Swing Discussion Boards > Frankie Manning's Secret

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Black Sheep, Jul 18, 2003.

  1. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep New Member

    Frankie Fans,
    Although I have never seen Frankie Manning in my life, I know how he dances,
    simply by the fact all my teenage friends learned how to dance the Lindy by
    taking Lindy lessons at the Savoy Ballroom in the late 1930's, and they all
    had that same smooth flying Lindy Hop style that is imbedded in my memory
    bank. (I was a wallflower until I was 27)
    I have read a few posts in Yehoodi where dancers are awed by Frankie's
    Lindy, and they lamented that they will never be able to come close to his
    perfection of dancing the Lindy.
    Now although I have never seen Frankie dance, I will stick my neck out
    and state that Frankie was and is a great dancer not because he danced for
    the past 60 years, although all that experience plus his gifted talent added
    to his dancing, but that Frankie's dancing is so superior because he uses
    those techniques that were developed in the Savoy Ballroom in the 1930's,
    techniques that Manning has in his bones, and because he has been dancing so
    long continuously for 60 years, he may, and I say may, not even be aware of
    all these techniques that he used through those years as conditioned
    Now dancers who learn from observing movies or watching other dancers,
    can learn a lot, but there are some facets of the dance that are not visible
    to the eye, 'Techniques'; techniques that either have to be imparted through
    teaching or techniques that the dancer develops by his own trial and error
    My point is that Lindy is not step pattern alone, it is not syncopated
    rhythm added, it is not body moves that give it style, a dancer like Frankie
    has all this but that added ingredient that is invisible to the eye is
    'Techniques' and that is what separates Frankie from the newbie Lindy
    dancers of this past generation. I never saw Frankie dance, but I know I
    will recognize him the very first time I see him doing the Lindy Hop because
    I vividly recall how my teenage friends danced in Brooklyn in the late
    1930's, and they were devoted protégées of the 1930's Savoy Ballroom School
    of the Lindy Hop.
    Black Sheep
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Excellent post, I agree but for a few details:

    Frankie wasn't dancing continuously for 60 years, once swinging music was no longer played and danced to in large he went to work for the Post Office, until returning to dance again around 1998.

    In addition, Frankie's 'style' was very unique, it was said (perhaps somewhat humorously) that you could pick him out of the crowd of thousands at the Savoy Ballroom in a second (mostly due to his often horizontal positioning of body).

    Lastly, although it may be a misunderstanding of your word choice, Flying Lindy Hop style was a Lindy Hop technique of it's own, seperate from the "normal Harlem look" of the 1930's.

    That said, again an excellent post on technique holding more importance over any minor step pattern.

  3. d nice

    d nice New Member

    So no one reading Joe's post gets the wrong impression, the ballrooms during the depression where dance halls mroe than the current perception of a ballroom. There were no "lessons" at the Savoy other than those you could convince someone to give you on the dance floor or off to the side, or watching some amazing dancers over in the cat's corner "schooling" people in vintage Savoy style Lindy Hop.

    In case that last phrase is lost on some of the less "urban" readers, schooling in this context refers to showing people up, cutting them, challenging them, or out dancing them.
  4. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep New Member

    How do you define yourself

    I do find myself judging dancers by the way they dress and by the way they relate to their partner during the dance.
    For myself, however, I like to be judged and defined by what I say and do!
    How about you? How do you define others and how do you define yourself?
  5. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    judging a book by it's cover isn't a good thing even though most people do it. I'd like people to notice the way I'm dressed when I dance but I'd rather be seen for what I do on the dance floor.
  6. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep New Member

    analyzing dancers

    After teaching for so many years, It does become a fairly easy matter of analyzing a dancer's personality, and although dress and ability to dance well are factors in evaluating or judging a dancer's character, it can get deceiving at times; I'm reminded of two top dancers in the Hollywood of the 1950's. One was Beverly Mayo who even today among most people who knew and saw her dance, is considered the best lady Lindy dancer we ever had, and she never did any aerials; her fame was her rhythmic footwork and her mesmerizing style, compact, precise and a body that vibrated with the music. I knew her well and although she was a perfectionist, I knew her to be rather shy and very modest, something one would hardly guess at just by watching her dancing. But yes, there were other qualities in Beverly you could see both by her dress and her dancing.
    The other lady that this subject brings to mind was the best Mambo dancer we had in the 1950's Hollywood, and although she was a devoted Arthur Murray teacher, she danced the Puerto Rican style, breaking on 'two'. Jose' Powel was always color coordinated and exquisitely dressed and was always on beat and tres sensuous. Her personality was an enigma however. In 40 years of retrospect, I realize she had a tendency to be little too aloof, and I think it was part of a defense that hid a fragile sense of a need to be accepted. And her dancing was too colorful to suspect her insecure feelings; if she indeed was insecure.
    The Last time I spoke to Jose' was about two years ago. After a 40 year separation, she called me up on the phone and the first thing she said was, " Joe, do you still do the Mambo?"
    Black Sheep,
    And don't forget to ask for your Magic Pill Alyssa? Just Email me a YES.
  7. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Frankie started dancing again regularly in the mid eighties when he was brought out of retirement by Steven Mitchell and his then partner Erin Stevens. By the mid ninties he was traveling around the world again teaching and performing the Lindy Hop.

    Martin Parker who studied under Dean Collins, I believe lives in D.c. taught the flying lindy at the first Camp Hollywood. It was a great class, well taught and high energy.
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Ah yes, thank you. That'll teach me to not be up so early in the morning trying to post details of any sort :oops:


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