Swing dancing and Iowa are not commonly thought to go hand in hand, but from Friday, April 11, through Sunday, April 13, the two will be inseparable.
The Lindy Hop, Charleston, Shag and East Coast Swing will become part of the campus vernacular when the University of Iowa Swing Dance Club hosts the third annual Hawkeye Swing Festival at various locations across the UI campus. The event will feature swing bands and dancers from across the Midwest.
For a full schedule of events and registration information, visit http://www.hawkeyeswingfestival.com/
This three-day festival offers swing dancing classes for all levels, social dances that are free and open to the public with live music and disc jockeys, and dancing contests for participating troupes, couples and individuals.
The past two years the UI Flying LindyHawks, the UI's competitive swing dance team, has won the Hawkeye Swing Festival's top competition, the Cutters Cup, and members hope to do the same this year.
"This year we are going to throw in everything we have," Erin Taylor, LindyHawks co-captain, said. Taylor is a UI senior majoring in dance and music and working for a certificate in entrepreneurship. "The teams that are coming in are going to be better than any we've seen, so it will be a fun challenge for us."
More than 150 dancers from 15 schools across the Midwest have already registered to participate in the festival. Four teams have entered the Cutters Cup: a team from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo.; a team from the University of Minnesota; the Twin Cities Swingcapators; and the Flying LindyHawks at the UI.
Two live bands will perform at the festival: Robert Bell's Hot Swing Combo from the Twin Cities in Minnesota will play Friday and the Grand Marquis Swing Band from Kansas City will play on Saturday, both from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Michael Brafford, UI LindyHawks choreographer and founder of the Swing Dance Club, resurrected the Swing Club in the spring of 2005 and began work on the festival in the fall of 2005. Brafford had the idea for the festival even before he enrolled at the UI. He had attended similar events in other cities and wanted to bring the same experience to Iowa.
"Nobody else in the state was doing anything like this," he said. "The festival celebrates our history by preserving the dance and music while also recreating the atmosphere of the ballrooms in the 1920s, '30s and '40s."
Dance competitions will take place on both Friday and Saturday and classes will begin on Saturday and continue through Sunday. Beginning, intermediate and advanced classes take place at various buildings on the UI campus and cover a broad array of classic swing dances including the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug and Charleston. Classes will teach the more advanced topics of "dips and tricks," "random tandem," "blues vocabulary" and "fancy footwork."
An optional challenge class offers the highest level of swing dancing, open only to couples who really know their dance moves. The class is limited to 20 couples and pre-registration is required.
Sunday night the festival extends to Des Moines, where the Grand Marquis will perform one final time at 8 p.m. at Vaudeville Mews, a venue featuring music, theater and film. The cost of this performance is $6 and is not included in the festival packages.
"This is the biggest swing dance event of the year," said Chris Dunlay, vice president of the UI Swing Club and a fourth year pre-medicine and chemistry student. "The Swing Festival is the best opportunity we have to dance and meet with Lindy hoppers from around the region. I schedule everything around this weekend."
All social dances are free for UI students and high school students. The cost of attending the festival, which includes all competitions and classes, is $40 for UI students; $105 for other students; and $130 for nonstudents. Dancers can purchase class packages as well as register for individual events. Classes and packages are also available at the door, depending on availability.
This event is sponsored by the University of Iowa Student Government, KCCK-FM Jazz 88.3, KRUI, Z102.9-FM, Coca Cola, Flicker Creative, The Firefly Creative and Step Into Swing.
For more information or special accommodations, contact Brafford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-490-1945 or visit the LindyHawks' Web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiswing/.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500MEDIA CONTACTS: Michael Brafford, UI Swing Club, email@example.com, 515-490-1945, or George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012, firstname.lastname@example.org. Writer: Jenna Ely; Video: Jay Knoll