Follow-Up on Followlogie

Man, I’ve been meaning to post this for quite some time!! Sorry I was so tardy!

Followlogie has a special place in my heart. It was the first weekend I taught solo classes out of the country and was my opportunity to prove to myself that I could teach without Kevin. Nobody has said that I couldn’t, but it was something I had to prove to myself and Dominique gave me that chance. I must have done well since I’ve been invited back 3 times. 😀

This year I got to stay with Maryse Lebeau and we had lots of girl time. I got to stay in her daughter’s room and I kinda felt like a little princess. Needless to say I felt very welcomed and very well taken care of. She also made some really great muffins that I basically devoured. Yum yum yum!
I taught my group classes with Mikey Pedroza and Zack Richards. Zack did Spins and Turns with me (pictured) and I spent most of the time trying to make him laugh. Relatively I’d say I was successful. He was super easy to teach with and filled in the gaps where needed. What an awesome leader he was!

It was such a pleasure to teach with Mikey again. I think the last time we taught together was at LotR 2009. It’s been a while. In the classes we did together, I did about 30 minutes of jazz and then did 30 minutes of partner worked. Mikey did a great job listening to me make decisions on the fly and executing them flawlessly.

Can She Do the Can Can?

Here are some photos of my latest creation. I thought it’d be super fun to perform a Can Can while in a French speaking area and with none other than the exuberant Evita Arce. I figured if there would be anyone I could talk into high kicking and wearing ruffles with me, it’d be her!

It took me hours to get this routine together. I didn’t want to use the standard music, but I was running short on time so I figured I’d take the easy road. Then I had to find a good recording of it online. Relatively easy until you realize that you can find almost anything online as long as you can figure out how to search for it! I then scoured youtube for videos of Can Can dancing and needless to say there are more than a few videos to watch. I spent hours weeding through videos and watching good ones and a lot of bad ones to find inspiration and some solid direction. Most of the videos I liked had a large ensemble of girls where as I only had Evita and myself. As you’ll see below, there was plenty to do with just two girls (see video below).

So I found videos that inspired me, cut them up into bite size pieces, learned the movement, and then went to work on my own choreography. I mapped out the song, noted where the signature chorus’ were, and then decided where I wanted some of the flashy stuff to go. All I had to do next was fill in the dancing in betweent he flash moments and I was good to go.

Oh yeah, but wait, I needed costuming for this routine. A Can Can Routine doesn’t look right in jeans and a t-shirt; only skirts with ruffle will do. I went down to the local thrift store and bought 2 wedding skirt for cheap, sent them to my costume maker (thanks Mom!!) along with video, color scheme, and ideas, and then crossed my fingers there’d be enough time to get everything done. Thank goodness I was smart enough to work on costumes first before the choreography!!

Back to the dancing! So costumes were in the works, the song was mapped out, and I still had to choreograph. I hacked out some choreo in a few hours time and then tried it in a long skirt (see pictures below). That completely changed the game. Even rehearsing in pants doesn’t give you the feel or timing for the movement you’ll actually be using. I practiced the choreo a few times and then filmed it. I needed to send Evita something so she could learn the choreo. Thank goodness I still had 3 days before the event! Yup, that’s right. Idea – 4 weeks in the making. Costumes – 2 weeks in making. Choreography – 3 days in the making.

So what does this all really mean? Evita is utterly amazing! I sent her a video on Monday, changed some of the choreography on Tuesday, she worked on it Wednesday, found material to make the head pieces out of on Thursday and we met up on Friday. Ridiculous!! We would have met up earlier but my Thursday flight to Quebec was canceled due to weather. Eesh!

Saturday afternoon I got to teach part of the choreography to the students. I think they had fun running around with me 🙂 It was a very energetic class and it was fabulous to get to see the choreography performed by a bevy of ladies. I wish I had a troupe to do a can-can number with!!! That night was the performance. Nina, bless her heart, made our head pieces for us while Evita and I blocked our number a few times on the fabulous stage. Seriously, I’ve never performed on a more amazing stage than this one. The photos are gorgeous, but I don’t really think they do the place justice. Uh, and the energy in there!!! Oh, it was truly a spectacular experience.

Can-Can with Evita:

After performing that, the stress level went way down. I missed a small piece of my own choreo, but Evita was a champ about it and kept on kicking! We then needed to get ready for Nina’s number so Evita completely changed her clothes and I just took off my skirt. Classy broad!

Here are some more photos from the evening:

Dancing with Nina and the gals:

It was a great night I must say. Hahah, after the show was done, so was I. Most of the performers grabbed a drink at the bar and headed up to the balcony to catch up and see how each other were doing. From a professional and personal stand point, the night was a smash for me! I had such a good time and I really, really needed a night just like that. It’s funny how little moments can revitalize you and remind you about how fortunate you are. That night was one of those nights.

~

And the story continues!!

Oh, how fun are late nights!! I made it a priority to try and have “cultural experiences” when I travel and apparently, this is supposed to be THE place to get bagels. Here’s how it all went down. Alain Wong took Mikey Pedroza and I to get wood-oven bagels after the show on Saturday night. We go into the tiny store and there is a guy making the dough, another guy loading the doughy spheres onto a wooden plank and sliding them into the fire, and another guy behind the counter. Since it was our first time there, the man behind the counter gave each Mikey and I a free bagel. We bought some creme cheese and scarfed them down. I needed a napkin so I went back to the counter to find one. I asked if there were napkins, got laughed at, remembered they are called “serviettes” outside of the States, and corrected myself. The cashier asked where I was from and what was I doing here. I told him I was from America and was here to dance.
C: “What kind of dance?”
Jo: “Lindy hop.”
C: “What’s that?”
Jo: “Lemme show you! Hey Mikey, come ‘ere!”
Somewhere during this dialogue, Alain gets out his phone and records this:

Yup, we got half a dozen bagels for free because of that amazing showing! Hahha, and even though we were stuffed, Mikey and I still met up with a bunch of our friends and had poutine at some place that was mega packed at 1am. Double cultural experience!!

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!!

xoxo

Lone Star 2010

It sounds like Lone Star Championships was the place to be this past weekend. I’ve been checking out videos on youtube and I have to say, I think I missed out! If I hadn’t been working, I would have been there. Buggar!!! Ok, next year, I am there. This is me saying that once I know the dates for Lone Star 2011, I am blocking out those dates!

So here are some videos that caught my eye:

You have to wait for the “Super” song starting at 2:17. The amount of humping, shaking and hair swirling is fantastic. And to top it off, Naomi has to break it up at the end. Incredible!

Speaking of Naomi, she is just awesome in this! And Todd….holy crap!! So here’s the thing: If you’re an advance-intermediate dancer, you should be able to lead everything he did: swing outs, tuck turns, circles, jig walks, and kick ups, hell….even I can. But what he’s doing is so much more than just those moves. It’s the quality of his movement, the musicality, the simplicity, and the beauty of his dirty style. Now that, my friends, is some fine self-expression!

How cool is this that two partners drew themselves in the J&J (and so early in their partnership)! Sarah is an up & comer in the International Lindy scene and she’s fierce. Just check her out in the second song. Sarah kills it!! Fierce. Can’t wait to see what the girl brings next.

Here’s my girl Evita and the honorary Killer Diller, Michael. I first saw this number at ILHC 2009 and I shed a tear. It’s a gorgeous number and the two of them dance it so beautifully. I guess I shouldn’t expect anything less from two professional dancers from New York. 😉

And for the last video of this post:

Juan freaking KILLS it in the semi-finals. Tons of people are going to watch the finals, but I think it’d be such a shame to miss this. Movement, musicality, and a muscle shirt…..a-Mazing!

Awesome moments in Lindy Hop

This past weekend I was at Followlogie in Quebec, Canada and during the lunch time Q&A session we were asked what was a great moment in lindy hop for us. It was such a good question that I am going to put my answers here, on hopefully find some links to them.

My awards, in no particular order:

Greatest all-skate of my life time:
– ULHS 2005 – Fast Dance contest. After all the competitors had danced in their heats, there was the greatest all-skate of all time. While balancing on a chair, smushed against the wall, I watched in awe as the 30 couples on the floor swung out to “Jumping at the Woodside” as hard as they could. Not only that, but the audience clapped on beat!! And it was the most amazing thing I had seen to that day.

Greatest swing outs in a jam:
– Camp Hollywood 2008 – Strictly lindy hop finals – Mikey Pedroza and Nina Gilkenson. They were the only couple that made it to finals that weren’t regular partners and they still threw down. We, the competitors, slowly realized that all we were seeing were swingout, and they just kept going. It was an awesome build-up with an even better finish. They went all the way.  Now watch it.

Greatest Aerial-prop moment:
– ILHC 2008 – Showcase Division – Max & Annie. Kevin and I were the first to put the Flying Lotus on the competition dance floor, and Max & Annie were the first to take it to the next level. It was so fucking badass; their height, their timing, and their ingenuity floored me. My god, are they good.

Greatest all-time moment:
– ILHC 2008 – Junior Division. I cried. The audience cried. We all lost it. For me, this was the first moment that I knew there would be a future for lindy hop. These little guys give me hope that the thing I hold so close and dear to my heart will continue to grow. Watch, enjoy, and cherish the moment.