jeudi 8 décembre 2011

Swing trend is all around

Surely not exhaustive, but it's already a good list of contemporary mainstream productions about swing music and swing dancing revisited.
The videos are from American, Canadian, French, Japanese and Swedish productions.
Some are less mainstream than others, I admit, but they still participate in the process of forming a mainstream representation of nowadays swing culture, which I'm interested in.

Missing :
apparently there is also some swing dancing/lindy hopping in a Simpson episode, in the movie "Au revoir Taipei" (2010), in the opening scene of "Mulholland Drive" (David Lynch, 2000), in the Cheerleaders movie "Bring it on"(2000)...

In Movies :

2011 - Swing of Change,
An ESMA (France) Graduation Short Film Directed by : Harmony Bouchard, Andy Le Cocq, Joakim Riedinger, Raphael Cenzi

Synopsis : New York 30's : Harry, a racist barber changes his mind at the arrival of a magical trumpet in his barber shop !

jeudi 6 octobre 2011

Montreal French Toast team at ULHS 2011

Here is the video of our last performance at Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown 10th Anniversary last week-end in New Orleans. As usual, the HOT HOT Jazz at the French Quarter was outstanding! I came back with LOADS of good memories shared with my friends. My birthday was amazing ! Ô, I got a damn happy birthday ! Got a dollar on my shirt like a real Nola birthday girl, and got tones of happy wishes from everybody in the street, restaurant, tourists, locals, friends, dancers, and a total of 21 green papers in my tiny safety pin to spend on booze (or else :-))
Enjoy !
Dancers are from left to right : Lunou Sansom Poirot, Alexandre Hétu Rivard, Geneviève Saint Laurent, Alain Wong, me, Aleix Prats Ferrer, Amanda Fong and Jonathan Caron, and special guest Steve Poirier.

jeudi 11 août 2011

Tango de los hombres

For my thesis research, I'm reading a book on tango, and another one on salsa. I'm discovering the complexity of partner dancing, and how the analysis and understanding of it, especially the power relations, are intricate and non obvious.
Yesterday, I sent my mother a video of these two men, two brothers : Enrique y Guillermo de Fazio dancing the tango (a milonga).

I thought her comments were very interesting. She said those two dancers are alike, they are the same. There is no distinction between the partners. One leads, the other follows, the other leads, the first follows. They are both very masculine and if one has to be more masculine than the other, then it's the shortest one, surprisingly.
I only discovered afterwards that the dancers were brothers.
So I looked for more videos of tango between men, and although there are many that clearly state homosexuality, the gendered gestures are not always the ones we expect.

Tango used to be danced among men. Dancing with a woman was too outrageous at the time. Now it seems that man/woman dancing in couple is too conservative. Time changes. But the revival and popularity of couple dance is growing around the globe. This is where my current research is looking at. Let's see where is takes me.

One last video before I go go :

mardi 9 août 2011

TOP Notch TV clips with lindy hoppers !

Marie N'Diaye and Anders Sihlberg for Tiger of Sweden. Marie, you look amazing !!

Ryan François and Remy Kouakou Kouame for Slow Club, inspired by dancers Al Minns and Leon James. Beautiful.

The Careless Lovers' interpretation of the classic "Black Coffee". LOVE it ! Starring Joshua Welter and other Seattle cool dancers. This clip won the Seattle Vintage Jazz Dance's third annual Swing/Jazz Dance Music Video Contest.

mercredi 15 juin 2011

Brief thoughts

I recently realized how relieving it is to consider everyone as a friend by default, and then see what happens.
I think, over time, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, moving from a country to another, trying to fit, making new friends each time, live on my own, I've taken the habit to consider first that any one can dislike me and reject me. It's a sad, hard and lonely feeling.
I keep in mind what my mother told me once, about an experience and an epiphany her friend had, while taking care of deceased people in India, washing their naked bodies that suffered illness, hunger, or just age and time of life. He told her, this task was only bearable if he could consider every one of them as his own child.
I've been thinking about that a lot lately, just to calm myself when I have a conflict with someone, for X reason. That thought relieved me immediately the other day. I surprised myself how light I felt, and almost happy. It made me smile when I only had dark clouds in my mind, just from the thought that if I can separate the feeling of anger from the person I was directing it to, there isn't any reason to feel angry anymore, just a problem to be solved.
It's a precious thought that I think my mother would have called a "mystical" experience. I will try to put it into practice whenever I can, when I'm angry, or when I'm afraid to be rejected.
The wide and wild social world can be very scary, and it feels sometimes that there isn't enough room for everyone, and we feel constantly put into jeopardy when we don't have a home to rely on. But if we could love everyone as if they were our own child, then space doesn't matter anymore. Everything becomes love. And love has no sense of quantity.
I'm Jewish, but I must say, Jesus had a good point !
When this thought becomes a slogan, then it's difficult to make sense of what it truly means. And I guess that an experience like my mother's friend's, or an experience of deep loneliness or anger, give more sense to the idea of love, than a general philosophy or moral codes that stay very abstract. 
Photo, Nourit Masson-Sékiné,

lundi 6 juin 2011

Suite of the previous "comments"

I was not expecting to have such a publicity and being referenced by Jerry on his fb threads.
So I'll give you some examples of battles that I came to witness recently, and the different atmospheres and attitudes that we can get inspired from :

First, street dance :
The Bust A Move competition held in Montreal last May is described as the biggest urban dances competition in Canada. Dancers came from all over Canada, the US, Japan, France, etc. There was hip hop, house, waacking, locking, popping, bboying...

The hip hop finals :
Jr Boog VS Leah McFly : Check out their attitudes when one is dancing, how each of them provoke the other, what kind of movements they use to provoke, the mimicry, but also the way they congratulate each other after the final judgement

The Locking semi-finals (top 6) :
Salah VS Hurrikane (in a funky outfit). I'm posting this video because Salah (in black) was one of my favorite dancers. This video is also interesting to observe the interaction between them, and how being the first or the second to go can be decisive. The obvious reason being that Hurrikane can and will take each Salah's "flash" move to turn it against him and win after a first tie. And big hug happening at 5:24 and again at 5:29. 2 hugs are better than one, right  :-)
The mimicry :
Check Salah at 1:04
Check Hurrikane at 1:48
Check Salah at 3:47, ... just because ! :-)
Check Salah at 3:44
Check Hurrikane at 4:12-4:25

The Waacking !!!
Their attitudes !! OMG !! The battle is starting BEFORE the battle, like the Sumo, by the way they enter the stage, get prepared, introduce themselves, you already know who's gonna win (or almost ..:-))

And finally, the swing dance one-to-one battles
I think everybody will agree that the best battles happen at Showdown
Of course, first of all, ULHS, the Decavitas VS Villafane and Davis. There, you can feel the emulation !!

In 2009, the finals between DaxAnnie VS JoannaChance : the energy is what made this battle

In 2010, again, ULHS solo charleston finals. BBonsey clearly knows the battle culture. When Chance was taking the advantage at 1:10, Bobby exploded it at 1:29.

I don't feel that the "battle" really happens when the couples dance at the same time :
Savoy Swing Jam 2011

And at last, the object of disapproval : Camp Jitterbug Lindy Couples Finals
I repeat, I was also frustrated by the way it happened, BUT some were capable of winning anyway and catch the judges' attention.
This brings to another debate, that is what should or could be more valued in a strictly competition. Is it the flashy dance, the well executed choreographed sequences, or the spontaneity, the musicality, the unexpected ...

So, what's your opinion ?

I personally don't feel AT ALL comfortable with the battle format, it's difficult, I don't speak loud and don't dance loud. But I want to try. I want to challenge you and challenge my comfort zone. And I also want to get closer to my dance's original culture and tradition.

We are definitely not living in the same social context as the Savoy dancers. I have food on my table. I never had to fear for my life. There hasn't been any war in any of the countries I lived in my life for decades. Even though I feel that I am part of a minority, I am not a victim and have never been directly subjected to racism or antisemitism.

But I think there is a sense of social catharsis that still bring us all together in this dance. Why are social dances so popular now ? Why people feel the need to get in physical contact with each other, why people need so much to feel a sense of belonging ? What is it that happen in Herräng every summer ? What is it that gives us the impression that we are going to church every time we enter the Preservation Jazz Hall and hear the bands play ? Is this all related ? I believe so.

This brings me back to my passion for LH and its roots. Battles are interesting because it's another way of challenging the dancers that does not (or less, or differently) depend on your reputation, or your social status in the scene. If Pontus and Frida didn't make it this time, it's because they didn't do as well as last year. The battles are defined by the Right here, Right now. If you don't bring it now, then, too bad. Maybe next time. I will have to think it through a little more, but it might be a more democratic way of judging one's dance, that leave also a chance to unknown dancers who can be brilliant if you just let them dance under the spotlight for a few seconds. 
At the street dance comp that I went to, all the prelims were held in a battle format. No all skate. We should think about it.

samedi 4 juin 2011

Comments on a current blog-o-sphere debate on Battles in jazz dances comps

Lindy Hop Battle at Ultimate LH Showdown 2010
Photo credits : Alexandre Hétu-Rivard 
This is a comment I wrote on a Jerry Almonte's blog, but for some reason, it is not appearing on it, so screw internet or/ timing or/ Jerry or/whatever reason, here is my comment on 2 blogs' posts I read lately, the first being Mary Freitag's article on Camp Jitterbug battle format for the couple competition, and the second being Jerry's article on the ways to interact with people during a jazz dance battle, the appropriate/smart ways, and the unappropriate/way to avoid an uncomfortable battle interaction.

My comment concerns a specific observation on the way those 2 articles refer to the B-Boys battle formats in contrast to the Swing dancers'.
***’s the second time in 2 days that I see a comparison with the B-Boys, about the battle format in dance, the first time being Mary Freitag’s post on her blog. The comparison is legitimate. When we think of a dance battle, we usually picture the street dances. We can also think of other one-to-one formats, like in martial arts, capoeira, etc. So I understand the reference.
But, what is starting to making me feel uncomfortable with the comparison is the elements that are used to highlight the difference between US/THEM. In these 2 blogs, Mary and you talk about our scene, and our dance, the LH, and the B-Boys are used as the only external reference to make a distinction with what we don’t want in our scene. What is it that we don’t want ? “Negativity”, “aggressiveness”, that is “uber-something”, “problematic”, that “escalate into something that could get out of hand”. Meaning violence, irrationality, impulsivity, excessiveness….
Well, I understand we don’t want that, but do you really think this description, in return and in contrast, fairly defines the B-Boys scene ? I understand that was not your intention, but this is how your discourses mark the boundary between us and them. And this, I find, not legitimate.
Bust A Move
A few weeks ago, I went to a street dance national competition (popping, hip hop, locking, waacking, house, …). All the comps, prelims and finals, were hold in a battle format one-to-one or double-to-double, mixing male and female dancers. One battle, out of I can’t count how many, almost-but-not-likely got into a real fight. Only one ! In all the other battles, you could feel the tension in the air, but only to end with a big hug between the competitors at the end. It’s all an act. The tension is part of the show. And it takes some hell of guts to bring it out there !
I personally think there’s a lot we can get inspired from the street dances scenes. We have become, or have we always been since the revival, very clean and nice. Now, we even have to be pretty and wear high heels to go to a dance.
LH used to be a street dance too. And the rage you can feel in Hellzapoppin, you won’t find it by being nice and clean. I firmly don’t think so. And rage can be positive too. In LH, we transform it into JOY !
Well, I say, I’d rather have some battles in the LH comps’ to push our limits, bring it, and smell the bacon in HAMpton’s dance ! Give me some of that ! mmmmmh.
Dawn Hampton
Photo credits : Li-Hsien Lim
PS : I was in CJ and I understand Mary’s point and her frustration. I was also disappointed of seeing so little of Pontus and Frida and of Brittany and Dargoff etc.. But the battle format is, I believe, not in question, but more the length and the choice of song that was tooooo slow ! It didn’t give back enough to the audience.