Created with Sketch.
The Track with Ryan Swift
108 minutes | a month ago
The Track - 054 - Helena Martins
In Episode 54, I am joined by dancer & DJ Helena Martins. Helena has danced, competed, performed, and DJed across the US, South America, and Europe - including DJing at events like Lindy Shock, ILHC, Lindy Focus, and at Herräng dance camp, where she has been a staff and Head DJ. Helena joined me by video from her home in Madrid to talk about growing up in Brazil, her involvement in the electronic music scene, and how she discovered big band jazz through playing video games. We also talked about what led her to DJing, what characteristics make a DJ great, finding a silver lining during the pandemic through online events, and why she prefers playing classic swing artists over modern bands for dancers.
101 minutes | 2 months ago
The Track - E053 - Julia Loving
In this episode, I am joined by dancer, organizer, and educator Julia Loving. Julia has been a Teacher of Africana History and School Media Specialist in the New York City public schools for the past 27 years, and began Lindy Hopping in 2013. In addition to being a mainstay at social dances in her native New York City, she organizes dance events in Harlem as co-founder of SwingWithUsNYC.com, and is the creator of LuckyLindysNYC undergarments for dancers. Julia currently serves on the Boards of the Frankie Manning Foundation and the Black Lindy Hoppers Fund. Julia joined me by video from her Bronx home to talk about growing up in the Bronx during the birth of Hip Hop, memories of watching elders dance Lindy Hop at Harlem community events in the 80s, and her observation that she and other Black women do not get asked to dance on the social dance floor. We also talked about her close relationship with Norma Miller, her clothing brand Lucky Lindys, and how the events of the past 10 months give her hope for the future of Lindy Hop.
117 minutes | 3 months ago
The Track - E052 - Giselle Anguizola
In this episode, I am joined by dancer, instructor, and musician, Giselle Anguizola. Giselle has been swing dancing for over 20 years, and is founder of Girl Jam, an organization honoring women in swing music and dance through weekend festivals around the globe. Widely renowned for her creativity and individuality as a performer and instructor, Giselle spends most of her days singing and dancing with her band in New Orleans and San Diego. Giselle joined me by video chat from her home in San Diego to talk about finding swing dancing thanks to a middle school music teacher, the importance of recognizing followers in their own right, and what it means when she says she hears music in shapes. We also discussed her 10 years working as a performer in New Orleans, how both Amy Winehouse and Cab Calloway influence her performances, and how the pandemic is affecting her dancing and her mental health.
112 minutes | 8 months ago
The Track - E051 - Gordon Au
In this episode, I am joined by trumpeter and bandleader Gordon Au. Gordon leads the Grand St. Stompers, a traditional jazz band who the New York Times has called “a pillar of New York’s hot jazz scene,” and regularly plays with numerous groups in New York City. He is a frequent guest artist at music festivals around the country, including the Redwood Coast Music Festival and Monterey Jazz Bash By the Bay, as well as at swing dance events such as Lindy Focus, and DCLX. Gordon is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, and teaches for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s WeBop program. His latest albums, Swing in Place, recorded remotely in quarantine, and Tribute to Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars / Live at Lindy Focus, are now available on Bandcamp. Gordon joined me on a video chat from across Brooklyn to talk about how he went from scientist to professional musician , what it’s like to play a gig with a musical idol, his opinion on cultural appropriation and historical context in jazz, and the importance of the arts in the time of a global pandemic. We also discussed what is special about playing for dancers, how learning to Lindy Hop has influenced his playing, and the level of research and preparation that he puts into each song in an effort to find the right balance between recreation and innovation.
58 minutes | 9 months ago
The Track - E050 - For Frankie
This month's episode is a little different than our usual extended interviews. In a case of perfectly serendipitous timing, this milestone 50th episode coincides with what would have been Frankie Manning's 106th birthday, now widely recognized as World Lindy Hop Day. So, to celebrate both the Ambassador of Lindy Hop and this milestone episode, we've curated a collection of stories about Frankie the dancer, and Frankie the man, as told by previous guests on The Track. It is hard to overstate the significance of Frankie Manning's contributions to our cultural history, and his part in cultivating a truly worldwide community of people united by their love of this African-American art form he helped define. As a teenager, Frankie danced at Harlem's legendary Savoy Ballroom, later bringing his talents to Whitey's Lindy Hoppers as a lead dancer and chief choreographer. In the 1930's and 1940's he performed the Lindy Hop with jazz greats, on stage and screen, and toured internationally. In the 1980's, Frankie answered the call of those with a renewed interest in the Lindy Hop and became its Ambassador - winning a Tony award for choreography, returning to performances on screen, and teaching dance workshops to a new generation of dancers around the world. The community Frankie helped create through his knowledge, generosity, and character has never been stronger than we are seeing now in the midst of the global pandemic. Dancers across the globe are finding new ways to connect, support artists, and spread the love of Lindy Hop despite seemingly insurmountable challenges and in doing so, continue to honor and spread the spirit of its Ambassador.
115 minutes | 10 months ago
The Track - E049 - Evita Arce
In this episode, I am joined by dancer and instructor, Evita Arce. Evita began her dance career as the youngest performer in Roy Lozano's Ballet Folklórico de Texas in Austin, TX and discovered Lindy Hop in college. She has since become a renowned dancer & instructor - she performed the lead role in Broadway's "SWING!" on its 2008 Japan tour, on television's "So You Think You Can Dance," and in Jazz at Lincoln Center's "Let Freedom Swing" at the Kennedy Center. She now teaches Lindy Hop all around the world (and online at Syncopated City) and recently performed in Regina Spektor's Broadway residency alongside Caleb Teicher. Evita joined me on an Easter Sunday video chat to talk about making her professional dance debut at age 7, why improvisation is a vital part of her Lindy Hop experience, and how she established dance as her full-time occupation. We also discussed her vision for the upcoming production Swing 2020, the current and future challenges she and the Lindy Hop community face in this time of COVID-19, and why she believes Jazz is the greatest living American art form.
122 minutes | a year ago
The Track - E048 - Caleb Teicher
In this episode, I am joined by dancer and choreographer, Caleb Teicher. Caleb began his dance career as a founding member of Michelle Dorrance's critically acclaimed tap dance company, Dorrance Dance, and is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including two Bessie Awards. Caleb discovered Lindy Hop through a chance encounter with swing dancers in a tap class in 2010 and has since performed in collaboration with Nathan Bugh and as part of Syncopated City Dance Company. His work has been performed at The Joyce Theater, the Guggenheim Museum, Jacob's Pillow, and on Broadway as part of Regina Spektor's residency. Caleb joined me in New York City last month to talk about learning the drums and tap dance at an early age, his rapid and unplanned trajectory in the world of professional dance, what makes the tap and Lindy Hop communities unique, and the critical role that social swing dance has played in his life and sense of community. We also discuss how his preferred role in partner dance has evolved over time, the magic of how dancing Lindy Hop simultaneously expresses its history and the present, and how his newest project, Swing 2020, aims to bring the best and brightest of modern Lindy Hop to a new audience. This episode is produced & edited by Alletta Cooper.
131 minutes | a year ago
The Track - E047 - Dr. Christi Jay Wells
In this episode, I am joined by swing dancer and musicologist, Dr. Christi Jay Wells. Christi Jay started dancing in 2003 and earned a PhD in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. They conduct research on a range of jazz music and dance history topics, regularly present their work at national & international conferences and major universities, and has received multiple prestigious national academic awards. Christi Jay is a member of the musicology faculty at Arizona State University, where they teach a range of courses on music, dance, and how issues of race impact practices of sound and movement. Christi Jay is also a dance teacher and competitor, having taught at events including Korea Blues Camp and BluesShout! We sat down at Lindy Focus 2019, where Christi Jay presented on Duke Ellington’s “Jump for Joy,” exploring the layers of political and social meaning found in the groundbreaking revue show and its title song. In our conversation we not only talk about that presentation, but also how their passion for swing music & dancing evolved into an academic career, writing their dissertation on Chick Webb and his relationship with his audience, and what they learned in class and in conversation with Frankie Manning and Norma Miller. We also discuss their close relationship with Dawn Hampton, gender & heteronormativity in the Lindy Hop scene, what drew them to the Blues and Fusion communities, and their experiences coming out as transgender in those communities.
95 minutes | a year ago
The Track - E046 - Marie N'diaye
In this episode, I am joined by instructor, performer, and choreographer, Marie N'diaye. Marie has been dancing almost as long as she has been walking, but she fell in love with Lindy Hop and Vernacular Jazz in 2007. Since that time, Marie has taught in her home scenes of Montréal & Stockholm and at workshops & camps around the globe. She has won competitions at ILHC and Snowball, is choreographer and director of the Herräng Dance Camp daily meeting chorus line, and leads her own dance troupe, HotCha Chorus Line. Marie joined me at ILHC 2019 to talk about her experience growing up in France in an Afro-Caribbean family where music and dance were a part of life, finding her Lindy Hop home at Cat’s Corner while studying biochemistry in Montréal, and how her PhD studies led her to Sweden and the creation of the Herräng Chorus Line. We also discuss the importance of understanding rhythm instead of simply focusing on patterns, the legacy of colonialism and slavery in the evolution of dance, and the significance that videos of other black dancers played in discovering her connection with Lindy Hop and swing music.
111 minutes | a year ago
The Track - E045 - Felix Berghäll
In this episode, I am joined by instructor, performer, and choreographer, Felix Berghäll. Like many Swedish dancers, Felix started dancing Bugg in the national competition scene at a young age. He fell in love with Lindy Hop, Jazz, and tap after his first visit to Herräng dance camp in 2009. He has since gone on to teach and perform around the world, earning titles at events such as Snowball, the Savoy Cup, and the International Lindy Hop Championships. Felix joined me at ILHC 2019 to talk about his experience in competitive Swedish dance culture starting as a 9-year-old, feeling freed by Lindy Hop when he discovered it in his teens, and his experiences at Herräng -- including dancing, teaching and spending time in the infamous DJ office. We also discuss his time performing with The Hot Shots, his hope that greater education about the roots and history of the dance can help prevent offensive and insensitive incidents in the global Lindy Hop scene, and the subtle differences between “performing” and “putting on a performance.”
130 minutes | a year ago
The Track - E044 - Kim Clever & David Frutos
In this episode, I am joined by dancers and instructors Kim Clever and David Frutos. Kim and Dave met at a dance class at a bar in 1994, and by 1996 they were teaching swing dance together at the world famous Brown Derby. As competitors David and Kim have numerous titles together from the National Jitterbug Championships, the International Lindy Hop Championships, and US Open Championships. They have many film and television credits to their name and have been inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame, both individually and as a couple. We sat down at Camp Hollywood 2019 to talk about the early days of the camp, how getting hired by Whoopi Goldberg launched their Hollywood careers, and their experience as dancers for the Brian Setzer Orchestra. They also break down dancing at and running some of LAs top swing dance spots, their experience traveling from the west coast to compete in the east at the height of the infamous style wars, and Kim’s experience as a woman in the swing dance scene.
94 minutes | a year ago
The Track - E043 - Marge Takier
In this episode, I am joined by Balboa legend, Marge Takier. Marge began dancing in Southern California in the 1950’s and soon after met her longtime husband and dance partner Hal Takier. Hal and Marge became a dance partnership that was looked up to by generations of dancers to follow, both in person to young dancers in California, and around the world through video clips of their dancing. Marge and Hal were inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2000. Marge joined me at Camp Hollywood to talk about learning to dance at the Lido Ballroom, dancing to big band greats like Count Basie and Benny Goodman at Disneyland, the start of the now-legendary Big Band Sunday dances at Bobby McGee’s, and unwittingly becoming a swing DJ icon. She also paid tribute to her late husband by sharing stories of his dance legacy, including meeting and dancing with him for the first time, his unique dance style, and his filmed work during the Swing Era in Soundies - the original music videos.
159 minutes | a year ago
The Track - E042 - Ryan Francois
In this episode, I am joined by dancer, instructor, and choreographer Ryan Francois. Following a chance encounter with a poster promoting “‘Thirties dancing with Judo throws” in the early 1980’s, Ryan has since become master of Lindy Hop, jazz, and tap. He is a two-time winner at the US Open and American Swing Dance Championships, has taught and performed around the world, and his choreography and performances on stage and screen have inspired generations of modern Lindy Hoppers. Ryan joined me in New York City to talk about his discovery of Lindy Hop as a poor black teenager from East London, how profoundly the films “A Day at the Races” and “The Spirit Moves” impacted his life, and how connecting with the dance and such legends as Mama Lu Parks, Norma Miller, Pepsi Bethel and Frankie Manning shaped his sense of self and history. We also discussed the evolution of his career from traveling performer and competitor to choreographer on films like “Swing Kids” & “Malcolm X,” and the Tony-nominated musical “Swing!,” the legacies of the individuals that have carried the torch of Lindy Hop, and the thing he has yet to accomplish in a career that has touched nearly every aspect of show business.
127 minutes | 2 years ago
The Track - E041 - Sing Lim
In this episode, I am joined by dancer and instructor, Sing Lim. Sing has been part of the global swing dance community for over 30 years - learning in London under the tutelage of Ryan Francois and Frankie Manning and spreading Lindy Hop to Asia when she returned to her native Singapore in 1996. She was a member of the Frankie100 organizing committee and has been invited to teach, perform and judge at numerous events around the world, including Herräng Dance Camp, Swingtime Ball Beijing, and the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown in New Orleans. Sing joined me in New York City to talk about our memories of Norma Miller, learning from — and then competing alongside — Ryan Francois in the early 90s, her friendship with Frankie Manning, and founding Jitterbugs Swingapore and SEA Jam, the first Lindy Hop weekend in Asia. We also discuss the early days of Herräng, how Lindy Hop has grown throughout Asia, both learning and teaching the history of Lindy Hop, and the importance of respecting the community of Harlem from which it came.
117 minutes | 2 years ago
The Track - E040 - Alice Mei
In this episode, I am joined by dancer and instructor, Alice Mei. Alice began dancing when she was four, and studied ballet and contemporary dance before falling in love with Lindy Hop and Solo Jazz. She very quickly became a highly sought-after international instructor and acclaimed competitor, teaching in more than 30 countries and winning titles at events such as Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, the International Lindy Hop Championships and the European Swing Dance Championships. Alice joined me at Lindyfest 2019 to talk about the loneliness and difficulty she experienced at a dance conservatory program as a child, her struggle to understand rhythm at the start of her Lindy Hop career, and her experience finding her own voice in dance after an unhealthy partnership. We also discuss how switching partners multiple times has helped her dancing evolve, why fear is her greatest motivator for competing, and what she’s learned about successful group choreography as part of Brothers and Sisters in Rhythm. A brief content warning -- we discuss Alice’s relationship with Max Pitruzzella about 42 minutes into the episode.
124 minutes | 2 years ago
The Track - E039 - Nick Williams
In this episode, I am joined by dancer, instructor, and choreographer, Nick Williams. Since his first swing dance lesson in LA in 1998, Nick has studied Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Collegiate Shag with its original dancers and spent countless hours studying vintage dance clips. He has won titles at virtually every top-tier event, including the World Lindy Hop Championships, US Open, ALHC, National Jitterbug Championships, ILHC, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, and American Classic Balboa Championships. Nick’s choreography has been featured on So You Think You Can Dance, and he has been inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame. Nick and I sat down at Lindyfest 2019 to talk about his early years of dancing - where he experienced bullying in the late-90’s LA swing dance scene, his challenging first experience at ALHC, and how dancing with Sylvia Sykes became a gateway for opportunity in the larger swing dance scene. We also discuss his obsession with loafers and how that shapes his dancing, finding opportunities to dance in film & television, and how he pushes his creativity through song & dance, like recreating Gene Kelly’s iconic “Singin’ in the Rain” routine for a live audience.
134 minutes | 2 years ago
The Track - E038 - Hilary Alexander
In this episode, I am joined by singer, dancer, and event producer, Hilary Alexander. Hilary has been a vital part of the Los Angeles swing dance scene since she began dancing in the mid-90s - she founded and continues to run Camp Hollywood and the National Jitterbug Championships in LA, was inducted into The California Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2008, and later served on its board for 5 years. She has also been the co-leader and vocalist for Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five and The Jonathan Stout Orchestra since 2002. Hilary sat down with me at the 2019 California Balboa Classic to talk about taking up to swing dancing to fight loneliness when she moved cross-country after high school, what compelled her to start Camp Hollywood with absolutely no experience as an event organizer, and what it was like being part of a cultural moment at some of the most well-recognized venues of the LA swing revival. We also discuss what it was like growing up with show business aspirations in New York City, her experience as a self-taught vocalist, and how her complicated relationship with her mother has shaped her own outlook on motherhood.
116 minutes | 2 years ago
The Track - E037 - Sam Carroll
In this episode, I am joined by international swing DJ, Sam Carroll. Sam started playing music for swing dancers in 2005 and has since DJed at events around the world. In addition to numerous events in her native Australia, she has DJed at Herrang Dance Camp and Snowball in Sweden, Authentic Jazz Weekend in South Korea, and Lindy Focus in the United States. In her home scene, she is one of the organizers of Swing Dance Sydney and JazzBANG weekend. Sam sat down with me on New Years’ Day 2019 after a late night of DJing at Lindy Focus to talk about her observations about dance in the US, why being a DJ is about more than just playing good music, and how her experience in Australia was different from the American dancers riding the pop culture swing wave of the late 90’s. We also discussed what it’s like as a DJ and attendee at Herrang, what goes in to running her own successful events, her grad school work on women in media, and how that has shaped her approach and experience writing her blog, Dogpossum.
115 minutes | 2 years ago
The Track - E036 - Tena Morales-Armstrong
In this episode, I am thrilled to be joined by one of my most requested guests, Tena Morales-Armstrong. Tena is a renowned dancer, instructor, judge, choreographer, and organizer. She has been a guiding figure for the global swing scene for over twenty years - from winning the inaugural American Lindy Hop Championships with her partner Carnell Pipkin in 1998, to her roles as co-founder of the International Lindy Hop Championships, co-organizer of Lindyfest and Lone Star Championships, and architect of the International Swing Dance Championships and Houston Jazz Dance Festival. Tena and I sat down in Rochester, NY during Stompology 2018 and talked about teaching hip-hop as a single mom, how a glimpse of tandem Charleston at the Glen Echo Ballroom inspired her to instantly dive headlong into the world of Lindy Hop, and how her eye for talent helped develop of some of today’s most recognized dancers. We also discussed what it means to her to work with kids on and off the dance floor, her role in the Frankie Manning Foundation, the importance of black history and culture in Lindy Hop, and building a bridge between African-American partner dances like DFW Swingout and Chicago Stepping and the modern Lindy Hop scene.
119 minutes | 2 years ago
The Track - E035 - Sommer Gentry
My guest this month is dancer, competitor, and U.S. Naval Academy professor of mathematics, Sommer Gentry. Sommer has won competitions at countless events, including Boston Tea Party, the Virginia State Open, and Swingin’ New England, and became a cornerstone of the Baltimore swing community as co-founder of Charm City Swing. Off the dance floor, her research with her husband Dorry Segev in organ transplant optimization has landed her profiles in Science and TIME magazines. Sommer and I sat down a year ago at Lindy Focus and talked about country two-stepping, the joy she finds in learning as many dances as possible, her experiences as a competitor and social dancer, and how she prefers learning by doing — in both dance and math. We also discussed her love of pop music, what it’s like both dancing and researching with her husband, performing superhuman feats of mathematics on television, and how exactly one can embody Zeno’s Paradox on the dance floor.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2020