26 March 2008

Swing dance performance

This Friday I will actually be doing a dance performance before a paying audience. They aren’t coming to see me specifically—I just happen to be on program as a “bumper” between the sets of an improv group—but it’s still a performance.

My dance partner, Laurel, belongs to a North Hollywood improvisation theater called The Hothouse. They do shows every Friday night, and between the sets they like to have material (called a “stall”) designed to “cleanse the palate” of the audience. Call it a form of psychological re-orientation, or just a way to keep the audience paying attention while the actors get back into place. Laurel suggested to the troupe that she and I could dance Lindy Hop for the stall. And so it came about.

We batted around a couple of song ideas, at first going with “Another Day in L.A.” by Indigo Swing, a defunct band from San Francisco that we both love. But eventually we decided that maybe it wasn’t energetic and fast enough to jolt the audience. After tossing around a bunch of suggestions, we settled on a swing cover of “Black Dog” (yes, the Led Zeppelin song from their fourth album) by the Johnny Favourite Swing Orchestra. This was my second choice because I’ve always loved the song, know it note-for-note, and the familiarity of the tune combined with the incongruity of the musical setting will amuse first-time listeners (“What, is Benny Goodman jamming with Page and Plant?”). Plus, its energetic without being insanely fast.

We aren’t doing a choreographed routine—this is an improv theater, after all—but we did do some work on a few combos and moves until her downstairs neighbors asked us to stop pounding on the floor. They probably thought we were building a shelf in the middle of the room.

Have I ever mentioned that Laurel is the best dancer I have ever cut the rug with? Probably not. But it is the damned truth!