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.

Truckin’ Routine by Sharon Davis

3 Couple

I think this is my favorite version of this routine captured on film. Juan & Sharon nailed their solo and I really enjoyed what we all did in the background. Tommy & Alice were studs, as always, and skated their hearts out! I was SUPER happy with mine and Kevin’s solo and couldn’t have hoped for better energy from the crowd. Maaaaaan, the crowd was fantastic! I LOVE you Korea!!

And small note, tooting my own horn. Check out my jazz! I’m am really happy with my movement and how I complete my lines throughout the routine. Yeah, I miss some stuff, and go all fa-fa-fa-funky on the Tango, but otherwise, I have great lines. There, I said it. 😀

6 Couple

Originally, this was going to be the finale of the show and only the Killer Dillers were going to perform it, but there was a last minute decision made to add on Tommy & Alice, William & Maeva, and Shesha & Nikki. I’m really glad we did it with everyone because I think i was a ton of fun, even though rehearsals were….slow going 🙂 That being said, I love that all the girls are in some version of red, Kevin had the BEST floor slide anyone could have hoped for, and I was happy with how Kevin and I did our solo. We miss connection near the end of the routine (perhaps you can’t even see it) and so do William and Maeva, but it doesn’t really matter because we still ended the routine gloriously!

Two Couple

We spent a little bit of time deciding on whether we do two solos each or Juan & Sharon do two and Kevin & I do one and ended up having J&S do two. They really wanted to do their new aerial “The Dutch Cupcake” so they used the third solo to showcase it. Personally I’m not thrilled with how Kevin and my solo went, for various reasons, but otherwise I think the performance went fine.

What do you think? Which is your favorite version?

Performing in Greece


This was a ton of fun for me to do. It’s been 5 weeks since I’ve performed a jazz routine, and before that, man, I couldn’t tell you when the last time was I performed jazz.


Really, and truly, the last time we are performing “Communication.” We wanted to have a new routine by this date, but Kevin’s been injured the last 8 weeks and haven’t been able to train, so unfortunately, we didn’t have anything else together. That being said, it sounded like the Greeks were super happy to get to see it live. Thank you guys, SO much, for being so enthusiastic about the routine!


The floor was a little…iffy in some place. 😀


Even though Kev missed some of the elbow catches in the beginning, he nails them at the end! Love when he catches the hat on his face and puts one arm/finger in the air telling the crowd that he nailed it!


Two couple version of Sharon’s awesome routine 😀 I’m going to do a post dedicated just to this routine shortly.

Hope you enjoyed the show!!

Being in Greece

Right now Kevin and I are in the middle of a four week tour across the globe: Seattle, WA; Thessaloniki, Greece; Melbourne, Australia; and Barcelona, Spain. On one hand, I’ll be the first to tell you I know how lucky Kevin and I are to get to travel to all these fabulous places. On the other hand, think about how much time I must spend in the air to get from place to place. Pull out a map quickly and just take a look at the distance……..I’ll wait……..yeah, silly, right? I thought so too, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to go to a new country and hang out on the beach!!

Ok, so to the point of this post. I knew when I left Pittsburgh two weekends ago I’d need to pack for winter (Seattle and Melbourne) and summer (Greece and Spain) so I brought some skirts and some rompers and then things to layer under them. So far it’s worked out just fine. That being said, it completely escaped me that I would need sunblock, a hat or bug spray, or anything else beach related. I was in H&M while in Seattle and I remember seeing the wide-brimmed sun hats and I thought to myself “Goodness, how silly! Who on earth would buy such a hat? I mean, really. Look at the weather, it’s all cold and rainy.” So unfortunately, I missed my opportunity to buy a US$10 hat and instead got to buy one here for 20 euros (about U$30). Great. To top it off, sunblock was another 15 euros. *feigned smile

Arrr!! I think people should pay for their stupidity and clearly that is what’s happening here. That being said, my skin is totally work 35 euros. Now, bug spray on the other….well, I decided to skip on that much to my skins’ dismay. The mosquitos come out at dusk and of course, that’s the best time to rehearse; it’s not too hot, not too cold, nice breeze, and the dance floors are available. Hehe, sound like Herrang anyone?

So enough griping; life is freaking amazing here. I’ve been waking up most mornings between 8-8:30 to the sun shimmering on the water. And it’s quiet. Oh, so lovely. I’ll post pictures once I’m not paying for internet by the Mb. Classes have been going well and surprisingly, the music has been outstanding. The DJs on Thursday night played one of the best set lists I’ve heard all year (more on who that was later). Otherwise, this is one of the first place I’ve taught at that is supposed to be a holiday + work that actually feels like a holiday!!

Be fabulous and enjoy your week!!!

xoxo

Jo

Oh, and btw, there have been lots of “It’s all Greek to me” jokes being thrown around. 😀