In this episode, I am joined by dancer, instructor, and choreographer Ryan Francois. Following a chance encounter with a poster promoting “‘Thirties dancing with Judo throws” in the early 1980’s, Ryan has since become master of Lindy Hop, jazz, and tap. He is a two-time winner at the US Open and American Swing Dance Championships, has taught and performed around the world, and his choreography and performances on stage and screen have inspired generations of modern Lindy Hoppers.
Ryan joined me in New York City to talk about his discovery of Lindy Hop as a poor black teenager from East London, how profoundly the films “A Day at the Races” and “The Spirit Moves” impacted his life, and how connecting with the dance and such legends as Mama Lu Parks, Norma Miller, Pepsi Bethel and Frankie Manning shaped his sense of self and history.
We also discussed the evolution of his career from traveling performer and competitor to choreographer on films like “Swing Kids” & “Malcolm X,” and the Tony-nominated musical “Swing!,” the legacies of the individuals that have carried the torch of Lindy Hop, and the thing he has yet to accomplish in a career that has touched nearly every aspect of show business.
Thanks to Alletta Cooper for her production assistance on this month's episode!