Dancing

Videos from Nevermore Jazz Ball in St. Louis

I’m excited to share with you two videos from the Nevermore Jazz Ball 2016 this past weekend in St. Louis, one of the encore/jam circle from the Saturday night dance at the historic Casa Loma Ballroom, with the band killing it on “Your Mother’s Son-In-Law” and the other of a beautiful new-to-me song, “It’s Like Reaching for the Moon.”  Thanks so much to Voon Chew for capturing these moments on film and to Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders for inviting me to be a part of the action!  Enjoy!

 

The Track Podcast Episode 14: Laura Windley

Frankie100 - Friday Night

I sat down with podcaster Ryan Swift in December at Lindy Focus for an interview for The Track, which features in-depth interviews with pivotal persons in the swing dance community, and the fruits of that interview appear in Episode 14 of The Track!  I’m flattered and delighted to join the ranks of people I admire as a dancer and vocalist who have been featured on the podcast before me, including my DJ mentor Rob Moreland, Renaissance woman Naomi Uyama, the unparalleled Sylvia Sykes, and the inimitable Dawn Hampton.  Take a listen, Ryan is an intuitive and fun interviewer and the topics always swing. 😀

Vaudevillain Revue Presents the Bootlegger’s Ball

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On April 23, 2016, I’m going to dust off my solo dance performance shoes and join the Vaudevillain Revue for a night of entertainment themed around the jazz age and prohibition – I’ll be a featured performer along with vocalist Jo Gore for the Bootlegger’s Ball!  Join us at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC for comedy, magic, live jazz, circus arts, burlesque, and some solo Charleston, of course!  Advance tickets available here, and there’s even a pre-event food tour lead by Taste Carolina if you want to make a big night of it – for the main show, advance tickets are $15, doors at 8:00, show at 9:00.

Six Weekends on the Road – SC, NY, VA, NH, MD, and TN!

I’ve probably lost my mind, but I am beyond excited about the events coming in August and early September! The first two are for fun and the last four are gigs, which also happen to be fun – I love that singing has afforded me such great travel opportunities this year, performing with several different bands! Here’s where I’ll be, barring forces majeure:

August 8-10, 2014 – competing and social dancing at the Southeast Summer Brawl in Columbia, SC

August 16-17, 2014 – immersing myself in a 1920’s alternate universe and dancing like a mad flapper at the Jazz Age Lawn Party in New York City

August 21-24, 2014 – I’ll be pulling double duty at the International Lindy Hop Championships in Arlington, VA, DJ’ing and singing with the Jonathan Stout Orchestra and Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five!

August 28-29, 2014 – I’ll be joining Michael Gamble’s Rhythm Serenaders on vocals at Swing Out New Hampshire!

September 6, 2014 – the Mint Julep Jazz Band returns to the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD, courtesy of the Jam Cellar!

September 12-13, 2014 – I’m back with Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five for the Knoxville Lindy Exchange!

So many exclamation points!!! Six states in six weekends – see you on the road!

Lindy Focus XII Recap

Lindy Focus was such a tidal wave of positive energy this year – even though I didn’t have a lot of down time, all that energy kept me going and going! I got to work with some of the most amazing musicians and dancers, and even spin some tunes in the Balboa room. 🙂 It was an honor to be invited to be in the New Year’s Eve show, done to live music for the first time, and to work with Evita Arce, who is the creative genius who put together the show from scratch. It was a pleasure to perform with Jonathan Stout and his all-star band of musicians – the energy from the band performances was immense and infectious!

I’ve posted below my contributions to the New Year’s Eve show – a recreation of the Duke Ellington Short “Bli Blip” with whiz kid Jon Tigert and a performance of “Sunny Side of the Street” featuring tapper extraordinare Mike Herring – and a version of “Me Myself and I” performed with Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five. Campus Five first:

Pure Balboa Class at The Lindy Lab, Wednesdays in October!

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:

It doesn’t look like we are moving, but I promise our feet are moving really fast!

“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!

Support It or Lose It

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.”

Vaudevillain Revue presents “Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder,” May 11, 2012

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 drsketchyraleigh@gmail.com, 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!

Click here to purchase tickets.

7:00 p.m. early show

10:30 p.m. late show

Southland Ballroom
614 North West Street
Raleigh, NC

Hawkeye Swing Festival 2012

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. 🙂

Vaudevillain Revue presents “The Bootlegger’s Ball” – February 10, 2012

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!