The Track - 025 - Cynthia Millman

Cynthia Millman at her home in New York City

Cynthia Millman at her home in New York City

This month is the 10th anniversary of the publication of the autobiography Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, and I am thrilled to be joined by its co-author, Cynthia Millman. A long-time Lindy Hopper in her own right, Cynthia first met Frankie Manning in 1986.  She performed with the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers for five years under his artistic direction, and later studied, taught, partnered, and lectured with Frankie.  She is Library Director at The Town School in Manhattan, has contributed articles to Dance MagazineThe International Encyclopedia of Dance, and African American National Biography, and has served on the board of directors of the Frankie Manning Foundation since its inception.

I joined Cynthia at her home in New York City to talk about her own discovery of Lindy Hop, the NYC swing dance scene of the 1980s & 1990s, and how the modern Lindy Hop world compares to that period, commonly referred to as the “swing revival."

We also discussed what it was like writing the book with Frankie, some of her favorite stories that did and didn’t make it into the book, and reflected on Frankie’s legacy, including the work done by the Frankie Manning Foundation.

The Track - 024 - Gordon Webster

Gordon Webster performs at the CD release party for "This." at Frim Fram Jam.

Gordon Webster performs at the CD release party for "This." at Frim Fram Jam.

This month, I am joined by pianist and bandleader Gordon Webster.  A piano player since age four, Gordon had his first gig playing for swing dancers in 2001 and he caught the Lindy Hop bug soon after.  His passion, diversity, and musicianship have made him one of the most sought-after musicians in the Lindy hop world, becoming a fixture at events like The Snowball, Lindy Shock, Swing Camp Oz, and Beantown Camp.  His seventh album, entitled “This.” was released this month, and he is currently wrapping up an ambitious Indiegogo campaign supporting that album and an upcoming digital single-of-the-month club.

Gordon and I sat down at his home in New Jersey to talk about his development as a musician, the moment at Swing Out New Hampshire when he realized playing for dancers is what he was meant to do, and how his approach to band leading is different than some other swing bands today.

We also discussed what goes into recording an album, how Mona’s Tuesday night jam session has become the go-to late night destination for early jazz musicians in NYC, and why he finds the ever-changing tastes of the Lindy Hop scene the greatest inspiration for him as an artist today.

Gordon also speaks candidly about Steven Mitchell, the allegations against him, and how that news impacted him personally and professionally.

The Track - 023 - Todd Yannacone

Todd Yannacone with Alice Mei at ILHC 2014

Todd Yannacone with Alice Mei at ILHC 2014

This month, I am joined by international instructor and award-winning swing dancer, Todd Yannacone.

Todd has been a traveling instructor since the age of 16 and has won numerous titles at major national and international events. He is a member of the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame and has taught, performed, or judged in 30 countries around the world.  When at home in New Orleans, Todd can be found performing on guitar or piano with a number of different bands, including his own, Hot Toddy & His Fully Dressed Po' Boys.

Todd and I sat down at Lindyfest 2017 to talk about being dragged to swing dance classes as a teen by his mom, how Hop the Millennium completely changed his perspective on swing dance, finding inspiration in drastically different dancers (and dances), and why he still considers himself a social dancer above all else.

We also discussed what drew him to New Orleans, his custom guitar and clothing, and even though it sometimes gets lost among all of the posture, counterbalance, and footwork, at the end of the day it's the simple act of holding hands and connecting with a partner that really matters when dancing.