by Frankie Manning and Cynthia R.
Ambassador of Lindy Hop
Temple University Press, 2007
The autobiography of a legendary swing dancer
— who is still swinging!
— Bette Midler, student and fan
— Savion Glover, tap dancer and Tony Award-winning choreographer
In the early days of swing dancing, Frankie Manning stood out for his moves and his innovative routines; he created the "air step" in the Lindy hop, a dance that took the U.S. and then the world by storm. In this fascinating autobiography, the choreographer and Tony Award winner (Black and Blue) Frankie Manning recalls how his first years of dancing as a teenager at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom led to his becoming chief choreographer and a lead dancer for "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers," a group that appeared on Broadway, in Hollywood musicals, and on stages around the globe. Manning brings the Swing Era vividly back to life with his recollections of the crowded ballrooms, and of Lindy hoppers trying to outdo each other in spectacular performances. His memories of the many headliners and film stars, as well as uncelebrated dancers with whom he shared the stage, create a unique portrait of an era in which African American performers enjoyed the spotlight if not a star's prerogatives and salary.
With co-author Cynthia R. Millman, Manning traces the evolution of swing dancing from its early days in Harlem through the post-World War II period, until it was eclipsed by rock 'n' roll and then disco. When swing made a comeback, Manning's 30-year hiatus ended. He has been performing, choreographing, and teaching ever since.
313 pages; 37 illustrations; EAN: 978-1-59213-563-9; ISBN: 1592135633
Foreword: Mercedes Ellington Frankie Manning: An Appreciation by Cynthia R. Millman Acknowledgments Prologue: Too Stiff PART ONE: FIRST STEPS (1914-circa 1933) Chapter 1. Jazz Baby Chapter 2. Early Ballroom Forays PART TWO: SAVOY DANCER (circa 1933-1936) Chapter 3. To the Savoy at Last Chapter 4. Whitey, Shorty, and Stretch Chapter 5. Win Win Chapter 6. Up in the Air She Goes PART THREE: WHITEY'S LINDY HOPPERS (1936-1943) Chapter 7. Going Pro Chapter 8. Big Time at the Cotton Club Chapter 9. A Big Apple for Whitey Chapter 10. On Broadway and In the Movies Chapter 11. Down Rio Way PART FOUR: WAR AND HOME (1943-1984) Chapter 12. Dancer Interrupted Chapter 13. The Congaroo Dancers and a Day Job PART FIVE: SECOND ACT (1984-2007) Chapter 14. Revival APPENDIXES A. Frankie Manning Timeline B. Biographical Sketches of Lindy Hoppers C. Swing Dance Resources Libraries and Archives Websites Frankie's List of Swing Dance on Film/TV Swing Dancing Around the World NOTES SOURCES
About the Authors
Photo credit: Nancy Elliott
Lindy hopper Frankie Manning won a 1989 Tony Award for his choreography in Black and Blue, and was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts with a National Heritage Fellowship. He served as a consultant for and danced in Spike Lee's Malcolm X and Debbie Allen's Stompin' at the Savoy. Frankie's choreographic contributions to the lindy, his professional dance career with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers and the Congaroo Dancers, and his vital role in the swing dance revival have been widely chronicled in the media (including an interview in Ken Burns.s Jazz and a profile on ABC.s 20/20). Frankie traveled the world teaching the Lindy hop and sharing his riveting memories of dancing through the ages until he passed away in 2009 at age ninety-five.
Photo credit: Lauren Simpson
Cynthia R. Millman taught dance and performed for over twenty-five years, including five years with the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers. She holds one master's degree in dance and dance education, and another in library science. Cynthia has studied and partnered with Frankie, and lectures with him on the history of the lindy. A librarian at The Town School in Manhattan, she has contributed articles to Dance Magazine and The International Encyclopedia of Dance, and has served as a dance consultant on several documentaries.
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