|Minn Vo & Stephanie Klausman|
Swinging into the New Year with the lively music and dancing of Jump, Jive an’ Wail was an auspicious beginning to 2013! Guest conductor Victor Vanacore entertained us with several of his own unique arrangements of swing and big band standards, not to mention with his light-hearted banter.
Something’s Coming Blues, based on the song from West Side Story, was one of my personal favorites, along with Over the Rainbow and Great American Blues (Bassie Salute).
The orchestral blend added new life and richness to old favorites – I was pleasantly surprised at the incongruous Viennese Waltz string section in Take the A Train! On the other hand, the classic Opus One failed to get my toes tapping, perhaps because the tempo seemed a bit draggy for a jive.
Both solo sax artists were exceptional, as was the drummer, Vanacore’s son, He was the heartbeat of every song, pumping the life blood of rhythm into each orchestral piece.
But of course, the centerpiece of the evening was the dance team of Minn Vo and Stephanie Klausman. This pair, known for their authentic period stylings of dances from the swing era, shed new light on the distinctive characteristics of each dance. In today’s world of social and even competitive ballroom, there is a tendency for dancers to do the same family of swing or fox trot steps regardless of the music being played.
Not so with Minn and Stephanie, who danced a beautifully synchronized, true fox trot with a series of hops in closed hold that fit perfectly to the tempo and light-hearted feel of Almost Like Being in Love. Big band arrangements of songs like these are usually too fast for an American style or standard fox trot, yet too slow for a quickstep. Although this type of choreography is seldom seen any more on the ballroom dance scene, it would be a useful addition to the social dance curriculum for venues featuring big band and Swing Era music.
Also enhancing the orchestra were Minn and Stephanie’s renditions of Charleston, Lindy Hop, and West Coast swing. All in all, Jump, Jive an’ Wail gave us a glimpse back into the legendary era of swing and made for a delightful evening.
© 2013 Laurie Collett