Black Lives Matter – Anti-Racism Resources

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Hello friends, below I share some links to peers, influencers and activists who have made simple to follow reading lists, things to listen to, people to follow, actions to take and causes to support in dollars and cents, pounds and pence or whatever your currency (and volunteering, protesting and canvasing totally counts).

I am using this time to reflect on my own dance practice, teaching pedagogy and purchase patterns and to assess and implement the things that are sustainable for me. Firstly – I dance a Black dance form and I am a guest in this culture. Secondly – I am an educator and need to understand and share the contextual historical backdrop of Black racism in America with each of my students as they learn jazz and lindy hop. Finally, this appreciation, knowledge and context will only amplify the appreciation of the incredible music, movement and joy of lindy hop and its creators.

As stated above, I share below some resources. This list isn’t exhaustive. It’s an entry point for me to begin to have the language and context to have deeper conversations about structural racism.

Anti-Racism Resources (this has articles, books, podcasts, media, causes to donate to and more).

Syncopated City dance school compiled a reading list with some recommended podcasts, causes to donate too or share and ways to invite Black artists to participate in swing dance events.

My friend Tine shared a number of posts by Moncell Durden and he’s been a great person to follow on Instagram. Moncell Durden is a dance educator, choreographer, ethnographer, embodied historian and author who specializes in pedagogical practices that prove cultural and historical context in Afro-Diasporic social dance formations (bio from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance website). He has been hosting IGTV video discussions with dancers, dance historians and legacy bearers on ‘Intangible Roots’. I have found these really helpful – particularly the episode and over time with dancer, educator and Tradition Bearer Latasha Barnes.

Free until the 30 June, the Diversity and Resilience Institute of El Paso is sharing an online 3 module Anti-Racism training course found here. It’s three 2 hour modules. Register at the link above. If you’d like to discuss the training when you’ve completed it – I’d love a discussion partner/buddy.

Resmaa Menakem’s 5 session e-course has also been recommended to me and is also a free resource from the Cultural Somatics University. As above, if anyone wants to discuss this course when they’ve taken it as a discussion buddy – I’d welcome it.

Keep well and speak soon.

Looking to start dancing while in lockdown?

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There are many exceptional teachers making great online content while everyone is in lockdown. I’m going to update this post with links to where you can find dance lessons, playlists and swing related content. Check up for updates.

If you have online swing dance classes, a Patreon or virtual event you’d like me to list – send me an email at nancyhitzig[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll add it.

Links are listed in no particular order and currently are the ones I know about – as above – get in touch if you’d like me to add you.

Swing Dance Classes, Content and Routines
iLindy.com
Swinging the Blues Project – Marie N’diaye
Jazz From Afar with Cat Foley
Swing Patrol
Robyn Larsen
Michaela Delmonte
Gustav and Laia – Until the Real Thing Comes Along
Swing Out Manchester
Alicia Brockenbrow
Sharon Davis
Michael and Evita aka Syncopated City
Sarah Spoon
Rebecca Kelsall
Hula Boogie Online 1950s Dance School
Andreas Olsson
Jenny Thomas
Katie Cobalt 
Wendy Steatham
52nd Jump Street
Swing Dance UK
Jiveswing
Hot Jazz Rag aka Nikki Santilli

Dance, Music and DJ Focused
Swing Channel
Sarah Spoon 
Swing Stuff Podcast 
A fantastic spreadsheet compiled by Daphna Harel listing bands from all over the globe and links to buy their music now!

Workshops
9 May 2020 w/ Marie N’diaye

Check back for updates to this post.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re safe and well.

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Wherever you are, I hope you’re safe and well. And that you and those you care about are well.

I wanted to share where I’m at and where I am. I’m safe. I’m well. I’m with my parents.

I quit my job
I’ve contemplated pursuing dance full time for in my quiet heart since 2008. More openly since 2015.

I’ve kept a day job alongside my dance practice for almost my entire working life. At times I’ve worked 3 jobs – my day job, consulting and dancing – building an economy where I could rely less and less on a salaried role and train and perform more. I promised myself I’d give myself a year when I turned 30 to focus on dance. 30 came and went. Then 31. Then 32. I’m now 33 turning 34 on 21 May.

I quit my day job and my last day in full time employment was 27 February. On the 1 March, I flew to California for a brief stopover to see my parents who were on holiday, then I flew onward to do a dance residency with the folks at Swing Mexico intended for two months – the kick off to my self-employment. Thanks to COVID-19, that residency lasted 10 days.

Why Toronto
I’d packed up my belongings in London expecting to couch surf and move upon my return in May. When the PM of Canada announced that it was time for ‘Canadians abroad to come home’ – I wrestled with staying in Mexico where my health insurance was void (thanks to the pandemic) and where my fluency wasn’t adequate if I took sick. My friend Dave said to me ‘anxiety weakens the immune system’ and his words rang in my head as I thought about my parents and how we’d cope if one of the family took sick. I went to the airport that day and booked a one way ticket to Toronto.

I booked a place to self-isolate for the mandatory 14 days, I stayed with a friend for 14 days, now I’m staying with my parents.

When I decided to get on the plane – I didn’t exactly realise that I was ‘moving home’ for an indefinite period of time. That fact rolls over my like a wave, sometimes I ride the top of it, sometimes I feel the crash and the undertow. I am safe. I am well. I am with family. The rest will reveal itself in time.

So what am I doing?
I’m mourning.
I was so excited to train my partnered lindy hop. It felt like the beginning of the rest of my life where I could train everyday and be the kind of dancer I can see in my mind’s eye.

I’m focusing on what is in my control. I’ve had a host of health conditions that have resulted in weight gain. In my excitement to train, was also the unspoken desire to feel  in my best physical form. I have artistic ideas that require greater strength and agility – I don’t need a partner to hone that. Mercifully, I have dear friends who have rented me some studio space here so I have somewhere to practice. Training is my job right now. I’m focusing on that except when I can’t and then I’m watch Netflix and drinking wine.

I’m feeling my feels and checking in on others. I’m crying when it comes, feeling angry when it comes, asking for help and managing grief. I am checking in on my dear ones and those who are alienated. I’m simultaneously feeling the above alongside love for family, universal healthcare, worldwide friendships, the internet, music, mobility and access to fresh food. All the things at the same time.

Being  indulgent and quiet feels good. Being helpful feels good – when I have energy to spare. I’m making it up as I go along really. Many of my dearest friendships are distance friendships so that’s not new – but it’s really nice to have so many ways of connecting.

I’m really looking forward to those first proper hugs when they happen. And that first make out with someone I’d like to make out with. And when I get to dance partnered lindy hop again.

Whatever you’re doing or not doing – cool, respect! I bow to your needs in this crazy time.

Keep well. Be safe. Keep in touch. There’s more to come.

Applications Open: English Heritage calls the nation to ‘Dance for VE Day’

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This May, English Heritage are getting England swing dancing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Over the bank holiday weekend English Heritage will be sending out dance experts to help individuals and local groups learn how to Lindy Hop in true 1940s fashion. Applications open today and after the closing date, English Heritage will choose one application from each county in England.

You can apply to be part of Dance for VE Day from 12 February up until 5pm on 8 March and can find the link for entry by clicking here. Anyone can apply, and English Heritage are especially interested to hear from those planning to get the whole community involved.

For more information on English Heritage’s VE Day plans and for resources on adding 1940s feel to your event go to english-heritage.org.uk/ve-day.

Just Announced: Burlesque Bootcamp

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Happy New Year everyone! I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be putting on a Burlesque Bootcamp class on 1 February 2020 from 14:00-17:00.

Embrace your personal sexiness this year and come and play on 1 February! Space is limited and I’d love to have you. Sexy is a state of mind! No experience necessary and all genders and orientations most welcome.

We’ll cover key concepts, techniques, choreography all in a safe and supportive space.

For details and to register today click here! 

Swing Sister Swing – THANK YOU

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We are still catching out breath, but for now – thank you to everyone who attended, supported, shared, sent goodwill and tolerating endless social media posts about Swing Sister Swing – we couldn’t be more proud and look forward to keeping you updated on our exciting plans for the future of the project. You all rule!!!

Swing Sister Swing and other stories

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I don’t quite know where time goes?! It’s been a few months of professional and personal development. I spent a week in May with beloved friend and colleague, Alberto Denis here in London collaborating on methods to devise and make immersive theatre (generously supported by Canada Council for the Arts).

I received a £10,000 Arts Council Grant for Swing Sister Swing and I’m in the midst of choreographing and rehearsing a piece for Step Change Studios to be performed at Sadler’s Wells on 27 June. It feels like a moment in my creative practice where things are gaining steam and these successes are incredible, but also hard earned.

There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head about where I want to go and what I want to say about partner dance. Thoughts about the unconscious bias I’ve felt as a female follow, how expanding my practice has eased that tension. The unwavering belief that what we make together in partner and social dance doesn’t exist when we’re apart and is radical in nature! And that we need to include and collaborate with musicians more.

I’ll be posting more in the coming weeks discussing these projects but in the first instance why don’t you come and support?

Love inclusion and 1930s glamour? Come join me for a taster class at Eltham Palace and Gardens on the 21 June for Queer Walls, Exploring LGBTQ history at Eltham Palace. For tickets and info click here.

Come support Step Change Studios and Sadler’s Wells on 27 June in the Lillian Baylis Studio. For tickets click here.

Want to see an original lindy hop show about 6 international women and performed to jazz greats and a bangin’ original score by Two Twenty Two Music? Come to Rich Mix on 12 and 13 July. Tickets are available by clicking here.

2018 in numbers

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It’s a bit late, but I always love putting the year into numbers.

Professionally – it was out of sight!! Personally – it was a challenging year with family deaths, a serious medical problem and some difficult questions about my life, my friendships and my well-being. I feel stronger for it and ready to see what awaits in 2019. Thank you for your friendship, love and support. I taught a few less workshops and a few less students this year, but when I consider the incredible things I got to do and make in 2018 – I am deeply grateful and humbled. Here’s to great times and success ahead.

2018 in numbers…
57 days spent with Mama and Papa Hitz – the most since I left Canada in 2013
5 International/UK Workshops with the wonderful Benjamin Robert Cook and Matthew Lane
3 Collaborative/Self-Produced Shows
Of those shows – all 6 performances were SOLD OUT!
850+ Audience members attended these performances
4,000+ Wonderful dance students from all walks of life
100+ Artists coached on income generation and budgeting

2018 firsts…
My first Step Change Studios and Sadler’s Wells Commission
My first time performing at Royal Albert Hall
My first national media feature in this month’s The Dance Current
My first Arts Council England grant towards my own creative project
My first year teaching with Matt Cochrane at Swing Patrol Old Street and making a new piece with him for the Balkan Lindy Hop Championships
My first 1:1 lessons with Ramona Staffeld in Melbourne which have been so influential throughout the year
My first year teaching the JazzMAD curriculum and teaching both lead and follow to some great students (and proving to myself that I can!)
My first full year of consulting and a 4-day work week and I had 3 fabulous clients
The first year I felt more in control of my finances and financial health thanks to good advice from Jo, Lexi and Cat.

More to come on the year ahead. What about you? What are you most proud of and what was the greatest lesson you learned in 2018?

Inclusive Dance

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Almost a year ago, I decided that I wanted to shift my mixed economy to make more room for my dance practice.

It’s crazy to think about how quickly building blocks have fallen into place. I often think about myself as a ‘place maker’ a person who makes room for others to take risks and explore. It’s been a welcome to change to be at the artistic heart of that work as a speaker, facilitator, dancer, choreographer and instructor.

I had an opportunity to work with Step Change Studios December 2017 – my first experience leading a fully inclusive dance workshop for participants with a variety of needs and a variety of mobility. It was eye opening. I was so scared of offending people, or not being adaptable to the setting. Rashmi Becker, the Founder of Step Change Studios, was so supportive through the process and the result was a really powerful two day workshop and short ‘audition’ for a culminating event in Cardiff in April 2018. I can honestly say it was one of the best things I did in 2017.

In May I’ll be taking it one step further. On 9 May, I’ll be presenting a new commission (and performing in it)  at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells. The showcase is entitled ‘Fusion’.

This performance marks my first inclusive commission and my first time presenting and performing work at Sadler’s Wells. Talk about unbelievable! I’m really looking forward to the process and working with my dancers and am so grateful for the opportunity. Want to come? Tickets are on sale now! Click here for more info. 

About Fusion from the Sadler’s website: “Fusion is the UK’s first inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance-inspired showcase, presented by Step Change Studios. Fusion brings together talented professional artists from a wide range of dance backgrounds to push the boundaries of ballroom with beautiful, powerful, performances that redefine the genre. Fusion is an experiment and creative exploration between disabled and non-disabled artists from backgrounds that include Charleston, Swing, Contemporary and Street to develop original pieces inspired by Latin and Ballroom dance.”

Come see the experiment!

Follow Me: A Celebration of Women and Jazz Dance

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6 months ago I asked Cat Foley and Sharon Davis if they wanted to put on a ‘lindy hop scratch night’ – a night to showcase and test new work with a live audience. Cabaret has a tradition of scratch nights, but in the swing-world we often present works very polished or close to their intended version. I worry sometimes that we forget beloved and beautiful pieces of choreography that would suit us better several performances in.

In an effort to make work and to explore and test putting on a show, Cat, Sharon and I presented what can only be described as a polished scratch night, or a smooth draft show. The pieces we wanted to present worked remarkably well and highlighted how different we all are but worked so seamlessly together. Upon reflection, the title ‘Follow Me’ feels more like a movement – where we highlight the creative agency of the follower in a dance and community that has traditionally been heavily leader-biased. Where we explore and test what we have to say.

There were many successes to this test:
1. We broke even (hell yeah)
2. We sold out both shows (thank you!)
3. We led by example (go kick ass women)
4. We demonstrated that you can put work out there that isn’t finished and it will feel like more of a beginning…
5. We assembled a great team who were professional and rock solid for future plans

It was such a fine experiment and it reminded me how good I am at enabling others and how rarely I do it for myself and my professional dreams. I seem to have built a career on enabling mens’ artistic vision. I’m done with that.

I will put on more shows, I will make more work for myself and others, I guess it’s a reminder to believe in my skills and my talent. I believe in making room for others to thrive and enjoy the magic of swing dance, whether they choose to be a participant, an audience member, a fellow performer or a community leader. I truly believe that we must role model the kind of society we want to live in and it can start in asking another human being to dance. This is my truth. I make space for others, but I also need to hold my own space. It’s exhausting because nothing comes easily, but I know that I have something to say and it’s where I belong.

So – Follow Me is a first. Follow us as we reshape what lindy hop and jazz dance performance can be. We will surprise you, I know it. Follow me.