Camp Jitterbug is one of those events that gets buzz for the next year the minute it finishes. This year was truly no exception.
I had attended Camp Jitterbug back in 2005 when the main dances were still held at the Century Ballroom and the tracks were almost manageable in size. This year had approximately 500 attendees and the classes were overflowing.
The event began with registration at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. They lost my registration somehow, but still managed to have the three numbers for the various competitions that I had registered for so after a bit of waiting in line I had my packet and was queued up with friends outside one of the entrances to the theatre.
For the past couple years I have heard wonderful things about the Jump Session show which is the opening attraction for Camp Jitterbug (enjoy this trailer from last year). It is the only show devoted solely to vernacular jazz dance that I know of in the U.S. It was a full hour and a half production with an Act I and II focusing on jazz dance from charleston, blues and lindy hop to tap and even bop. Download the Jump Session program for a full list of performers here.
The show was M.C.’d by Sean Morris who was dressed sharply in a tuxedo. The opening number was a blues piece performed by members of 23 Skidoo (Teni Lopez-Cardenas, Dan Newsome, Joe Demers and Danielle Hatley) to Wild Man Blues by Sidney Bechet; followed by a charleston piece by Nick Williams and Laura Keat to Charleston by John Barry; and then a lindy hop piece by Max Pitruzella and Annie Trudeau to That Lindy Hop by Duke Ellington. Throughout the remainder of the show there were a couple pieces that truly stood out. Mickey Fortanasce and Kelly Arsenault performed a balboa routine to Wire Brush Stomp by Gene Krupa that had exceptional musicality, shading and quality of movement. Mikey Pedroza and Ramona Staffeld performed a modern jazz piece to Dark Eyes by Earl Hines that was lyrical and built tension very well, it was very nice to see a modern style number in the show.
The Jump Session show was overall quite an enjoyable experience that provides a unique outlet for performance jazz dance that isn’t competition oriented. I would have liked to see the show shortened a bit and some of the numbers cleaned up a bit more but with many of the dancers coming from across the country and putting numbers together in only a short amount of practice it was quite impressive. Additionally, half of all of the proceeds from the Jump Session show is donated to Snohomish County Campfire USA where it is used to fund Jazz Dance programming for youth. (more…)