The Track - 022 - LaTasha Barnes

LaTasha Barnes at the Dawn Hampton Celebration

LaTasha Barnes at the Dawn Hampton Celebration

This month, I am thrilled to be joined by Juste Debout World House Dance champion, and relative newcomer to swing and solo jazz dance, LaTasha Barnes.   

Tasha and I sat down at Lindy Focus XV to talk about the many twists and turns of her life’s journey - from growing up as a young African-American in the capital of the Confederacy, to 10-year Army veteran, powerlifiting champion & fitness competitor, and an artistic director & educator with Urban Artistry dance company.

We discussed her experience working at the White House under both the George W Bush and Barack Obama administrations, recovering from two debilitating injuries through dance therapy, performing at the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, how a chance encounter led to her introduction to Lindy Hop, and the complex topic of representation and appropriation in the largely-monochromatic modern swing dance community.

The Track - 021 - Josh Collazo

Josh Collazo at Lindy Focus XV

Josh Collazo at Lindy Focus XV

This month, I am joined by one of the top swing drummers in the world, and bonafide rock star, Josh Collazo.

Josh is known to most swing dancers through his work behind the drum kit with bands such as Jonathan Stout’s Orchestra and Campus Five, Dave Stuckey & his Hot House Gang, or perhaps his first band, The Feetwarmers.  But Josh may be better known to more mainstream music fans as the drummer for the Grammy-winning and platinum-selling band, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.

Josh and I sat down after Lindy Focus XV and talked about how he balances those two musical worlds, how his passion for swing dancing in the late 90s influenced his development as a drummer, and what it’s like to fill the shoes of drum legends like Gene Krupa and Chick Webb at the Lindy Focus tribute nights.

We also discussed his early experiences as a bandleader, the technique and music theory of what provides an authentic swing era sound, and how he has gained enough confidence as a swing musician to take the torch and start creating original swing music with his new group, the Candy Jacket Jazz Band.

The Track - 020 - Nathan Bugh

Nathan Bugh at ILHC 2014

Nathan Bugh at ILHC 2014

For December's (slightly delayed) episode, I am joined by instructor, performer, and fellow New Yorker, Nathan Bugh.

Most dancers I’ve talked to on the show are professional Lindy Hoppers in the sense that they make their living traveling from city to city as dance instructors.  While that description definitely applies to Nathan - he has taught with partners Evita Arce and Gaby Cook around the world - he’s also a professional Lindy Hopper of a different type: one who is regularly hired to perform at corporate and commercial events.

We sat down in New York City at the end of 2016 and talked about his experience performing at those commercial gigs, how his education in music composition at Juilliard does (or doesn’t) influence his approach to Lindy Hop, and weighed the relevance of vintage jazz dance in modern popular culture.

Nathan also explained why his unconventional approach to class structure may not necessarily be the best business model, what he means when he refers to the "academic Lindy Hop community,” and how the hot trend of “Gastby” entertainment at commercial dance gigs is in some ways more “real” than what’s found in the dedicated Lindy Hop community.