Dance Blog-A-Thon

The Dance Blog-A-Thon began the 4th of May and I’ve slacked through this week on my blog being really busy in the rest of my life.  So, here is my Dance Blog-A-Thon post as part of the dance blog-a-thon.

I begin with a clip from the 1943 movie Stormy Weather which Cab Calloway called it “the greatest dance number ever filmed.”  This clip is of the fabulous Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, who have sadly both passed away.  One of the first films to features African American entertainers with an all-star cast including Bill Robinson, Lena Horne, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway and more.  It was Bill Robinson’s final movie appearance and Fats Wallers last screen performance.  A truly influential film and probably “the greatest dance number ever filmed.”

In the lindy hop community Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, who worked and performed under the direction of Herbert “Whitey” White, are the principal historical figures of vintage lindy hop.  The most reknowned clip is a performance by the Harlem Congaroos, the top troupe of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, in the 1941 movie Hellzapoppin’.  The dancers are Frances “Mickey” Jones and William Downes, Norma Miller and Billy Ricker, Al Minns and Willa Mae Ricker, and Ann Johnson and Frankie Manning.  This scene embodies the sheer raw energy with which the lindy hop was performed; a departure from the clean movement of concert dances.

These two scenes are ones that always leave me in awe each time I watch them.  I can go back to them at any point and feel re-inspired.  When I introduce people to lindy hop, Hellzapoppin’ is the first clip I show them.  It was one of the catalysts for the swing revival in the 80’s and many troupes have reproduced the choreography.  Stormy Weather aways brings me back to some of the best of solo jazz movement and rhythms I have ever found.

For the Dance Blog-A-Thon these two clips truly define traditional jazz dance and lindy hop; thus why they are featured here.

Published in: on May 9, 2008 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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