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Swing Notes Vol 150: Curtain Up! By Simon Selmon

November 13, 2019

Two weeks to opening night! Behind the scenes everything is going into top gear – rehearsals, backstage preparations & of course marketing – because you can have the best show in town, but if nobody knows about it the secret stays with you. Let me present – drum roll please - Journey Through Jazz!

As the name implies, the show takes you – (the audience) on a Journey through the eras of Jazz dancing, primarily the first half of the 20th century, exploring some of the roots of Swing dance and its eventual decline into solo dance – the Twist!

There is quite a bit of audience participation in the current show, so the audience not only gets to watch different styles of dances, but experiences them first hand too with a mix of show-style performances and taster classes, including some rare dances that are now mostly forgotten – who do you know that dances the Turkey Trot and Grizzly Bear these days?

 

 

Using the powerful medium of dancing, this upbeat show aims to enrich people’s lives as the original dances once did and fulfil a growing hunger for Swing dance and its explosive & high energy dance forms in today’s modern society.

I partly got the idea for this show when one time I was listening to a Frankie Manning talk. He was sitting on stage, but when he was asked about the history of the Lindy Hop, in his usual Frankie style, he got up out his chair and began to talk, then proceeded to demonstrate four dances that preceded the Lindy Hop: The Cakewalk, One Step (a Ragtime era dance), Two Step (Pre-curser to the Foxtrot) & 20s Charleston. The image has stuck with me ever since.

The Jiving Lindy Hoppers (the UKs first professional Authentic Jazz dance performance group) also did many shows based around the history of the Lindy as did Al Minns and Leon James during the 60s, who toured for many years with author and Jazz historian Marshall Sterns. 

 

 Performances & Classes

 

Book your tickets here!

 

Journey Through Jazz has had many formats over the years. In 2001, we teamed up with the Urban British Jazz Dance Company, led by Irven Lewis for a show at the Lilian Baylis Theatre at Sadler’s Wells, which we repeated in 2002 when we had a sell-out show at the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall. A few years later we filled the Arts Depot theatre. More recently, we have been taking a smaller version of the show into schools and care homes, but I am very excited to be bringing the show back to the West End – to Leicester Square no less!

 

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