Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Swing & Swim III - Our Teachers

Swing & Swim is the name of the Lindy Hop Summer Camp in Greece, organized for a third consecutive year by Lindy Hop Greece. This year Lindy Hop Greece with the cooperation of the Frankie Manning Legacy Fund paid tribute to Frankie Manning and his Legacy with a lecture about the history of Swing Jazz dance and music by Lennart Westerlund (a legend himself), a show tribute to Frankie, but mainly with lindy hop workshops taught by those who were taught by Frankie Manning himself. Our teachers brought to us the spirit of Frankie Manning by teaching us his dance routines and his style, but also by sharing with us their personal stories about Frankie. 

You can learn more about the teacher of our teachers here: Frankie Manning - Ambassador of Lindy Hop or check out my relevant post Frankie Manning [1914-2009].

In Greece we have a saying that when translated very loosely goes something like this: “what you end up learning depends on the teachers you’ve got” («Με όποιον δάσκαλο καθήσεις τέτοια γράμματα θα μάθεις»). I believe that my 17 lindy hop classmates and I that attended Swing & Swim III are very lucky to have had two very good teachers at our school in Athens, the Athens Lindy Hop, teaching us for the last nine months and preparing us for a lindy hop workshop of international standards. I think we would have made them very proud! However, I can now say that we are truly blessed to have met six more incredible teachers at the camp that gave us a suitcase full of new lindy hop knowledge to bring back with us in Athens. They were expert dancers and expert teachers, the second one for me being the absolute essential in a workshop. They were patient, welcoming, good spirited and a true joy to spend hours with in the sometimes intolerable Greek heat. A big thank you from all of us!!!

Meet our (fantastic) teachers:

from left to right: Daniel, Jo, Åsa, Lennart, Kevin, eWa, Hanna & Mattias

Lennart Westerlund [Sweden]

photo: ©Sebastian Tingkaer
Lennart is one of the fathers of the Lindy Hop revival which started way back in the 1980s [Toronto Lindy Hop - Lennart bio]. Lennart started to dance Swedish style jitterbug at Lasse Kühlers dance school in 1980 and became a member of recently formed Swedish Swing Society in 1981. In the early years he competed frequently at different places around Sweden and he also spent lots of hours dancing socially. Around this period of time he furthermore became a member of the board of above mentioned society and was also an active part of organizing the very first Herräng Dance Camp in August 1982. After getting his first impressions of African-American swing dancing in 1983 he was hooked and turned into becoming one of the pioneers of the first modern revival of lindy hoppin'. 

In 1984 he travelled to New York to meet and study with the late Savoy dancer Albert Minns, whom he later on the same year also invited to Stockholm for teaching and lectures. After mister Minns' visit Lennart together with a few dance friends formed Swedish swing dance company The Rhythm Hot Shots (later Harlem Hot Shots) in 1985 and started to study old film clips to learn more about not only the lindy hop but also the charleston, tap, acrobatics and other things related to the African-American swing dance tradition. Gradually these studies lead to that the company started to perform and teach and later on also to become professional. In 1986 Lennart got in contact with Frank Manning and in 1987 mister Manning was for the very first time invited to Stockholm to work with the company.

When The Rhythm Hot Shots started to receive some international recognition during the early 90s, Lennart was one of the main dancers. The company travelled extensively throughout the decade and was among a handful of other dancers and organizers an active part of bringing the dance back into some kind of limelight. At the same time as being a dancer in the troupe, Lennart also started to do lots of administration (especially for the Herräng Dance Camp which The Rhythm Hot Shots had become an active part of back in 1989), research, film productions et cetera. In year 2000 he was a part of introducing the lindy hop to Russian dancers and in 2004 he opened swing dance studio Chicago in central Stockholm.

Lennart recently left the Harlem Hot Shots but he still travels teaching on an international basis and occasionally performs. During the Swedish summers he is one of the main characters and workers at the Herräng Dance Camp and for the rest of the year he is seriously involved in the Chicago dance studio project
from Lennart's lecture about the history of Lindy Hop @ Swing & Swim III

eWa Burak [Sweden]

eWa (nicknamed by Frankie "W") came into lindy hoppin' in the fall of 1986 after doing an audition for The Rhythm Hot Shots (now Harlem Hot Shots). At the time, she did not have any experience with African-American dancing, but her background as a gymnast helped her to very fast become a most skilful acrobatic lindy hop performer. Her repertoire gradually grew during the later part of the 80s and early 90s also to include lots of authentic jazz, charleston and some tap. In 1989 she teamed up with Lennart Westerlund and they continued to perform the lindy hop together until eWa reduced her dancing in the mid 90s.

eWa worked with The Rhythm Hot Shots for about 10 exciting years (1986 - 1996) and during this periode she was one of the leading dancers of the troupe. When international workshops started to appear in the early 90s, eWa was one of the most in demand teachers/performers and she travelled all over the world both giving lessons and performing on stage. Her strong and honest stage personality combined with her robust and athletic dance style positioned her at the time as one of the leading lindy dancers in the scene.

eWa is nowadays living in Virginia (USA) and Knivsta (Sweden) with her husband and two kids. She has left the performance side of the lindy hop but is still active as a teacher. For many years eWa was one of the organizers of the Herräng Dance Camp and she has always been closely connected to the camp and has been teaching at this event every year (excluding 2008) since 1989 [Herräng - eWa Burak bio]

eWa & Lennart at Swing and Swim III [photo © Maria Chatzilia]

Hanna Lundmark [Sweden]

Hanna Lundmark is a sparkling jazzsinger, musical performer and a mesmerazing dancer with lots of charisma and skills. She first competed in track and field but switched to lindy hop in 1997. She graduated from the three-year professional dancers program at Ballet Academy of Stockholm in 2006. She spent the summer of 2009 touring with the famous Robert Wells´s show "Rhapsody in rock". 

In April 2010 Hanna danced lindy hop in "the last bounce", a show with the streetdance-company "Bounce" [Herräng - Hanna Lundmark bio].

Mattias Lundmark [Sweden]

Mattias is both a dancer, a teacher, a choreographer and a producer. He is just as successful as he is versatile and he has been dancing lindy hop since 1991. He choreographed for the comeback of "Singing in the rain" with Roine Söderlundh. During april 2010 Mattias performed lindy hop in "The Last Bounce", a show with the streetdance-company "Bounce" [Herräng - Mattias Lundmark bio]

Hanna & Mattias

Hanna and Mattias became dance partners in 2004 and are known for their great spirit, passion and knowledge. They joined The Rhythm Hot Shots, that later became Harlem Hot Shots, in the late 90´s. Until 2007 they performed and taught all over the world with the group and were seen in Swedish, German and American television in different commercials and shows.

They master many styles of performing and have worked in modern pieces like ”Rhythm instrument” in Hamburg and ”Passion” at Wallman´s in Copenhagen. They also produce their own shows, like ”Swing sing fling” and ”Rhythm of life”.

Hanna and Mattias are the organizers of the Swingkids and Swingteens camp during the first two weeks of Herräng.

More about Hanna and Mattias:

Åsa Heedman [Sweden]

Before her joining The Rhytm Hot Shots in 1997, Åsa Palm-Heedman was an enthusiast of Afro-Cuban dance. She bring tremendous movement from this style to her lindy hop and solo jazz dance. Through her near – decade long envolvement with the most famous swing performance troupe in the world, Åsa has not only an authentic style of jazz movement but also an adept, clear and attentive teaching approach that is appreciate worldwide. She is rightly celebrated for her preformance dancing, but it is in her social dancing, when she can simply enjoy the music, her partner and what they can do together, that she is truly mesmerizing.

Daniel Heedman [Sweden]

Was a member of Harlem Hot Shots between 2002 and 2006, partnered up with Åsa in 2004. Has travelled all over world teaching and performing. Additional to this he is one of the organizers of the world faoumous Herräng Dance Camp. As a dancer of tap, jazz, charelston and the lindy hop, Daniel’s presicion and subtlety are exquisite, and every bit as inspiring as the energy and raw, unharnessed joy that shows through in his performance and social dancing.

Åsa & Daniel
Åsa and Daniel are two world class dancers, instructors and performers. They have been Lindy hopping for almost 15 years; 8 of those years have been as dance partners. Hailing from Sweden, we’re very excited to welcome them back to Toronto.

For years they were part of the legendary Harlem Hot Shots (formerly the Rhythm Hot Shots) where they taught and performed across Europe, North America and Asia. Their dedication is to Lindy hop and other dances of the twenties, thirties and forties (like blues, slow drag and charleston).

Frankie Manning is their idol and their goal is to continue spreading Frankie’s style and love of Lindy hop. In 2006 they won the Battle at Jazz Jam in Stockholm.

Daniel and Åsa are said to have super lindy hop powers. Daniel’s swingouts are known to make grown men cry for joy. Åsa’s swivels are stuff of legends and can knock you out cold. Apart they are incredible, together they are better than chocolate [Toronto Lindy Hop - Åsa & Daniel bios]

Jo Hoffberg [USA]

Jo Hoffberg is one of the most celebrated Lindy Hoppers on the global scene today. With her dance partner Kevin St Laurent, she holds 1st place titles at the US Open, Canadian Swing Championships, National Jitterbug Championships, American Lindy Hop Championships, and Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown. She has performed around the world, including at Universal Studios in Japan, and has traveled throughout the USA, Asia, Australia, South American and Europe as a master instructor [The Killer Dillers - Jo bio].

More about Jo:

Kevin St. Laurent [USA]

Kevin St. Laurent is internationally recognized for his energy and innovation as a Lindy Hop dancer, instructor, performer and choreographer. Over the past decade, Kevin has performed and taught swing dance around the world, across North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. He holds many major competition titles, and has been a World Lindy Hop Champion, American Lindy Hop Champion, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown Champion and US Open Swing Dance Champion many times over.

His expertise is sought after by both amateur and professional dancers world-wide. Known for his creativity and innovation on the floor, this stems from his command of partner connection and musicality. Admired for his spectacular slides, spins, and high-flying airsteps, he is also a favourite on the social dance-floor

Jo & Kevin

Jo and Kevin live and breathe Lindy Hop with their passion for celebrating life through dance. They travel globally teaching and performing dances from the Jazz Era of the 1920's to 1940's. Since their partnership began in 2007 they have taught in 25 Countries across 5 continents including North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Together they hold titles at the International Lindy Hop Championships, European Swing Dance Championships, American Lindy Hop Championship, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, Camp Hollywood and Camp Jitterbug. With clear and humorous instruction, these two creative and versatile dancers will entertain, inspire and help you become the best dancer you can be. They are striving to change the rock step at a time [Herräng - Jo & Kevin bios]

More about Jo & Kevin:

Sakarias Larsson [Sweden]

Sakarias has been swing dancing since the age of 15, only 19 years old he joined the Rhythm Hot Shots that later became the Harlem Hot Shots. Today at the age of 29 he is still performing with the company that is well recognized for it's spectacular shows worldwide. Sakarias has been teaching a lot both internationally and within Sweden. Sakarias masters several dances from the swing era including Lindy Hop, Charleston and Tap.

In Lindy Hop Sakarias together with Frida Segerdahl made it to the finals ”Hellzapoppin” New York (2004 and 2005) and ”The Battle” (2006, 2007), he placed second in the fast and medium Lindy Hop divisions at the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown 2007. As a solo dancer Sakarias has won the Authentic Jazz division at both ”The Battle” and ”Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown” 2007. He also made it through to the finals in the Swedish dance reality TV show ”Floor Filler” where he competed with his swing dancing against other dance styles. He likes to compete for the fun of it but believes that no other person really is to judge a dancer.

He is one of the founders and driving forces behind CHICAGO swing dance studio, which is the most recognized place for swing dancing in Stockholm today. Sakarias believes style is the most important part of swing dancing. [Herräng - Sakarias Larsson bio].

Sakarias teaching us tap @ Swing & Swim III
Here are our teachers performing at Swing & Swim III

from left to right: Jo, Kevin, eWa, Lennart, Hanna, Mattias, Åsa, Daniel,

You can meet our teachers yourself at Herräng Dance Camp 

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