Felix Berghäll on Competing and Training


Felix is a swing dance instructor, performer, and choreographer based in Stockholm, Sweden. Like any other Swedish dancer he started in the Swedish Competition Scene at the age of nine with “bugg” as his main style. One year later he took his first basic six count step in Boogie Woogie and has never stopped. 

At the age of 16 he made his first visit to Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden and fell in love with the African American social dances of the swing era such as Lindy hop, Vernacular Jazz, Charleston and Tap. Since then, he has tried to learn everything he can in order to develop his dancing, music, and teaching skills. He wants to pass on this knowledge to people all over the world. He is a strong believer of the freedom and the authentic style of the dance and the connection you create with your partner and the music. 

He sees swing dancing as a way to bring people together and bring happiness in to their life. Because when he dances that’s is all he can think about and express: pure happiness!
 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

 
Name: Felix Kim Alexander Berghäll
Home base: Stockholm, Sweden
Year you started competing: 2001
Approx how many competitions have you competed in: I went in to a page where we can check how many competitions I’ve entered in our community in Sweden, and it said over 500. And then I’m not including any of the Boogie Woogie International Competitions I’ve done. Or any of the competitions I’ve entered at international events such as Snowball, ESDC, ILHC, Savoy Cup, Harlem, etc. I think I’ve entered at least a 1000 competitions/divisions  
What styles of dance have you competed in: Bugg, Double Bugg, Boogie Woogie, Lindy Hop, Rock’n’Roll, Authentic Jazz, Blues/Slow drag, Collegiate Shag.
 
 

COMPETITION

 
* Why do you compete?
I think, at the beginning, I just really enjoyed the idea of dancing, and this was how I could do it. That’s how it was possible. That’s how kids did it. After some time, I realized that I most enjoyed the performance, and enjoyed giving something to the audience. I like giving people a show and, let’s face it, everyone loves to make an audience go crazy!
 
* Why do you think competition is valuable?
It motivates people by giving them a great goal to work towards. Even if you don’t think you’ll get to the podium, you still have to go out knowing that you will get watched and judged, and at the end you’ll get feedback on your performance. I get extremely excited about the feedback because it shows me how I can improve.
 
Competition teaches you how to be serious about what you’re doing. It gives you time to think about what you can do with the dance. I used to think of the dance as a sport, but through competition, I’ve learn to see how I can create an art form out of it.Competition also increases the exposure of the dance. It helps populate the world with amazing dance clips that excite people and builds up enthusiasm for Lindy Hop. If you ask someone on the streets of Stockholm, they know what Lindy Hop is and that’s super cool!  
 
I also think the emphasis on competition is one of the reasons young Swedes get so good so early — the competition drives them to put in hours and hours of practice. One of the problems this has created is that there’s not a good enough connection between the competition and the social scene in Sweden. But that’s up to us dancers and teachers to change that!
 
* What’s your personal philosophy on J&Js? 
I always have this idea when I dance with a person, I am dancing for that person. That’s everything: make them look good, don’t show off your ability to lead complicated moves, give them space for variations, try to be connected to the person in front of you, and try to hear the music together. Sometimes it works perfectly, and sometimes we are on a different page. That doesn’t mean I stop dancing myself, but my priority is showcasing my Follower.
 

“At the competition, you can’t do anything more than you already have trained.” 

 
* Do you still get nervous before a competition?
Not really, because I’m so focused. But maybe that’s just a way of taking care of the nervousness. I rely on the training that I’ve done (in the sports scene). At the competition, you can’t do anything more than you already have trained. You can’t do anything extra. You have the routine and you aren’t going to do it much better than at the last practice.
 

The only time I got nervous was for Wilma last year in the Pro/Am at ILHC. I wanted to make sure that she got to shine. I didn’t want to ruin her experience because I messed up!  When we rehearsed, we kept missing things, but we knew that we’d fix it out on the floor.

 
* How do you deal with nerves before a competition?
Generally, I’m relying on the work I’ve already done. If it’s not a choreography, then I try to rely on myself.I might get nervous because of the other people on the floor – I want to show my best for them – so I focus on being the best version of myself. That can help calm my nerves.
 
* What competition have you done that meant the most to you? Why?
The Team at ILHC 2016. We had a really tough year building the choreo and making it work. The first time we choreographed as a team, we decided that we weren’t going to go to ILHC as a team if we couldn’t win. There were rumors circulating that we were going to come, and we wanted to get something great together, but it wasn’t until we finished the choreography that I felt like we had something really successful.
 
It was a lot of work, too. We met four separate weekends (Friday afternoon, all day Saturday & Sunday) to get the choreography together. In between, we made videos and sent them to each other. We had David Dalmo with us for 2 of the weekends (which was amazing) so we didn’t have that much time together. And we did one full day at Snowball last year.
 
We hadn’t actually done the choreography all the way through until we performed it on the competition floor at ILHC. We always had a challenge: people weren’t around, injuries, it was too fast, etc. But we made sure that we rehearsed ourselves and we made our own parts and could rehearse solo.  So at ILHC during the morning run-throughs, we did the full choreo without aerials, but not all the way through. That was insane.
 

And then when we won, it brought the group closer to each other.  That will always be a memory that we can carry forever.
 
* What is/was your favorite competition to watch?
I think the favourite one will always be the main Boogie Woogie Finals at the Swedish Championship. That’s always something special, and I can’t explain why. It’s something that you have to experience.In the social scene I would say J&Js or Pro Classic. And now in the last two years, it’s been amazing to watch the  comps at Savoy Cup (Montpellier, France) and taking part in it as well: Vintage Routine, Cabaret, Chorus line, etc. … so many different things that really shows the true spirit of the dance.
 
* Three pieces of advice to give to the next up-and-coming competitors?
     1) Practice. Train. Practice hard if you want to succeed. Train your body – do lots of cardio.
     2) Enjoy yourself. Take it seriously, but it needs to be fun, otherwise what’s the point?
     3) Patience – don’t think you’ll succeed immediately; it will take time to get good, so allow yourself the space to do it. It takes years to get there. 
 
* How do you prep for a Strictly? How far in advance do you start your preparation?
My partner and I would learn the format and try to create choreo that would fit. Some years the choreography just wouldn’t fit. Now I do more social dancing to lots of different tempos with my partner. I don’t get stuck trying to pair things together. I’ll have a small piece of choreo, but I don’t rely on it. It’s really important to dance at higher tempos so you don’t fumble when the music gets fast.
 
At the most, my partner and I would train 4 times a week for at least 2 hours per session. Maybe one of them would be social dancing. The other hour would be a showcase, depending on where we were in the competition season.
 
We didn’t have coaches, but sometimes we would have people help us with aerials. We’d set what we wanted to get done when we arrived, and we’d begin with some kind of warmup like running and stretching.
 
* How do you prep for a Showcase/Classic? How far in advance do you start your preparation?
For the Showcase: Usually for the Swedish Championships, we start with the idea of a song about 6 months in advance, and then about 5 months before the competition we’d start organizing it. Before we listened to your podcast, we would try to map out the song (what we like, small details, hits, instruments, sounds we like), but after we listened to your podcast, we filmed ourselves social dancing, decided to cut our music, figure out the theme AND THEN map out our song. By filming ourselves social dancing,  ideas came spontaneously, which made creating choreo so much easier!
 
To me, a showcase has a theme, a story we want to tell with a beginning and an end. Depending on the song, we might be super inspired (in which case, we can do the choreography quickly) or not (in which case it goes very slowly).
 
For Classics: we start during the summer at Herrang. We’d have a more regular set of time where we’d meet up and rehearse. It could take as little as 3 days, or a week, or as much as a couple of months.  It all depends. It’s all easier now because we’ve done so many shows together, but if we gave ourselves more time, we could do something even cooler.
 
* Do you compete in other dances? If yes, what is training like?
Boogie Woogie. In terms of practice, it’s even harder than Lindy Hop. It’s a lot of time and entails a lot of high tempo work: social dancing at high tempos and performing at high tempos. We do 3-4 rehearsal set like that. When were done with rehearsal, we are exhausted.
 
It’s tough. We have to train a lot of things other than dancing– we have to go out running together, do intervals, and strength training. My partner and I had to make a schedule – a shared calendar – and we’d rehearse and workout together.
 
So it is said, I did this before I started traveling for Lindy Hop. From 2011-2014, I had a full-time job (7am-4pm), but after that I got done with work, I’d drive an hour to rehearsal and train from 6-10pm, and then I’d drive back home. Sometimes my partner would come up to where I was living.  We didn’t do anything else. Every weekend we’d travel to compete. We only worked, danced, and rehearsed because we wanted to go to the World Championships.
 
* How often do you train your dancing? And what does that mean to you?
In the last 3 weeks, I traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania to work with Egle Regelskis (Thurs-Mon) and we rehearsed every day from 11am-6pm to make a Classic for Savoy Cup. It was super fun. The week before that I was in NY rehearsing with Michael Jagger to do something at Jazz Roots. 

Normally, if I’m at home for a week, I’ll train my dancing every day. Maybe do a show with Hannah and Mattias, a rehearsal with Mikaela or Anders on Boogie, Lindy, Tap, Jazz, or whatever we feel like. We train body work. It all depends on what the week/weekend has in store. Life for me is only about dancing!

My body is still young, so I’m doing what I can with what I have. And there are so many good dancers in Stockholm who want to rehearse!  The only downside for other dancers in Stockholm is that there is a great divide between the us and the students, and we are extremely busy training with each other — so its difficult to break into that world. That being said, this last year and a half I’ve starting traveling more and more and it’s been harder to keep the standards up regarding training every week. And I miss that a lot! So I need to start planning that better and so I can do something about it!

If you want to go somewhere new and find people to rehearse with, I think the best place is either Vilnius, Barcelona, or Seoul. In all of these places there are a lot of dedicated dancers!

 
* What do you tell yourself when you get frustrated?
I’ve always told myself: “one more time.” I just run these things and over again. Again. Again. Again. I would say I rehearse a lot.
 
© Light eX Machina 2017, all other rights reserved.

Nalla Kim on Judging and Competing

Nalla Kim has traveled the world as an instructor, competitor, and judge and is a mainstay in the booming swing dance scene of Seoul, South Korea. In 2008, Nalla met his partner and wife, Jessica Yoon and have been teaching together ever since. Nalla & Jessica have taken home several International and National Championship titles including ILHC, Boston Tea Party, Korea Swing Championships, Busan Summer Swing Festival, Korea Balboa Classic, Asia Balboa Classic and Korea Open. He runs the swing teams Sweet Heart & Lindy Blossom and brings international instructors and musicians to the thousands of Lindy Hoppers in Seoul through events like Authentic Jazz Weekend, Lindy Blossom Weekend, and SEOUL Lindyfest. Nalla made his first appearance at ILHC in 2011 with team Sweet Heart and now he’s become a regular on ILHC judging panels. He’s known around the world for his enthusiasm and passion for Lindy Hop. 
 
 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Name: Nalla Kim
Home base: Seoul, Korea
Year you started judging: 2012 
Year you started competing: 2007, at a local competition. My first international competition was in 2008 at Rhythmic Arts Festival J&J.
Approx how many competitions have you judged: 100 (local and ILHC)
Approx how many competitions have you competed in: 50
 
 **Nalla wanted me to remind the readers that English is not his native language. **

JUDGING

* Why do you judge?
When I go and teach at an event, I’ll go and judge the competition. I like watching the dance and getting to judge gives me the best view of the competition. I try to push myself beyond passively watching the show. Also, it’s an honor to be a judge, particularly at ILHC.  
 
* What do you enjoy about judging?
I can enjoy the best view of the competition. I get to see people’s art, which is really fun!
 
* What do you dislike about judging?
Sometimes I feel an internal conflict about judging, which makes it harder to truly be fair. Sometimes it’s because my friends are competing, or because how hard the competitors worked to prepare for the competition. Sometimes political things come into play. I try to disregard the personal issues, but  there is always an internal struggle when I judge. This can be really hard. Also, sometimes it’s really difficult to decide who not to put through. There have been times at ILHC where all of my favorite Followers were in a heat, and I wanted to put all of them to finals. It’s also hard to say who is the best artist because everyone’s art is so different — it’s so personal. 
 
* As a judge, what are you looking for in a Routine?

This is the art piece. I want to see more unique style. I want to see the reason why you do this. If it’s the similar to the others, like someone else has done it, I am not as interested. The value is what is unique about their personal voice.

* As a judge, what are you looking for, or value, in a Strictly?
Whether its improvised or planned, I want to see something natural and energetic. I don’t want to know it’s a routine. There needs to be a clarity within the partnership and a connection to the music. 
 
* As a judge, what are you looking for in a J&J?
I focus on the partnership dynamics: what and how do they communicate? How do they connect? How do they make something together? I’m not just interested in musicality. I don’t want to see an imbalanced partnership. I don’t like it when the Leader over-leads or the Follower just follows — maybe the Leader initiates movements and the Follower completes them. I like to see Leaders react to their Followers so we can enjoy their connection.
 
* What do you think the biggest misconceptions are about Routines/Strictly’s/J&Js?
When the competitors focus only on the audience, they miss the mark. Connect to your Partner first, then the music, and THEN the audience. Prioritize. Maybe they are too nervous or too focused on the judges, but that really should be an afterthought.
 
For me, improvisation is preferred! I really feel that the dancers should care about the music, so if they are going to do choreography, then I think it should be flexible. 
 
* Three pieces of advice to give to the next up-and-coming competitors?
1)  Don’t worry about your placement. It’s not a big deal — It’s just an opinion of one moment. When I watch routines again, I sometimes change my mind.
 2) Be professional on stage, but not *too* professional. During a J&J or Strictly, please focus on the social dancing and less on the flash or being overly expressive.
 3) Trust yourself when you practice. That’s better than the result.  The most important thing is the process. 
 

COMPETING

* Why do you think competition is valuable/important?
I think competition is valuable because it allows you to set a target and reach something. In order to do that, you must have clear goals, clear motivation, and you must create something new. Without that motivation, it’s much harder to push yourself.
 
* What’s your personal philosophy on J&J?
I try not to think about just me, but us as a couple. I try to my best to be the same dancer I am while on the social dance floor. I don’t focus on the fact that there are judges there, but envision that this is another “normal” social night. This puts me at east, and I hope that my lead communicates that. I definitely want to to put my follow at ease.
 
* Do you still get nervous before a competition?
For sure — I still do. I’m not good at showmanship and I still get nervous. That’s why I like J&Js, but when I get spotlights or routines, I get very nervous.
 
* How do you deal with nerves before a competition?
I don’t want the audience to be uncomfortable so I try my best to hide my nerves. A few years ago we took a private with Nathan Bugh, and he helped us deal with nerves.  His advice was to use one’s imagination: imagine being in a comfortable place, imagine that everyone in the audience is a close friend. I try not thinking about it as though I’m competing against anyone else, but that I’m sharing the stage with these people, as though it’s a jam circle.  It’s better that way. It reminds me that this one competition is not my last chance to showcase my skills. 
 
* What competition have you done that meant the most to you? Why?
For personal reasons, my ILHC 2012 Showcase with Jessica. We did a Dean & Jewel Tribute performance to honor Jean Veloz.  When I did the showcase, I didn’t think of it as a competition. I didn’t think about placement. But Jean Veloz was apparently impressed enough by the performance that she asked me to dance afterwards. We danced a song backstage and it felt great.  Many people recognized what we did that night. At that time many dancers were doing Whitey Style, except the SoCAL dancers, so we were a rarity. 
 
* What is/was your favorite competition to watch?
ILHC 2011. I was there as a competitor for the Classic Division and at that time many international dancers were in the there – Skye & Frida, Kevin & Jo, etc.–  and I just wanted to get through my routine so I could get to watch the rest of the show. I was 3rd or 4th and after that I got to watch all the other routines. It was an honor to compete in the same division as my teachers. 
 
* Three pieces of advice to give to the next up-and-coming competitors?
1) Many competitors come to me and ask me for advice after their performance. I talk to them, but I am not the master. I am just another dancer, not a champ. So my advice is: just trust yourself. 
2) So many dancers make it as high as the All-Star division and then they disappear. I understand that for many of them this is just their hobby, or that they leave the scene because they start a family….but I feel sorry every time one of them disappears. So please, dancers/friends, keep dancing and come back to the stage. I miss you! Come back and keep dancing.
3) I don’t like the scoring system since it sometimes works against the dancers. Maybe we need to think more about how we are scoring the dancers. So don’t take it personally.
 
 
 
Final thoughts?
We need balance in the scene. If not enough people compete, its hard to keep pushing the dance.  We need to keep the high quality. Competition helps keep us going and it’s really good for the community. It is good advertising and helps spread the joy of Lindy Hop to others, which in turn helps motivate them. Nowadays, people say they are too tired to compete, or that it is not important, but I hope people will continue to compete. Maybe we’ll find a way to take some of the stress out of the competition. 
 
If you’re interested in hearing more from Nalla, check him out on The Track Podcast, by Ryan Swift
 
 

Anthony Chen on Competing

Beginning with his more traditional roots, Anthony started dancing at age 8 when his parents convinced him to learn and perform Chinese Lion Dances. At age 15 he was introduced to breakdancing at a speech and debate tournament, and shortly thereafter he found his home in the local swing community in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he quickly fell in love with Lindy Hop. Throughout his dancing career he has trained in several other types of styles from hip-hop to Argentine Tango to West Coast, but most of all he enjoys drawing upon them to expand upon his technique and creativity in Lindy Hop. On the social dance floor, he is known to be playful, musical, creative, and clear; sometimes people call him a “magical unicorn.” He holds first place titles from events such as Lindyfest and Lone Star Championships, Montreal Swing Riot, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, and International Lindy Hop Championships. His teaching style focuses on energy, technique and connection theory, and his love of both leading and following has been instrumental to making the classes that he teaches both clear and intuitive.

Website: www.saltlakeswing.com

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Name: Anthony Chen
Home base: Salt Lake City
Year you started judging: 2008
Year you started competing: 2006
Approximately how many competitions have you judged: Probably 30-40
Approximately how many competitions have you competed in: I don’t know how many I’ve competed in, but I’ve placed in about 70 competitions. 

Competing

* Why do you compete? What does it do for you?
Gosh, I think I just do it because it’s fun. I’m not someone who likes to be in the center of attention, but it’s a great feeling when you can get the crowd cheering.

* Why do you think competition is valuable?
A common answer I think would be that it drives the level up. I’m totally on board with that–it can be inspiring to yourself and to other dancers to work on the craft and for everyone to become better dancers. However, another reason that I find to be just as important, is that it teaches you to be present, to be expressive, and to step out of your comfort zone. A dancer can get by just fine by only social dancing, and they can grow to become an amazing social dancer. On the other hand, through competing, you can build upon your skills as a dancer and as person: you learn to project your energy, draw people in, and gain confidence in yourself.

* What’s your personal philosophy on Jack and Jills? 
I try to dance like how I would socially, which I know is easier said than done, when everyone is watching you. I would feel like I’m lying if I said they’re the exact same thing; my Jack and Jill dancing is not the same as my social dancing; if I’m not careful, there’s a lot more unbridled energy that can go into a competition-social dance from the adrenaline rush. At one point, I found it helpful to imagine that everyone is watching when I’m just social dancing, just to help get rid of those nerves later. In both social dancing and in Jack and Jills, my focus is always on my partner–I really just want them to have a good time. That helps me relax, and can often help them relax too. Oh, and dance to the music.

* How do you prepare for a Strictly? How far in advance do you start your preparation?
It’s actually been more than 10 years since I’ve lived in the same city as a competition partner, and for most of the time since then I actually haven’t had a regular partner. Thus, the vast majority of strictly competitions that I do are essentially Jack and Jills, with minimal preparation prior to the competition, usually at the event itself. By minimal, I mean something like figuring out the entrances and exits, so we don’t always start with a swing out (which honestly isn’t the worst thing) and don’t always end on a Minnie-dip (not a bad ending either).

* How often do you train your dancing? And what does that mean to you?
When I was on a performance team, we would train about twice a week (ramping up to 3-4 times a week about a month out from the event), several hours a day. This would entail working on choreography, peer-critiques, and repetition. But that was a while back…without a partner in my scene, I cross train a lot (I love the outdoors!) and I spend a lot of time in my head. A good friend of mine would often ask me what I’m thinking about when I get that far-off look…and it’s almost invariably dance moves. I come up with things in my head, and then try them off the dance floor with a partner or a dance friend. When I get the lead/follow down, then I might bring it onto the social dance floor. If I feel comfortable leading and following it socially for a while, you might see it in a Jack and Jill.

* What do you tell yourself when you get frustrated?
Hmm. I just don’t often get frustrated, haha. But this to me dives into a completely different topic. One thing I’m always working on is self-awareness. I try to change things that I know are in my locus of control, and focus less on things that are outside of that. This minimizes a lot of that frustration for me.

* Do you still get nervous before a competition?
Sure I do. I think the more material I’ve prepared for a competition, the more nervous I may be. So I rarely feel nervous for Jack and Jills; I just go out and enjoy the dance. Strictlys or routines can have a lot more on the line, but the more you practice choreography, the easier it is to learn and retain, and the less nervous you get.

* How do you deal with nerves before a competition?
Getting more performances and competitions under your belt is the sure-fire way to help with nerves. But right before a competition, per se, I might stretch, bounce around a bit, sip some water, and put on chapstick.

* What is/was your favorite competition to watch? Inspiration?
I don’t have a specific competition that’s my favorite, but I do like watching Jack and Jills–it’s most inspiring to see how people connect and what they come up with on the spot. Strictlys and Showcases can definitely be incredible and skillful, but Jack and Jills create those magical moments that are just so much fun to witness!

* Three pieces of advice to give to the next up-and-coming competitors?
1) Make sure you do it for the right reasons. Do you compete for fame or recognition? That’s fine if you do. But I would wager that people find themselves in the dance scene because it’s a fun activity, and it’s a welcoming community. If your attitude about competing makes you lose sight of the reasons why you dance, then it may be helpful to re-evaluate. Judges can also see right through this. Don’t try too hard.
2) Think you’re getting the hang of things, and your Lindy hop is feeling good? Great. Keep taking classes. Take beginner classes. Pay attention to how the instructors teach. Be humble. When you start thinking that you’re really good is when you stop improving. And no one likes an ass.
3) Smile.

** Anything else?
Yeah. One thing I tell a lot of advanced students is to not stop dancing with beginner dancers. If you just dance with peers who are the same or a higher level than you, they’ll often adapt and cover for your mistakes. Dance with lower level dancers so you learn how to adapt and cover for theirs. One of the main reasons why I continue to love dancing is because I feel that I have the capability to make a dance enjoyable for my partner; seeing her or his smile makes all the difference for me. Because of this, I’ve never stopped enjoying dancing with beginners: they smile all the time!

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.

ILHC 2011 Results

Pro-Am
1. Jamin Jackson & Annie Trudeau
2. Emilie Lesage and Davis Thurber
3. Mallory Briggs and Davis Thurber

Juniors
1. Kevin Tucker and Hannah Abel
2. Anjelo Bowen-Pomales and Alexis Davita
3. Cyle Dixon and Alexis Cuevas

Open Jack & Jill
1. Gustav Jakobeson and Calico Goodrich
2. David Lee and Hyun Jung Choi
3. Augie Freeman and Mimi Terris

Advance Jack & Jill
1. Jonathan Tigert and Marie Ndiaye (Sweden)
2. Mindaugas Bikauskas (LIT) and Gabby Cook (USA)
3. Kieran Yee (AUS) and Noni Clarke (AUS)

Balboa Jack & Jill
1. Adam Speen (USA) and Natasha Devyatkina(FRA)
2. Patrick Szmidt (CAN) and Moe Sakan (ENG)
3. Davis Lee and Kelly Aresnault (USA)

ALL-Star Lindy Hop Jack & Jill
1. Nicolas Deniau (FRA) and Natasha Ouimet (CAN)
2  Nalla Kim (KOR) and Teni Lopez-Cardenas (USA)
3. Andreas Olsson (SWE) and Heather Ballew (USA)

Strictly Balboa
1. Adam Speen (USA) and Nelle Cherry
2. Zack Richards (CAN) and Maryse Lebeau (CAN)
3. Andrea Olsson (SWE) and Teni Lopez-Cardenas (USA)

Strictly Lindy Open
1. John Helveston and Annabel Truesdell
2. Johan Kolberg and Eleonor Kolberg (SWE)
3. Augie Freeman (USA) and Alice Pye (USA)

Advance Strictly Lindy
1. Alaine Wong (CAN) and Lunou Aamson-Poirot (CAN)
2. Jonathan Tigert (USA) and Heather Ballew (USA)
3. Andreas Olsson (SWE) and Marie Ndiaye(SWE)

Cabaret
1. The Crazyers (FRA)
2. Tips & Tops (USA)
3. Sharon Davis

Solo Charleston
1. Olivier Chort
2. Jo Hoffberg
3. Sharon Davis

Lindy Hop Classic
1. Skye Humphries and Frida Segerdahl (SWE)
2. Kevin St Laurent and Jo Hoffberg (USA)
3. Thomas Blacharz and Alice Mei (FRA)

Showcase
1. MaxPitruzzella and Annie Trudeau (CAN)
2. Patrick Szmidt and Natasha Ouimet (CAN)
3. Dan Newsom and Gabby Cook (USA)

Champions Strictly Lindy
1. Skye Humphries and FridaSegerdahl (SWE)
2. Max Pitruzzella and Annie Trudeau (CAN)
3. Pontus Persson and Isabella Gregorio (SWE)

Invitational J&J
1. Todd Yannacone (USA) and FridaSegerdahl (SWE)
2. Andy Reid and Mia Goldsmith (USA)
3. Kevin St. Laurent (USA) and Mikaela (SWE)

Team
1. Swingin’ Airforce (CAN)
2. Swing Connection (CAN)
3. NInjammerz (CAN)

ILHC 2011 – Strictly Lindy – Advance and Champion

First and foremost, congratulations to all the competitors!!!! Well freaking done bringing your A game!!!

Advance Strictly

Warmup

Spotlight

Adv Finals All-Skate

Champion Strictly

Warmup

I’ll be honest, I didn’t need to make it to finals. When Kevin and I danced in prelims, I felt like we put everything out there on the floor  and was pretty happy with how we danced. I was pretty excited to hear we made finals, but I was also a bit nervous because Kevin and I weren’t as prepared as we have been other years. Regardless, we decided if we made it into the final round by being ridiculous, we would keep up the shenanigans!

Kevin had one of the orange fingers under his sweater vest and around 0:58, Kevin yanks up his vest and let’s all of Baltimore see him in his glory. Like the great partner I am (*toot toot goes my horn), I figure the least I can do is continue to dance with the Baltimore Finger! The audience was loving it!! Well, maybe not everyone, but certainly the Baltimore section 😀

Spotlights

I have to say, there was some really great stuff put on the floor that night. Skye & Frida were seamless as usual. I love watching Todd and Naomi dance together; she is such an amazing follow!! And Holy shit – Pontus and Isa’s aerial was ridiculous (2:12)! And the barrel turn into a Frankie done by Juan and Sharon….sick (3:50)! Pat yourselves on the back contestants, because you threw down. UH!!!

I like the combination that Kevin and I have during our first round out (3:06) but it would have been so much better to different music. Arrrg. AND I don’t particularly care for the shapes I’m making with my arms. AND….ok, so I could get super nit picky but I’ll save it for another time. However…….hahha, I will say, I’m pretty proud of Kevin and myself for crowd surfing Baltimore at 7:18. And by the way, Baltimore, I love you! Thanks for catching us!!!! Andrew Thigpen, sorry about straddling you while dismounting the crowd (or “you’re welcome” depending on how you feel about the whole thing). Baltimore, you made the weekend for me! xxoo

Dirty Russians – the drink of Herrang

This summer Kevin and I spent a considerable amount of time, compared to every other year year, drinking at Herrang. Our drink of choice was what we so lovingly call the “Dirty Russian” which is a combination of vodka + hot sauce.

We first tasted this fiery deliciousness in while in Barcelona for ESDC. The description made us cringe for different reasons: Kevin doesn’t like to shoot vodka because it’s too strong and I’m not a fan of hot sauce because it’s too spicy. However, the combination of these two powerhouses is undeniably vaginal awesome.

 

Unfortunately we didn’t always have hot sauce on us when we were handing out vodka (like ya do *snap) so we had to ask around. Tim Collins was kind enough to let us use some of his habanero sauce and hotdiggitydamn that stuff is hot! And just so you know, after taking a shot with some habanero sauce, there was always some silt left at the bottom of the cup which naturally meant you had to take one more shot to clean the cup (and your sinuses).
ILHC, get ready to get dirty. 😀

Preparing for ILHC

OMG OMG OMG! There is sooooooooooooo much to do!!!!

Kev and I are trying to finish our Classic Routine and just started on our Showcase Routine. This is super stressful because we need to finish both, and polish them by this weekend, and I don’t know if we can get all the work done that we’d like to have done.

We’ve been doing 2 hours on and 2 hours off at our dance studio. In the 2 hours off, Juan and Sharon are polishing their Classic and finishing their Showcase. OMG, there is so much going on in the house too. So so so…. in our “down time” we are still coming up with ideas so when we have the space, we can actually dance it.

There is not enough time in the day to choreograph 2 routines, watch the Olympics, prepare material for classes, teach group classes, and privates. And spend time with your significant other. Oh my word.

Well, that’s the rant for the day. More after ILHC. I am sure we are going to pull something together.

Cheers.