Karen continues her personal dance clip tour. I got a message that Thigpen is buying booze somewhere. Read the other parts here.
After Basie Ball in 2004, I started to officially travel like a crazy person for dancing. I went to the Rhythmic Arts Festival (San Diego), Swinger’s Ball (Chicago), DCLX, Midwest Lindyfest, Camp Jitterbug, Herrang, and the San Francisco Exchange. I was thus primed for ULHS 2005, the first year it was in the amazing Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. In my opinion this event represents a marked change in the consistency of good lindy hop. There were so many epic moments this year, and I think a lot of that is due to Todd Yannaconne and Naomi Uyama teaming up, along with the Silver Shadows making their debut with Frida and Todd in the mix. Todd and Naomi brought everyone to their feet in the fast division, then the premier fast competition, by doing really intricate footwork and Charleston variations to the Wolverine’s ridiculously fast “White Heat”—and they even danced on the beat.
The next day they debuted their new showcase routine to “Who Stole The Lock Off The Henhouse Door,” which I watch to this day and curse myself for still not being able to dance as good as Naomi circa 2005. This routine embodied such poise and was executed in a relaxed, creative, and energetic way, while employing a variety of styles, syncopation and humor.
That very same afternoon Silver Shadows performed their team choreography to “Rock and Rye.” They were all hanging out in the audience while Frida started off dancing in the corner, then Skye just popped up out of nowhere to swing her out and the rest was history. There are so many iconic moments to this choreography, yet Andrew and I really wanted to use their ending—at that point I’d never seen a bow choreographed into the song in that way and in my opinion this was a great innovation. Plus they really build up to the bow, making it a nice climax that fits exactly with the music.
In 2006 Silver Shadows would add Peter Strom and Ramona Staffeld in their next choreography to “The Last Jump.” This is one of my favorite team choreographies ever, and I think it really stands the test of time. Back in 2006, this was incredibly original; I love the spotlights in the middle of the rotating circle, the different jazz movements, and the well-placed aerials, all within the context of just really amazing quality of movement and beautiful swingouts. Of course, the fake-out ending is what really gets me, so Andrew and I had no doubt about using that to end our routine. We also felt that, even though the Silver Shadows tribute is anachronistic, we wanted to use their endings because we really feel that they have and still continue to push the dance forward through their performances, teaching, social dancing, and competing.