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A Year of Clips #3: Todd and Naomi Showcase ULHS 2005

January 26, 2010

This is a new installment where we here at Swungover discuss a dance clip from the archives of past and present swing dance, the current goal to do so regularly for a year. Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments section.

For our third clip, we’ll watch what I consider one of the most influential modern Lindy Hop showcase performances: Todd and Naomi’s 2005 ULHS performance. Let’s watch:

In the world of art, there are certain things that we watch once or twice, and get our maximum enjoyment out of it, like a summer Blockbuster movie. Then there are occasionally things we see that grow on us. It might not sink in at first, but something keeps us coming back to it. Then, over time, we are officially blown-away. Those are rare moments, and it takes a real dancer, not just a performer, to allow those moments to come out naturally in something as structured and performance-oriented as creating a choreography.

What came naturally out of Todd and Naomi for their showcase routine in 2005 embodied the direction Lindy was about to take nationwide. How many moves in the routine were common place on the dance floors for the next three years? How much has early jazz and Charleston/Swing transitional music taken over the dance floors of major events and small city clubs? Before it, how long had it been since top dancers had done moves like points, mini-dips, mess-arounds, and other Harlem style moves in a routine?

But this routine isn’t about the trends it helped start. It’s about two dancers dancing their own dance, showing off their own personalities. For instance, I’d like to personally nominate Naomi’s nonchalant theatricality in this routine as a model for dancers wondering how they can perform without plastering a giant smile on their face and making large expressions and making judges sick.  Naomi is simply having a great time doing this routine and allows it to show on her face, which is a large part of it.  For the rest, it’s the little personality she puts into everything that adds to  it. Look at the subtle motions she adds throughout the routine: The hand flick she does before going into a swivel side-pass. The swimming she does when on Todd’s back.  The slap on Todd’s butt on beat to the music after he puts her down.

She keeps her head and shoulders up, she dances like it’s nothing, and she has a great time. You don’t need anything else for great performance theatricality. Well, except yourself. Naomi always adds that in her performances, when a lot of other dancers forget to.

Coupled with Todd’s great styling, moves, and lines, and how well they dance together in this routine, and the fact that every move goes so well with the music and flows naturally out of and into the other moves, it’s no wonder this is a routine with lasting power.

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