Lindy Art

Swingscene wrote just recently about Lindy Hop as performance art and I have thought about the topic on-and-off for a while. While there is a great push for vintage movement and styling in the community there also seems to be less pushing of the boundaries of the dance. While I am all for Lindy Hop that is recognizably a traditional jazz dance, there is the danger for stagnation by creating arbitrary boundaries of what has to define the dance. The implementation of technique from dance forms of a classical or academic nature can open up the doors of the dance as art.

Historically, Lindy Hop was never really the headliner of a show. Today, we are more often relegated to a side-act for a band, background for a music video, or if it is a show of lindy hop, it is only for lindy hoppers. We are, it seems, a novelty act. We can see full evening spectacles of ballet, modern, contemporary and even hip hop, but never have I seen a lindy hop spectacle.

Is it the lack of professional training? Some sort of attitude towards the performing arts? I don’t know exactly, but do we not have the resources or audience that professionally trained dance troupes have. Are we limited by a reduced set of skills? I don’t see how. Our dance encompasses solo movement to a variety of styles and tempos, as well as partnered and team movement. How do we not develop a full revue of acts from which we can perform a full length show? Why do we not have a professional program somewhere to train dancers?

I have gotten ahead of myself. There are some troupes that exist which do push the envelope of performing arts, creating full shows. The most notable example would be, in my opinion, the Harlem Hot Shots out of Sweden, although they definitely stay within the traditional bounds of the dance. The Silver Shadows are a new example which produced a four act show for Lindyfest in Houston, Texas. These troupes go beyond the bounds of competition performance; creating mini-narratives, with a mature understanding of physical space and group dynamics.

What do you think about lindy hop and other vernacular jazz dances as performance art?

Published in: on September 18, 2007 at 2:40 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I hadn’t yet seen anything the Silver Shadows had done. I’d say that is borderline brilliance right there and they aren’t confined to the “traditional” boundaries, at least not very tightly. That’s some great stuff.

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