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.
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.
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!!
The final installment of photos from the Killer Dillers’ recent show in Dublin, Ireland. Here are pictures from Sharon’s grand solo dance, my Honolulu number, and the KD Finale. Click on pictures to enlarge.
[Gallery not found]
Thank you Phillipe O’Brien, Danielle Keogh, Geoff Devitt, Norma Owens, and Oyster Zepplin (that’s not a typo!) for taking pictures of us.
Pictures of the show The Killer Dillers did in Dublin last Friday. Kevin and Juan performed their strut, Sharon sang Nickelodeon while Kevin played his banjolele “Pots”, and finally Sharon and I performed our red fan dance. Click on pictures to enlarge.
You might be noticing that I am posting pictures and videos from event that happened over a month ago. Well, you see, I’ve been slacking, so now I am trying to catch up. So here are some favorite moments that were captured! Ooh, and make sure you get to the bottom of this post…that’s where some fun facts are!!
And here are some of the performances from that weekend. Hot Club Stomp from Orange County and The Killer Dillers from all over put on a 30 minute show. Here you go!
The Killer Dillers – “Harlem”
OOOooooh, someone forgot to take off her leg warmers!!
Hot Club Stomp – ” Keep On Jumpin’ ”
Juan and Sharon
Laura and Jeremy
Mikey and Nikki
Juan and Kevin
Sharon and Jo
Hot Club Stomp – “Shake That Thing”
Tip and Tops Debut their new Hat Tricks Routine in Korea:
Al & Leon Shim Sham in Fat suits:
B-boy Battle – The teachers vs. B.Boy
Some fun facts from my trip:
1. I am under the impression that Seoul has the biggest swing dance scene in the world.
2. There are 15 swing bars in Seoul – that’s 15 dance venues, devoted ENTIRELY to swing dancing, 7 days a week!
3. Food in Korea is awesome!! They have some awesome red paste that goes on everything and is spicy-goodness. Unfortunately I don’t remember what it’s called, but it starts with a “g”.
4. Heated floors are fabulous!!!! Except when you have mochi in your bag. Be careful not to let your goodies get cooked because then you’ll have to throw them out. Boo.
5. Kimchi is yummy. Rumor has it that Kimchi is the reason why the Koreans never got SARS or bird flu. If you fly to Korea on Korean Air, there is a special on Kimchi….watch it!
6. The Jack & Jill at Camp Swing It involved taking a shot of Soju (which is a Korean distilled rice wine, vaguely similar to Japanese Sake) before and after each partner rotation. To prove you had finished the shot, you had to turn the glass upside down on your head (NOTE: that’s why Kevin is doing that in the pictures above). When dancers were refusing to drop out, the challenge increased to half a bottle per partner rotation! DANG!
7. Korean dancers are freaking awesome. They can copy almost anything, so if you’re planning on teaching there, don’t demo something “wrong” too often otherwise someone might think that’s what you want them to do. Set good examples.
8. I loved our translators. Some of them translated word for word, some listened and nodded (but forgot to translate), and some told the class their interpretation of what we meant. Haha, there’s nothing like saying 5 words and having the translator speak for 2 minutes.
9. So many people were dressed well. OMG, if I can find pictures I’ll post them. Cute tap short, amazing shiny suits (seriously pimp and not tacky), blue shirts with ruffles and bow ties….these kids can make everything look good!
10. There was a costume room full of kimonos and sumo suits, wigs and giant fans in the place we filmed the Camp DVD. Interviews were thus conducted in costume, with props. Kevin, Shesha and I performed the Al & Leon Shim Sham for the camera while wearing sumo suits. SEE ABOVE.
11. Camp Swing It was the first official collaboration of The Killer Dillers with fab Los Angeles’ group, Hot Club Stomp. That’s Laura Keat, Jeremy Otth, Mikey Pedroza, Nikki Marvin & Shesha Marvin. Awesome dancers, brilliant performers, real professionals. They were so lovely to work with. Here’s to many more…
12. All the instructors were challenged to a battle by a single Korean B-boy. We were beaten. Badly. SEE ABOVE.
13. We stayed in some awesome places while we were there. I wish I had taken pictures of them for you all to see. Oh yeah, make sure you watch some TV while you’re in your room because there is some funny fucking stuff on cable!
14. There was a very, very charming marriage proposal. Thank goodness she said yes, otherwise that would have been very embarrassing! The guy sang to her in front of everyone while reading the lyrics off his iPhone!
Thanks Kang Seok for making this all possible!!! xoxo
Currently I, along with the other Killer Dillers, am in Asheville, NC filming for iDance.net which means a bunch more clips of me and Kevin and the KDs should be online in the next two weeks. I am really excited about some of the stuff Kev and I are putting up there….so go take a look.
So here’s a quick run down of the filming process:
Get up, eat breakfast, do hair and make up. Wait.
Drive/Travel to the location. Wait.
Fiddle with equipment. Start filming. Wait to render.
Do more filming. Eat lunch.
Continue to film.
Other members arrive where there is a changing of the guards. Wait a little more.
Rinse and repeat.
So as you can see, it’s not particularly glamorous, but it makes for a relatively easy day. The hardest part about filming is having to be concise, eloquent, engaged, and funny at the drop of a dime. Quite a few of the lessons Kev and I filmed today we’ve done plenty of times, but some of them are new for us, meaning we really had to wing it. For example (*snicker), we taught the “Shin Breaker” today. It’s that aerial that you might have learned back in 1999 (if you were dancing that early)….where you are in side-by-side with your partner, the follow jumps onto the leaders leg (landing on her shins), and then she is tossed out into swing out position. You know? Yeah….we’ve both done it, but haven’t really “taught” it per se. Hehe, well, anyways, that’d be rather funny to see if you ask me.
This is mine and Kevin’s third time filming together. We created 4 DVDs in November 2007 (if you’re keeping track, that’s about 2 months after we officially came on the scene together), filmed online clips January 2009 in Australia for iLindy (which subsequently are on iDance.net instead), and are currently filming. What I can say about all of this is that the process gets easier, but only because you are more familiar with it. Currently we are using a spreadsheet to map out what we’re going to teach, the nickname, a description, etc. and it’s eaten up a ton of time, but it makes the organization while filming (and during post-production) significantly easier. The other nice thing is that Kevin and I both know each others rhythm and can easily fill in the gaps where necessary. Finally, we’ve found a formula for us that works: introduce a move, show the geography, demo follower/leader footwork with “kick steps” and with counts, put the pieces together, point out important detail, and then do it to music. Pretty easy.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve got. I am having a fun time filming, learning about new software, learning a new method of filming, and getting to spend some more time with The Killer Diller, and Michael & Jaya, who are two cool cats.
Toot toot!!! That’s the sound of me blowing my, and The Killer Diller‘s horn. The six of us competed in the Solo Charleston Contest and all six of us made it to finals!!! To top that off, the members of the KD’s took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place!
1st place – Juan Villafane
2nd place – Nathan Bugh
3rd place – Jo Hoffberg
I figured I should own a pair of character shoes being that I’d like to break into the “real dance world”. I think every female dancer on stage I have seen owns a pair and by golly, I figure I’ll “fake it ’til I make it!” until I do (specifically I mean outside of the lindy world).
Bloch SFX split sole heels
“The Bloch SFX Split Flex enables the dancer to better articulate as it works with the foot to provide a great range of movement and a beautiful, extended line when the dancer is pointing. A versatile character shoe, the SFX Split Flex I suitable for character dance and interdisciplinary demi-character work. Smooth leather upper. T-strap with adjustable buckle and small hidden elastic gore around ankle for a comfortable, personalized fit, allowing movement of the foot. Shorter shank and elastic goring that wraps around the underside of the shoe combine to enhance the dancer’s pointe. External stabilizer reinforces the heel without compromising the flexibility of the shoe enabling the dancer to feel supported and secure. Soft leather lining. Cushioned insole for comfort. Suede forefoot outsole facilitates turning and sliding while providing some grip.”
I’ve had these guys for two months and absolutely love them. They run a tiny bit small, but because the shoes is made of soft leather, they’ll stretch a wee bit to your feet. They are rather plain looking, but if you adorn them with ribbons or any flashy shoe buckle thing, they’ll look stunning. The night I got them I rehearsed in them for an hour and my feet were completely fine (yeah for comfortable shoes!!!). I can still point my toes and control my balance in these no problem. The shoe has a 2 1/2″ heel on them, so they aren’t too tall to start off with if you haven’t worked in heels before. I would absolutely recommend buying these guys if you were on the look out for character-esque shoes.
Final note: I ordered these guys off of Zappo’s and they came the next day. Kinda scary how fast they shipped, but I ordered them at 4pm on a Thursday and they arrived by 10am on Friday. Maybe they ship from PA, but really it’s just that they are THAT good.