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June 4, 2009

my current lindy hop interests include...

Posted by dogpossum on June 4, 2009 1:44 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances | Comments (5)

I am currently really enjoying Bethany and Stefan, two lindy hoppers who've eschewed the current trend for pointy-toed high-steppin' pony follows and cock-rock leads. Is that too harsh a dismissal of what I'm seeing in a lot of lindy these days? I think not.

But, here, let me show you what Bethany and Stefan are doing:

That's them competing in the ILHC in 2008. That's the first I'd seen of them (that I can remember). It's unusual stuff. Why? Well, for a start, the songs they choose aren't your standard classic swing action. They favour less well known versions of songs which lean towards vocalese, well, eccentric renditions. Their dancing is similarly unusual. Though we see an awful lot of Bethany's knickers, this display isn't as coy or barbie-pony as some of the other knicker action I've seen around the place. They also tend to favour interesting jazz steps, often doing far more 'solo' stuff (together) than they do 'lindy hop'. This, of course, delights me: lindy hop is built for this.

But what else have they done?

That is their more recent routine, from Frankiefest. Again, it's unusual. They look a little nervous (well, you would - there were zillions of dancers in the audience and they were onstage with the biggest names in lindy hop), but they seriously rock. I'm really enjoying Bethany's swivels - no pointy toed prancing pony swivels here; she's seriously grounded.
I have to say, I do like their lack of vintage clobber. He looks like Dr Who (circa Tennant), she looks like an indy kid... well, I guess she is. No silly high heels here, either - she's badass.

This next one is them in 2007:

I think that though I really like Bethany's style (take that, patriarchy - we've got other things to think about), I also like the way Stefan works with her style. He's just as unusual and skilled, it's just that we're not seeing his undies.

This is the sort of lindy hop I'm digging these days. Oh, as well as the Hot Shots and the olden days doods.

Posted by dogpossum on June 4, 2009 1:44 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances


Posted by: liahc at June 4, 2009 2:21 PM

Thanks for posting this! Ms Powell is my new lindy idol.

Posted by: liahc at June 4, 2009 2:21 PM

Posted by: Robert at June 4, 2009 8:53 PM

I love love love the ragdoll/marionette stuff in that first clip.

Anyone who can work itching into a routine without it seeming forced has mad skillz. Their dancing is so unironic, so un-retro. They're old moves, but it feels completely fresh and modern. Brilliant.

(Also, Bethany is all like "I'm dancing and I'm having so much fun I don't care if you see my knickers", rather than "I'm dancing as an excuse to flash my knickers at you.")

Posted by: Robert at June 4, 2009 8:53 PM

Posted by: dogpossum at June 4, 2009 9:32 PM

Yeah, they's the shiz. My favourite bit is the itching in the final clip, where she's carried away. That is the best bit: he's the percussion, she's the violin. Sweet!

I'm beginning to love him; the more I watch, the more I see.

But I'm not convinced they're at their peak just yet. Sometimes he fakes his footwork a bit - or he's not quite committing properly. And I think this can throw her off a bit, so they're not entirely leading and following awesomely.
But give them a couple of years of serious hardcore work and they'll be fully sick!

...though they are currently my faves. After Daniel and Asa from the Hot Shots. They are the sickestest!

I'm interested in seeing how/if they'll be taken up in Australia, especially in Melbourne, where the trend does tend to be towards alpha male/beta female action. Perth, however...

Posted by: dogpossum at June 4, 2009 9:32 PM

Posted by: brainiac9 at June 5, 2009 7:01 AM

Omigosh those two are fabulous. Up in my area, the vast majority of dancers are apparently aiming to be "pointy-toed high-steppin' pony follows and cock-rock leads", :S. Seeing a couple of dancers that are a) *not doing that*, b) totally working it, and c) totally working it *together* is just wonderful. Thanks for sharing the videos! It's some of the most inspiring dancing I've seen in a while.

Posted by: brainiac9 at June 5, 2009 7:01 AM

Posted by: Spiky at June 26, 2009 11:00 AM

Would be interested to hear you write more about “alpha male/beta female action” in Lindy Hop.

I find it interesting how different styles of Lindy influence how I approach following. For me, if I’m dancing Hollywood style then the only bit of the dance I feel that I can really express myself is during swivels and I want to make those swivels look as (stereotyped) ladylike/feminine as possible whilst I’m the centre of attention. I find this style of dancing reinforces traditional gender roles with the follower there to look pretty but at least the follower does get some time to do her stuff.

Dancing Old Skool Savoy style gives me a different feeling - it's grounded, I can do crazy and silly things to play with the music, it's all about working with what your partner is doing and vice versa. Trying to be feminine doesn’t come into it for me. Swivels are rarely lead here and I wonder if that’s because the dance is more of a partnership so there’s no need for either the follower or the leader to take the spotlight.

Dancing new style, the ‘way everyone dances now’ or what I think of as homogenised Lindy Hop gives me a totally different feeling. Again swivels are rarely lead so I don’t get to shine by myself and the partnership side of the dance definitely seems to favour the lead side of the relationship. On the whole I am being lead through every move and controlled rather than being allowed to play. I’m guessing this is similar to your “alpha male/beta female action” but would like to hear more about what you mean by this.

Posted by: Spiky at June 26, 2009 11:00 AM

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