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.

Everyone!

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!!

9) MOVE OF THE WEEKEND: The Chase

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, andย 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

Heartland Swing Festival 2011

I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d end up in Des Moines, IA (pronounced duh-Moyne), but this past weekend I got to visit a new state. As per usual, I didn’t see much of the city, but I did have a great time at the event. Here’s the run down.

Housing

We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel and had a pimp room. Not only did we have our own bed (yes, that is something to brag about) but we each had our own bathrooms!! That has never happened before. I’m guessing it was because we were at the very back corner of the hotel with the stunning view of two parking lots. ๐Ÿ˜€

The hotel restaurant and bar were also pretty good. In the mornings, Kev and I went down for breakfast and grabbed food from the buffet. Yeah for fresh fruit!! I only ate dinner at the restaurant one night but mmmm-mmmm it was really, really good. On Sunday night, a bunch of us got together and grabbed drinks at the bar before saying goodbye and again, they had some nice drinks.

Bonus: the hotel was a 5 minute drive away from the dance.

Double bonus: one of the classrooms was on the second floor of the hotel so Kev and I got to roll up to our room and hang out during lunch. Again, that was another first for us.

Noteworthy:ย  Fastest elevator I’ve ever been in. Hahha, I clearly just got back from Europe where the elevators are small and slow. The Renaissance also had a free airport shuttle. I’m pretty sure Michael was pretty pleased come 7am on Monday morning. :p

Fellow Instructors

We kicked it with Peter & Naomi and Tiff & Kenny this past weekend. I’m starting to see Peter and Naomi more regularly and I have to say, it’s really nice to see familiar faces while on the road. It’s like I get to see my friends at work!! Ah, the small luxuries in life.

Other fab people who were there teaching: Jon Tigert and Mandy Spencer (2010 CJC Champion), Mikey Brafford and Eve Johnson, Jenna Stworzyjanek, Oscar Hampton, Dee Daniels-Locke, and Kenna Sarge & Voice of Culture.

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Temple For Performing Arts – Grand Hall

Uh, yeah. GLORRRRRRRRIOUS.

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Performance

Kenna Sarge & Voice of Culture (Minneapolis, MN) performance on Friday night blew me out of the water. It was incredible. Their drumming and dancing was super hot and their rhythms were incredible. I hope someone posts a video of it!!

I’d also like to note that Kevin and I didn’t perform this weekend. It’s a rare occasion that we don’t perform and I will admit, I enjoyed getting to watch performances all weekend long. That being said, I’m a little sad I didn’t get to perform because I enjoy it so much, but the kids in class got to see me do my thing just a little bit during demos. *smile

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Classes

The upper-level class was impressively good. I wasn’t expecting such a high level. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kevin and I got to talk about the difference between rock steps and syncopated rock steps, walking and triple stepping, and bouncing & pulsing. Even more impressive was the fact that people stayed in class even though we had African Drumming going on in the room next door. That was above and beyond the noisiest class I’ve ever been in. Hahah, and I have to apologize, again, to the class for my tourette-like outburst in class. I did think it was funny though.

In our 2-part aerial class, wee covered the Fundamentals of Basing and Flying, a Flying Baby Doll, and finally The Cupcake. We wanted to teach the cupcake unless we had a few students who already learned it. We did have a couple in there that already knew how to do it, so we gave them specific pointer while everyone else learned the pieces. We also showed drags at the end of the flying baby doll and the cupcake, but didn’t have time to go over them. Here’s a rundown on how to do drags/lunges.

For the ladies who asked me a number of questions about turns, here are some more tutorials on the details of turning. The guys worked on spinning on one foot and more info about that can be found here.

A little secret for you: I LOVE teaching in the US. Why? Because people speak American (yes, I said it!) and, more importantly, they know the same cultural references that I do!! I’m hilarious (if I do say so myself) in class, but often times only a few pop-culture junkies fully understand me when I’m abroad. Iowa, thank you for understanding my humor and laughing WITH me. I really, really appreciated it.

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Staff

A big THANK YOU to all the DJs, Bands, and volunteers. Without you guys, an event just wouldn’t run!! Thank you for grabbing us hot chocolate, chai lattes, lunch and bottles of wine. Ooh, and thank you for the rides!

Contest Results

Any Swing Goes – Christian Frommelt & Jenny Shirar
Same Gender – Anthony Chen & Jeremy Russell Nelson Fischer
Team – Swing Dings
Vintage Jazz – Morgan Kestner
Jack & Jill – Anthony Chen & Cassie Stoa
Slow Lindy – Anthony Chen & Chelsea Dvorchak
And congratulations to Rae Mullica for winning Miss Heartland Vintage Pin-up Contest!! To see all the contestants, click here to be redirected to facebook.

Video coming soon!!!

A Flickr photostream from the event!

Photos on Facebook from the event.

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Leaping Lindy 2011

I’m so grateful that it was warmer this year at Leaping Lindy than it was last year! I was able to run around in dresses and tights without issue. ๐Ÿ˜€

Here’s the scoop. I left LAX on Thursday, arrived in Zurich on Friday, met up with Skye and Kevin at the airport and trained out to Bern. The Hotel National was 3 minutes walk from the station and was just as cozy as I remember it. This year Kev and I stayed on the second floor and had a darling little room with a great big window. The sunlight that poured into our room was really lovely to have in the mornings. Yes, there were curtains, and yes, they were drawn, but they were rather thin. Ah…the point I was originally heading towards; even with a direct flight from LAX -ZUR, I spend a total of 21 hours in transit. My goodness is right!

Highlights of the weekend:

– Getting to see Kev after such a long break. It was great to get to reconnect with him after not seeing him for a month. We gabbed like girls! It was awesome.
– Goodie bags waiting for us on our bed. There were these cute little madeleine that were in the shape of bears!
– Classes were walking distance from the hotel.
– The evening dances were held at the Casino which had a stunning ballroom and a sparkly chandelier.
– The amazing staff – thanks for helping with the sound system, transportation, and all the other small details that make an event run so beautifully.
– Being able to sleep through dinner and not have it be an issue.
– Gordon Webster on Saturday night! Man, he and his band were jammin’. I had such a great time just listening! Naomi Uyama also sang with them and she was lovely, as always.
– Social dancing on Sunday. I was finally tired enough that I wasn’t anticipating and just let myself be moved. Every dance I had was outstanding. Skye, Peter, and Kevin: thanks for leading my ass around in that teeny tiny space and for keeping me safe from getting stepped on.
– Naomi djing from her iphone on Sunday night. The music was awesome solely because of her. Thank Naomi!!
– Peter Lerch for letting Kevin and I crash at his house on Monday night and getting us to the train Tuesday morning.

VIDEOS FROM THE WEEKEND:

There are other angles of these performances, but I really enjoyed watching the dances from this angle because I rarely see them from here.

What we taught:

Tricks & Lifts: climbing exercise. flying baby doll.

Turning: turn drills and moves that used the technique.

Advance Basics: leading and following rock steps, weight changes, pauses, and triple steps. We did this in open position and touched on it in closed position and built on the yo-yo.

Touch Me: a 7 part variation/technique class. The moves built on one another and progressively got more complex. Each variation were similar enough to the last that the leaders had to have a clear idea what they were going to lead and the follows had to wait until the very end of the move for all the information. In other words, we used moves that looked the same at the beginning so that the follow couldn’t recognize the move because all of them were so similar.

Lone Star Championship 2011 – Invitational Competition

Invitational Strictly – Spotlight 1

Invitational Strictly – Spotlight 2

You might notice that I dressed differently than I typically do. Lisa Casper (New Orleans) outfitted me from head to toe. That is her yellow bandanna, yellow top, and skirt. The fun thing about that skirt is that she made that herself! I think this might be the making of a new clothing designer in our scene!! (And and and, in a very short while I’ll be selling hair accessories handmade by her!!)

RESULTS

1) Nick Williams and Laura Keat
2) Peter Strom and Naomi Uyama
3) Todd Yannacone and Jo Hoffberg

Jack and Jill!!!!!!

What set this competition apart from all the others was the music. We danced to a lindy hop song and then something that fell into the karaoke/soul category. Nick Williams and I were brave enough to choose Karaoke Grab Bag, and to be honest, I think it was a great choice. ๐Ÿ™‚

FAVORITE MOMENTS:
1) Sucking on the lindy hop portion and then finding total redemption with a Star Lift. To top that off, Nick’s “fork in the garbage disposal” moment. And I have to give Chia-Wen Lin a shout out for being such an awesome team player as well as Carla for continuing to play along.
2) Andrew Thigpen and Carla Heiney dancing to “Summer Nights” from Greece (14:41). She made such a great Sandra Dee and they both acted the crap out the song!! Hahha, and getting to be backup singers….man… I’ll never forget that.
3) Peter Strom and Mia Goldsmith’s dance was……so many things (21:39)!! One way to describe it is “not work appropriate”. Another: daaaaaaaaannng! Just watch everyone’s reaction in the background. Funny stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚
4) Nikki Marvin swivel moment (28:30) shortly followed up by Jeremy Otth’s circle slide (28:35) and finger point (just to make sure you saw it dancing to Footloose (28:56). When he undid his suspenders….we all nearly lost it! He made such a great Kevin Bacon….it was ridiculous!

Naomi Uyama also did a fantastic job picking out the music!! People we so well suited to the music they chose. Love it!

RESULTS:

1) Chance Bushman and Karen Turman (6:00)
2) Nick Williams and Jo Hoffberg (9:47)
3) Peter Strom and Mia Goldsmith (19:56)

Dressing the Part at Southwest Lindyfest 2010

I just took my first trip to Texas and had an absolute blast at Southwest Lindyfest 2010. The instructor lineup was amazing, the energy was great, and as an instructor, the event was really, really well run. What a pleasure it is to work with professional organizers!

Before I came to the event, I wasn’t sure how much dancing I would be able to do. I had recently finished taking antibiotics for bronchitis and brought steroid and an inhaler with me to the event (to keep my lungs open). Needless to say, I hadn’t danced for the past week and wasn’t even sure I could dance, but I still wanted to show well. I figured I would need to find a different way, other than dancing, to set myself apart from the other teacher so I did the only thing I could think of and raided my wardrobe! I probably spent 4 hours trying on clothes before I left. I figured if I wasn’t going to dance well, I should at least look good!

Recently I posted a Bonnie & Clyde editorial on Swing Fashionista and realized that I could replicate this look with little effort. Two pencil skirts, a bunch of V-neck shirts, a beret, and three scarves later, I had an entire weekend’s worth of cute outfits. Here are the two main pictures I took inspiration from:


Friday night Jam dancing with Peter Strom to Jonathan Stout and his rockin’ band!

Saturday night jam dancing with Kevin, getting ready to do an aerial.

Photos from Facebook – by David Holmes

Stay tuned for more to come!!

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!

ILHC 2009 – Invitational J&J

I love doing the Invitational Jack & Jills because often times it can be some of the few moments I have to dance with the other instructors at an event. This year at ILHC Peter Strom drew my name and the song. Here is our dance:

The first time I got Peter in a J&J will were at Swingin’ New England in 2007 and we took first. I still haven’t seen that dance, but apparently it was good enough to win. The last time I got him was at Boston Tea party and it was just silly. ๐Ÿ˜€ย  The awesome thing about dancing with Peter: no matter how much I sit into something, I know I’ll never knock him over. Heads up – sometimes he does “cooter tosses”…..gotta be prepared ladies!

What is often amusing about these competitions is that [old] partners can get each other. For example, Jeremy & Laura, Max & Alice, Nick & Carla, and Todd & Naomi.

Winners(?):

1st place: Nick Williams & Carla Heiney
2nd place: Mikey Pedroza & Frida Segerdahl
3rd place: Max Pitruzezlla & Alice Mei