Monday, January 30, 2012

Gotta Dance? Swing It Over

There are swinging parties in Manhattan nearly every night. The trick is in knowing where to find them. Take a recent Thursday: Sandwiched between a Blarney Stone and a liquor shop on Eight Avenue just south of Penn Station and up four flight of stairs was a scene invisible to most New Yorkers. Wild and sweaty, loud and crowded, it featured scores of smiling, ever-shifting couples energetically executing the kinetic choreography of the Lindy Hop, the Charleston, the Jitterbug, the Balboa, the Carolina Shag. They danced East Coast and West Coast styles and bluesy New Orleans freestyle.

This party, the Frim Fram Jam, is a weekly event organized by the local chapter of a national swing dance network called Yehoodi, after "Who's Yehoodi (Yehudi)?," a song popularized by Bob Colloway. Held at a studio called You Should Be Dancing and drawing more than 150 people a week, the Frim Fram Jam is a popular destination withing a throbbing, urban subculture: Manhattan's swing dance demimonde. The scene is the recent revival of a phenomenon that stated quietly in New York in the mid-1980s, waxed and then waned and then grew popular again in the decades that followed until the best swing dance spots were forced to close for lack of revenue in the new century.

Now enjoying a renaissance that began around three years ago, the current swing dance milieu consists of a network of clubs, events, instructors, dancers, DJs and bands. It is characterized by its own celebrities, etiquette and conventions, and enabled by social networking, particularly the New York City Swing Dance Group of and This scene is scored by composers whose names form the spine of the Great American Songbook: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Isham Jones and of course, Cab Collaway. (NYT)

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Monday, January 23, 2012

4th Gatsby Malaysia Finals

The most anticipated Malaysian Finals in the 4th Gatsby Dance competition has come to a close with the crowning of the new rising star - Rebounce Crew. The final dance-off was held on 14 January 2012 at Neverland Club, Kuala Lumpur with a huge turnout from entourage of fans and media buddies. The contest in its fourth year running saw a record-breaking 114 entries form solo and group acts. Not only has the number of entries doubled from last season's records; the contest has also attracted over 25,000 Facebook followers, putting Malaysia way ahead of other Pan Asia countries.

During the voting period from 14 November till 16 December 2011, 59 video entries were short-listed by judges for online voting. Six contestants with the highest number of 'like' by Facebook fans together with 4 winners from on-ground auditions moved on to battle it out in the Malaysia Finals. This season's panel of judges comprised of Japanese celebrity dance guru Fishboy, Floor Fever leader Boojae Fadzil and Fellest Yan of Royal Phantom Crew.

Rebounce Crew walked away with RM2000 cold cash plus and all-expenses paid trip to participate in the Asia Grand Finals in Tokyo. Following in the footsteps of Jackson Chua and Alex Poppin' Rex, both past champions of Malaysia Finals and Asia Grand finals, Rebounce Crew now represents Malaysia with the hope of winning the Greatest Gatsby Award in the Asia Grand Finals, Tokyo on 10 March. Second and third place went to School Brotherz and Teh Pitt Den. Each of them won RM1000 and RM500 respectively.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Live To Dance

Live To Dance was a television reality programme and dance competition in the United States. Dancers from all over the US auditioned for Live To Dance in specially constructed 'dance domes'. All genres of dance were allowed and there was no age limit. The youngest contestant was a 9 year-old kid whilst the oldest was a 90 year-old granny. Shortlisted contestants in the auditions would go on to fight it out in the semi-finals and finals where the winner was awarded the prize of $500,000.

The show premiered in the USA on 4 January 2011 and was headlined by dance choreographer, singer and former American Idol judge Mariah Carey as lead judge with Andrew Gunsberg as host. The other two judges were former Pussycat Dolls member Kimberly Wyatt, and Travis Payne, a long-time choreographer of the late Michael Jackson.

In the first show which was screened on 8TV Malaysia on 12 January 2012, eighteen contestants participated in the audition. Among the dances which were performed were hip hop, breakdance, krump, Cuban rumba, tap and contemporary. There was also an Indian bhangra dance. Overall the show was quite entertaining and fun to watch. It was announced that Live To Dance wouldn't return for a second season.

Monday, January 9, 2012

4 Popular Belly Dance Styles

Belly dancing originated from the Middle East and as such there are many different forms of styles that have developed in different countries and regions. The most popular and recognized style is Cabaret/Egyptian that is glitzy and flamboyant, however there are several other styles that are becoming more popular around the wold.

1. Zambra Mora - Zambra Mora is a form of belly dancing that is infused with flamenco dancing. Not only does it use Middle East styles but the music is played on Spanish instruments such as guitar. Today Zambra Mora is famed for its chest circles and shimmies as well as the posturing associated with flamenco dancing.

2. Khaleeji - Originating in the Arabic peninsula, Khaleeji is different from the styles that are favoured in Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey. Instead of hip movements, Khaleeji focuses on foot movement and as well as spinning. There is also a lot of movement in the upper torso and shoulders, allowing the dancers to toss their hair from side to side.

3. American Tribal Dancing - American tribal Dancing was founded in California, USA in the 1970's and is performed in groups as opposed to solo dancers. The group's head leads the dance signalling moves to the others via hand signals. Props are also used such as finger cymbals and even swords!

4. Gothic Belly Dancing - the bright colours of belly dancing may not be something that would have an immediate association with Gothic styles, but over the years a form of Gothic Belly Dancing has evolved. Known for their intensity, Gothic Belly Dancing incorporates elements of life and death to its styles making for a trance-like dance that utilises the styles of both the East and the West. (

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

You've gotta dance like nobody's watching
Love like you'll never get hurt
Sing like there's nobody listening
And live like it's heaven on earth

I came across this poem while browsing through Wikipedia. The above poem is attributed to William Watson Purkey (born 22 August 1929), an educator and professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA. An active writer, Purkey has published nearly a hundred professional publications and written more than a dozen books. At his lectures, Purkey used to close his speech with the above quotation and it has now made it into the public domain.

Although Purkey is the source of the above poem, it has been attributed to many others. Lines from it were included in the song Come From The Heart written by Susannah Clark and Richard Leigh in 1987. Whatever it is, the poem written or 're-arranged' by Purkey is a beautiful one. It's about having a zest for life and living life to the fullest. If you dance like nobody's watching and are really enjoying yourselves even if you don't dance so well; it's like heaven on earth!