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!!

Black Swamp Village – making of the video

The Speakeasies Swing Band from Greece just came out with a fabulous new music. Not only is there lindy hop, but there are zombies! Take a look!

Oh yeah, and Kevin and I are in it as well. 😀

I wasn’t really sure what filming a music video would be like, which meant I was able to walk in with no expectations of “normal”. I think I romanticized what the process was going to be like – and perhaps like most things, the end product is fabulous – but the creating process is time and energy intensive. Regardless of the time commitment, I had a blast. Here are some picture Kevin and I took during the three day we spent on the Speakeasies “Black Swamp” music video.

The Back Story

MONDAY

Kevin and I were supposed to leave Rome at 9am which meant we caught our shuttle around 6:30am. We arrive exhausted to the airport, only to find out our flight had been rescheduled for 9PM. Fucking excellent. The only thing we could think to do was head to the Hilton down the street and see how much money it was going to cost us to nap. Much to our good fortune, I am apparently a Gold Member of the Hilton Honors which allowed us to stay on the executive floor, have free internet for one computer, and access to food in the lounge. So not all bad. We nap most of the day, check out at 6pm, fly to Greece, and arrive at Alex’s house around 2am (instead of 2pm). Luckily (insert sarcasm here), we’ll get to sleep for 4 hours before the video shoot. Yeah! Long of the short of it is: we are exhausted.

TUESDAY

It’s still dark out when we leave the house around 6am to drive up into the woods. Even though we are fully clothed, we are still cold. Luckily we’re excited to see what the set is going to look like and that makes everything better. Within moments of our arrival, I have a plastic bag placed around my neck and my makeup is being done by a professional. As the sun rises, my inner zombie awakens (see photos). Kevin snaps pictures of the morning sun warming the sky aaaaaand Scary Jo.

Kevin is first up to film. He wanders around at various tempos, takes a knee by the grave, and does more walking. When I’m ready, I sit on a rock in a cape-thing and hold out my hand. You can see in one of the pictures there are lots of people sitting around me making sure my hand “emotes properly” and to check my hair and makeup. 🙂 Finally, we film the ending where I pull back my hood to reveal Scary Jo!

That’s a wrap (at least for Kevin and me)! It’s about 10:30am and we’re done for the day. Alex takes us to eat crepes and we talk about what direction we’d like to go with the dancing and the who/what/where of choreography.

WEDNESDAY

Kevin and I head to the Lindy Hop Greece dance studio to put together choreography for the slow section. After about two hours, we have something we’re happy with. We then move to the group choreography section for the zombies. We thought it would be fun to do a Michael Jackson tribute and to keep it swingin’, so we threw something together, showed it to Alex and Christina, and they liked it! In total, I think we spent about 3.5 hours on choreo.

After rehearsal, I needed to go shopping and find something to wear for the fast section. I didn’t really have anything I thought would read well on video, so I headed to Zara to try my luck. I found a white polkadot shirt with a peter pan collar and a black skirt with a nice amount of flair 😀 Perfect.

Before I went to bed that night, I put my hair in pin curls in hopes that my hair would have some much needed body to it (see photo).

THURSDAY

Filming Day! We arrive at Block 33 around 10am and immediately start on hair and makeup. Even though the place was cold, I was charmed by the exposed brick, abandoned-factory sort of look. Kevin helped with set up as a transformed from “blah” to “yeah” (see pictures) and then we were first up to film. While all the dancers and crew looked on, we did 7 takes on the slow. We never hit it perfectly in any one of the takes, but we were close. Then we filmed closeups of our faces as we walked away from each other. At this point, we were hoping that all of the Zombie Dancers were going to be in full makeup, but mostly people had watched Kevin and me slow dance. Hahah…..that’s amusing to me.

As more zombies are created, I help run through group choreography  with the “humans.” People continued rotating in and out until most knew how to “dance-support” Kevin and me during the flash back sequence. I change and redo my hair, and then did what I could to keep warm. At this point, it’s probably close to 2pm.

One of the fun/difficult things about shooting was the fog machine. Sometimes there was too much and sometimes the fog would dissipate too quickly. Regardless, it was awesome to work with and I think I’d love to have one for the house :p Something else that was difficult was keeping warm and keeping the energy up. The entire experience was exciting, but filming days are long days. What also elongated the day was that Kevin and I don’t speak Greek, so almost everything needed to be translated. We finally wrap up around 10pm that evening.

Coolest part: We talked to the director and crew and explained to them the importance of syncing the dancing to the music and they were totally receptive to it! Now, you might say “Well, yes, of course. Why wouldn’t you do that?” but if you look at other videos with dancing in them, you can find examples where the dancing is in rhythm, but not on beat. Seriously, it happens. So, that being said, it was freaking fantastic that we were able to tell the crew what takes we liked best, had opportunities to look at our lines and make some adjustments, and that they were receptive to our feedback. Woohoo!!

All in all, it was a fabulous experience and I would love to do another one. The days are long, and I can only imagine what it must have been like for the band and crew who had considerably more work than I did. So to all the members of the Speakeasies Swing Band, the crew, and especially to Lindy Hop Greece, thank you from the bottom of our heart for having us.

Herrang Wk5 – Costumes

Friday, 5th August 2011

A Moon Odyssey

How high the moon? Come and feel the weightlessness of universe and see how Mother Earth is looking at you from a far distance. Astronauts and aliens, galaxies and stars. Mysterious creatures from planets you never knew of. One spaceship is landing and another one is taking off. Get your oxygen mask and get ready for space. And if you listen carefully you might already now hear the barking from a lonely dog named Lajka.

This one was a lot harder for me to find photos that were inspiring, but here’s my best shot. What are your ideas?

I’m afraid I might throw in the towel on this one, but I’ll try to pull something together. Maybe something with tin foil…. any suggestions?

Herrang Wk4 – Costumes

Week 4

Friday, 29th July 2011

20 000 Leagues Under the Sea

The great big blue is welcoming you into a world of colourful fishes, seaweed and old shipwrecks. Green, blue, yellow and purple! A well hidden coffin with golden coins is a red mark on the treasure map. Captain Nemo and his crew are heading to sea in the big submarine Nautilus. Mermaids, cods and sharks, come and help battling against the terrifying school of giant squids. And who knows you might be the lucky one, when the night comes the treasure might be yours!

Photo Inspiration

 


Pretty straight forward, Gentlemen. Navy pants are clearly a must and it looks like a white turtle neck will get you pretty far this week! If you plan on getting dirty and don’t want to sully your top, a blue turtle neck with red piping and a matching cap will suffice. *smirk


Nothing says Nautical quite like a red & white striped shirt and navy pants. Am I right?!


I’ve already mentioned a white turtleneck, but extra points will be awarded to those wearing a ribbed one! And let’s not forget the beard. Seriously, Gentlemen, you either need to bring your chin (see image above) or grow a beard that says I Mean Business. Can’t wait to see what you guys draw on your face *smile*


Smoking jacket and organ anyone?


If everything else seems a bit trite, you can just bring your enormous octopus and your hull. Just sayin’….

Herrang Wk3 – Costumes

Week 3

Friday, 22nd July 2011

Wonders in Wonderland

Oh dear, oh dear, don´t be late for wonderland! Follow the white rabbit and you will find a world of wonders. The golden key might bring you through the rat-hole and into the most beautiful of gardens or maybe all the way into the Duchess smoky kitchen. Have a bowl of soup but be careful with the pepper! A baby is turning into a pig and the tyrant Queen of Hearts wants you to repaint her white roses into red. Mad tea parties and lawn croquet, my ears and whiskers, how good this party is going to be!

Whether the new one inspires you…

….or the classic one…

….there is a myriad of costumes that should inspire you.

 

Herrang Wk2 – Costumes

Week 2

Friday, 15th July 2011

Tiki Herräng

The year is 1959 and Hawaii is becoming Americas 50th state. Tiki culture is at its peak and Hawaiian shirts, bamboo lounges and carved tiki´s are more popular than ever. Elvis is rattling his knees from one side to another in the army and “Mac the knife” is No.1 on the charts. Empty the brylcreem jar, pop your gum and come and get yourself a tropical fruit punch at the Herranga Tiki Bamboo Lounge. Aloha!

My favorite gal, Eleanor Powell, doing her thing in “Honolulu” (1939):

I planning on channeling my inner Eleanor; hopefully I’ll be able to do her justice. Here are some other images I’m going to draw from as well:

What’s your inspiration? What do you think you’re going to wear?

xxoo

Can-Can Class

Hey Ladies!

Hike up your skirts and let’s see those high kicks! The Can Can is a high-energy and physically demanding music hall dance, traditionally performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and black stockings. The main features of the dance are the lifting up and manipulation of the skirts, with high kicking and suggestive, provocative body movements. For more history about the dance, go here!

If you are planning on attending this class, please bring a skirt or a dress you can easily lift up with you (hahah, and bring appropriate underwear too!). Preferably you’ll want a long, full circle skirt, but a short circle skirt will do. If you don’t own any skirts, now is a great time to buy one OR you can borrow a t-shirt from your largest guy friend and wear that! Even if you don’t have a skirt, dress, or big t-shirt to lift up, you can still come and learn the most important thing: how to Can Can!

If you’re interested in buying a skirt, you can get one at Rivers Edge Dancewear. If you want to sew your own and are looking for a pattern, check this out! If you want some cute ruffle dance pants, check out this Square Dancing site!

Here’s a video to give you a preview of the vintage:

Uploaded by ladystockingtops on December 15, 2006

This French CanCan comes from a compilation film of Music Hall acts made in the UK in 1943. It has never been sold on DVD or VHS as far as I know and has only been shown on TV once in the last 20 years.

….and the modern:

Uploaded by ladystockingtops on April 21, 2006

This was a one off show in ( I think ) about 1981 but I can’t be certain. The Moulin Rouge shut for a night so the show could come to London

….and a Hollywood style one

Get ready!!!

A new look – shopping frenzy

The past two days I have been on an online shopping frenzy. I have looked at some many skirts, pants, accessories, jackets, rah rah rah, that I am a little worn out, but thank goodness I managed to get so much shopping in before I pooped out! I have ordered stuff from:

Modcloth
Karmaloop
Fredrick’s of Hollywood
Nine West
Etsy
Girlz Lyfe

Wow…..looking at it this way seems ridiculous. I bunch of that stuff is (potential) costume pieces but then some of it is just for fun. Haha, looking at my list, I realize I am not done buying costume pieces. Sigh….. Thank god I am working a lot this month!!