Lindy Hoppers Convene for Basie Ball

From October 7-9, legions of new and old fanatics for the swing-era “lindy hop” dance will descend on New York City to participate in a wide variety of swing-related activities, including the Basie Centennial Ball on October 9. The ball, to be held in Columbia University’s Roone Arledge Auditorium, is the product of a collaboration between Yehoodi.com, a Web site devoted to the lindy hop, and Jelly Roll Productions, both of which have managed to bring together a number of living Basie dance alumni to perform once again to the music of Count Basie. Original Basie band members Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Joe Wilder, Benny Powell, Irene Reid and Dennis Rowland will sit in with Frank Foster’s 12-piece big band for a show that will also include guest performances by Junior Mance and Barbara Morrison.

“Count Basie’s music is made for dancing. It’s more than just playing notes on a page,” said Foster in a press release. “We feed off of what the dancers are doing on the floor and they pick up on what we’re doing on the bandstand, and next thing you know the night has flown by and you’ve never played better.”

In addition to the ball, there are numerous other planned events for the weekend. Inspired by Art Kane’s 1958 photograph of over fifty legendary jazz musicians posing on the steps of an apartment in Harlem (the photo can be viewed at www.greatmodernpictures.com/pictures.htm), a New York photographer will attempt to recreate the mood and the meaning of the 1958 photo by shooting one the group of attending lindy hoppers at Columbia University.

The weekend will also feature a revival of the classic dance-off Hellzapoppin,’ which will be held both Friday and Saturday night, with the final competition during the last band break of the Basie Centennial Ball. The final round will be judged by six former Harvest Moon Ball champions and will be danced to the song “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,” played live by the Count Basie Centennial Band in front of an expected audience of 1,000 people. The competition originated from the 1941 film of the same name, which featured a lindy hop sequence memorable for its raw energy and spirit.

The ball will also include the first annual Lindy Hop Awards, sponsored by Yehoodie.com, which will honor four individuals who have made “important significant contributions to the dance in both the golden and in the modern eras.” This year’s recipients are Frankie Manning, “Shorty” George Snowden, Steven Mitchell and Erin Stevens.

Two panel discussions will also be held to honor and remember Count Basie and the lindy hoppers. A panel on Sat., Oct. 9 will feature Frankie Manning and some of the top Basie alumni, who will comment on Basie’s life and work. A panel on Sun., Oct. 10 will focus on “Shorty” George Snowden and the roots of the lindy hop competition. Panelists will recount memories of their favorite dancers and remark on the legacy that competitions such as the weekly contests at the Savoy and the Harvest Moon Ball have left on modern lindy hop.

More information and a full schedule of events can be found online at www.Basie100.com or by calling David Jacoby at 212-677-1476.