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.
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!!!
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.
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. :D
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.
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!
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!!
Back in the day, Catalina Jazz Camp was the event to go to. International instructors such as Eddie & Eva, Lennart & “W”, Daniel & Asa, Steven Mitchell, Rob & Dianne, Ryan & Jenny, and a slue of other top instructors. Not only was it top level instruction, but the Casino Ballroom and the island itself was and is gorgeous.
I remember finishing my 9th grade year in high school and immediately flying down to LA with some friends, catching the ferry across to the island, and setting up shop for a week. I had a great time running around in the sun, losing my voice, racing golf carts, and watching the Hot Shots perform. Here’s a picture of me in front of the slab with some friends many years ago:
Some Historical Information:
The Catalina Jazz Dance Festival endeavors to recreate the historic swing dance routines of the 30′s and 40′s, paying homage to the big bands from the Swing Era who played regularly at the Casino Ballroom.
Enthusiasts will remember the PBDA Swing Camp which ran for 10 years from 1994–2004. The event centers around the famous Catalina Casino Ballroom which still echoes music from a bygone era, and the richness of Catalina culture.
2) Tremont Hall
3) Sunday Workshops (High School Gym)
5) Antonios Cabaret Pizza
6) Boat Landing
7) The Slab
The Killer Dillers will be performing 10 numbers in the ballroom. On Friday, the audience will get to see “Putting on the Ritz, a cakewalk number, Sharon’s fan dance, “Fascinating Rhythm”, and a group charleston number. On Saturday, we’ll perform a Hat Trick Tranky Doo, a Fred Astaire inspired number, “Jelly Roll”, “Bellboy”, and “Communication”. Finally, on Sunday we’ll perform “Serenade to a Savage” for our finale.
You did a wonderful job at rehearsal tonight. Thank you so much for taking the time and putting in the effort to learn Honolulu. And Nikki, thank you so-very-much for learning this routine via video (that was poorly recorded off of my mac), emailing back and forth with me, and doing all the additional work on the side. You did an outstanding job with all my emails and video clips, and you’ve done an outstanding job with the girls. Thank you for working so diligently to turn my “hawaiian dream” into a reality. I hope you are proud of your girls and what you’ve accomplished.
Girls, I am so excited for you! Regardless if this is your first performance or your 100th, performing in the Benaroya Hall is an incredible opportunity, one that you’ll always remember. Be proud of yourself!
Click on a photo below to enlarge.
S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall
Here is the song we are using: Honolulu routine Camp Jitterbug Cut Please download this and LISTEN TO THE BEGINNING over and over again. It might be hard to count, but it’s easy to hear (once you know what to look for).
Here is a reminder of what you’re doing:
Good luck girls!!
- Make a check list of what costume pieces you need. LITERALLY write down the costume pieces you need and check them off after you put them in a bag. Do the same for each routine you have.
- Double check that you have all the pieces. Don’t forget your shoes, stockings, bows, hair pieces, and appropriate underwear (super important).
- Space backstage will most likely be small and hard to come by. Bring a brightly colored bag or something to keep your belongings in. Get into the habit of putting your things back into your bag in between numbers so you don’t lose your stuff.
- Black anything (i.e. bras, underwear, tights, bags, etc.) will disappear into the abyss of backstage. Just an FYI.
- Bring a hand mirror. You don’t want to fight for mirror space any more than necessary.
- Eat before you get there. Have a snack bar on you as well. Don’t forget water or a water bottle.
- Set your hair the night before or the morning of.
- Have your base makeup on.
- Ask yourself “What else do I need so I can be self-sufficient? What else do I need to be awesome?” and then figure out the answer. :-D
- Remember, you’re part of a group and you need to do you part. Be watchful of your partners and remember to smile.
- When you’re performing, don’t fuck up. Haha, in spite of my warning, just keep dancing regardless of what happens. No one will know you missed something unless your face tells the audience otherwise. Smile and be confident in your movement!
- Listen to the music if you get lost. You can find your spot again….don’t give up!
- Don’t worry if you have a crappy run-through right before the performance. If you hit it perfectly before the show, you’ve probably already used up your good one. Save your best for last.
- Remember to have fun while you’re performing The audience wants you to succeed and they want to cheer for you. Everyone is there to support you. Enjoy your moment on stage and don’t stress too much.
And a final shout out again to Nikki. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for you. Thank you for putting so much time in effort into getting this done. xoxo