Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Remembrance: Frankie Manning (1914-2009)

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I'm no expert on Frankie Manning or the lindy hop, but both are worth knowing about regardless of any indirect connection with physical comedy. Manning made it to just short of his 95th birthday, active almost to the end, and left behind a lifetime of achievement in developing and popularizing the lindy hop. The NY Times obituary is a good starting point, but also check out the Frankie Manning web site and the Wikipedia entry.

The lindy hop is not comedy, per se, but it does share that uninhibited exuberance and pure joy in over-the-top movement with the best of physical comedy. It also shares some specific partner vocabulary, especially in using leverage and counterbalance to flip each other this way and that. The lindy hop clip from the 1941 movie Hellzapopin', based (way too) loosely on the 1938 landmark stage hit of the same name, is considered by many to be the best example of the form captured on film. It was choreographed by Manning, who is the dancer in overalls. Enjoy!

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