Here's the first installment of those who paved by my by little old me. We'll be having all sorts of other folks doing this, so stay tuned… – Editor (Andy)
My Name: Andy Reid
Year I Started Swing Dancing: 1999
Where I Started Swing Dancing: Ithaca, NY
Current Location: Washington, DC
My Website Address: http://www.andyandnina.com/
My name is Andy Reid. I started dancing in early 1999 in a swing dance hotspot at the time, Ithaca, NY. You couldn't walk down the street without seeing a Lindy Hopper. I started swing dancing after attending a dance with some friends and feeling like a total chump standing awkwardly against a wall for 2 hours until someone finally convinced me to dance. I felt sufficiently ashamed that I was so inept that I decided to take classes downtown. Since then, I've forgoed my roots as a hardcore kid addicted to 7" records, to a world traveling performer and teacher.
Below you will a small sampling of folks who have paved my way as a dancer. I decided to leave out some of the 1st and 2nd generation Lindy Hoppers because you will find them all over the rest of this blog. Whitey's Lindy Hoppers – most notably Frankie Manning, Dean Collins, that tall dude from Keep Punchin' that come out first in the "contest", etc, etc. Instead, I decided to focus on the newer guard.
Inspiration 1: Bill Borgida
Bill was my first teacher so it seems appropriate I start there. Bill went out of his way to support my dancing. He invited us over to show us old clips. He asked me to fill in in his classes when I started getting my chops. He consistently gave me feedback and filled me with passion from the dance. Bill drilled into our heads that nothing is more important that having solid basics and an ear for the music. He started a lot of us out and let us fly… and fly we did.
Here's Bill dancing a year or so ago with Laura Glaess, a fantastic dancer from Austin, TX.
Inspiration 2: Steven Mitchell
Steven taught me how to dance from my heart. From Steven I learned how amazing it is to move with a partner. We used to follow him around the northeast (before everyone flew everywhere) and attend all his classes. Every time I saw Steven he would have a very simple, but very sage piece of advise for me. He was always very direct and very concise. I think the most notable advice I recall is when he approached me after watching me dance (during a rather wild and frantic period in my dancing). He said "I need to take you to my church." and just looked up, opened up his arms, took a breath in and, and stopped moving. I knew exactly what he meant. That comment forever changed my dancing. I've never been a religious person, but Steven introduced me to a sprit that I had never felt before.
Here's a video of Steven dancing with the legendary Dawn Hampton:
And, what the hell, he's a clip from Can't Top The Lindy Hop in 1995. Steven is in the taxi cab pants and Erin Stevens is his partner:
Inspiration 3: The Rhythm Hot Shots
The Rhythm Hot Shots were a team of dancers from Sweden. These Swedish powerhouses! I remember seeing "Hellzapoppin'" for the first time and thinking… "Ain't no way I could do that." They make me think it's possible. They are still around as The Harlem Hot Shots. Check em out.
Another clip from 1995's Can't Top The Lindy Hop. I must have worn this tape out:
Inspiration 4: (The Other Members of) Minnies Moochers
When I was 22, I was asked to join a dance group full of teenagers. The were the best dancers in town and I enjoyed their company. They inspired me and shaped my dancing and we all grew together. What was happening in this group was really something special and unique and I jumped in head first. We spend several days of every week in the gym in a creative frenzy and it was one of the greatest times of my life. Minnie's Moochers was, and is, Kate Engle, Lucy Engle, Caitlin George Wellman, Susan Wolff, Sylvie Ynetma, Jenna Hallas, Simnia Singer Sayada, Ramona Staffeld, Sarah Spence, Mark Eckstein, Robin Coleman, Skye Humphries, Finian Makepeace, Ben Furnas, and I.
Here we are, in 2000 at NADC:
Inspiration 5: (The Other Members of) Silver Shadows
Yes. Another team I am in. This team is my family and these are the folks I look to and find the most inspiration. Silver Shadows are Nina Gilkenson, Naomi Uyama, Ramona Staffeld, Caitlin George Wellman, Frida Segerdahl, Skye Humphries, Peter Strom, Todd Yannacone, and I.
My favorite routine we've done: