Announcing the Blues Dance Project YouTube group!

Discussion and information on pre 1990 Blues dancing styles, techniques and associated music.

Moderator: History Guardian

Announcing the Blues Dance Project YouTube group!

Postby smunky » Tue Mar 13, 2007 4:09 pm

I have just finalized the setup of the Blues Dance Project YouTube group, located at:
http://www.youtube.com/group/bluesdance Please visit the group page, watch the videos, rate them, and comment on them.

This group is dedicated to documenting the personality of Blues dance, its forms, context, and development within the continuum of African-American vernacular dances. The goal is to establish a focused location for historical and modern footage that relates to blues dance. I have uploaded 24 videos already from my own collection, and have many more to process and include in the weeks to come. Included are some very hard to find clips that have not been publicly available before. I am also working with other members of the group to create and add more clips to illustrate specific styles of blues dance over the next few months.

You are welcome to enjoy the videos in the group without joining, but I encourage you to join so you can add blues dance videos of your own and participate in the discussions. If you have suggestions for video you would like to see in the group, drop me a line (through the message feature of the YouTube group).

Thanks,
Charlie Fuller
Moderator & Founder
The Blues Dance Project
www.bluesshout.com
www.blues-dance.com

The Blues Dance Project – Mission Statement
While the roots of Lindy Hop, other swing-era dances, and the music to which they are danced, have been fairly well researched and documented, the history of dancing to Blues music has not yet received the same attention. The history of Blues - the dance as well as the music - is tied to the history of jazz, and this legacy merges with jazz dance as the music evolves, but it also maintains an identity of its own throughout the history of African dance in America. The goal of The Blues Dance Project is to document the personality of Blues dance, its forms, its context, and its development within the continuum of African and American dances and music.

Over the last decade, a modern version of Blues dancing has been quietly evolving. It has been established in parallel to the resurgence of interest in Lindy Hop and has been directly and profoundly influenced by that dance as well as some modern forms of dance and music. As modern social Blues dance has gained momentum and interest across the United States, more and more students of the dance are asking about its history.
The Lindy Hop scene has always had a strong contingent of dancers who stress the importance of staying true to (or at least being familiar with) the original forms of the dance and their reasons for wishing to do so are sound. To be able to fully express yourself through an art form, knowing the background, philosophy, culture, and history of the form are essential. The Blues Dance Project aims to supply the same kind background information and cultural context to the Blues dance form as we have for Lindy Hop.

Blues dance in many ways is the red-headed stepchild of jazz dance. It is many of the steps, movements, and emotions that were too "raw" to be widely adopted in performance or public dance. For this reason, documentation is not as plentiful or easily located as it is for other jazz dance forms.

The Blues Dance Project is the search for this documentation; and the goal is to create a repository of video and film clips, stories, interviews, books, articles, and any other related materials that will help answer the historical questions about dancing to Blues music: "What was Blues dance?" "What is Blues dance?" and "What is it becoming?".
smunky
Robben Ford (Ain't Gonna Worry My Life)
Robben Ford (Ain't Gonna Worry My Life)
 
Posts: 4
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Location: st louis

Postby smunky » Wed Apr 04, 2007 4:19 pm

we have about 10 new videos posted on the group site...check 'em out!
smunky
Robben Ford (Ain't Gonna Worry My Life)
Robben Ford (Ain't Gonna Worry My Life)
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:24 pm
Location: st louis

Postby smunky » Thu Apr 05, 2007 4:04 pm

A number of people have asked about the guidelines for submitting videos to the group, so here goes…

Short Version:
The videos posted in the Blues Dance group will need to adhere to this basic guideline: Videos must either be of a historical nature, relating to blues dance, or of blues dancing where the music is at least blues rooted and the Blues Aesthetic is be present in some form of the dance. (see long version below for more information)

The Blues Aesthetic

The common thread that unites all dances historic and contemporary is the blues aesthetic. This mode of movement epitomizes the defining elements of Blues music in movement. Based on the Africanist movement principles, they have morphed through exposure to European dances and music forms to create a unique blend that can only be called American.

1. An athletic, grounded, "Earth as Center" or "get-down" body posture and movement, characterized by the weight being held on the balls of the feet, the knees bent over the balls of the feet, the hips pushed back, and the front of the shoulders or the sternum pitched forward over the knees. In this posture a dancer should be able to step in any direction without having to shift their body first.

2. An asymmetry and polyphonic look/feel to the body, characterized by an equality of body parts. No limb or part is given precedence over another, but they all work together both in a simultaneous and serialized fashion. The center of "energy", focus and even weight shifting moves through various parts of the body; polycentric.

3. Rhythmic movement. Not just auditory but visual. Rather than a single rhythm being used in/with the body mutiple meters or rhythms are used. Articulated movement in the torso (chest, rib cage, pelvis, butt) identifying and emphasizing different rhythms.

4. Improvisation between dancers and on their own movements. All based, no... entrenched in the rhythm of the music.

5. A drawing of the beats, dancing in the space between the beats, pushing and pulling creating a sense of tension both in the body and the body moving through space, while remaining loose and relaxed. The sense of moving through molasses or mud. A relaxed, lazy element to the interaction with the tempo and beats of a song, as if it doesn't matter if you are late, but somehow without seeming to rush always being on time.

The definition of the Blues Aesthetic was created from the combined agreement of the books and authors below (and supported by many more):

Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance
by Marshall Winslow Stearns

Steppin' on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance
by Jacqui Malone

Jookin': The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture
by Katrina Hazzard-Gordon

Notes:
1. Credit where credit is due - Many thanks to Damon Stone and Heidi Fite for compiling, writing, and coordinating these guidelines
2. This same information is available in the discussion section of the youtube group. Questions or further discussion are welcomed there as well.
smunky
Robben Ford (Ain't Gonna Worry My Life)
Robben Ford (Ain't Gonna Worry My Life)
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:24 pm
Location: st louis


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