Swing A Dance 2014 Pro-Am

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One of the highlights for me as a participant at Swing A Dance this year was the pro-am finals. The idea behind the pro-am jack and jill is that the amateur is randomly paired up with a superhero/heroine professional and each amateur gets a full spotlight to showcase their stuff. I’m actually pretty jealous that this competition format wasn’t around when I coming up in “the lindy hop” because I think I would have had a blast.

Check out the video below for some sweet amateurs… heh.

Swing A Dance 2014 Pro-Am Finals from Hamfats.ca on Vimeo.

Randy and Joy Ottawa Workshop

Shorties teaching dance!

Shorties teaching dance!

Last Saturday I taught a blues workshop in our nation’s capital of Ottawa with none other than the illustrious Joy Arico. Teaching with Joy is actually (pardon the pun) joyous because she just has such an infectious love of the blues that when you are around her when she is talking about the techniques/aesthetics/history of the dance, you can’t help but feel invigorated.

Teaching in Ottawa is like coming home for me because that is where I won my first real blues competition and that is where I started learning how to do partner connection for realsies (Ottawa Blues Blast represent). I always tell people if it wasn’t for those early events that I went to in Ottawa, I probably would not have gotten into blues dancing (as there weren’t any venues in Toronto to dance it at that time) and I probably wouldn’t have moved to Montréal to start my soon to be awesome jass café (hee hee). Read More…

Weed Smokers Dream – Solo Slow Jazz Class Recap

Weed Smokers Dream… Porto Swing! – Class Recap from Hamfats.ca on Vimeo.

Here is the class recap video of the solo slow jazz routine we taught in Quebec City a few weeks back. We worked on slowing movements down and being very purposeful in steps and arm stylings as well as emphasizing more intricate movements instead of large over-the-top stuff you usually see in solo slow jazz/blues. :) Hope you like it.

TUX 2014 Photo Wall of Criminals

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Kevin Sue!

By far, TUX (the Toronto University Exchange) encapsulates the spirit and randomness of lindy hop the most in all of the events in Toronto. Heads and shoulders above every other event and all run by students!

Even though I feel that I’m in the old farts demographic of this event (most of the participants are new university dancers), I cannot help feel nostalgic every time go to TUX and see the smiley awkward faces (but determined and having a blast) of university dancers haha! Like most lindy hoppers, I too started at a university swing club and will always fondly remember the crazy times of learning new dance moves and meeting new soon-to-be friends all because we all shared the same excitement of running around and jumping. I mean, it’s still like that for me today but not with the same hazy feeling of careless abandonment if you know what I mean.

Running the photobooth at TUX is like herding cats. From my experience, putting a camera in front of people’s faces in a dance setting usually results in two reactions: fear/apprehension or crazy excitement. The latter usually results in dancers forgetting how to walk in a humanlike manner or remember that photos are actually still shots – meaning that they don’t need to act out what they want their picture to be like. There were many times that dancers ran into the lights or almost tripped on the cords just because they forgot they were there (but how? it’s like 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide!). Even with Alex L. and I sandbagging the lights down (with kitty litter!) and taping the cords on the floor, I think I need to come up with a different strategy for big events in terms of setup because a misplaced step could equate to a long process with the insurance company. I’m getting better at directing people though – I made an “x” marks the spot on the ground for people to stand on but sometimes people getting photographed will do whatever they want haha.

All in all though, I had a great time and I always look forward to the craziness of TUX. Turlough of Montréal and I had a selfie tour extravaganza which was full of lawls and everything I had to do work-wise went well so it was a productive$ weekend all around.

Most of the photos can be found on the event facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.588840264538474.1073741831.153501111405727&type=1 . If you want to get some high-res pics of any of the shots, just give me a shout on email (randypante at gmail dot com).

Mobile Ring Flash – Knife to a Fist Fight

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Often I think that bringing a ring flash to a photo shoot is like bringing a knife to a fist fight. There is a point of no return when you decide to do it and you better hope the stars are in alignment for the gambit to work. Due to the setup time and luggage carrying toll of deciding to use a ring flash, it really isn’t practical to be “testing” out whether the lighting idea will work out on most shoots. Unless you are lucky enough to have very patient subjects and a lot of time on location, most event shoots require the photographer to be up and ready to shoot as soon as possible and get subjects having a lot of fun and being silly instead of watching the photog fumble around with light modifiers.

There are definite pros of bringing a ring flash that allows you to shoot very distinct portraits and close-ups: nice even lighting, unique outline shadow around the subject, and for the most part, flattering to most subjects (with super pale skin being the exception). You have to know how to wield it properly though, you can’t just go willy-nily and use ring-flashes in random situations. It’s a very particular look that can get over-played if you are not careful. When it does work though, it’s a super awesome way to get great face pics without too much adjusting on the fly. Just be prepared for the initial shock of your subjects seeing a giant circle of light right in front of their faces haha.