Lindy Focus X Highlights

Here are my personal highlights from Lindy Focus X (and yes, I know these are suuuuuuuuuuper late):

9) The people!!!

First I need to thank the volunteer staff for being so incredibly awesome. They did a fantastic job making sure that everything was running in the background so that everyone could have a great time. THANK YOU to the cooks, transportation liaison, coordinator, music and sound technicians, hotel staff for making sure we had water, the DJs, photographers, videographers, the lighting coordinators, and everyone else who helped out Michael and Jaya in the background.

Secondly, I want to thank all of the people that attended, especially the students. You and your and enthusiasm are what make doing my job such a treat. You guys made the event as fierce as it was. I get to do what I do because of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

8) The Nutcrackers.


7) Andrew Thigpen as the MC.

6) Nina Gilkenson impersonating Andrew Thigpen:

5) The Balitquerque party.

The Baltimore and Albequerque scene teamed up some time ago and have been throwing legendary parties at various dance events. At the end of these various events, Dorry (one of the head honchos in Baltimore) would rave about the party and ask us why Kevin and I weren’t there. Unfortunately, we never got an invitation. This happened at two events. No bueno (*shakes head). So this year, Dorry made an extra effort to make sure we felt included.

Kevin and I received our invitations during our Swing Out Intensive.

Andrew Munoz dressed up in his tux and cordially informed us that we were invited to (*use your best British accent here) “enjoy an evening of tomfoolery” and that we should swing by room 166 around 7 o’clock. How delightful!

Here are some pictures that barely do the night justice.



This video is too dark to see the madness, but it’s a good start :D

4) Winning the Invitational Jack & Jill with Todd Yannacone. That competition was really hard to judge so I’m very surprised that we took 1st. I am positive the scores are all over the board, so I have to give a shout out to the Relative Placement system! :D

3) Nath Bugh and Dorry Segev Dueling Piano number from the show on New Years Eve. The video speaks for itself.

2) Performing five new numbers this year, most of which I learned in the two weeks prior to the event.

The most challenging act I did was my solo jazz piece called My Discarded Men. I probably spent around 35 hours putting this routine together and trying to teach myself how to make the particular shapes I did. It wasn’t perfect, but I am really proud of myself.

The least physically demanding, and most fun was performing my drunken striptease. Hahhaa, it’s so nice to get to be ridiculous sometimes! Otherwise, it was a real pleasure to get to work with Gabby, Kelly, Melanie, Casey, and Natasha on the girls charleston piece in the New Years Eve show, as well as The Killer Dillers on our most recent group number. Finally, Sharon created a gorgeous choreography that had the ladies of the KD mostly naked on the floor.

1) All of the ridiculously awesome social dances I had on the last night!! Ok, so I was a little buzzed off of all the champagne I had, but man, my following was pretty freaking awesome (*toot toot). I had a number of really-freaking good dances that night, but in particular, I felt that I really connected with Todd and Mikey. Not only that, but Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five were playing. Gaaaaaaaaaah, the music was soooooooooooo freaking gooooood!!!

Highlights from ILHC

1) Watching the Junior Division!! They were amazing. Videos coming soon!!

2) Showcase Division:

I am kicking myself for not seeing this live (I missed it by 25 seconds). This must have been unreal!! Sitting in the kitchen watching this was still an emotional experience, so I can only imagine what it must have been like being in the ballroom during this momentous occasion. While watching the video, I was screaming and hooting and hollering for them!! I actually shed some tears in honor of their awesomeness. Fuck, this totally touches my heart.

SOOOOO many people have talked about doing something like this, yet they actually put it together and threw down! Uh, the blue balls experience of them doing Balboa instead of swinging out left me wanting more. Thank goodness they finally provided the much needed release by teaming up and swinging out!!

3) Cabaret:

Dargoff showing us the importance of good hygiene. And lemme tell ya, sex sells!

Tips & Tops and their newest routine:

Nothing quite like Man-on-Man + hat-on-hat dancing if you ask me! Well done Gentlemen, you were wonderful.


The ending is my favorite part. I LOVE Footloose!

4) Classic Division:

In my eyes, Tommy & Alice won this competition. Their choreography is stunning, easy to understand yet still complex, exceptionally well danced, beautifully performed, and they both make the other person shine. To me, this is one an example of one of the best partnerships out there today. You two are such an inspiration!

For more on the Classic Division, click here!

5) Nathan Bugh in the Solo Charleston spotlights. Genius I tell ya!!!

6) Champion J&J:

This one knocked it out of the park for me! I’m always super impressed with how Peter is able to dance with the ladies of any size and still retain the integrity of his movement. Uh! Check out his kick ups at 0:37, his spin at 1:09, and how they play off each other at 1:25! And Alice is just amazing! Favorite moments by her: swing out variation at 0:22, her swivels forward at 0:57, and her shapes on her Rocks at 1:43!

Otherwise, the dance between Andy Reid and Mia Goldsmith just flowed. It was magical. Honestly, I couldn’t remember anything they did after the dance was over other than being swept away by how well they connected to each other and the song. Oh yeah, and the dance with Todd and Frida was ok (I’m being sarcastic)…….it was fabulously hilarious!!!

7) Pro-Am

This cat has been dancing lindy hop for a year and a half (or something close to that). How ridiculous is he?!!! Uh yeah……wow is right!

Isn’t she fabulous?! Sasha Gross was in the Junior’s Program and she killed it!

8) On a personal level:

Getting 2nd place in the fiercest Classic Division I’ve seen in the Lindy Hop world. I was told the difference in score between Kevin & me and Skye & Frida was only one judge which means there was someone who thought that was a first place routine! Looking forward to seeing the score sheets!

Taking 2nd place in the Solo Charleston contest! Normally I try to prepare by creating routinelettes so I have something to fall back on in case I go blank in a contest, but this year I just didn’t have time to get any together. I spent some time working on my lines using the Big Apple choreography, but otherwise, that was just me dancing (*chin up…..very proud of myself). Would love to see the scores on this one as well!

Having a blast in the Champion Strictly!! We had to battle our way out of prelims and since Kevin and I haven’t gotten to train the way we’d like (he’s been injured), we decided to fall back on the ol’ personality thing. Thank goodness we had Baltimore’s support!! I don’t remember much about the prelims other than doing swing outs across the entire crowd (crowd pumping anyone?) AND having our seamless room take-over thwarted by the ever-so-gorgeous Pontus and Isa. Luckily we didn’t completely run into them…..our awesomeness was just slowed down.

Fortunately, Kevin and I made it to finals which gave us the opportunity to crowd surf the Baltimore contingency!!!! The second half our our second solo starts with The Move of the Weekend, The Chase, and ended with us hurling ourselves on top of the crowd!!! Glory in it’s finest red & blue outfit if I do say so myself!!


You know the old adage “pink is the new black”? Well, “the chase is the new swing out” according to this weekend. SERIOUSLY, it was a college kids drinking game dream!! I need to watch through 2 more divisions, but I’m confident in saying that there was at least one chase break in EVERY division. I’m even guilty of it myself. I’ll compile a list of people who are guilty of such things and hopefully someone will put a video together of all the Chases from the weekend. *wink wink, nudge nudge lindy scene

10) Last but not least, just being there was a highlight. Getting to see so many friends, having someone buy me cupcakes (thanks Michelle), having some incredible dances, teaching with two of my favorite people, being asked to work with the future of our Lindy Hop community and having a blast doing so, competing against the best lindy hoppers in the world, being cheered on by the community I love, dancing to extraordinary live music, and seeing the fruits of everyone’s labor were a few of the many reasons this weekend was sensational.

Thank you to Tena, Nina, and Sylvia for running this event AND to all of their staff; without you the event wouldn’t happen. I’d also like to give a shout out to all the competitors that came to compete this weekend; you are helping lindy hop continually grow and your contribution is duly noted. A huge thank you to all of the people that filmed the event and put video online for the world to see! Finally, an enormous thank you to everyone in the audience; thank you for coming to support and cheering for everyone as they put their heart and soul on the floor. Baltimore especially, I love you. xxoo

ILHC 2011 – Solo Charleston

I felt very unprepared this year for charleston, but I figured I’d try and focus on the music and be as ridiculous as possible. Luckily, my poorly formulated plan worked a treat and I made it to finals. Here are the videos from prelims and finals!

Heat 1, Song 1 Heat 1, Song 2 Heat 2, Song 1 Heat 2, Song 2


1) Ann Mony
2) Oliv Wan
3) Nalla Kim
4) Nathan Bugh
5) Sharon Davis
6) Soochan Lee
7) Jo Hoffberg

Warm up:

Delilah, thanks for doing the Chase Break with me in the contest. It would have been a shame to not add to the amount of Chasing done at ILHC 2011.


Gaaahhh!! Nathan is soooooooo ridiculously good!!! Check out his first solo at 2:28…….stoooopid good! Nathan, you are a gem. That was one of the most beautiful phrases I’ve seen. You’re genius is undeniable.
Ann Mony’s musicality is so freaking solid. OMG, what a treat it was to watch her and the musicians converse!

So, what do you think?!!

Lindy Hop in Genova, Italy

This event was a tribute to how amazing Silvia Palazzolo truly is. The Friday a week before the event was to start, the Sheraton Hotel reneged on their contract and yet Silvia was still able to pull strings to make her event happen. Amazing!

Some more of the details: The Sheraton Hotel in Genova should have been the perfect for this event. Everyone would fly into Genova, cross the street to get to the hotel, stay in the gorgeous rooms (they were really, really nice), and then wander downstairs to take class and go to the dances at night. What made it not ideal was that the Sheraton didn’t have a dance floor, so Silvia bought one. The Sheraton also didn’t have a proper sound system, so Silvia got one lined up. Now, I know what you’re say, “That’s an organizer’s job; they need to make sure there is a dance floor, sound system, transportation, a place to stay, rah rah rah.” Silvia accounted for that, like a great organizer should, but what makes Silvia one of the great organizers is that a week before the event, almost everything she had planned fell apart.

I have no idea how she did it, but she was able to pull some strings and got 4 couples (Juan & Sharon, Nathan & Evita, Kevin & myself, and Mindaugas & Gierdre) a new place to teach classes and found a new night venue on 4 days notice. That’s freaking impressive!! Unfortunately, I don’t know how many of the students who attended knew that this happened, so I am assuming parts of the event just seemed poorly run when actually, it incredibly well run.

Long of the short of it, classes went really well, the students were great, the facilities were wonderful, the dances were fun, The Killer Diller performances went well, and the hotel rooms were lovely.


Putting on a show to a live band is fun and slightly stressful. We’ve worked with Roberto, the leader of the Nine Pennies Big Band, before and he’s an absolute pleasure. He’s put together some beautiful arrangements for us and his band has gotten stronger and tighter over the past 3 years.

That being said, regardless of what band you’re working with, you’re adding another layer of uncertainty. For example, our rehearsal time with the band ran later than expected and people were stressing about that (I was one of them). Even though I dig the version we performed to, it’s inevitably different than the one we as a group have been rehearsing to (more of something to take note of…no judgment, just another layer to account for). There are “sound” issue to have to deal with – the sound guy, the sound system, the microphones, etc – and that’s something else that needs to be addressed. Finally, something every performer deals with (unless at the same venue every night), is the floor. Slippery or sticky? Is there anything sticking out that we can trip on? Where’s the lighting set on the floor? Where will the audience be on the floor? And so on…

Regardless of the challenges, having the band is awesome. The most important thing the band does for us is pump out sound and energy that is energizing to both performers and audience members. The music was spot on for us, the tempos were great, the sound was full, and the energy was up. The Nine Pennies Big Band nailed it and I think (*toot toot) so did the Killer Dillers!

Here’s Our Set List:

1. LIVE MUSIC (2:35) Serenade to a Savage – Kevin, Jo, Juan, Sharon, Nathan & Evita
2. LIVE MUSIC Band Segway (with a singer 3 choruses)
3. LIVE MUSIC (2:45) Lucky Numbers – Nathan & Evita
4. RECORDED or LIVE MUSIC (3:22) I ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of my Jellyroll – Juan and Sharon
5. LIVE MUSIC (4:15) Taking a Chance on Love – Nathan, Evita and Juan
6. RECORDED MUSIC (2:30) Communication – Kevin and Jo
7. RECORDED MUSIC (2:41) Shimmy Like my Sister Kate – Bellboy Routine – Sharon, Jo & Evita
8. LIVE MUSIC (4:20) Living in a Great Big Way into Fascinating Rhythm – Kevin
9. LIVE MUSIC (2:43) Eight, Nine, Ten – Nathan & Kevin – dueling ukes

Here are some photos taken at the night dances: Enjoy!!!

To see some of my (crappy cell phone) pictures from the weekend, click here!

Again, Silvia, you are wonderful, marvelous, amazing, and inspiring. Thank you for hanging in there and pushing to make sure the event went off and for making our jobs as easy as they were. XOXOX

Honolulu at Jump Session

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.

Jump Session Show 2010 – Honolulu from Jo Hoffberg.

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!

Swing, Brother Swing 2010

I must applaud Silvia for putting on such a wonderful event this year. Swing, Brother Swing was originally a boogie woogie event, yet billed as a lindy event, and has finally turned the corner and has become a proper lindy event (thank goodness). I’d say the biggest change has come from the clientele; three years ago there were very few, if any, Italian lindy hoppers, and now they number in the low hundreds. The ex-boogie dancers can’t escape their roots, but the new slue of beginning and intermediate dancers are truly lindy hoppers (in the sense they have no other dance background).

Silvia and Bruno are the organizers of Swing, Brother Swing and put countless hours into turning their boogie event into a proper lindy hop extravaganza. This year had a lindy-only line-up of instructors: Steven & Virginie, Dax & Alice, Mike & Nina, Joseph & Trisha, Joel & Valerie, and all the Killer Dillers: Kevin & Jo, Sharon & Juan, and Nathan & Evita. What a great group! From my perspective, it was fantastic to have my entire team there as well as some great friends. One of the highlights of the weekend was on Sunday night after our late dinner. Mike, Nathan, and Kevin had their instruments out and Nathan and Evita sang along (yup, Nathan does both). Sharon kept rhythm with some brushes; Dax and Sarah social danced; Mindaugas, Alice, and I worked on moves; Juan went back and forth between dancing and watching videos; and some Italians watched the spectacle in awe. The group just clicked and we had a blast! Definitely one of the best late nights I’ve had this year.

So the teaching line-up was solid, and so were the DJs. Silvia brought in Swingin’ Swannee (from Berlin) and Mindaugas (from Lithuania) to DJ when we didn’t have live music. They played some great stuff….stuff I think most of the Italian scene hadn’t heard before. To top that off, we had The Nine Pennies and The Nine Pennies Big Band, with whom the Killer Dillers performed live. They’ve come a long way since Kevin and I first danced to them in 2008. Roberto, the director and composer for the NPBB, did an outstanding job of writing out 9 songs for the show we did on Saturday. Given, he’d written out the score for The Big Apple the year prior, but still….that’s a ton of work!

So here’s the run down of the show. On Saturday, each Killer Diller taught 2 classes, did a double rehearsal, and put on a live 30 minute show to the Nine Pennies Big Band. For us as performers, this was a huge opportunity. This was our first show to a live band in Italy! EEEEKKK!

Some challenges that made the show all the more exciting:
1) We all live in various places and subsequently have very different travel schedules
2) Because of that, our rehearsal time as a group of 6 is extremely limited (6 hours total this weekend. Last group rehearsal was in December for Lindy Focus)
3) To top it off, we have to do choreo via video (eek….what if we weren’t perfect on video? What if we weren’t specific enough? etc.)
4) We were not able to get the music before the show, so we had to assume what we’d be performing to was going to be similar to our recordings
5) When we did our run throughs with the band, not all the members were there, so we weren’t quite sure what the final sound would be like
6) Due to an Icelandic volcano erupting, I couldn’t get back home and get our costumes together. Evita and Nathan had to scramble around NY and find something suitable. Needless to say, they found better costumes that I originally did.
7) During a live show, anything can happen: the band might play at a different tempo than in rehearsal, the solos sound different, costume pieces don’t do what they’re supposed to, lighting might be in the wrong spot, etc.

Knowing that, here’s the show:

Killer Diller Show at Swing Brother Swing, Bologna Italy, May 2010 from Killer Dillers

Yeah yeah yeah!!!

In regards to the rest of the weekend, the food was great, the company was fantastic, the rooms were nice, we had water, the sounds systems worked, the students were great and our translators were awesome. As an organizer, Silvia and Bruno took great care of us, threw a great event, and were all around awesome. Oh yeah, and the Showcase and Team competition were tons of fun! This year we saw significantly more lindy hop!!


Lindy Focus Time!!

Yes, yes, yes, I know this post is extremely late, but better late than never!! Here are some performance pictures of me, Kevin, and the Killer Dillers!!!

Thanks to YoungWoo Jon, Aristomenis Pikeas, and Colin Butler for the photos.

Videos from the show:

Puttin’ on the Ritz – Lindy Focus 2009 from Jo Hoffberg on Vimeo.

Intro number, choreographed by Nathan Bugh

Me and Shaz doing a fan dance:

The Killer Diller hotties (men):

Mine and Kev’s advance performance group:

New Year Eve Jam:

Roxie Heartbreak’s fan dance:

Camp Jitterbug 2010

Camp Jitterbug Flyer

Doesn’t Sharon look amazing?! I am so thrilled that The Killer Diller’s very own Sharon Davis on this year’s Camp Jitterbug flyer and on the website header:

The photo on the flyer was taken during her tribute act to Josephine Baker in last year’s Jump Session show. Josephine, being one of her all-time greatest inspirations, has inspired numerous costumes that take up a great amount of space in Sharon’s luggage.

Josephine Baker Banana Skirt Josephine Baker

The 2010 Camp Jitterbug details are:

Camp Jitterbug & the Jump Session Show 2010

Memorial Day weekend

May 28-31st 2010

Seattle, USA

And this year the Jump Session show will feature all six Killer Dillers! Myself and Kevin, Juan Villafane & Sharon Davis, and Evita Arce & Nathan Bugh will all be attending Camp Jitterbug, performing in the Jump Session Show, competing, and teaching some classes! Without a doubt, Camp Jitterbug is one of the greatest events of the year. Don’t miss out!

Here is the trailer from last year’s Jump Session show. If this doesn’t make you want to be there, I don’t know what would:

Training Week

It slowly feels like the Killer Dillers might really come together. Nathan Bugh from NY came out to train with the boys and it was really amazing to have him around.

Since the end of January 2009, videos of cane work and tap steps have been emailed across continents to make sure everyone was learning “Fascinating Rhythm.” At the time Kevin and I were in Australia and we didn’t really have a rehearsal studio we had access to, so Kevin would go outside and practice at the bus stations when necessary. All three of them put their heart & soul and hands & feet into getting this number together and this weekend was the first weekend they’d finally all be together.

Kevin and Juan had an advantage over Nathan in that they’ve spent the last year or so training together. They know each others’ timing, lines, and rhythm, whereas Nathan had his own unique rhythm and way that he did what he did. However, after a few days working together the boys synced up rather nicely. Friday night is the bi-monthly lindy hop dance in Pittsburgh and they revealed their number for the first time for our local crowd. Sharon and I performed “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in our new red costumes, wig, fascinator, and gloves and found out rather quickly that gloves make cartwheels a bit harder to manage :-). The boys weren’t terribly pleased with their run through, however it was exactly what they needed in order to continue their motivation to push.

Luckily they got another opportunity to perform before we would head to The Big Apple. On Sunday night they performed at Lisa’s birthday bash and did an excellent job. Their hard work was visible and the changes they made to their routine really helped their flow.

Needless to say, they trained their asses off and are as ready as they’ve ever been. It sounds like they’ll perform on Wednesday night at Dance Manhattan, so head on out to see them if you’re in NY.