20 Ways to Become a Great Lindy Hopper

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers rehearsing for Hellzapoppin'

I had a wonderful time at Inspiration Weekend, that is a truly great event I highly recommend to add to your swing calendar. I’m feeling very inspired! Thank you to all my lovely students for the messages and emails since the weekend, and I’m so so happy  to hear that you were inspired by our classes! Since this kind of question has been popping up a fair bit, I thought I’d just put together a post for you all. Here is my list of twenty things you can do to improve your Lindy Hop!  Aaaaaand… go!

1. Take Classes

Take classes, from as many different teachers as possible. If you’ve got limited access to teachers, try DVDs, iDance.net or RhythmJuice.com

2. Social dance

Social dance as much as possible, and dance with as many different people as you can (beginners to advanced)

3. Listen to swing music

Listen to as much swing and jazz music as you can, even if it’s just in the background, it makes a big difference

4. DJ for a dance

Curating your collection and selecting music for dancers will make you think about swing music differently

5. Travel to dance

Go to swing events and workshops in other cities and countries if you can

6. Film yourself dancing

Film yourself dancing and watch it analytically. Film > watch > improve > repeat.

7. Take private lessons

Take private lessons with your teachers and/or get personal feedback from friends.

8. Work on your solo dancing

Charleston, jazz steps, blues, even tap. At the minimum make sure you know all the classic solo choreographies (Shim Sham, Trankey Doo, Keep Punchin’ Big Apple, Al & Leon Shim Sham, Dean Collins Shim Sham, etc). Practice improvising.

9. Join a swing team

Join a performance group, if you can, or form one with friends if there isn’t one around

10. Choreograph a routine

Even if you never perform it, the process of choreographing makes you better. Learning other people’s routines will also give you a new perspective.

11. Perform

Yes it’s scary, but performing makes you think about your dancing differently

12. Compete

Also scary, but competitions give you something to train and aim for, and again, it makes you think about your dancing differently

13. Teach

Teaching something forces you to really understand it. If you don’t want to teach a class, just teach a step to a friend

14. Be inspired by the past

Watch vintage film clips from the 1920s-1950s of the original dancers. Watch > break it down > steal > repeat.

15. Be inspired by dance in general

Watch some old Gene Kelly films, go see a tango show, watch some hip hop on YouTube, rewatch LXD for the sixth time…

16. Read about it

Start with Frankie’s book if you haven’t read it already, and go from there. Try this and this and this and this and this. There are also some great Lindy Hop blogs out there – my favourite is Bobby White’s Swungover.

17. Look after your body

Firstly, take your injuries seriously. Secondly, Lindy Hop alone will not give you the dancer’s body you need to dance at your peak. You need to stretch and do some resistance training in addition to dancing. My personal recommendation is Yoga or Pilates as they will improve your strength and flexibility, but also your balance and body awareness, which will make you a better dancer.

18. Learn the other dances

Learn the other dances in our jazz dance family – Balboa, Collegiate Shag, St Louis Shag, Charleston, Blues. They will all improve your Lindy

19. Accept that you will never be satisfied

Great dancers are proud of their achievements and comfortable in their bodies, but never ever satisfied. We are always our own greatest critic. So enjoy the journey, find happiness in where you are now, keep striving, but don’t expect to ever be satisfied.

20. Just keep dancing. Never stop.

If in doubt, just keep dancing. If you’re in a rut, your progress has plateaued, or you’re not feeling motivated about your Lindy, just go out social dancing. The joy and inspiration always come back, as long as you never stop.

Face of Camp Jitterbug 2010!

Camp Jitterbug Flyer

And what a pretty face! Oh dear me!

Anyway, very proud to be on this year’s Camp Jitterbug flyer and on the website header: www.campjitterbug.com

The photo on the flyer was taken during my tribute act to Josephine Baker in last year’s Jump Session show. Josephine is, of course, one of my all-time greatest inspirations. The act starts with a jungle-style dance in recreation of her part in Princess Tam Tam, and ends with a tribute to her famous banana-skirt dance. Ahh, Josephine…

Josephine Baker Banana Skirt Josephine Baker

The 2010 Camp Jitterbug details are:

Camp Jitterbug & the Jump Session Show 2010
Memorial Day weekend
May 28-31st 2010
Seattle, USA

And this year the Jump Session show will feature all six Killer Dillers! Myself and Juan, Kevin St Laurent & Jo Hoffberg, and Evita Arce & Nathan Bugh will all be attending Camp Jitterbug, to show off our new routines in the Jump Session Show, jump in the competitions (like last year’s ILHC, it’ll be The Killer Dillers vs Everyone Else in the Charleston battle – be there or be square!), and we’ll also be teaching some classes!  Camp Jitterbug is without a doubt one of the greatest events on the international Lindy Hop calendar, so if you can make it I’d really recommend it!

Here is the trailer from last year’s Jump Session show. If this doesn’t make you want to be there, I don’t know what would:

Provence Swing Festival and our new routine!

I’m recovering now from the charming Provence Swing Festival, in France. Here’s two videos – first, of our brand new Lindy Classic routine, and second, of a short feather fan dance I did. The classic routine is to Scram, by Fats Waller. Enjoy!

1st Place Team at ILHC 2009

Damn, I just realized how lame I am. I didn’t blog about the International Lindy Hop Championships at all!! Well, actually I did post up some photos over at SwingFashionista.com, but that’s not what I’m talking about…

I’m talking about The Killer Dillers winning 1st place in the team division!

Oh and PS:

1st place Charleston: Juan Villafane (Killer Diller)
2nd place Charleston: Nathan Bugh (Killer Diller)
3rd place Charleston: Jo Hoffberg (Killer Diller)
Filling out the rest of the Charleston finals: Evita Arce, Kevin St Laurent & myself (ie: all the rest of the Killer Dillers)
1st place Cabaret: Evita Arce (Killer Diller) & Mike Jagger (honorary Killer Diller)
3rd place Cabaret: Kevin St Laurent, Juan Villafane & Nathan Bugh (uh yeah, The Killer Dillers)

You get my point. Sorry. Proud.

So yeah, check us out: www.thekillerdillers.com


Swing Fashionista Dot Com Screen Shot

I have a new blog, collaboratively with a group of other swing dancing ladies, called SwingFashionista.com

It’s a blog and look book, about swing fashion – both swing era vintage (1920s, 30s & 40s), and also those special fashions that sweep through the swing community around the world, completely independently of the fashion world at large!

We’ll be taking photos of the well-dressed folk at all the swing dance events we go to around the globe, and posting them up on the blog, as well as vintage photos that inspire us and anything else related to vintage fashion, hair and makeup of the jazz age.

If you have a snapshot of anyone (guy or girl!) in your local scene, looking fine in swing era vintage style, or you have anything else you think might be relevant to SwingFashionista.com, then email it to shaz@swingfashionista.com