvilli
2nd Place – Stephen Sayer & Chandrae Roettig
3rd Place – Jack Chen & Brittany Calavatti

I freaking LOVE the concept of 30-Second Showcase! And seriously, check out what people came up with. Love it.

Sunday Pro-Am

1st Place – Conrad Friesen
2nd Place – Matt Richey
3rd Place – Sam Chan

Hahah, this one looks a little bit like a Jo Hoffberg show reel, but really, I just got lucky that the top three leads in the competition picked me as their follower. Fabulous job everyone!!

Hat Trick Shim Sham at Lindy Focus X

Unfortunately, I was in rehearsal during this amazing feat of Hat Tricking, but it was sooooooooo freaking awesome I had to post it. About a year ago, Tips and Tops had a dream were planning on performing the Hat Trick Shim Sham while at Lindy Focus this year, but when they realized that all their buddies were there, they knew it was time to take the performance to the next level. Here the eight of them are in all their hat tricking glory!!


From left to right the performers: Tin Tin, Taps, Tips, Toodles, Tops, Toes, Targoff, and Tubs.

How awesome was that?!!! This tip-top team tricked their way into the hearts of many this past weekend. What I enjoyed most about this performance was seeing the individuality of each performer and how well they all worked together. On top of that, I really liked how the choreography was modified to best use the number of performers. Neato Gang!!

In case you want to learn how to hat trick shim sham, you are in luck!! Here are the first two (of twelve) videos to get you started:

Word on the street is if you want to be initiated into the group and get your own terrific nickname, you need to learn the routine and perform it at an event (make sure to have video to prove it). I can’t confirm this, but that’s what a little birdy told me!!