Our Frankie’s Moves Course is Back!

frankie-Manning multi image.jpg

One of our most popular courses is back again featuring signature moves from lindy hop legend Frankie Manning.

Who was Frankie Manning? He was one of the greatest lindy hoppers of his time (he was the first to add air steps to the dance!). He was also hugely instrumental in the swing revival. As a young man he performed all over with Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, in his later years he traveled the world teaching at lindy hop events, large and small, nearly every weekend. He became known as the Ambassador of Swing and even got his own google doodle a couple of years ago. Come along and learn some of Frankie’s favourite moves.

The Frankie’s Moves Course is appropriate for dancers who are comfortable with the basics and ready to add some new classic moves to their repertoire.

Wednesdays, 1st-22nd April
8:30-9:30pm
at Dance Studio Leeds
cost: £32 for the 4wk course

Pre-payment required. To register email: swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

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Meet the Pioneers of Lindy Hop

Lindy Hop has been around a long time and has a rich and interesting history. Here are a few pioneers of the dance that you should know about:

George “Shorty” Snowden

George "Shorty" Snowden and Big Bea

The world’s first Lindy Hopper–often credited with inventing the dance after he and his partner, Mattie Purnell, did a breakaway step in the dance marathon at Harlem’s Rockland Palace in 1928. After winning the dance marathon he became a very sought after dancer and started the first Lindy Hop performance group Shorty Snowden Dancers He is also said to have come up with the name “Lindy Hop” though this may be an urban legend.

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Herbert “Whitey” White 

“Whitey” was a bouncer at the Savoy Ballroom (his nickname comes from the white streak in his hair). He convinced the management at the Savoy to turn a corner of the ballroom into a performance area where the better dancers could show off their moves in jam circles for the entertainment of wealthier patrons. Eventually Whitey started putting together a performance troupe, Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, that would go on to tour the world and appear in several Hollywood films including Hellzapoppin and A Day at the Races

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Al Minns & Leon James

Leon James won the first Harvest Moon Ball in 1935 (with Edith Matthews). Al Minns was also one of the more talented dancers at the Savoy. Both became members of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. They also went on to play an important role in keeping lindy hop alive and sharing it with later generations. In later years Al and Leon often performed together both solo routines (including their own version of the Shim Sham) and partnering with each other. Both dancers contributed to The Spirit Moves, a series of video clips filmed in the 1950s that were the primary resource for many revival era dancers interested in learning lindy hop and vernacular jazz before youtube.

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Willa Mae Ricker

I really wanted to include as many women as possible in this list. Unfortunately, because of the time period, it’s really difficult to find much information at all about the influential ladies of Lindy Hop (beyond just names). Willa Mae is one of the few ladies that I could find anything about at all. She was one of the original members of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers and appears in A Day at the Races and Hellzapoppin’. In the 1940s she went on to manage the Congaroos (considered Whitey’s greatest dance troupe). You may recognise Willa Mae from the 1943 LIFE spread about Lindy Hop. She also appears in The Spirit Moves.

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Frankie Manning 

Probably the most famous Lindy Hopper of all time and for good reason. Frankie was one of the more accomplished dancers at the Savoy Ballroom tapped for Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. He was a leader in the group and their primary choreographer. He also famously introduced aerials into the dance during a competition in 1935. Like Al and Leon, Frankie also played a huge role in bringing Lindy Hop back into popularity in the 80s and 90s. In his later years he was an extremely popular teacher and toured the world teaching at countless events. A lot of what we know about the origins of Lindy Hop come from Frankie’s stories and his autobiography, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop

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Norma Miller 

At only 14 years old Norma became the youngest member of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers after winning a high school dance competition. She toured with the company and appears in A Day at the Races and  Hellzapoppin’ (she’s the one in the chef’s hat). Norma went on to start her own dance company in the early 50s and had a successful performance career through the decades including touring with Count Basie and Cab Calloway. She also helped bring Lindy Hop back, teaching at Herrang Dance Camp in Sweden until 2018 (when she was 98). The Trickeration routine is part of Norma’s legacy.

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For More Information about early Lindy Hoppers we recommend the Frankie Manning Foundation Archive of Early Lindy Hop and also Bobby White’s amazing blog Swungover

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Hop into Spring with our Lindy Hop Fundamentals Course!

Okay there isn’t really much “hopping” in Lindy Hop but it is a great way to celebrate a fresh start! Learn the basics of this fun energetic dance in just four weeks. Have a giggle with some other folks as you all try something new together. You’re likely to make friends along the way. You may even end up getting a bit of exercise.

Learn a few steps and hit the dance floor!

This course will help you build your basic skills giving you a solid foundation in fundamental Lindy Hop moves and techniques, ideal for people who’ve never danced before. With small class sizes you will get to meet and know a lovely group of people interested in dancing. Meaning you’ll have friends to dance with when you come along to a social dance or drop in class.

This course is appropriate for beginners, improvers, and anyone else who wants to build their basics. No partner required! But pre-booking is essential.

Wednesdays 4th – 25th March 2020
6:30-7:30pm
at Dance Studio Leeds
cost: £32 for the 4wk course

to register email: swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

For a full list of course dates visit our courses page

Have a look at this video for a taster of what you can expect on the course:

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Time for Tandem Madness!

Attention Tandem Charleston fans: this is the course for you! Do you run out of ideas after you’ve gotten into tandem position and done a few basics? Have you ever wondered if there’s more out there to learn? There is–loads more in fact! It’s just hard to teach in a drop in class.

In this course we’ll go beyond the basics and look at all sorts of fun moves and variations you can do in this style.

Wednesdays 4th – 25th March 8:30pm-9:30pm at the Dance Studio Leeds £32 for the 4 week course

For this course we’ll assume that everyone is familiar with the Tandem Charleston basic (so that we can move on to the fun stuff!). As with all our courses places will be limited to keep a small class size with personal feedback so that you can get the most out of it.

To book email swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

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Bring your friends!

Have you been trying to talk your other half into going to a dance class? Wish more of your friends would have a go at dancing? So do we! More dancers means more dancing for everyone! According to our extensive scientific research (many years of running Swing Dance Leeds), now is the time when inhibitions are at their lowest and everyone is SO bored with winter that they are actually willing to try new things–whoop!

So help us spread the word! Lindy hop is awesome and we want to get more new people out on the dance floor this year!

Our Lindy Hop Fundamentals Course is a great low-pressure introduction for people who might find a large class too intimidating. The classes are small and everyone is a beginner so we can take it nice and slow and all have a good laugh. You don’t even need a partner. The next course starts in February:

Wednesdays 5th – 26th Febuary 2020
6:30-7:30pm at Dance Studio Leeds
cost: £32 for the 4wk course

to register email: swingdanceleeds@gmail.com

For a full list of course dates visit our courses page

Have a look at this video for a taster of what you can expect on the course:

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Footwork Variation of the Fortnight #105

This fortnight’s variation is Unnecessary!

Can you believe it’s 4 been years since we started? We’re going to be taking a break from making FVF videos for a little while, so we made this one unnecessarily complicated. Let us know how you got on! Hopefully there’s still plenty of things for you to work on in the playlist of 105 variations. 

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Footwork Variation of the Fortnight #104!

This fortnight’s variation is Reverse Kick Kick Ball Change Step

 

Have a fanastic Christmas Break everyone, keep doing kick ball changes though!

 

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