Frankie Manning: 1914-2009, Part 1

Posted on August 27, 2009. Filed under: Entertainment | Tags: , , , , , |

Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop

Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop

Dear readers and listeners:

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back to podcasting! That is the good news. The sad news is that an interview I conducted earlier this year with the legendary Frankie Manning turned out to be his last. Frankie Manning, known and loved all over the world as the “Ambassador of Lindy Hop” passed away just before his 95th birthday this year. I feel extremely fortunate to have had this conversation with him before he fell ill. As a longtime lindy hopper and dancer myself, his words and feelings resonated with me quite deeply, as I’m sure they will with you.

Swing dancer extraordinaire Frankie Manning was a leading dancer at Harlem’s legendary Savoy Ballroom where, in the mid-1930s, he revolutionized the course of the lindy hop with his innovations, including the lindy air step and synchronized ensemble lindy routine.

As a featured dancer and chief choreographer for the spectacular Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, he performed in numerous films including Hellzapoppin’, and entertained on stages around the world with jazz greats Ethel Waters, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Cab Calloway.

Upon the demise of the Swing Era, Frankie took a job in the Post Office, where he worked for thirty years until his rediscovery by a new generation of swing dance enthusiasts in the mid-1980s. Since then, he’s been in constant demand and motion, teaching, choreographing, and performing globally. He won a 1989 Tony Award for his choreography in Black and Blue, and served as a consultant for and performed in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. Frankie’s activities have been chronicled in hundreds of articles (including features in GQ and People) and dozens of news programs (including a profile on ABC’s 20/20).

Considered the world’s leading authority on the lindy, he is highlighted in Ken Burns’s acclaimed documentary, Jazz. His autobiography, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, co-written by Cynthia R. Millman, was published by Temple University Press in spring 2007.

I hope you all will enjoy Frankie’s last interview. Below is part one of my conversation with him. To read more about this amazing man and his lifetime of achievement, visit his web site at http://www.frankiemanning.com.

My heart goes out to his family and I know I speak for many many people when I say, he will be missed.

Listen here:

Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop – Part 1

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Conversation With Ted Louis Levy – Part 2

Posted on March 19, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

At last, I present to you the second half of my conversation with Ted Louis Levy. You are in for quite a treat! In this segment, we discuss the latter part of Ted’s career, Barack Obama, and someone does a Bill Cosby impersonation!  I’m not telling who… you’ll have to listen for yourself.

I left in a little bit that was at the end of Part 1 to put it into context and maintain continuity.

Enjoy!

A Conversation with Ted Louis Levy – Part 2

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A Conversation With Ted Louis Levy – Part 1

Posted on March 5, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Ted Louis Levy

Ted Louis Levy

Ted Louis Levy has not only been my teacher in tap dance and in life, but my friend.  I recently spent over two hours on the phone with Ted to do this interview.  I have broken it out into two parts to make it a bit easier to digest.  I have been blessed to have Ted in my life and am excited to share our conversation with you!

Ted’s professional training began in Chicago with Mr. Finis Henderson II,  Master Tap Dancer and former manager of Sammy Davis Jr.  Mr. Henderson encouraged Ted to pursue a professional career in the performing arts, which began at The Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.  Mr. Levy made his Broadway debut in the smash hit Black & Blue.  He collaborated with George C. Wolfe and Gregory Hines on the Choreography of Jelly’s Last Jam, for which he received a TONY NOMINATION, DRAMA DESK NOMINATION  and the 1993 OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD.  Ted was awarded an EMMY AWARD for his television debut performance in the PBS Special Precious Memories, and appeared in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X for his film debut.  His production of Ted Levy and Friends, directed by Gregory Hines, celebrated Ted as one of America’s premier Tap Dance Artists.  Influenced by Mr. Hines, Ted acquired his directorial debut as Director of Savion Glover’s, Dancing Under The Stars at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Delacorte Theater.  He also assisted in the choreography of Broadway’s Tony Award winning hit Bring In ‘Da Noise! Bring In ‘Da Funk!  Ted appeared in the movie Bojangles with Gregory Hines, returning to Broadway as Papa Jack in Susan Stroman & Harry Conick Jr.’s Thou Shalt Not. Ted portrayed the roll of The Mikado in The Ford Theater’s production of The Hot Mikado.  For which he won a HELEN HAYES AWARD.  Performed in  Sammy; a production based on the musical life of Sammy Davis Jr. Ted’s most recent venture is his own rendering of a production entitled The Rhythm Of Life.

Listen here:

A Conversation with Ted Louis Levy – Part 1

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