Thoughts on dancing, one word at a time…

Event Review: Stompology

In spite of erupting volcanoes [1], this past weekend Stomopolgy a.k.a. Stompo in Rochester, New York went off without a hitch. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the event, it is a rarity because it is a weekend that focuses only on solo jazz dance. (Its also the name of a catchy song by Lionel Hampton. [2])

As an attendee of past events run by Groove Juice Swing, I had expected a high caliber event in terms of organization. One thing I liked is they had youtube videos to add on to the Stompology Stomp-off, a solo dance routine created by the instructors for the event. It is great because; it is an amazing promotional tool, it fosters a sense of community and camaraderie for those who learn then perform it at the event, and lastly it is a great warm up/learning experience/or review for those going to a solo jazz dance weekend.

I’ll admit though the idea of a how a solo dance weekend is conducted was unfamiliar to me. I had a nagging fear in the back of my head that it would be the crazy energetic routine from hell the entire weekend. However my apprehensions were dashed because this was not the case and there was a good variety of classes, so either days of workshops did not become monotonous.

Classes

I’ll admit I only took six classes this year, partially because I had a little too much fun at the Saturday late night. However like I mentioned above I was pleased in the fact that very few of the classes were the traditional routine classes I find at most weekends. In addition even within the routine classes the instructors focused more on the transitions in between moves, technique behind a move, and how to add in style to make the move your own instead looking like a copy cat.

My favorite class was one I didn’t originally plan to take which was Solo Blues with Evita Arce. But I stuck around for it due to partial laziness of walking to the next building over and coaxing by my one friend from Charlottesville, Virginia.

In the class we learned two short sequences of choreography and then a transition to piece them together. But one of the important points of the class for myself was how Evita illustrated through example of how details such as gaze or hand placement can drastically change the look and feeling of the movement one is trying to present.

Another unique part of the class was we were split up into six different pods and asked to perform the choreography to a song we didn’t know to whatever counts we felt were appropriate. It was a memorable experience seeing how each individual interpreted the song and in the cases of the later groups adjusted their performances based on what they saw in previous pods. The class had a very experimental/modern dance/theater feel to it but I felt gave me a lot of new ideas and concepts to digest and work on.

Dances

For the Friday night dance they had the band the Crescent City Connection which I enjoyed, however some of their songs did drag on for awhile. The Saturday night dance the band Gordon’s Grand Street Stompers played.A noteworthy song for them was their rendition of “Be Our Guest” from the Disney classic movie “Beauty and the Beast”. Sadly they had a beautiful rendition of Avalon which was played the solo jazz finals, however that was probably a delight for the competitors.  On a side note a nice touch was they had performances by local dancers and the instructors for both nights.

As usual the late night dances and hang out time at the Lindy Compound were amazing. If you want a further description of that experience check out my previous review of Steven and Virginie last year. At the Compound and the main dances I just want to give a shout out to DJ Rob Moreland who did a great job at keeping the energy going the entire weekend.

Grill Jam

This year was Rochester’s 4th Grill Jam as well, the premise is everyone brings along food to grill and musical instruments if they are inclined to a local Rochester home. After a weekend of classes and dancing, it is a great kick-back event, a good way to build a community and get to know people who attended the event, and if you brought a bathing suit to go swimming.

My highlight of the night was when Evita Arce and Nathan Bugh sang Crazy Rhythm together during the music jam. I could attempt to describe the event further, but I think these photos courtesy of event photographer Bobby Bonsey [3] do a much better job.

Ross Hopkins, legendary host and epic grillmaster.

Epic Meal Time... Rochester Style

Music jam, featuring songs such as Nagasaki and Crazy Rhythm

Overall

In spite of the many difficulties the organizers faced, Stompology was a great event in my opinion which I received a good education in solo jazz dancing and had a good time as well.

Footnotes

1. Unfortunately due to a volcano erruption, one of the main instructors Mike Faltesek was stranded in Australia. The organizers though managed to bring Mikey Pedroza, as well as Mike Roberts and Andrew Nemr as guest instructors to fill in.

2. Stompology: Lionel Hampton

3. I’d just like to say if you haven’t yet check out Bobby’s albums of Stompology and of Lindy Focus. Besides a high caliber of work, one thing a friend of mine pointed out that I agree with is when Bobby is taking these photos during events he is not intrusive whether it be during competitions, the social dance floor, or at a Sunday house party.

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