Confession: I didn’t get my ticket to ILHC, and ended up hunkering down with my wife and the kitties while everyone else basked in the dance awesomeness. But like many other dancers, I’ve been soaking in videos, and decompressing with friends about the event. I want to give a shout out to Max Desens who made the finals of the open Jack and Jill. A year and a half ago, the boy couldn’t even do a swing out, and now he’s turned into a rockstar. His work ethic around dancing has been amazing, and its been a joy and a privilege to teach him.
Watching competition videos, a few have stood out to me. It seems like Max and Annie are owning the showcase division, and everyone else is fighting for second. Their use of storytelling was interesting, and reminded me a lot of Ben and Jen’s winning routine at ALHC in 2006. I think that Ben got it from working with Natalie and Yuval. The real curiosity to me is how far the dancers will take it, and at what point does “the show” overshadow the showcasing of phenomenal dancing?
Speaking of phenomenal dancing, my favorite routine that I’ve seen was Peter and Naomi from the Classic division. The song really jumped out at me. The trend in swing music has been pushing towards uptempo, hot jazz. The song they chose, a 1950’s Sarah Vaughan tune that was mellow and smooth, reminded me more of a tune that you would hear in competitions in the early 2000’s. But while the tune was reminiscent, the dancing shows the amazing growth of the dance in the past decade. Best of all, Peter and Naomi didn’t look like they were performing, just dancing together, sharing a special moment, and letting all of us witness it. There may not have been that many big cheers, but personally, I felt moved by what I saw. That kind of truth in artistic expression is something special.
Overall, it seems like all of the pros are at a point where they have such mastery of their craft that they are looking for what’s next to push themselves and their dancing. While there were still some trends in the dancing (sneaking around, skates, playing with alternating levels), this year showed a breadth of very personal perspectives about the present and future of lindy hop. I’m excited by this open narrative, and can’t wait to see what’s next.