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.

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.

The Track - 019 - Remy Kouakou Kouame

Remy Kouakou Kouame with Vincenzo Fesi at ILHC 2014

Remy Kouakou Kouame with Vincenzo Fesi at ILHC 2014

I am joined this month by Remy Kouakou Kouame - Remy began dancing Boogie Woogie at age 6 in his hometown of Montpellier, France, and by 2006 he and his partner Sarrah Montalban became World Boogie Woogie Champions.  Since then, he has become an acclaimed international Lindy Hop and solo jazz instructor who has also earned several titles at the International Lindy Hop Championships.

Remy joined me after ILHC 2016, where he described the competitive world of Boogie Woogie, challenging his own personal fears and insecurities as a competitive swing dancer, his initial impression of Lindy Hop as a dance for losers, and how dancers Ryan Francois and Skye Humphries helped change his mind and discover the “Spirit of Lindy Hop.”

We also discussed the music video “Two Cousins,” which put him on the radar of many Lindy Hoppers, what it’s like working with partners Ramona Staffeld and Alice Mei, why he thinks it’s important to “master the dance before mastering the art of selling yourself,” and why he feels dancers should focus on finding their own groove instead of recreating the past.

The Track 018 - Nalla Kim

Nalla Kim with Karen Turman at ILHC 2012

Nalla Kim with Karen Turman at ILHC 2012

This month I’m joined by Nalla Kim - Nalla has traveled the world as a dancer, instructor, and competitor, and is a mainstay in the booming swing dance scene of Seoul, South Korea.  He runs the swing teams Sweet Heart & Lindy Blossom and brings international instructors and musicians to the thousands of Lindy Hoppers in Seoul though events like Authentic Jazz Weekend, Lindy Blossom Weekend and SEOUL Lindyfest. Nalla made his first appearance at ILHC in 2011 with team Sweet Heart and now he's become one of the regular ILHC judges. He's known around the world for his enthusiasm and passion for Lindy Hop. 

Nalla sat down with me at ILHC 2016 to share how he discovered Lindy Hop, describe the incredible Seoul dance scene, and educate me on some of the history of Lindy Hop in South Korea.

We also discussed his early dance inspirations and his difficulties moving past copying other dancers to develop his own style, his wife Jessica’s professional yodeling, the cultural differences between dancers of South Korea and the United States, and how the global scene may improve discourse when it comes to sensitive or controversial topics.

Nalla asked that I remind listeners that English is not his first language, which I am, of course, happy to do.

 

 

The Track 017 - Mike Thibault

Mike Thibault performs in the Stompology Show 2015

Mike Thibault performs in the Stompology Show 2015

This month, I am joined by my long-time friend, Mike Thibault.  Mike is a driving force in the swing dance scene of Rochester, NY, where he is a founding member of the teaching group Groove Juice Swing and helps organize events like Stompology & Slow Dance Soirée.  Mike has been running Swing Out New Hampshire since 2014, and is also a sought-after DJ, serving as Head DJ for Frankie 100 and spinning at events such as ILHC, Lindy Focus, and numerous lindy exchanges.

We sat down after Stompology 2016 to reminisce about our time as students at Rochester Institute of Technology, where we discovered swing music and learned dance steps from VHS copies of Swing Kids.  Mike clarifies my memories of our early dance adventures, offers some advice for new DJs, and talks about how his passion for history has led him to collaborate with Andrew Nemr and the Tap Legacy Foundation on an archive of American vernacular jazz dance.

We also discuss taking over Swing Out New Hampshire, what is required to foster a welcoming swing dance community, his joy in hosting late night after-parties at the mythical Lindy Compound, and realizing that his contributions to the Lindy Hop community, and not his day job, are his true life’s work.