Summer 2013 · Travel

Summer 2013: The Plan and the Project

It is not even half way through the year and I can already tell that 2013 is going to be one of those years. First, it does help that I officially graduated Florida State University with my bachelors. I also placed for the first time in a national swing dance competition (Lindyfest). But most of all because this year I was reminded more than ever how unconditionally loved I was by friends and family alike.

And like I stated earlier, it’s not even June yet!

Another reason why 2013 will be a year to remember is due to the fact that in less than four days I will embark on adventure! Or rather a research project. But adventure just sounded better.

My friend, David Miller, and I are going to go “across the pond” to Europe (specifically the U.K. and Scandinavia) to study/observe American Folk Dance (better known as the umbrella term “swing dance”) in modern day Europe.

Why do this?

Well, first of all Dance History is a field of study (granted, not a large field, but a field nonetheless). And this is us throwing our hats into the ring.

Basically, swing dance is the first incarnation of original American dance. Everything else, the waltz, the tango, salsa, etc. originated in other countries. Over time America has made its mark on these dances and there have been chronologies of these changes over time.

Due to the resurgence of swing dance since the 1980s, those interested have painstakingly chronicled the progress of vernacular jazz throughout contemporary history in America–one of the best being Jazz Dance by Marshall and Jean Stearns. Even now there are contemporary blogs and articles being written about the current dance movements. And, especially thanks to video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Vimeo, anyone can watch these dances from anytime anywhere.

However, there has been relatively little concerning the state of swing dance in modern day Europe. The American folk dance was brought over by GIs during World War II and unlike in the U.S. it never really died out. It did experience an influx when the original dancers from the 1920s and 30s were rediscovered.

We are going to make observations on the modern styles of swing dance (specifically in relation to the Lindy Hop) and through interviews and the reading of articles from the time of WWII on.

Where are you going?

First, we will travel from Florida to the Netherlands for Smokeyfeet. This gave us a good starting date.

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Over the course of the summer, we will travel (together or separately as our schedules dictate) to England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, back to the Netherlands and finally ending in Sweden with the most renowned swing dance camp in the world, Herräng Dance Camp.

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I anticipate a summer full of romps, hi-jinx, new people, new dances and (most importantly) the completion of completely well thought out and well-written paper about swing dance styles in modern day Europe.

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