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News & Views, Hall LindyJazzMobilelessTrail '13 early Wi
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:49 pm    Post subject: News & Views, Hall LindyJazzMobilelessTrail '13 early Wi Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobiless Trail
Early Winter ‘12/’13 Installment
January 15, 2013

Table of Contents:

1.This ‘n’ That
2. Recent Dance Gigs
3. Rhythm Breaks, Musical Accents, Repeating Musical Phrases, Mimetic Skills, and Huge Ears
4. Potpourri
5. Coming Attractions

THIS ‘N’ THAT

1. Fred Astaire’s advice for Social Dancers

“Above all, be yourself! Dancing should be a form of self-expression. Whatever else you may do, don't make the mistake of being an unimaginative copyist. Don't be a slave to steps or routines.
After you have been dancing for a time, you will find that you (dance)… just a little bit differently from anyone else. You have developed your own individual style. That is nothing to worry over. On the contrary, there would be more cause for worry if you did not develop a style of your own. Styles in dancing are developed just as inevitably as styles in writing or painting. The dancer without individual style is no more than a mechanical robot.”

2. Uncommonly Paired Pathologic Obsessions.

Choreomania is a pathologic need to dance, and dromomania is a pathologic need to travel. During the last 20 years, Rudy and I have suffered both, and outside of teachers of dance who travel as a requirement for work, we don’t know of anybody who has similarly suffered as much from these twin afflictions. However, as much as we enjoyed the afflictions, we are now enrolled in a personal 12 step program to cure us from dromomania; a cure for the choreomania will have to wait. See, we danced 10 days in Nov. ’12, and so, we are back at our accustomed dance frequency following the miserable danceless convalescences from our recent summer of ’12 surgeries.

3. Below find a link to an excellent discourse about social dance in the United States. It is written by Richard Power, and is published by “Stanford Dance.” Unless otherwise attributed, everything in quotation marks comes from Power’s writings, but I encourage you to read his entire text. It contains some rare and precious thoughts and ideas exquisitely pertinent to Lindy Hop
A. “THE AMERICAN SPIRIT OF CREATIVITY AND CROSSOVER” informs that Americans emulated European social dance forms and fashions until early in the 20th century, when we broke out and began to innovate and create radically new form of music, notably ragtime and jazz, and, as we know, where the music goes, so follows the dance. Radical new American social dances exploded and grew finally to international popularity, none less so than swing dance. Originated and led by the Lindy Hop, American social dance swing dance became improvisational just as is jazz, it’s companion music is improvisational. Powers wrote “American have long emphasized creative personal expression in their dancing…” “It seems the prototypical American dancers is more intent on bending the rules than adhering to them.” “To merely collect the steps created by others, perhaps by learning a swing step that Frankie Manning invented in 1935, is missing the point of creativity. They way to capture the authentic spirit of American vernacular dance is to participate in the ongoing evolution oneself. To truly learn from Frankie Manning’s example, emulate his creative process, not just his steps.”
B. “WELCOME CHANCE INTRUSIONS”. “Vertical thinking is selective, Lateral thinking is generative” Edward deBono, theoretician. Vertical thinking selects a pathway by excluding other pathways (leading to the jokes about ‘illegal moves’ in strictly ballroom dance.” Or, as example, if any of you remember the brouhaha over disqualifications at the ALHC, and subsequent reflexive beginnings of “Showdown” (ULHS) with its motto, “we don’t need no stinking rules.” “Correctness is what matters in vertical thinking. Richness is what matters in lateral thinking. Vertical thinking moves only if there are directions on how to move. Lateral thinking moves in order to generate directions.”
“NEVER BE PEDANTIC ON A DANCE FLOOR.” The definition “pedantic’. Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for formal rules.” Leon James stated it well, “Want to dance Lindy Hop correctly? Then don’t be real concerned about ‘correctness’”. Swing dance teacher extraordinaire, Skippy Blair wrote, “the most fascinating part of swing dancing is the individuality of the dancers. Stylings are flexible…the style one chooses should be as individual as the clothes one chooses to wear. The only problem that exists in swing is when someone decides there is only ONE WAY to dance it.”

C. “USE IT OR LOSE IT; DANCING MAKES YOU SMARTER” and “INTELLIGENT DANCING, Powers could not have stated that 20 years ago, but studies now show that of several physical and mental activates tested, social free-style pairs dancing with its demanding split-second lead and follow reactions improves the brain wiring and function and improves decision making, and, as laignappe, it offers protection from dementia. And so, while few of you reading this should now care about this NOW, fast free-style social pairs dancing can add years to your mental life. A 21 year long study by The Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that frequent pairs dancing showed the best results at ostensibly re-wiring neural pathways.

Here is the Link. It’s a good one. http://socialdance.stanford.edu/syllabi/spirit.htm

RECENT DANCE GIGS (Just to let you know we are not completely out to pasture.)

Nov. 21st.At NyOhs (a ex-C/W honky-tonk) in Columbus OH to a sterling jazz octet plus a male vocalist, on a mid-sized maple dance floor adorned with a few too many gobs of black gum marring an otherwise good danceable surface.

Nov. 24th.At the old, and maybe historic “College Hill Town Hall” in Cincinnati to “Kieth Jones and the Makeshifts”, a rather loud and more than just rather fast Rockabilly quartet, with two good sit-in vocalists, on a large old hardwood floor with a fair dance surface.

Nov. 28th at The Dayton Events Connection to the uneven “Lizz and Rex Quartet” with a talented vocalist, playing a fine mix of ballroom and swing selections, on a generous fixed hotel parquet floor with a sweet dance surface.

Nov. 29th at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cinn. to a bitchin’ good Big Band, “Jump N Jive” (18 instrumentalists including a baaaad-ass drummer and an abundance of vocalists), on a small terrazzo floor (4 couples max.) with a surprisingly good dance surface.

Dec, 1st. The Dayton University and Wright State University swing clubs hosted a combined dance at WSU, to DJed music, on a huge good composition floor in a room with good acoustics, and a host of many energetic dancers.

Dec. 5th. Back at Nyoh’s in Columbus dancing to a DJ who doesn’t dance, but is a student of and proponent of quality music played by accomplished musicians and which swings. Could anything be better? Yes, the same music except played by live lively musicians. He played only one undancable recording. It was a beautiful vocal sung at ballad tempo by Mel Torme and accompanied by George Shearing in galloping double-time. I tried, but soon became rhythmically schizoid, and after asking my partner “Are you having a problem with this music?” and getting a frowning “Yes” response, I said “Let’s quit and dance the next one.” No other couples left the floor; is there something wrong with my ears?

Dec. 11th. Back to the Blue Wisp for the Ron Purdue 17 piece Big Band, a collection of elderly gentlemen. They played a wide variety of swing era standards quite well, despite suffering from a weak shy drummer. The tempos were---how shall I put this—relaxed; considerably slower than the swing era standard recordings of these selections, but a few of the arrangements were, quite simply, gorgeous. The crowd was sparse, the dancers sparcer yet.

Dec. 11th. At Jazz Central in Dayton, we danced some to the ShinSings Orchestra a 10tet playing the Frank Sinatra book with a few from the Nat Cole and Bobby Darin books. The arrangements were bang on, copying the popular recordings from those three singers, and sung ably by the leader/vocalist/guitarist/drummer without, it must be said, and thank you, becoming a smarmy and loungy stage malpresence. He had good vocal quality and deft mimicking of the vocal characteristics of those three singers, but he did not copy their sense of swinging “time” and lyrical phrasing, BECAUSE, while many singers have tried, so few can.

POTPOURI

1 (Bass Player) Jaco Pastorius Speaks

Musician: Where's rock and jazz influenced music headed in your view?
Jaco Pastorius: “It's going to Ft. Lauderdale. That's where I'm going on Monday.
“A chimpanzee could learn to do what I do physically. But it goes way beyond that. When you play, you play life.” Jaco Pastorius

"Women, children, and rhythm section first" – Jaco Pastorius

RHYTHM BREAKS, MUSICAL ACCENTS, REPEATING MUSICAL PHRASES, MEMETIC SKILLS, HUGE EARS, AND DANCING THE MUSIC

You may be pleased to learn that this will be the sole editorial in this N&V.
I no longer believe the old saw that musicians are lousy dancers. I believe, on the other hand, that most musicians capable of being good enough to be paid to play have spent their obligatory 10,000 hours developing instrumental skills, and have had precious little time to learn how to dance.
However, I love dancing with followers who are musicians, and I have become fairly proficient at detecting who they are. They seem to give themselves away by listening and responding to the music in much the same way I try to do. I’m not a musician, but I have listened to jazz all my life, and I can quite often sense an impending rhythm break, an impending musical accent, detect when a musical phrase will be repeated, and then respond to it in my dance. It tickles me no end when my follower does that too. Predicting musical accents (brass pops, loud drum fills, etc.), usually relies on familiarity with the tune; if it is live music, and, otherwise, the most popular recording of the tune. If I suspect I have a musician in my hand as a follower in Lindy Hop, I can be more adventuresome in responding to changes in the music, and to find that the follower is also ready to do so provides a rare treat in lead and follow dance. Jazz often employs repeated musical phrases or riffs, and it is a rare kick, if we both detect an impending series of them and she and I react to them in unison. I also find that musician followers seem to have advanced skills in physical mimicry, in which they, by being alert to the music and how it may be driving the leader, can instantly and accurately mimic what he is doing. This is a skill beyond physical following.
All of these extra pleasures in social lead and follow dance are mediated through ears—the huger the better-- by the leader and follower; ears that are attuned to the impending nature, direction and structural flow of music. I remember all too well, as a beginner LHer, that beginners must concentrate on learning the syllabus of signature moves for Lindy Hop, gaining some lead and follow skills, and being aware of the both the tempo of musical rhythm and accents on two and four, in order to direct weighted footwork and movement, but once that becomes automatic, both leaders and followers are free to attune their dance to other aspects of the music, e.g., phrasing, dynamics, accents, interruptions in rhythm, repeating musical patterns or riffs, predicting 8 bar changes in 32 bar song structure, chorus roll-over for 32 and 12 bar musical compositions usually notified by busy drumming, and sensing when a tune is approaching it’s ending and then reading the musical coda for duration so the dancers can finish the dance appropriately. Thus Dancing the music is responding, in unison, to all aspects of music which, I believe, offers the highest additional pleasures in lead and follow Lindy Hop.
I am reluctant to give advice, but if I was not, I would urge Lindy Hoppers to listen to, in their cars and homes, the music they enjoy dancing to. Dancing the music is duration dependant; the more often you hear the music you dance to, the more able you will be to appropriately respond to it. END OF EDITORAL.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

1. With perseverance on my part, a Review of “Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz” by Whitney Balliett.

Allen Hall, ancient Lindy Hopper
January 15, 2013
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