Hamfats (a few fav) Videos of 2010

One of the most interesting aspect of our generation’s dance culture is the importance of videos not only for entertainment but also for learning. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched Frankie (the other one) do his Welcome to the Party routine. The videos that Tien and I like take will most likely never be seen by any large number of dancers since we like to focus just on own little mountain town dance scene(s) and our friends. We’re totally cool with that because we really just like shooting, a lot, even if it’s just ourselves. It also gives us evidence to explain to our non-dance friends why we had to bail on their event for the millionth time – “So that’s why you missed my birthday party? That’s good.. I guess”.


And yes, the picture above has actually no relevance to the actual article. Read More…

So What Else is New?

I’m a big fan of statistics. It allows me to accurate gauge how many people we will have turn out for our blues dances in Toronto (2nd and 4th fridays of the month) as well as provide a good base when deciding on what to focus on next. Some key milestones in the past six months include actually hiring musicians to play for us, expanding to twice a month dances instead of once a month, and having out-of-town instructors to come and teach workshops. Without accurate record keeping for making decisions, I might have been tempted to attempt to grow too fast and too soon. Nobody likes an poorly attended dance.

There are a number of important stats that have pretty much shaped our blues scene to what is today but none more than the image above. 61% of our dancers in the blues scene are females. 47% percent are females between the ages of 18-34. My goal for this upcoming few months is to make whole wack-load of new dance friends. Male dance friends. A daunting task even for myself, but when there is a will (and the dollars and cents), there is a way.

Quick Lessons – DSLR Live Music Filming at Dance Venues

A few very quick lessons that I learned about filming where dancers and musicians meet.

Lesson 1 – Watch out for flailing limbs/Let dancers know you are there. As photographers, we often do not have hulking gear as videographers do to warn dancers flailing dancers. When you see me from the back when I’m filming, I’m pretty sure I just look like my ordinary self schmuck self standing awkwardly (not unusual in my day to day habitat). In actuality, I’m trying to hold a very expensive but fragile camera very, very still WHILE keeping my peripheral vision aware of incoming bodies and arms.

What I’ve learned from those first wallet-defying experience is that instead of starting your recording then moving out of the way of dancers while filming, I now try to stake claim to a piece of dance floor real-state and making eye contact with the dancers around me. This let’s them know that, “hey i’m here”, and that I’m attempting to film around them. Doing this the hope is that dancers make a conscience effort of not crashing on top of me. Most of the time this is just enough to start filming without having to move so much. Read More…

Judging Criteria – “Spirit”?

At TUX (the best small but big lindy hop event in Toronto, amiright), there were two competitions – a newcomer jack and jill and an open jack and jill. I was honored to be asked to judge the open jack and jill though I have a sneaking suspicion that I was only asked to keep me from drunkenly smashing into other dancers during the competition (the first step is admittance). One of the judging criteria for both competitions was “spirit” or the essence of lindy hop. The question of the day during my bus ride home – given all things are equal from a competitor skill level point of view, how does one even judge “spirit”?

Is it like this?

But obviously not everyone is going to be as awesome as the Harlem Hotshots…

Dancing From A Place of Truth

A phrase that was being thrown around Followlogie this weekend was “dancing from a place of truth”. While I personally do not understand it myself one-hundred percent in the context of the lindy hop world, the way I right now is to always gain inspiration from other dancer’s movements but be proud of your own.

“Dancing from a place of truth” was being thrown around so much this weekend that I was beginning to wonder what had prompted such change within the dance instructor community. My thoughts – as dance instructors and organizers of lindy hop scenes around the world get older and more mature, there is also a parallel gradual increase of … existentialism (?) undertone in their teachings. I mean, who doesn’t want to spread their beliefs to as many people as possible. I feel that dancing in our community (and sometimes communities) is becoming more of a sense of being and purpose rather than just an activity we do for fun and social reasons. This definitely describes majority of people that I know nowadays and applies to me even more so that I can describe here in words. I’ve always admired dancers who display such confidence and surety in their dance such as Frankie Martinez and my new personal hero Alain Wong from Cats Corner. I don’t quite have it yet in me to dance to my ability when the world is *actually* watching, but I’m making strides towards it.

The above picture is by Bertograph.ca from Montreal, a super great photographer who constantly wows me with the sheer amount of quality pictures he posts up from events. And yes, that is my angry dance face ;)