05/13/09

Late Lindy Hop Icon Frankie Manning to Be Celebrated

Frankie Manning, the legendary Savoy ballroom dancer, Tony-award winning choreographer and “Lindy Hop ambassador”—who passed away one month shy of his 95th birthday on April 27th—will be memorialized with a five-day festival of music and dance in New York City from May 21-25. A number of top jazz artists will perform during the week.

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Frankie Manning

Manning will be memorialized in a service open to the public on Friday, May 22 at 10:00 AM at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church (at 59th Street.) A traditional Second Line, led by the David Otswald and the Gully Low Jazz Band, will wend its way through the streets and the park to a dance at the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park.

Over 40 hours of dancing to live music are planned over the five-day festival. Taking place on Saturday evening, May 23rd, is a black-tie gala event with a Savoy-style “Battle of the Bands” pitting the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra against Frank Foster and His Loud Minority and George Gee and His Make-believe Ballroom Orchestra in the 12,000-square-foot Hammerstein Ballroom. Over 20 performing groups will be strutting their stuff during the evening dances, spotlighting the very best of performance Lindy hop in the world. The festival also marks the return of the wild Lindy hop competition, Hellzapoppin’ in which dancers defy gravity at amazing speeds.

Fifteen bands and a plethora of special guests have been confirmed for the festival, including: Wycliffe Gordon Quartet, Houston Person Quartet, Art Baron, Benny Powell, Frank Foster and His Loud Minority, George Gee and his Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra, Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five, the
Boilermaker Jazz Band, Paul Tillotson, Ron Sunshine, Evan Christopher, special guests Junior Mance, Kim Nalley, Catherine Russell, Lavay Smith, local artists, and more!

All dances will be preceded by presentations and panels of luminaries of the Lindy community including a talk with Norma Miller, a special presentation “Remembering Frankie,” a historical panel exploring the resurgence of the Lindy in the 1980s,
“An Evening with Savoy Era Dancers,” and more!

Daytime activities will include sold-out classes in Lindy hop and related jazz and partnered dances for all levels, a self-guided walking tour of Harlem hot spots, an attempt to host the world’s largest Jack and Jill competition in Central Park, a family-oriented free and open-to-the-public presentation and demonstration by author Cynthia Millman, Dawn Hampton and New York’s best Lindy hoppers at the Professional Children’s School and many community-organized outings throughout the city.

All evening dance events and pre-dance presentations will be held in the Hammerstein and Grand Ballrooms in the Manhattan Center located on 34th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in New York City. Afternoon events will be held throughout the city.

Tickets for individual events taking place May 22-25 are available at the door. This is a non-profit event, and all proceeds will go toward the establishment of a Frankie Manning
Fund/Foundation to support Frankie's legacy and to promote swing music
and dance all over the world.

For a complete schedule and more information, go to Frankie 95.

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