I’ve just return from Toronto celebrating the Frankie Manning Tribute Week and it was swinging . I met up with Chachi, Katelin Mandi and Steve and Moira ,who were the organizers of this swinging affair.After arriving at the gate, I had a long walk to customs. It was a long,long walk I noticed I was the last to finally get to customs,, where I screamed for a wheelchair. I finally got through customs and picked up my bag. and cleared customs I was met by Moira, a beautiful lady who took me to the hotel where I first met Steve Wellman who had arranged my accomadations .It was a Sears Ware house converted to a Condo, And you needed a GpS to find the room, which turned out to be cozy. Moira suggested we have lunch, the dance starts at 9 so; I’ll be able to catch a nap. After eating I felt pooped, so I crashed, tomorrow will a better day, Sat, I awoke ,showered made coffee, Steve arrived with Kate,his wife’ after the intros We went out for breakfast, the first person I saw was Chachi , my cool dude in Toronto .He will the one to escort me and look after me while I’m in Toronto ‘ I hadn’t seen Chachi since Chicago. It was wonderful reminising with him about the last time we were in Chicago He was deported back to Canada from the US ‘ ; I never knew you could be deported from the U.S.to Canada’ , whenever you think of depotation, it’s always. Mexico. but he’s cool now. My first talk was on Sat afternoon We were in a small studio, where I met the dancers. and it’ always a weird feeling when your audience is a generation apart that makes you wonder if they dig you and interested in what I’m talking about. but they;re cool. It’s the dance of Swing they want to know all about. The dance that Frankie gave them, When Frankie and I filmed Hellzappopin it was the dance that inspired the revival in Lindy-hop. When we were in Rio,I remember when we sailed into the Rio harbor, you could hear the Samba beat, When I returned to Rio, many years later, I heard the swinging beat,They’re swinging in Brazil . It was while we were in Rio when all hell broke out, the war, the drafting of the male dancers ,changes ,many changes but the dance lived on, With Frankie returning to dancing, he vowed he would bring back the Lindy and he did. Today they;re swinging round the world,because of his dedication .Chazz ,Frankie;s son, he and I were in Korea and they’re swinging in Korea . It was on Sat. that I was schedule to give my first talk. When I got to Dovercourt House there was a program on musicality by Gorden Webster, At the end of the class the room was set up for me I was delighted they chose to stay,and to listen to what I have say.; I began my talk by telling them of my association with Frankie that goes to over seventy years We began dancing at the Famous Savoy Ballroom. we love dancing, we had the best music that we love to dance to Basie.Webb, Lunceford Judith Pruitt was there. It was the first time I had seen her, She was staying with Moira. I was happy to see her She was Frankie’s constant companion and she heads the Frankie Manning Foundation . They raise money to send kids to Heerang Dance Camp . She was there to show her film on the Big Apple, I attended the showing and right after the showing Chachi took me to the Imperial Pub.where we ended up the evening with swinging to the Combo Royale and it was a swinging evening, Katie sang and swung out with Chachi . It was my last night in Toronto And so I said my goodbyes to Toronto .It was a gas.
SWING CAMP OZ
JAN 22-27, 2012 – ADELAIDE!!!
featuring the amazing NORMA MILLER
her first time in Australia since 1963
Steven Mitchell’s SWING CAMP OZ
– ADELAIDE SWINGS!
Arriving in Adelaide was a trip ‘but worth it. Steven and one of his dancers, Meral Nieman, picked me up at the airport, it was hot, my kind of weather, I knew it was going to be a great event, Joel Plys , who is the organizer of the event they call Swing Camp Oz is the backbone of this event, He arranges the flights for the dancers, he books the accommodations and see to it ,it all works out, it’s a great undertaking , bringing in dancers from around the world is a humongous task, and no doubt about it, Joel has done it,
Joel & Steven were a bit nervous about me going through customs. First off, I’m in a wheelchair, secondly 92 years old and I tell them “I’m a dancer” and the customs person looks and me and says “Riiigght”… No problems getting through.
The event began on Sunday night, where Steven and Joel prepared a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the camp, Steven kept me in the back so as to be a surprise for the dancers,I in the meantime have a little anxiety about appearing before young people who are doing the Lindy-hop. Which is the dance I am associated with. As I was introduced it was a moment of fear, nervousness, and wonder, but it was all laid to rest as I entered ,I was met with such enthusiasm, and smiles and applause it was a moment of instant love, the music was playing, Shiny Stockings, the dance was on, Swing Camp Oz. was opened.
And so the classes begin…
Steven Mitchell ‘s class was the first class I covered. His class is in Jazz movements, which is the basis for all good basic Lindy. The class was well attended. This is not a partner dancing. It’s to familiarize the dancer with the glue that makes a good partner To hear the music and know how to move with the music. That’s why classes are important. It’s how it starts.
In the beginning, teaching dancing was done mostly by counts, At last,Steven is using the rhythm of the song to convey to the dancers,to move to the rhythm. It makes it more understandable, the movements in Jazz. He design the steps to the sounds and now you know how Jazz was born.Classes are no longer, just doing,one,two you know what to do. Now you got rhythm sounds, the riffs of the song correspond to the steps, It may sound intricate, but it isn’t, It’s the way dance steps have always been conveyed between dancers, Tap dancers are notably known for singing the rhythm of the steps that’s their kind of conversation… In singing it’called scatting, in tapping ,ba boom.da da bop de bop. Turns out to be a dance step. We call it Jazz,
It’s amazing, In the beginning it was the slaves who began to understand each other to the rhythm of the drums It was the awakening of the sounds that gave them identifying of who they were, And it’s this rhythm , these sounds, that we’re hearing today, and Steven is repeating these sounds today.
Monday night the Queen of Swing documentary was shown to the new students in Adelaide and it was a great success.
EVENING DANCE WITH STEVEN SINGING:
Tuesday night kicked off with the “Swing Camp Oz Stompers” – Joel & Steven made up the band name 1 minute before they went on.
They played a swingin’ set and then it was time for the mixed level Jack & Jill. This is done to encourage all the dancers to enter so the higher levels dance with the lower levels.
At Camp Oz the levels have animal names:
Level 2 = Drop Bears
Level 3 = Emus
Level 4 = Koalas
Level 5 = Wallabys
So, they have the Wallabys dancing with Emus and the Koalas dancing with Drop Bears – it’s mass hysteria!!! The crowd really encourages and cheers for the newer dancers.
Steven closed out the night the only way he knows best – getting the whole floor swingin’, jumpin’, and screaming for more. The entire camp was up near the stage and he had them scatting and going back and forth with the band. The final song was over 8 minutes long – just fabulous!
WEDNESDAY / GLENELG BEACH DAY:
Wednesday was day at the beach, It allows the teachers and student a chance to unwind and have a day of sun and fun, The weather was perfect the sun was beaming ,we had some great food and cold drinks. And Steven and Joel arranged a Q&A for me. It gave the students a chance talk to me and ask any question they wanted to know. It was lively session. Because we had shown the Queen of Swing the night before so naturally they had a lot questions and I had a lot of answers. It was fun it was all things over the top.
Today is Australia day and we’ll be back at classes today
I Watched the aerials today and they were interesting I was concerned about them of course, whenever dancers begin to do aerials it something to be concerned about. They used the spotters to protect the girl from falling, which alleviated my fears.
Then Steven class had a blues base which was very sexy. Then it went to a jazz number, by Chick Webb, [Go Harlem] which being very jazzy. It made me want to get up and joined them. The students seemed to enjoy it also. It was a swinging class
Tonight will be the Jack and Jill finals.
Tonight, the finalist are assembled on the stage, and Joel is announcing the winners of the Jack and Jills, It started with eight couples. The good thing about this contest ,it’s between the beginners,that’s dancers who just started, mixing with the higher level dancers. Now remember, the levels at Camp Oz are animal names, and the Emus and Wallabies swept the competition:
3rd place – Nick Grant (Emu) with Corrine Allen (Wallaby)
2nd place – John Saunders (Wallaby) with Alison Bare (Emu)
1st place – Charith Nandasena (Emu) with Noni Clarke Wallaby)
The crowd was really involved, especially supporting the newer dancers – the Drop Bears!
THE BIG FINALE:
The evening ended up with the dancers doing the Shim-Sham, the Big Apple AND jamming the rest of the night.They’re finger-popping,LINDY-Hopping in Adelaide.
Tonight will be our last night in Adelaide, It has been a great experience. Being with these wonderful dancers, have been a tremendous joy,
We’ve had our last rehearsal and it was exciting. Tonight we end our Swing Camp Oz in Adelaide, and it has been wonderful.
Tonight I will give my tribute to the wonderful teachers who keep swing alive’
TO Steven Mitchel Joel and Sophie, Mike and Laura, Carl and Kelly, Thomas and Alice . Keep Swingingl
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