Archive for category Dancing
In preparation for the upcoming Eastern Balboa Championships, Jason Sager and I will be teaching a pure Balboa class for The Lindy Lab! Classes will run for four Wednesdays, from October 3 through October 24, 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Triangle Dance Studio in the Guest House (the house to the left of the main building on Miami Boulevard). Here’s the info from the Lindy Lab website:
“One of the often overlooked dances of the swing world, Pure Balboa is the original close-position-only side of Balboa and Bal-Swing. This dance originally developed in crowded dance halls where owners forbid open position dancing in order to pack in more people and make more money. More than just step step, hold, step, there is a lot of room for improvisation in Pure Bal position. And the better your Pure Bal is, the better those times in between bal-swing toss-outs and lollies will feel. Jason Sager and Laura Windley will lead class in a way that builds on principles rather than moves and gives you plenty to play with at the Eastern Balboa Championships competitions in November in Raleigh.”
Pure Balboa isn’t just for comps, it’s so easy and fun to work into your regular dancing and gives you the fundamentals that make Balboa feel so comfortable, even at faster tempos. Bring your heels and/or your leather soles and we’ll work on all that great shuffle-y, tiny footwork.
Registration is available online at Schedulicity or you can show up at the class to register. See you in October!
I suppose this will be the second in a series of rants about Triangle communities and this love letter goes out to the swing dance community. On any given Saturday night that the Triangle Swing Dance Society is hosting a dance, there will be between 100 and 200 dancers at one of these dances, which people will drive sometimes greater distances to attend (i.e. the very rural Murphey School, located between Durham and Hillsborough). There are 760 members of the Triangle Swing Dance Society Facebook group, which allows members to post updates about swing dance events going on in the Triangle. There’s a weekly newsletter that goes out to the TSDS email list, which probably numbers in the hundreds as well. All of this would seem to indicate that we have a thriving swing dance community that supports swing dancing to live music in the Triangle.
This past May, the Mint Julep Jazz Band performed a concert in Durham that was targeted at the swing dance community. Three dancers attended. Last year the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars played Motorco, a pretty significant concert venue in Durham. 30 dancers showed up and it wasn’t enough to pay the band. RDU Rent Party hosted a dance in Raleigh at the Velvet Cloak Inn, which is a historic hotel with beautiful ballroom, and around 30 dancers showed up and left the band and the event promoter short.
I have several theories about why dancer attendance fails to reach the potential of the community at live music events, but none of them really seem to encompass the issue. Is it apathy? Laziness? Money? Is it that dancers are not seeking live music opportunities other than TSDS? Do dancers only have time for one dance per month in their busy schedules?
Ultimately, the result is grim. Without dancer support for swing music in the Triangle, there will be no swing bands. If you only support the bands at TSDS events, those bands are only getting booked a maximum of 3 times per year. If the bands are only playing 3 times per year, where is the incentive to exist? How will we continue to build a fan base? How will we get gigs outside of TSDS without a fan base to support the bands? Where is the incentive for venues to continue to book these bands? How will bands grow musically and technically if they never play outside of TSDS events?
I am not saying that dancers should go to every live swing band event in the Triangle, but I am asking dancers to open their eyes and look around. There are other events in the Triangle with live swing music. TSDS even posts about them in their weekly email newsletter. Admission is usually $10.00 or less. It’s just that easy.
The number of bands on the TSDS roster is on the decline and if we don’t continue to support live music at other venues, we will lose the opportunity to swing dance to live swing music in the Triangle.
P.S. I would like to thank TSDS for their continued support in giving local bands the opportunity to perform and for paying the musicians a fair wage. I hope that the swing dance community will continue to support or even increase their support for TSDS. If there are 700+ people in the TSDS Facebook group, there is no reason why dancer attendance should not be 300 or 400 people for TSDS dances.
P.S.S. 7/25/12 – I’d also like to add Jason Sager‘s comment from the discussion thread about this post in the Triangle Swing Dance Society Facebook group – he says so eloquently what I have not been able to convey:
“Based on what I’ve seen in this thread, I think those of you who are arguing for advertising might want to consider the possibility that you’re not the target audience of Laura’s post. This, to me, is not so much a post about quantitative differences of how to get people out. It’s a post about the qualitative differences of stepping outside the box and the potential rewards that can bring both to your dancing experience and to the scene as a whole.
I recognize that the large majority of the dance scene is primarily looking for a known quantity when they go dancing. Most people here pick one or two venues they frequent and rarely stray from those. They’re a necessary part of a healthy scene, but if you tend to fall into that category, I don’t think Laura’s post was particularly written for your segment of the dance scene.
Our goal both with Rent Parties and with Lindy bombs has not been to provide a known quantity. It has been to provide and foster inspiration. I think one of the reasons we have been able to get some really great performances is because we treat the musicians and friends and as a show rather than as a backdrop for our dancing. And this, to me, is what Laura’s post is suggesting.
The simple fact is that none of these musicians are going to survive on swing gigs. Does that make it my sole responsibility to support them at other venues, of course not. But it also means that if I don’t go see a band anywhere other than at TSDS, I don’t have much room to complain if that band I like isn’t able to get enough gigs to survive.
From my perspective, the point that seems to be being missed in the arguing is that there are a lot of potential benefits to going outside of officially sanctioned swing events. For one, I get to have a different experience when I go somewhere that serves food or booze or whatever else. The “social” dance become social on a whole new level that it often doesn’t at your standard chairs along the wall dance. I also get to be an ambassador for the dance every time I go to a non-dance venue, both with the musicians and with the general “muggle” public who almost inherently view anyone who can dance as magical. And for those of us who are interested in this sort of thing, it can be a lot easier to actually talk to and meet the musicians at a small venue.
In essence, I think the things to take away from this are that most of us have more power than we think to support bands that we love and there are a lot of benefits (not just risks) to going out to a non-dance-specific gig once in a while.
And for those of you who actually took the time to read this whole post, thank you for your time and attention.”
It’s time for another production of North Carolina’s best cabaret show! Here’s the scoop:
The fiendish folks at The VaudeVillain Revue are back! And with more burlesque, vaudeville antics, smokin’ live music, circus and sideshow acts, and magic than ever before! Inspired by turn-of-the-century Paris, the Moulin Rouge, vintage dance halls and cancan dancers, all as seen through a glass of absinthe! Featuring some of your favorite VaudeVillains: Curtis Eller, Porcelain, Meka la Creme, Kegan Dean Rushing, the Amazing Leoni, Lady Gatita, and more! With special guests Onca O’Leary and The Mezmer Society!
For the first time ever, we are offering TWO SHOWTIMES – 7:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. – with guaranteed seating for all ticket holders! First three rows $15 per person, general seating $12.00 Special party booths are available for up to 8 guests with table service and VIP gift bags awaiting you at your table! Only 2 available at each show…$150! Contact Virginia Scare to purchase – message via Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 919 454 3914.
Still very excited to be a part of this group – I will be singing in this show and dancing in two of the ensembles. If you haven’t been to one of the Vaudevillain Revue shows, you are definitely missing out!
7:00 p.m. early show
10:30 p.m. late show
614 North West Street
I’m going to use this opportunity to give a shout out to my husband, trombone player Lucian Cobb, who will be featured in the Hawkeye Swing Festival‘s all-star lineup of musicians for the April 13-15 weekend! He’ll be performing with some old tour buddies (Solomon Douglas, Patrick Breiner, Mike Cemprola) and some new acquaintances (Bria Skonberg, Mike Faltesek, Paul Lines, et al).
While I didn’t win the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s choreography competition, I’m still tagging along to Iowa City for dancing, competing, and hopefully some vintage shopping for a Lindy Shopper report. This will be my first mid-west Lindy Hop event and it will be good to experience that new dynamic, as well as take a mini-work/vacay with Lucian.
Looking forward to making my second appearance as a Vaudevillain, this time in a 1920′s/1930′s themed show, which is definitely up my alley. I’ll be lending my dancing, vocal, and choreography talents to this show – very excited!
Here’s the skinny:
The VaudeVillain Revue is back with their biggest, most ambitious show yet – The Bootlegger’s Ball!! We’ll take you back to the Roaring 20s and into the 30s, with flappers, gangsters, big bands, and jazz. The cast for this show is fantastic, including aerialists, hoopers, pole athletes, burlesque dancers, jazz dancers, and the mentalist and magician, The Amazing Leoni. Guest performers include the banjo-player extraordinaire Curtis Eller, darkly beautiful belly dancer, Amelia Mourningstar, and a visit from NYC’s tapper, flapper, and gal-about-town, Kristen Minksy (one half of the NYC duo, The Minsky Sisters). This is not a show to be missed!
Doors open at 9:00 p.m., show starts at 10:00 p.m.. $15 at the door, $12 in advance. Vintage or costume attire desired, but not required. There will be prizes from our sponsors, Galaxy Cinema and Aradia Fitness, and a new seating plan to better accommodate our guests!
Advance tickets available here. We will sell out, so make sure to get your tickets ahead of time and get in line early to make sure you get a good seat!
I’ve entered the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s Choreography Contest and I’d love to have your vote! If you’d like to vote for my routine or any of the other routines, please fill out this survey at Survey Monkey:
For more information on the competition, please visit the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s website. The winner will be decided by popular vote and you can only vote once. Voting ends December 31, 2011.
Here are the entry videos, going in the order in which they appeared on the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s Facebook page:
Jerry Foote and Robin Carlson
Serge Nika Berg and Sarah Relander
Michael Brafford and Dee Daniels Locke
Stacia Martin and Jeremy Fischer
The Vaudevillain Revue, Raleigh’s premiere vaudeville-inspired cabaret and burlesque troupe, makes its debut at the Southland Ballroom this Friday, November 25, 2011 – prepare yourself for an evening of live music, dancing girls, vaudeville comedy, burlesque beauties, circus arts performances, a little magic, and live music by A Tin Djinn!
I have been invited to join this troupe of Vaudevillain performers and will be debuting my solo jazz routine that I created for the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s choreography competition.
614 N. West Street
Doors open at 9:00 p.m., show starts at 10:00 p.m.
$10 tickets available at the door.
For more information on the show and the troupe, visit
For the Facebook event invite, see
On October 27, 2011, I will begin teaching a four part workshop series for Hot Club of Durham of a routine I choreographed to Fats Waller’s “Looking Good But Feeling Bad.” I created this routine as a submission for the 2012 Hawkeye Swing Festival’s choreography contest and hope to submit a video of the class doing the routine in time for the December 15 deadline to enter the contest. Please join me, this routine is going to be super fun!
Dates for the workshop series:
All classes will run from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Trotter Building, 410 W. Geer St., Durham, NC. The cost is $40 for all classes and $32 for students; otherwise, $12 per drop-in or $8 for students. The price includes admission to the Thursday night Hot Club dance.
RSVP to the Facebook invite at
This Friday, September 23, 2011, I will be performing with the Al Strong Quartet +1 as a dancer at Pink Renaissance: A Jazz Affair. This concert is a fundraiser sponsored by the Kappa Alpha Alpha Sorority and the money raised will go to scholarships. The concert will feature some early jazz tunes, to fit the Harlem Renaissance theme, and will feature the dancing of local swing dancers, including myself, performing Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, and Blues dancing to the music performed by the band.
The event runs from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will also feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and an amazing cake created by Gregory Bingham of The Art of Cake.
UNC- Chapel Hill, Sonja Haynes Stone Center Theater
150 South Road
Chapel Hill, NC
For more information visit the Kappa Alpha Alpha web site.
This past weekend I attended the International Lindy Hop Championships, held just outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. Top swing dancers from all over the globe descended on the Westin Alexandria to compete in couples competitions, Jack and Jills, showcase, teams, and solo Charleston. I signed up for the Balboa Jack and Jill, where you are paired randomly with another leader, and, with the help of some amazing leads in the prelims, managed to secure a spot in the finals! Leaders drew their followers names from a hat for the finals and my name was drawn by Mikey Pedroza from Mission Viejo, California. Having never danced with Mikey before, this was what we call a “true Jack and Jill.” You can see our spotlight and the final all-skate in the videos below. We didn’t win, but it certainly felt like winning to have made the finals!