There’s so much inspiring video of Lindy Hop, that I thought I’d record some of my thoughts when viewing individual clips. Hopefully this will give some insight into what I’m seeing for whomever happens to be reading this, including future-me.
This is Lindy Groove’s clip-of-the-week for 17 Feb 2011, a showcase performance by Sky Humphries and Frida Segerdahl at the American Lindy Hop Championships in 2005.
(The song is Slim and Slam’s Look-A There)
My first reaction is to the music. Slim and Slam’s style of playful bass/guitar/piano music topped by playful vocals is really, really catchy. There are a lot of changes of mood and attitude during the different sections, which give dancers a whole lot of variation to work with. And since it’s such a playful song, dancing playfully to it is a little easier. The song feels loose, and you can see that reflected in the the attitude that Sky and Frida project. It’s interesting because despite the loose atmosphere of the music, it’s still strong technically, which is again reflected in the dancing.
The vocals and guitar give strong accent points: “a-look-a-THERE” during the first three eight-counts, followed by a break eight. The resulting footwork rhythm is a really fascinating look at micro-musicality choices. “a-look-a-THERE” is repeated for the first three eights, and the timing is a-eight-a-one. One could do the last triple of the previous swing-out on a-eight-a instead of seven-a-eight, but that’s not what’s going on. Instead, I see them doing a standard triple rhythm with an emphasis on a-eight, one. In other words, seven-A-EIGHT-ONE. So if I bold the lyrics, they’re stepping on “a–look-a-THERE.” The break eight has a slight accent around “mama loves” but without the guitar hit, and the dancing reflects that.
The fifth, sixth, and seventh eights repeat the original rhythm and accents, but instead repeating the accent, they switch to a hold from the THERE emphasis through count two. Well, the sixth eight is a jump landing on two, but I’m counting that. I really like the fall-off-the-log variation at :25. They have great isolation, with hardly any bounce at all.
The kick-up into an offset walk at :33 is cool too. We don’t do much off-set positioned moves in Lindy Hop. The connection is very different. Interesting.
We get a cool foreshadow at :38. After the tuck-turn, they cross-over on seven into a turn. The same type of movement is done to a much flashier effect at 1:16 out of a swing-out with outside turn. The spin creates the same lead on 1-2 as a step-step would. The behind-the back hand connection gives an inside rotation into the next swing-out. Very, very cool.
:47 is a Texas Tommy with kick-ball change on seven-a-eight. The hand switch is so clean. Almost a throw.
At about 0:58, there’s a bass interlude where Slam Stewart (?) used a bow. The tempo doesn’t slow down, but the atmosphere changes. The energy flows more smoothly, without the strong accents from the opening.
I’m going to cut this short and continue on from the 1 minute mark later on.
Are you seeing anything different in the first minute that you find inspiration from?
[UPDATE 8 March 2011]
Jerry Almonte wrote about the genesis of this performance in Behind The Dance: Frida & Skye at ALHC 2005 on the Wandering & Pondering blog. It’s a great story and worth reading. I don’t think I’ve ever met Jerry, but I’ve subscribed to his blog for most of the past year. His long-form stuff is great, really inspiring. And I really just started reading the facebook page for short-form stuff.