Dance and I go way back. I have memories of American Bandstand and “bopping” with the staircase banister. There have been hundreds of dances long before I came along and even since. But, the most incredible dance craze I’ve ever seen by far is “The Lindy Hop”!
Don’t get me wrong, The Nicholas Brothers are my boys and their performances were breathtaking! No matter how many times I watch their dance routine from the Lena Horne/Bill “Bojangles” Robinson film “Stormy Weather”, I hold my breath in disbelief.
Like the Nicholas Brothers, the Lindy Hop is a marvel to behold! An assemblage of gymnastic, caution to the wind, I can’t believe they just did that dance moves. The coordination and imagination alone make this form of dance tops in my book.
I watch the television dance competition program, “So, You Think You Can Dance” for the myriad of styles and routines. However, I challenge even these dancers to impress me with the moves of the likes of the legendary Lindy Hopper Frankie Manning! (featured in this routine from the 1929 film, “Hellzapoppin”, he and his partner are last.)
The Lindy Hop was developed in Harlem, New York City, in the 1920s and 1930s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. It was very popular during the Swing era of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway, and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family. (Wikipedia)
Just as jazz music emerged as a dominant art form that could absorb and integrate other forms of music, Lindy Hop gained its own fame through dancers in films, performances, competitions, and professional dance troupes.
Frankie Manning was part of a new generation of Lindy hoppers and is the most celebrated Lindy hopper in history. Some sources credit Manning, working with his partner Freida Washington, for inventing the ground-breaking “Air Step” or “aerial” in 1935. An Air Step is a dance move in which at least one of the partners’ two feet leave the ground in a dramatic, acrobatic style. Most importantly, it is done in time with the music. Air steps are now widely associated with the characterization of lindy hop, despite being generally reserved for competition or performance dancing, and not generally being executed on any social dance floor. (Wikipedia)
The popularity of Lindy Hop declined after World War II, and the dance remained dormant until revived by European and American dancers in the 1980s.
The closest I’ve ever come to Lindy hopping is a gymnastic dance sequence in a community theater production of “West Side Story”. I executed a “back flip” move with my partner which for me stands out as the most exciting dance routine of my community theater career.
I was 40 years of age when I performed the “back flip” routine so, hey, maybe I’ve got a Lindy Hop left in me! 😎