Article: ÅSA HEEDMAN: ”CUTE AND CUDDLY IS NOT FOR ME”

Some thoughts about following –

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Åsa said in this article since I read it last night. Whenever I see LH following that gets me really excited, it’s assertive, musical, and playful. It has a strong voice. It’s almost never “cute” that inspires me. So why do I let these little dainty things creep into my own dancing?

I suppose sometimes it can be fun to dance in a dainty/cute way, but truly it’s not as fun as the assertive dancing that I prefer. I think it’s just another of the many trends that creeps into our dancing. So this is something else I’ll be paying attention to in my Lindy Hop in 2019.

Click here to read the article. 

Frankie Manning dancing at 76 on French Television

I just want to make sure everyone gets to see this amazing video that Eric Esquivel found featuring Frankie Manning at age 76 dancing with Judy Pritchett and also featuring Cyd Charisse! (Interviews are translated into French.) This is truly an amazing find. Enjoy!

22 sep 1990, "Etoile Palace" démonstration de Lindy hop Frankie Manning. Frankie Manning is dancing with Judy Pritchett. He was 76.Thanks Jean-Christophe HepRef: https://fresques.ina.fr/danses-sans-visa/fiche-media/Dasavi00702/etoile-palace-demonstration-de-lindy-hop-frankie-manning.htmlMore: https://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/03/arts/review-dance-french-jitterbugs-find-a-future-in-harlem-s-past.html

Posted by Eric Esquivel on Wednesday, August 15, 2018

22 sep 1990, “Etoile Palace” démonstration de Lindy hop Frankie Manning. Frankie Manning is dancing with Judy Pritchett. He was 76.
Thanks Jean-Christophe Hep

Ref: https://fresques.ina.fr/…/etoile-palace-demonstration-de-li…
More: https://www.nytimes.com/…/review-dance-french-jitterbugs-fi…

Some #LindyHop thoughts while I ride the streetcar

Posted to my Facebook page.

Last night I went out dancing and I only had 4 dances but they were super fun!

I wanted to vocalize something about contemporary LH that I feel all the time but rarely get to talk about anymore because I’m no longer teaching.

There’s an aesthetic, groundedness, and rhythmical jazz feeling that I strive for in Lindy Hop that I rarely get to fully express. For a lot of reasons. And I’ve come to accept that, even though in my heart I haven’t let go of that ideal. There’s a way that I really want my dancing to look and feel, my personal ideal for Lindy Hop, but it’s not something that I can actually make happen most of the time. The music is a factor, the way the connection and lead follow work, the kind of patterns that leaders lead these days, the contagious feeling of what’s going on around me on the dance floor, whatever modern videos I’ve watched that seep into my consciousness… Even the shoes and clothing that I wear affects how my dancing manifests itself and I usually find myself dancing differently than my ideal.

But I also don’t want to get down on modern forms of Lindy Hop because, as I said, it can be super duper fun!Last night was a perfect example. I had so much fun dancing my 4 dances of the night. I loved the way that my leaders took me through interesting patterns with lots of connection nuances and shapes. It was surprising and delightful. And I responded and contributed in the ways that felt right within the spontaneity of the dance.

I’m also very aware of how we all influence each other and that’s how the dance continues to evolve in interesting ways, and I do like that… I’m always reconciling in my heart the way that modern Lindy Hop has taken shape vs. some of the ideals that I miss and rarely get to express. I become aware of people watching me, the way that I enjoy watching other people, and especially when I watched for inspiration when I was a new dancer. That’s when I feel torn sometimes because I don’t necessarily feel like I’m dancing like the kind of role model that I actually want to be for the dance. I don’t always feel like ME. But there’s a reality to all of it and I have to try to feel content with who I am *today* compared to who I was as a dancer yesterday or who I will be tomorrow. Because Lindy Hop is spontaneous and magical and that’s beautiful.

Those are some of my streetcar thoughts for today. 😊

Guest Workshop: August 29

I’ll be teaching a guest workshop for Bees’ Knees Dance in Toronto on Wednesday, August 29th with my pal Aleks.

  • Wednesday, August 29, 2018
  • Stretch & Compression Workshop
  • with Mandi & Aleks
  • 7:30-9pm
  • Dovercourt House

Click here for the Facebook event

Stretch is one of the most important principles of the Lindy Hop connection but that doesn’t mean that compression isn’t just as important. The way that you use stretch, compression, and the “neutral” space in between can really transform the way that you interact with your partner. We’ll get into the nitty gritty really enlightening ideas behind connection in this workshop.

Please direct any questions about registration to the folks at Bees’ Knees Dance.

Frankie Month in Niagara & Toronto 2018

It’s still very wintery out there but Frankie Month (May) is just around the corner! I’m pleased to announce two workshops, one in Toronto and one in St. Catharines. Happy to have my old pal, Kevin Miller, join me for these! All proceeds will be donated to the Frankie Manning Foundation.

As a board member for the Frankie Manning Foundation (FMF) and someone who had the privilege of assisting Frankie Manning for three workshops in 2002, 2006, and 2008, these workshops are very near and dear to my heart. The workshops are Pay-What-You-Can with a suggested donation of $40 if you do a full afternoon. Please join us.

Frankie Manning Workshops 2018

  • Toronto: Saturday, May 5th, 3pm-6pm – Dovercourt House, 1st floor – CLICK HERE
  • St. Catharines: Saturday, May 26th, 1pm-5pm – Beacon School – CLICK HERE

Instructors: Mandi Gould & Kevin Miller


Who is Frankie Manning?

Legendary Lindy Hopper Frankie Manning passed away in 2009, but his spirit lives on in the hearts and feet of swing dancers around the world. Frankie is remembered and revered for his vital role in the history and revival of swing dancing, as well as for his radiant and charismatic personality. His legacy is hugely important and widely influential, and #FrankieMonth is celebrated around the world each May. Learn more about Frankie Manning.

 

My Lindy Hop Story

My sister Zoey and I first saw Lindy Hop on Thursday, January 8th, 1998.

Zoey had heard about swing dancing from Jane Catkisser but we didn’t really know what to expect and we weren’t prepared for the love at first site that we experienced when we emerged upstairs at the Hooch, above the Gypsy Co-op on Queen St. W. That night we walked into another world.

It felt like we had entered the Hot Club of France with the Club Django band playing in a small, candlelit room, and one young couple was doing the most incredible partner dancing. Never before had I witnessed anything so magical. The dancers were Jana Jedlovska and Martin Nantel. They were incredible and I knew in that moment that at all costs, no matter how long it took me, I had to learn to do it.

That night we had missed the lesson but we met Peter Renzland and the next week we attended his Wednesday night group at the Tranzac Club. We also met another fabulous dancer, Jessica Somers, and I was shocked to learn that she’d only been dancing for a couple of years. I thought for sure that it would take many more years to learn to dance like that. I didn’t understand anything about how Lindy Hop worked and how freeing and individual it would be.

It was a life-changing night. The T.O. Lindy Hop Reunion will mark my and Zoey’s 20 year anniversary from that special night.

My Philosophy of Following

This note is old from 2015 and I plan to review it soon, but for now I just don’t want to lose it so I’m posting it here for safe keeping! 

***

Originally from March 22nd, 2015

For many years I’ve been saying that following in Lindy Hop all comes down to just a few key principles. This weekend, my pal Krister prompted me to actually define what those principles are. So here it goes.

***THIS IS JUST MY PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. It’s evolved over the years and will likely evolve some more. I also think that most of these principles apply to leaders as well.

Mandi’s Key Themes of Following in Lindy Hop

1. Momentum – To me, Lindy Hop is all about grounded momentum. The breakaway in to an open, stretchy position is really what started to define Lindy Hop at the end of the 1920s and still does today. The stretchy momentum of swingout-type shapes is really what defines the overall feeling of Lindy Hop. Followers should keep moving through the direction that the leader creates.

2. Elasticity – The dance should feel stretchy. Delay to make sure you’re actually responding to the lead and use that delay to ground yourself so that you can snap/release and achieve momentum through the elasticity of the dance. You aren’t supposed to be a mind reader. Don’t move because you “know” you’re supposed to. Move because you’ve actually felt a lead that you’re responding to it in a stretchy, elastic kind of way.

3. Grounding – Lindy Hop should drive from the legs. Power with the lower body. Push through the floor to transfer your weight from one entire leg to the next. Strive for balance and grounding and fight the contemporary temptation to float across the floor. Work those legs and use the floor.

4. Rhythm – Every movement and shape has a rhythm. Seek it out and find the fun in all rhythms, from basic triple steps to more sophisticated variations. Without rhythm there would be no Lindy Hop.

5. Posture/Core/Frame* – Seek good lines and posture through what a lot of people call “frame*” but not at the expense of your grounding and not with a rigid upper body. Don’t pull upward to the point where you’re starting to dance “up” – you want to have good posture while also staying in to the ground. Your upper body should be open and ready to respond to your lead in a flexible, loose, absorbing way that catches your core without your arms interfering. *I’d like to find a different word than “frame” which is more appropriate for ballroom dancing but I haven’t found a word I like better yet.

6. Followers should drop the weight of their connected arm – The connection a follower creates should be equal to or less than what the leader creates. Respond to the level of connection that the leader is setting and start at a “zero” connection (dropped arm) so that you’re sensitive enough to feel the intensity of what the leader is setting. Respond by connecting through your core and your shoulders, not by pushing, pulling or flexing arm muscles. (As a follower I might choose to increase my connection under certain circumstances like when I want to let my partner know something or I want to use them for something very intentional. See bonus #8. But that’s an exception and most of the time my connection would be lighter or equal to the leader’s.)

7. Be in the moment – My overall philosophy of following is be in the moment, or even behind the moment. Don’t care about what’s coming next, enjoy and squeezing out where you are right in the instant.

And I’m going to actually add a #8:

8. SPIRIT > TECHNIQUE – Lindy Hop, at its root, is a raw and wild dance. Don’t let all of the contemporary analytical stuff spoil the spirit of the dance. Lindy Hop should be a conversation, not a lecture. Follow… But not too much. Not so much that all you’re doing is hanging on for the ride. I believe that followers should assert their voices and not let #1-7 prevent us from playing an active role in the dance… In fact, there should be times when you throw #1-7 out the window because the music overrides “good” following technique. Connecting with the music is just as important (more important?) than being a “good” follower. Find your voice and self expression and use it to influence and contribute to the dance!

This is just my personal philosophy; there are no right or wrong ways to dance the Lindy Hop. Take what you like, try it, and put the rest in your back pocket to try out again in the future. Your dancing will continue to change and evolve and what doesn’t work for you today might appeal to you some time in the future.

Have fun and happy swingouts!

Mandi
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Curtis & Jolien’s Family learns to dance: 6-Count Lindy Hop

Our friends, Jolien and Curtis, are getting married!

Last night their parents organized a group lesson for their friends and relatives to prepare for the wedding. They’ll be getting married in November and Alex Pangman and her Alleycatz will be playing, so learning to dance in order to be able to enjoy the band was the main goal.

Here’s a practice video that focuses on 6-count moves. It’s not exactly what we taught yesterday, but it fits into the same model.

Teaching Reflections

I used to teach a lot of these kinds of lessons, but now that I’m mostly retired it doesn’t come up very often. We had to make the decision of whether to teach 6-counts or 8-counts. Overall, I prefer to teach 8-counts first because they’re so much more musical. However, it’s easier to get dancing quickly when you teach 6-counts. Based on the group that we had, we decided to go with 6.

One of the biggest challenges with 6-counts is that people get out of sync. When we put on the music to let people practice, some beginners inevitably get lost and have to start again. There’s always a temptation to count in the entire group, but the people who have continued to dance are on a completely different count than the music, so the group isn’t in sync. You definitely end up having to sacrifice both the music and unity in a 6-count situation.

It was a really fun group of people and they did a great job. Can’t wait for the wedding!