I had SUCH a great time at ILHC this year because I was so freaking busy doing like I do: two Pro/Ams, Slow Division with Mikey Pedroza, Showcase with Kevin St. Laurent, and commentary on Swing Nation’s live streaming of the Invitational Strictly.
First things first: The Pro/Am! Tim worked his balls off to get this choreography together with me. I’m so proud of him and how well he did on Game Day!
Felipe and I worked on this choreography while at Herrang this year. He dedicated so many hours to this choreography and it shows. Yeah yeah!!
And did I mention he is Brazilian
What can I say other than dancing with Mikey is a blast. Just look at how silly we are together!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Some favorite moments from this truly inspiring weekend.
Kevin and I kicked off our weekend with a little bit of “Shake that Thang!”
The Atomic Cherry Bombs were sexy as hell! I think it’s a great video of the performance, which means it must have been that much more incredible in person.
Hat Trick Initiation
James Bianco & Irina Amzashvilli were initiated into the Hat Trick Club this weekend. They are now members of the League of Extraordinary Hat-trickers.
This is one of the best versions of this routine I’ve seen them do. Sure, there were a few little flubs, but honestly, they freaking hit it. The crowd was awesome and Tips & Tops were men of legend. Well done men!!!
1st Place – Augie Freeman & Irina Amzashvilli
2nd Place – Conrad Friesen & Sarah Stembridge
3rd Place – Andrew Jose & Alice Pye
Yeah!!! Lindy Hop has a future!! I was so impressed by how good everyone was in Orange County. Good heavens, those cats swing! The quality of their movement and swing outs assures me that lindy hop will continue to grow and thrive. Thank you to all the competitors; all of you won over my heart.
1st Place – Peter Kertzner & Irina Amzashvilli
2nd Place – Stephen Sayer & Chandrae Roettig
3rd Place – Jack Chen & Brittany Calavatti
I freaking LOVE the concept of 30-Second Showcase! And seriously, check out what people came up with. Love it.
1st Place – Conrad Friesen
2nd Place – Matt Richey
3rd Place – Sam Chan
Hahah, this one looks a little bit like a Jo Hoffberg show reel, but really, I just got lucky that the top three leads in the competition picked me as their follower. Fabulous job everyone!!
Buwahaahha! This just tickles me silly! “Always tackling the BIG topics, Lindybeige brings you the latest on swing dance camp moustache-related musings. In 2010 many of the top male swing dancers suddenly sprouted thin moustaches. The trend continues and seems still to be waxing.”
Photograph of Juan by Ana Luz Crespi.
Photograph of Peter by Luka Dolenc.
Oh yeah, and here’s a picture of Bobby with a pencil mustache
First and foremost, congratulations to all the competitors!!!! Well freaking done bringing your A game!!!
Adv Finals All-Skate
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
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
Yes, ESDC happened long enough ago that this might seem like odd timing for this post, but I don’t care. *smile Here are my favorites from Cabaret Division at the European Swing Dance Championships back in June 2011.
Pure, and utter ridiculousness. I so badly want to be in this routine. Oh, the energy!
Seriously, I think I’d be the tallest one in this routine. I don’t think I can say that I’ve ever been the tallest in anything I’ve done before.
The boys doing their Jazz thing:
I think I prefer the three boy version to the duo. Firstly, there are more boys to adore, but mainly I like the balance of the movement and shapes. Uh….all of them are so classy *grin
Kevin doing an awesome job with his hat trick routine:
This is one of my all time favorite social dances with Kevin on video.
Oh my goodness, I had forgotten so many of the little moments in here. I remembered really liking the dance, but now after watching it, I’m actually impressed! Hahah, truth be told, I wish I had some dances like this; I love the footwork that I’m doing and it’ looks like I’m following pretty solidly. Favorite moment for me is at 3:31 where I stay on one leg for about two 8 counts. Haha, two last things: I don’t remember the last time my hair was that short AND I still wear those jeans.