Tonight we had an amazing evening performing at the 92Y Holiday Party. In addition to seeing so many friendly and familiar faces, we had the pleasure of premiering our latest piece of choreography, a Lindy Hop, to the song, “Accentuate the Positive” sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters. (Curious as to why we are holding a broken umbrella in the photo to the right? You need to come see our next performance! Or check out our video below.) The dance received very warm reviews, the most exciting of which came from Sonny Allen, a singer, dancer, and choreographer who was recently inducted into The International Lindy Hop Hall of Fame. Naturally we jumped on the opportunity to receive some feedback and this is the nugget of wisdom he left with us to reflect upon:
“You two look good doin’ what you’re doin’! Keep on doin’ it! Keep on creating! What I love is to see young people like yourself creating. You got a nice Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire thing goin’ on and that’s what you gotta do. You have to learn everything. Get into it. But once you got it… get out of it! You don’t want to dance like someone else, you want to dance like you! That’s what I did. When they would show me moves, they would say, ‘Do it to the left.’ But then I would go back home, and I would do it to the right! They would say, ‘Do it like this!’ and I would do it like that! There are no new steps in dancing. All you can do is learn everything and put your own twist on it. Make it yours!”
Every word rang so true. The beauty of Lindy Hop is that there is no “right” or “wrong,” but simply different styles. In class we never say, “That’s not how you do it! It’s like this.” Instead we say, “try this way of doing that step, I think you will find it a little more comfortable.” We don’t take lessons with dancers because they have perfect technique, but because we want to incorporate elements of their style into our dancing. Simply put, we want to dance more like them. Yet I believe this philosophy can be applied to every style of dance. Take for example, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the iconic figures of partner dancing. If they were to enter a current day ballroom competition, their technique would be viewed as “incorrect” and rank them lower than one would expect. They have a style that is unique which we all fail to copy, but that’s OK! Dancing would be such a boring art form if we all danced exactly the same way. Just as Sonny said, it’s great to learn to dance like Fred Astaire, but as soon as you can, that’s when you need to start dancing like you.
If you missed the performance, here is a video of it!