Swivels

I, like many other follows, have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about swivels, mine and others alike. What makes a good swivel? I’ve combed through tons of photos on facebook and I was slightly surprised with what I found.
I originally thought that I wanted to make a symmetrical shape with my feet by having both toes face the same direction. However, after closer look at the shapes I was drawn to, I realized I prefer when one leg (the line from hip to knee to toe) has rotated farther than the other so the toes don’t face in the same direction. Check out some of the feet in the thumbnails below.

Not only did I find that foot placement relative to the other was important, but the weight changes were really what gave a swivel some snap! I strongly believe making full weight changes, from right foot to left foot, helps frame the shapes. Try this: stand up and twist your hips to the right and left. Before you change direction, step onto the foot of the opposite hip (if your left hip is forward, commit your weight onto your right foot). Try not to be split weight, but really move your weight from right to left. Don’t forget about those hips! Now, after trying that, click to open the thumbnails and check out the larger photos. What do you think? When I look at image 11 (of Frida dancing in a blue dress with Skye), I can see that commitment to the weight change and shape. Blahm!

As an FYI, these photos are in alphabetical order, not from favorite and down. I am also going to throw this out there; if you like it keep it, if not send it back. I added myself into this gallery because I am really happy with my swivels at this point. By no means am I done working on them, but I have been working on them for the past year and I like the direction I’ve headed.

So what do you think of these shapes? Do you like them? What else do you notice? What do you think about when you’re working on your swivels?

(Ooh, btw, I’ve done this project twice….as in, I had pictures of a bunch of different people but then that folder magically disappeared on my computer, so I had to find a bunch of them again. I have absolutely missed some great pictures of swivels. If you find some, please send me a link!)

[UPDATED:  March 3, 2011]

Something I’d like to also make note of is the shape of each follower’s body. I appreciate that each person looks like they are comfortable with their body shape and that their movement develops from it. For example, Giselle has a long, lean body and she makes her own unique set of shapes that I would describe as fierce and angular. Alice is shorter and curvier, and she plays that up. When I picture Alice dancing, I think of round, fluid, continuous movement that ebbs and flows.

I think it’s important to dance your body type, otherwise you’ll look slightly off. If you have long legs, work ’em! If you’ve got some booty, use it!

xoxo

Lindy Shock 2010

This was definitely one of my favorite events of the year, if not favorite. Marcell, the organizer, did a wicked-good job of covering all the logistics and knows how to run a tight shift. All of his past research clearly paid off.

First things first, the line up. There were great teachers AND the DJs were fantastic. When you have the combination of great teachers and great music, more often than not, great dancers show up to dance with the instructors to the awesome music. It almost felt like the Who’s Who of Europe came to the event. Don’t believe me? There were 800 people at the event and it’s only in it’s 4th year. The numbers were up 40% since last year. “Dang!!!” is right (*head nod). So here’s the list: the main teachers are Andrew Sutton, Dax & Sarah, Hasse & Marie, Juan & Sharon, Kevin & Jo, Skye & Frida, Vincenzo & Isa, Zack & Maryse. Our taster teachers are Alf & Eli, Ali & Katja, Fedor & Inga, Nejc & Katja. Jamie Cameron, Deeb from Lithuania, Luc Prunet from Toulouse, Paulo BrotherSwing from Paris, Laurent Meirieu aka DJ Lolo from Toulouse were just some of the incredible DJ’s that held down the musical front.

SOME DETAILS ABOUT THE EVENT
From a teacher’s stand point, things were fantastic, other than auditions. That being said, auditions are never “super fun!” so it’s not like this was a special case. (I’ll write another post just on audition, but in short, we don’t want students to feel bad about where they were placed and have it affect their ability to learn. The process itself is also slightly stressful. Other than that, it’s necessary to put people into appropriate levels so that the learning environment is consistent and the teachers are the best people to do that.)
What was so fantastic, you say? The rooms on the boat were teeny, but cute. The shower actually had hot water and good water pressure. The sound systems worked in all the classrooms. The floors were nice in all the classrooms. The students arrived on time and were ready to learn (you might think that is obvious, but it is not always the case). Food was easily accessible, and so was dessert after we asked Marcell. We were given money for drinks. The music was fantastic (there were 5 different rooms playing music so everyone was bound to find something that suited their mood). Terrific people were there. Competitions were super. And finally, we were given a great place to party with our friends. A men!


Photos by Eric Esquivel, Tatiana Satsenya, and Eran Tobi

CONTESTS

Short and quick: The contests were fantastic! I saw so much solid and inspired dancing…..it really jazzed me up. Congratulations to everyone who competed!!

Showcase

William & Maeve – 1st place

Mindaugas & Gierdre – 2nd place

Strictly Lindy Prelims:

Performances

Kevin St. Laurent doing Hungarian

Joysse being amazing

Teachers being impressive

[videos go here….but where are they??]

More video to come!!!

Marcell, thank you for putting on such a fantastic event. To the students, thank you for coming ready to learn and for asking some really great questions! To everyone that attended, thanks for being there and helping make my year. To the competitors, thanks for kicking ass in that tiny space!! To the DJs, thank you for playing the stuff that makes me want to dance! To the boys, thanks for buying drinks! To my friends, I love you and I’ll see you somewhere around the world. 😀

Catalina Jazz Camp – Details

Back in the day, Catalina Jazz Camp was the event to go to. International instructors such as Eddie & Eva, Lennart & “W”, Daniel & Asa, Steven Mitchell, Rob & Dianne, Ryan & Jenny, and a slue of other top instructors. Not only was it top level instruction, but the Casino Ballroom and the island itself was and is gorgeous.

I remember finishing my 9th grade year in high school and immediately flying down to LA with some friends, catching the ferry across to the island, and setting up shop for a week. I had a great time running around in the sun, losing my voice, racing golf carts, and watching the Hot Shots perform. Here’s a picture of me in front of the slab with some friends many years ago:

Some Historical Information:

The Catalina Jazz Dance Festival endeavors to recreate the historic swing dance routines of the 30’s and 40’s, paying homage to the big bands from the Swing Era who played regularly at the Casino Ballroom.

Enthusiasts will remember the PBDA Swing Camp which ran for 10 years from 1994–2004. The event centers around the famous Catalina Casino Ballroom which still echoes music from a bygone era, and the richness of Catalina culture.

Here’s a layout of where we’ll be running around:

1) Casino Ballroom (click here to check out the virtual tour!)

2) Tremont Hall
3) Sunday Workshops (High School Gym)
4) Foutain
5) Antonios Cabaret Pizza
6) Boat Landing
7) The Slab

The Killer Dillers will be performing 10 numbers in the ballroom. On Friday, the audience will get to see “Putting on the Ritz,  a cakewalk number, Sharon’s fan dance, “Fascinating Rhythm”, and a group charleston number. On Saturday, we’ll perform a Hat Trick Tranky Doo, a Fred Astaire inspired number, “Jelly Roll”, “Bellboy”, and “Communication”. Finally, on Sunday we’ll perform “Serenade to a Savage” for our finale.

Can’t wait to see you there!!

Lindy Hop in Genova, Italy

This event was a tribute to how amazing Silvia Palazzolo truly is. The Friday a week before the event was to start, the Sheraton Hotel reneged on their contract and yet Silvia was still able to pull strings to make her event happen. Amazing!

Some more of the details: The Sheraton Hotel in Genova should have been the perfect for this event. Everyone would fly into Genova, cross the street to get to the hotel, stay in the gorgeous rooms (they were really, really nice), and then wander downstairs to take class and go to the dances at night. What made it not ideal was that the Sheraton didn’t have a dance floor, so Silvia bought one. The Sheraton also didn’t have a proper sound system, so Silvia got one lined up. Now, I know what you’re say, “That’s an organizer’s job; they need to make sure there is a dance floor, sound system, transportation, a place to stay, rah rah rah.” Silvia accounted for that, like a great organizer should, but what makes Silvia one of the great organizers is that a week before the event, almost everything she had planned fell apart.

I have no idea how she did it, but she was able to pull some strings and got 4 couples (Juan & Sharon, Nathan & Evita, Kevin & myself, and Mindaugas & Gierdre) a new place to teach classes and found a new night venue on 4 days notice. That’s freaking impressive!! Unfortunately, I don’t know how many of the students who attended knew that this happened, so I am assuming parts of the event just seemed poorly run when actually, it incredibly well run.

Long of the short of it, classes went really well, the students were great, the facilities were wonderful, the dances were fun, The Killer Diller performances went well, and the hotel rooms were lovely.

PUTTING ON THE SHOW

Putting on a show to a live band is fun and slightly stressful. We’ve worked with Roberto, the leader of the Nine Pennies Big Band, before and he’s an absolute pleasure. He’s put together some beautiful arrangements for us and his band has gotten stronger and tighter over the past 3 years.

That being said, regardless of what band you’re working with, you’re adding another layer of uncertainty. For example, our rehearsal time with the band ran later than expected and people were stressing about that (I was one of them). Even though I dig the version we performed to, it’s inevitably different than the one we as a group have been rehearsing to (more of something to take note of…no judgment, just another layer to account for). There are “sound” issue to have to deal with – the sound guy, the sound system, the microphones, etc – and that’s something else that needs to be addressed. Finally, something every performer deals with (unless at the same venue every night), is the floor. Slippery or sticky? Is there anything sticking out that we can trip on? Where’s the lighting set on the floor? Where will the audience be on the floor? And so on…

Regardless of the challenges, having the band is awesome. The most important thing the band does for us is pump out sound and energy that is energizing to both performers and audience members. The music was spot on for us, the tempos were great, the sound was full, and the energy was up. The Nine Pennies Big Band nailed it and I think (*toot toot) so did the Killer Dillers!

Here’s Our Set List:

1. LIVE MUSIC (2:35) Serenade to a Savage – Kevin, Jo, Juan, Sharon, Nathan & Evita
2. LIVE MUSIC Band Segway (with a singer 3 choruses)
3. LIVE MUSIC (2:45) Lucky Numbers – Nathan & Evita
4. RECORDED or LIVE MUSIC (3:22) I ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of my Jellyroll – Juan and Sharon
5. LIVE MUSIC (4:15) Taking a Chance on Love – Nathan, Evita and Juan
6. RECORDED MUSIC (2:30) Communication – Kevin and Jo
7. RECORDED MUSIC (2:41) Shimmy Like my Sister Kate – Bellboy Routine – Sharon, Jo & Evita
8. LIVE MUSIC (4:20) Living in a Great Big Way into Fascinating Rhythm – Kevin
9. LIVE MUSIC (2:43) Eight, Nine, Ten – Nathan & Kevin – dueling ukes

Here are some photos taken at the night dances: Enjoy!!!

To see some of my (crappy cell phone) pictures from the weekend, click here!

Again, Silvia, you are wonderful, marvelous, amazing, and inspiring. Thank you for hanging in there and pushing to make sure the event went off and for making our jobs as easy as they were. XOXOX

Aerial: The Cupcake

If you’ve taken an aerial class with Kevin and me in the last year, you’ve probably had the opportunity to learn the Cupcake from us.

The Back Story:

We saw Jeremy Otth and Laura Keat do this aerial at Camp Hollywood in 2008 and were super wowed by it.

If you go to 4:37, you can watch their routinelette that has “The Cupcake” in it.

They saw this aerial on So You Think You Can Dance and lindy-fied it. Super cool. To be honest, I hadn’t seen the clip of the original aerial until today….and here it is:

If you fast forward to 1:20 ish, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Then Kevin and I figured out how to do the aerial while in Herrang 2009 and debuted our version of it at Lindy Focus. We finally decided on the name after doing this aerial in a jam.

To see the jam, go to 1:57.

You see, that fabulous dress I am wearing is rather cupcake-like and you might notice, when I land on Kevin’s shoulders, his head has disappeared. He is inside my cupcake dress. Hence…cupcake.

You’re welcome.

😀

ULHS 2010

I didn’t know what to expect since I haven’t been to ULHS since 2007, but I’ll tell you, it’s magical, and then some.

I’ve had a hard time finding video from the weekend for some reason. If you find a better quality video than the one I have up, please let me know and I’ll repost. If you find more video from the weekend that should be up here, please let me know and I’ll throw it up into the mix.

The music was ridiculous all weekend long and the weather was perfect. The food was good, transportation was easy, drinks were cheap, and the company was as fabulous as expected. I missed seeing the members of Hot Club Stomp, but they were off at various gigs (which is the same reason I haven’t been at ULHS for the past few years). Sosh & Lisa, thanks for taking care of me. Andrew, thanks for throwing down with me. Lindsay, thanks for being all-around awesome.

Let me throw out a HUGE congratulations to Juan & Sharon for winning Showcase and Showdown!

Congratulations to Sharon and Kevin for winning the Slow Blues!

Congratulations and thank you from the bottom of my dancing heart to Evita Arce for killin’ it in the Solo Blues competition!

Congratulations to Bobby Bonsey for his Solo Jazz win. That back flip was ridiculous!

Final Battle

Congratulations to Rainer Rhythm for their Team victory!

Click here to check it out. Yeah Seattle!!

ILHC Results 2010

Showcase:
1 – Max Pitruzzella & Annie Trudeau
2 – Davis Thurber & Claudia Joyal-Laplante
3 – Patrick Szmidt & Natasha Ouimet

Classic:
1 – Thomas Blacharz & Alice Mei
2 – Kevin St. Laurent & Jo Hoffberg
3 – Nick Williams & Laura Keat

Champion Strictly
1 – Max Pitruzzella & Annie Trudeau
2 – Nick Williams & Laura Keat
3 – Kevin St. Laurent & Carla Heiney

Invitational Jack & Jill:
1 – Todd Yannacone & Annie Trudeau
2 – Jeremy Otth & Carla Heiney
3 – Skye Humphries & Laura Keat

Solo Charleston:
1 – Kevin St. Laurent
2 – Max Pitruzzella
3 – Bobby Bonsey

Pro-Am:
1 – Oscar Hampton & Annie Trudeau
2 – Alisha Ruiss & Max Pitruzella
3 – Eric Lim & Laura Glaess

Cabaret:
1 – Jerry, the Hip Hop Specialist
2 – Naomi Uyama
3 – Top Drawer

Advanced J&J:
1 – Thomas Blacharz & Mikaela Hellsten
2 – Mike Roberts & Natasha Ouimet
3 – Andreas Olsson & Kate Hedin

All Around Awesome and Has Given something to the scene that will forever change it for the better:

Andrew Thigpen and Karen Turman

Open Strictly Lindy:
1 – Jamie Cameron & Gina Helfrich
2 – Daryl Begin & Jennifer Stout
3 – Anthony Chen & Rachel Green

Strictly Balboa:
1 – Mickey Fortanasce & Kelly Arsenault
2 – Bobby White & Kate Hedin
3 – Todd Yannacone & Mia Goldsmith

Balboa J&J:
1 – Adam Speen & Mia Goldsmith
2 – Bobby White & Heather Ballew
3 – Patrick Szmidt & Nelle Cherry

Open J&J:
1 – Mitchel & Lauren
2 – Elliot Susel & Hanna Sigurdh
3 – Paul Echevarria & Andrea Gordon

Team:
1 – Swinging Airforce
2 – Top Notch
3 – The Woodside Jumpers

If you’d like to see the actual score sheets, please click here! Thanks for taking pictures Patrick & Natasha!

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Favorite Moments at ILHC 2010

If you didn’t make it to ILHC 2010, I am very sorry, because it was one of the greatest competition weekends I feel the scene has had in a few years. Not everyone was able to make it this year – Frida, Zacke, Sharon Davis, Juan, Dax, and Sarah to name a few – but there was still an amazing showing of people. There were so many inspiring moments that I’d have a hard time thinking that anyone could walk away without the feeling of “WOW.”

People brought their A-Game and that’s all there is too it. In many ways, I didn’t feel like the placement matter….everybody rocked.

Here are some favorite moments:

Solo Charleston Contest

My dance partner kicked ass and won! Not only that, but he had someone do a front flip over his head, and he still won. That’s gotta say something!

Invitational Jack and Jill Lindy – Todd Yannacone & Annie Trudeau

There are many reasons to include this – like the fact they won – but the reason I do is because of what Todd said before he went out. During Skye’s and Laura’s dance, Skye brought Laura and himself over to the Baltimore Section of the floor. Todd smiled and said that was a cheap shot. Then, when it was Todd’s turn, he not only took the SAME “cheap shot”, but then blew that shot out of the water! He went to the Baltimore corner, showed Annie off to the judges, then to the far corner, and then ran by all the the instructors sitting on stage. Hahaha….very, very amusing.

Invitational Jack and Jill Lindy – Stefan Durham & Jo Hoffberg

The dances I have with Stefan are like none other. He is super creative and I dig his lines. Fun Fact: he drew me in the J&J at ILHC in 2008 as well!

ILHC 2010 – Showcase – Max Pitruzzella & Annie Trudeau

There are sooooooo many things that can be said about this gorgeous routine. The energy, their creativity, their musicality, their aerials, their….. everything. Congratulations to both Max & Annie on their win.

ILHC 2010 – Showcase – Andrew Thigpen & Karen Turman

They killed it!!!!!!!!! Andrew and Karen ARE the spirit of Lindy Hop, according to me. They bring so much energy, heart, and love to the dance, it’s inspiring. I am so honored to have made it into Lindy Hop History this way. For me, this dance will be one to stand the test of time. If only two clips of lindy hop were to survive an apocalypse, I hope it’d be Hellzapoppin’ and this one.

ILHC 2010 – Classic Lindy – Thomas Blacharz & Alice Mei

After they came off the floor, I told them I thought they were the couple to beat. What an amazing job they did!!! The choreography is musical and intricate, they performance is stunning, and frankly, the just danced the shit out of that routine!

ILHC 2010 – Classic Lindy – Kevin St. Laurent & Jo Hoffberg

I am adding myself to the list because I am super proud of what Kevin and I did. This is our first Classic piece and the reviews we’ve been given were pretty spectacular. What was most noteworthy to me about this performance was that I felt like we had SO MUCH TIME while performing. Normally I have to think about the choreography and focus on the details while performing, but here, I had time to look at the audience, the judges, and Kevin. I just felt like…..it was effortless. That was a first for me. 🙂

ILHC 2010 – Pro Champions Strictly Lindy – Finals

I thought this was a great showing for the pros AND it was a return to the old school. Kevin & Carla reunited to kick some ass (they took 3rd), Skye and Naomi danced together, and Todd and I competed (we were partners many years ago). It was an old school battle.

And Finally, the Yes Dance!

Yeah, this isn’t the one that was done, but I can’t find a link to it. If you find it, please let me know!!!

Herrang 2010 Videos

A wrap-up of some great things captured on video from Herrang.

Cabaret, Week 5

Cabaret Week 4

Cabaret Week 3

Week 3 Recap by Bobby Bonsey

The Rhythm Junkies, Week 5

The Rhythm Junkies – Viper’s Mad

The Rhythm Junkies and The Carling Family Band

Herrang Bollywood Opening week 2 with Jaume de Francisco

Charleston World of Herrang by JB Mino

Charleston Class with Jana

Holy cow! Jana has so much energy and her lines are outstanding. xoxo

Shakespeare in Herrang

What did I miss that you’ve seen that I should? Post a link in the comments for me!!
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