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?
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!