I am almost too inspired by ILHC

But of course, there’s no such thing.

Let me share a story. Every week, I share a Youtube video or two with my Beginner Lindy Hop class. This week, I warned them: “Heads up. There’s going to be more than two videos this week. ILHC just happened, and the shit coming out on Youtube will blow your mind. And also, I can’t choose.”

I am both proud (and maybe slightly ashamed) to admit I gave them 13 videos this week.

I hope I didn’t intimidate them. But honestly, that was after I limited myself to only posting videos of pro and team choreographies, partially because those are always some of my favorites, but mostly because that’s just where I started. At the time, I’m not sure I could have pared it down any more!

I have worked very (very) hard to narrow down my favorite choreographies from ILHC to my top five. I will not share how long this process has taken me, but it helps to know that most of the people reading this blog are just as invested and excited about watching these incredible performances as I am, so I know you’ll take the time to explore (and get lost in Youtube) on your own.

If you’re a “truth checker,” please note that there are two extra videos which make it into this post, not because they inspire me as a dancer (though they do), but because they inspire me as a person. Without further ado.

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I want to start with the first video I saw from ILHC, which really set the stage for the videos I would come to see over the next few weeks.

This video literally blew me away. I think my favorite part is all the detritus that Remy and Jessica leave behind on the dance floor (I count no fewer than 11 items). I also love the obvious things – the jump rope (I mean, really? Where did it come from) and the tap dancing come to mind. And of course, the surprising moments had me yelling in Starbucks (true story), like the swing out at 1:40.

But the more I watch the video, the more I love how their individual personalities shine through. I love how much of the time, they’ve clearly practiced their lines to mirror each other – but then they each take these fantastic moments to showcase personality which really stand out in my mind. I’m thinking of the stomping at 1:12, and the boogie drops at 1:59.

Finally, I love all the energy in this video, clearly shown in Remy’s yell at 3:24, which caused the audience to respond in kind and nearly drown out the music.

I love this choreography so much.

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If you’re living under a rock, you might not have seen the Fly Rights team performance yet. And if that’s the case, I feel very sorry for you.

Where to start? I don’t even know.

Oh wait, I do. How about that intro? Where did they even get the idea?! And then they start so strong, with some of the most energetic and exciting swing outs – because let’s be honest, that’s what we all want to see. I didn’t know where it was going, but this video started with such high energy (always a difficult place to start!), and they really followed through.

In team comps, I love seeing when everyone is together – it looks so professional and so classy. But I also love when this team intentionally deviates from “togetherness,” like the cascade at 2:15.

And of course, maybe the most fascinating and awe-inspiring moment: The Aerial Train / Leap Frog / Amazesauce. I love how the crowd drowns out the music – those are always some of my favorite moments in dances.

The above only begins to delve into the creativity they showed with musicality, shapes, and movement.I cannot watch this video enough.

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Oh, Todd and Ramona. How I love thee.

This choreography is fantastic for so many reasons. First, Todd and Ramona brought the animals “theme” back with a variety of new and old animal impersonations.

But more importantly – this choreography shines in its simplistic beauty. It takes many simple, common Lindy Hop moves and shows a subtle sophistication in the shape and syncopation they use. It deviates from the popular Lindy Hop trend of more complex and difficult variations & patterns by staying simple, yet it maintains interest in the fun and unique nature of the choreography.

And let’s be honest: there’s a Stand Up Base.

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I could watch Mike and Laura all day. Let me share.

I love that Mike and Laura picked a song which is so chill – I mean, we all know they can swing out like BAMFs, but this song allows them to really play with variations, shapes, and musicality in the ways that I consistently love their performances. It allows us as an audience to really sit back and appreciate the simple quality of movement and the simple variations, like the tick-tock of the head at 1:37.

Moreover, the relaxed and fun attitude they project allows their moments of intensity to really shine – like at 1:48, when you can hear the audience react with incredible enthusiasm at their badassery – and then again at 1:56!

Most of all, I love how the energy really builds to celebrate the swing outs at 2:30. I love moments like that.

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Speaking of darling outfits – don’t you love Sharon’s entire ensemble in this next video? Also, this video astounds me in its simple beauty – I can’t believe I just found it today!

To me, this performance embodies much of what I love about Lindy Hop.

When I posted this video on Facebook, a friend informed me that this choreography was inspired by how Juan and Sharon social dance together (as they mentioned in one of their classes), and I think you can see it from the moment they walk on stage together: they are clearly friends, enjoying a relaxed and beautiful dance together.

Then Juan and Sharon go on to perform an almost intimate dance – because truly, their love of Lindy Hop and of dancing together shines. They clearly still recognize that they’re performing (“Yes, Sir!” at 1:46), but this piece seems to be more about dancing with each other than about dancing for the audience. It’s funny, it’s musical, it’s sassy, it’s classy…I have a hard time picking out favorite “moments” because I think it all flows so smoothly and beautifully together.

I will say that I truly admire Sharon’s quality of movement – especially in its grace and ease of execution. Her quality of movement is consistent, but moments stand out to me: her boogie forwards at 1:52; her camel walks at 2:44; the boogie drops at 3:21. I especially love that while Sharon oozes sexy on a regular basis, this performance is not about sex – it’s about fun.

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Finally, I want to highlight two videos which are fantastic for reasons beyond the musicality, technicality, and amazi-cality of the dancers. To me, these videos show the strength and embracing nature of our community. These two videos remind me that Lindy Hop makes me a better person – not because I’m an awesome dancer, but because I’m part of a truly incredible community.

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First, let’s talk about the Junior’s Division. Because these guys are the future of Lindy Hop – and they’re amazing. Here, we have Cyle and Alexis:

Can I just point out that moment at 1:42? They ROCK IT. And at 2:41, they have the audience eating out of their hands. I teared up – more than once.

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This post wouldn’t be complete without recognizing the professionalism and spirit of the Lindy Hopper’s Dozen.

When one of their team members is injured, they not only push through and perform the piece, but they readjust their formations on the fly. I love how, in true Lindy Hop fashion, the audience rallies behind the Lindy Hopper’s Dozen to help them finish an amazing piece in what must have been very difficult circumstances. I hope the injured girl is okay – I don’t know her, but if you know something, please share!

***

I have yet to fully delve into the Strictly, Jack and Jill, Balboa, and Slow Dance comps. I would not be surprised if another blog post bursts forth – any suggestions on where I should start?

If you’re curious, these are the other videos in the same general category on my LIST OF AWESOME from ILHC, with ONE THING about each:

Todd Yannacone and Alice Mei: whatever that variation is at 1:46!

Skye Humphries and Frida Segerdahl: the entire sequence starting at 1:00. Actually, this entire performance is so inspiring, and the only reasons I’m not going back, cutting one of the above videos, and putting this one in are 1) I don’t know which one I’d cut, and 2) this performance deserves an entire post to itself. SO MUCH ENERGY!

Max Pitruzzella and Annie Trudeau: their aerials are so consistently innovative and cleanly executed; it never ceases to astound me

Patrick Szmidt and Natasha Ouimet: ALL OF NATASHA IS AMAZING at 1:30! (Patrick – you’re awesome, too, but Natasha: so much sass!)

Dax Hock and Sarah Breck: they’re so classic – so inspired and musical!

Pontus Persson and Isabella Gregorio in both the Showcase Division and in the Classic Division: I just love their quality of movement and energy!

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Do you think there’s a stunning choreography I should look at? I’ll be honest – these are just the ones I’ve seen so far! I haven’t even gotten to a few of the Pro-divisions, half the team comps, or nearly any of the regular Classic or Showcase. Please point me in the right direction so I can postpone any semblance of “real world” work!

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I’d like to give a special thanks to Tena, Nina, and Sylvia for putting on such an amazing event which repeatedly inspires me. I have suffered Random Outbursts of Awe and Disbelief (ROADs) multiple times over the past week, mostly in public. At one point, I think the Starbucks employees were concerned for my mental health. So thank you, a billion times over, for all you do; I look forward to joining you again next year!

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