New York Lindy Tech 2017

I’m so excited!! This weekend Kevin and I will be hosting our first New York Lindy Tech!

Are you no longer taking classes in your local scene?

Do you feel like you’ve outgrown them?

Are you a good dancer, want to get better, but don’t quite know how?

Are you interested having your Lindy Hop mind blown?

Then save the dates to work with KEVIN & JO:

January 27-29, 2017 in New York, NY

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

 

 

Top Moments from 2013

A quick review of how EPIC 2013 was for me. In chronological order, I present to you:

1. Attending my first Viennese Ball at the Philharmonic in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna

I wore a vintage 1930s gown, my Remix shoes, and a feather fascinator from Etsy. What a gorgeous facility! Kevin and I waltzed a few times and stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning. De.lightful!!

2. The best birthday party EVER!!

birthday 2013
The theme: Thrift Store. Instead of getting presents, I asked everyone to bring $29, come down to the thrift store with me and the gang, and buy clothes for someone else. After that, it was fashion show time. And beer. 😀

3. My younger brother got married

wedding

4. Dancing on the Great Wall of China

Great Wall

 china

5. Outrageously good time at The Mooche in Cork, Ireland. Thanks Daragh!!

The Mooche

Kevin and I stayed in a fabulous B&B, ate a proper “British Breakfast”, hung out with some fabulous misfits, taught some super fun classes, and hung out with One Horse Pony – some fabulous local musicians.

6. Choreographing for Swing X with Dax Hock & Sarah Breck.

Traveling in Style

Traveling in Style

Advice

“You see Dax, I want you to feeeeel like you’re in love. Take her like ‘dis…hold her like ‘dis…..”

Swing x

Talking through the next set of shots

Not only did Kevin and I get to choreograph and advise on our first full-length film, but we also got to visit Middle America. Whoa.

7. Attending the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island and getting into the Fashion section of the NY Times

Jazz party

 

I’ll see if I can find a bigger picture of it, but I’m on the far left, second row up from the bottom. Kevin and I also took 1st & 2nd place in the Charleston Contest.

8. Taking Second Place with Mikey Pedroza at ILHC in the Slow Division.

ilhc slow

 

9. Being inducted to the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame – as a Rising Star and as a Couple (thanks Kev!!)

Photo by Steve Hwan

Photo by Steve Hwan

Rising Star – The Rising Star is a Champion that has been around from ten to twenty years. It strives to make its place in the Swing Dance Heavens through its ongoing participation within the Milky Way of Competition.

Couples – Couples stands out with special brilliance among other swing partnerships.

10. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – samba, Copacabana, Ipanema, and amazing people

F - brazil 2

brazil

11. Dancing my ass off at Lindy Shock in Budapest, Hungary.

lindy shock

Countless nights I was up until 5am dancing. Mostly I’d go home because I had work in the morning and my feet were on fire. Some of my most memorable dances from the weekend were with Dax Hock. Thanks man!

12. Performing the Jungle Book number with my new team at Lindy Focus: ‘Monkey’ Mikey, ‘Lioness’ Gaby, and ‘White Tiger’ Kevin.

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.

Honeysuckle Rose

Choreographed by the indelible Mikey Pedroza and performed by the lovely Laura Keat and myself at the SF Girl Jam.

Gaaaaah, I love this routine. It’s beautiful, simple, and classy. Mikey, thank you for choreographing something so lovely. Laura, it was a pleasure performing along side of you. SF Girl Jam organizers, thank you for creating an event where two gals can dance with their gams out!!

Herrang – Disco Inspiration – week 1

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for Disco on Friday!! Of all of the themes Herrang has had over the years, this is by far and large the one that I feel I can most contribute. Fortunately enough, Kevin and I are teaching guy and gal line dance routines the Thursday evening classes, Kevin is DJing on Friday, and we are performing on Friday night around 11:45pm upstairs at the Folkethus.

Here are some photos that hopefully will be as inspiring to you as they are to me!

 

 

Avalon Ball – May 12th

The 10th anniversary staging of the world famous Avalon Ball kicks off this coming Saturday May 12 at 6 pm! Hundreds of your Art Deco and dancing friends have already made arrangements to be there on this auspicious night—don’t miss out!

There’s still time to purchase your advance admission to the most exciting, romantic event of the year and be there when we celebrate a decade of vintage magic at the completely restored—and simply spectacular—Art Deco Casino Ballroom. With a 10,000-square-foot dance floor (yes, you read that right!) surrounded by romantic ocean views, there is plenty of room to foxtrot, swing and tango the night away to the authentic big band music of Dean Mora & the Avalon Ball Dance Band.

Special Anniversary Extras!

  • No-host “Speakeasy” at the Avalon Grille following the Ball
  • Member prices for the Catalina Island Museum’s 25th Anniversary Silent Film Benefit on Saturday – save 15%
  • Member prices for tickets to the Silent Film Benefit Patron’s Ball on Friday – save 38%
  • Click here for more details!

Advanced Tickets:
     $35 for Art Deco Society of Los Angeles Members
     $45 for Non-members
Tickets at Door (May 12, 2012):
     $45 for Art Deco Society of Los Angeles Members
     $55 for Non-members

Disco!

Disco party this weekend at Swinglandia!!!

Here are the sources of my inspiration for this weekend:

And let’s not forget one of the hallmark dance scenes from the 1970s!

Now, let’s boogie!

 

Lindy Focus X Highlights

Here are my personal highlights from Lindy Focus X (and yes, I know these are suuuuuuuuuuper late):

9) The people!!!

First I need to thank the volunteer staff for being so incredibly awesome. They did a fantastic job making sure that everything was running in the background so that everyone could have a great time. THANK YOU to the cooks, transportation liaison, coordinator, music and sound technicians, hotel staff for making sure we had water, the DJs, photographers, videographers, the lighting coordinators, and everyone else who helped out Michael and Jaya in the background.

Secondly, I want to thank all of the people that attended, especially the students. You and your and enthusiasm are what make doing my job such a treat. You guys made the event as fierce as it was. I get to do what I do because of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

8) The Nutcrackers.

 

7) Andrew Thigpen as the MC.

6) Nina Gilkenson impersonating Andrew Thigpen:

5) The Balitquerque party.

The Baltimore and Albequerque scene teamed up some time ago and have been throwing legendary parties at various dance events. At the end of these various events, Dorry (one of the head honchos in Baltimore) would rave about the party and ask us why Kevin and I weren’t there. Unfortunately, we never got an invitation. This happened at two events. No bueno (*shakes head). So this year, Dorry made an extra effort to make sure we felt included.

Kevin and I received our invitations during our Swing Out Intensive.

Andrew Munoz dressed up in his tux and cordially informed us that we were invited to (*use your best British accent here) “enjoy an evening of tomfoolery” and that we should swing by room 166 around 7 o’clock. How delightful!

Here are some pictures that barely do the night justice.

  

 

This video is too dark to see the madness, but it’s a good start 😀

4) Winning the Invitational Jack & Jill with Todd Yannacone. That competition was really hard to judge so I’m very surprised that we took 1st. I am positive the scores are all over the board, so I have to give a shout out to the Relative Placement system! 😀

3) Nath Bugh and Dorry Segev Dueling Piano number from the show on New Years Eve. The video speaks for itself.

2) Performing five new numbers this year, most of which I learned in the two weeks prior to the event.

The most challenging act I did was my solo jazz piece called My Discarded Men. I probably spent around 35 hours putting this routine together and trying to teach myself how to make the particular shapes I did. It wasn’t perfect, but I am really proud of myself.

The least physically demanding, and most fun was performing my drunken striptease. Hahhaa, it’s so nice to get to be ridiculous sometimes! Otherwise, it was a real pleasure to get to work with Gabby, Kelly, Melanie, Casey, and Natasha on the girls charleston piece in the New Years Eve show, as well as The Killer Dillers on our most recent group number. Finally, Sharon created a gorgeous choreography that had the ladies of the KD mostly naked on the floor.

1) All of the ridiculously awesome social dances I had on the last night!! Ok, so I was a little buzzed off of all the champagne I had, but man, my following was pretty freaking awesome (*toot toot). I had a number of really-freaking good dances that night, but in particular, I felt that I really connected with Todd and Mikey. Not only that, but Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five were playing. Gaaaaaaaaaah, the music was soooooooooooo freaking gooooood!!!

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!!