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Inspiration Clip 1 Part 2

Continuing the ideas started in Inspiration Clip 1 Part 1

Sky and Frida Showcase ALHC 2005

(Again the song is Slim and Slam’s Look-A There)

After re-reading Part 1, I’ve decided to deviate from the “list of things I like in the order they happen,” format to something a bit more focused.  My thoughts have crystalized into three themes:  Contrasts in Body Isolation,  Spinal Alignment (or posture) and Highlighted Movement.

Body Isolation

I guess body isolation can mean a lot of different things in different dance contexts.  The meaning I’m focusing on is isolating the upper body from vertical movement in the lower body by absorbing at the knees and hips.  It gives a very smooth, floating look to the dance and accents the dynamic look of jumps when they happen.

This contrast is showcased early on at at 0:26

Isolation during "fall off the log"

(isolating the torso from jumping give a floating look) and 0:28

Contrasting Jump

(jumping with the entire body really pops out).




There’s what looks like what’s supposed to be a similar contrast at 1:00 (a scoot step)

Scoot Step

and 1:03 (a jump).  Unfortunately they don’t jump at the same time, and the effect is lost.

Jump at 1:03

Interestingly, Skye scoots with his knee really high.  Frida’s isn’t as high (relative to her own body) and that loses some of the partnership balance which looks like it was supposed to be there.  Skye’s accent is highlighted at Frida’s expense as opposed to the previous movement at 0:26, where they both match.

The entire bowed bass solo from 1:00 to 1:41 and the guitar solo which follows to about 2:00 is leave out the lyrical accents from the opening section of the song, giving the choreography room for lots of smooth movement.  You can see another matching jump at 1:14, though it’s smaller.  Then what looks like was supposed to a be higher matching jump at 1:18 that isn’t.  They don’t match in heights or timing, so some of the emphasis which should be there is lost (I’m sure an expert judge saw this kind of thing immediately, but it took me 20 viewings to figure out what was bothering me about that moment).

A great isolation is the lateral movement from  1:51 to 1:55 (bump-a-dum-a-dum-a-dum).  The legs are moving up and down, but their torsos stay even.

Spinal Alignment

Maybe this is something that I picked out because I’m working on it in my own

Spinal alignment

dancing, but it’s interesting how straight up and down their spines are for the majority of the dance.  Skye contrasts this a lot more with a bent over position, especially on the “Look-a-THERE” hits (look at the sequence from 0:38 to 1:00).  I think this was a powerful realization for me since when I watch Skye dance, he gives the illusion of being bent over all the time.  But actually, it’s done infrequently enough to really contrast with his normal posture.

Bent Accent

Highlighted Movement

I’ll be honest.  This is something it took me 10 days of repeat viewings to pick up on (but seems obvious in retrospect).  Their choreography includes moves to highlight each other as individuals not just the partnership.

The synchronized jump I mentioned at 1:14, is followed by a move sequence where Sky jumps twice on his own, on the inside turn at 1:15 and the left hand leading from behind his back at 1:17.  This really highlights his movement, while Frida takes a back-seat.  Each “look-a-THERE” hit highlights Skye.  But watch the sequence at the transition to the bowing solo from 0:56 to 1:00.  Definitely a Frida moment.  She giving the illusion of skating just above the floor.

I’m just guessing here, but it looks like 1:31 to 1:36 was supposed to highlight her again with a slow, oozing walk followed by a double-turn in two counts.  It didn’t happen, and you can actually see at 1:36 where Skye leads a turn and Frida breaks frame.

The turns are definitely highlighting Frida, even the single turns.  I think this is done a couple times by the simply breaking convention.  One of the earliest moves beginners learn is to trade places in six counts, with the follows doing an inside turn.  At 1:58, they do this with an outside turn and in 8 counts.  And again at 2:04.


So that’s my examination.  Do you agree with what I’m seeing?  Disagree?  Spot some other theme that I’ve overlooked?  I’d love to hear what other people think about this clip.

Inspiration Clip 1 Part 1

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.

Sky and Frida Showcase ALHC 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 “alook-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.