Welcoming Solo Jazz

Every year that I've attended Lindy Focus, I've loved the messages that the organizers include on the front page of their event booklet. They are relevant (often addressing current topics that the broader Lindy Hop community is working through), inspiring (challenging their attendees to try something new, or make the most of the week, etc.), and heartfelt (written by their head organizers who have prepped for the event all year and truly care about their attendees and the Lindy Hop community at large).

As an attendee at Lindy Focus, reading this message upon arrival always helps set the tone of the event for me. It gives me a glimpse into the work that goes into hosting the event and explains the vision that the organizers have for it, which is especially enlightening because events as wonderful as Lindy Focus grow and change year after year! It somehow puts all the attendees on the same page, brings people together with a common intention, and supports the event in a way that an announcement during a dance in front of all those same attendees may not accomplish.

Perhaps I'm an academic or enjoy written word, but these messages have stuck with me. This year, our organizing team for both Slow Dance Soiree and Stompology have released similar welcome messages. I'd like to share one here, because these are two topics that I am personally working on quite a bit, and I'd love to converse more with all you fellow solo jazz dancers & Lindy Hoppers! Find me for a dance or a drink or a conversation this weekend or at the next event we cross paths!

Let's talk solo AND jazz: unique, weird, relevant, influential, and important solo jazz.

Photo by David Mudre at Stompology 2016.

Stompology XII is here! We can't wait to share the dance floor this weekend, inspired by the music, our instructors, and our friends (you!). For 11 years, Stompology has been a place for jazz dancers to focus on solo movement: learning during challenging classes throughout the day, then leaving it all on the dance floor at night (and all night at the Lindy Compound). We Lindy Hoppers know how to have a good time, and the social buzz that resonates for weeks after this event each year is unparalleled. This year, in addition to the friendships and the Lindy Hop, we invite you to reflect on two things: 1. Solo and 2. Jazz.

  1. Solo. What does this mean to you? Celebrate your uniqueness on the dance floor. Figure out what lights your fire. Find your voice. In class, what are some takeaways that you can practice solo at home? In the partnered jazz dance that is Lindy Hop, acknowledge and boost your individuality using your unique jazz! In Lindy Hop partnerships, who are individuals you look up to? The more you know about yourself, your dance, and your values, the more you can bring to your partnered jazz dancing and the jazz dance community. ️

  2. Jazz. What is jazz, in context and culture? Jazz has changed over the eras, with both the music affecting our culture, and our culture affecting the music. How does jazz music affect your dance, your mood, your creativity, and your community? What new lessons would you like to learn about jazz? There are foundations of jazz that are of historical and educational significance integral to our jazz dance, no matter how our community changes through the years. The jazz music and the jazz culture support jazz dance. ️

We look forward to discussing many of these topics and more during the Panel Discussion on Context and Culture in Jazz on Saturday afternoon. But we also hope these topics resonate with you, so that we can embody both elements of solo jazz this weekend and beyond. Jump into that jam circle, solo. Support your partner's creativity when they go out on a limb and try something different than you. Cheer for those musicians, and strike up a conversation with them between sets. Get into the thick of it at the Lindy Compound, bringing up issues that matter to you, like the importance of renaming that social dance competition or that jazz step. Or maybe, in the midst of the high-energy dancing, take a moment all to yourself, secluded on the balcony, to just take it all in. Let's bring the solo AND the jazz to Stompology this year: unique, weird, relevant, influential, and important solo jazz. See you on and around the dance floor, ~ Rebecca, Mike, Corinne, & the Stompology Crew

Big shout out and THANKS to Mike Thibault, Corinne Hopkins, and the whole Groove Juice Swing & Stompology crew for everything you do to bring this community wonderful solo jazz (& solo AND jazz)!!

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