Project Connect brings an interactive and participatory swing dance show called “A Day at the Savoy” to nursing homes and senior community centers. Project Connect aims at bringing people together across generations and communities through dance and music. This project is made possible by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
The show is an hour and half long and will be implemented two times this year, once in July, and once in October of 2017, at two different nursing homes in Queens. The show will be open to public, particularly residents’ friends and families. The show will be announced through flyers, social media and the facility’s online network.
In the show, a team of professional Lindy Hop dancers will appear in vintage inspired costumes and dance exciting and highly energetic Lindy Hop routines as they take the audience back to Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, NY, the mecca of swing dancing in 1930’s. The routines are choreographed to the authentic jazz music of the 1930’s and 40’s by big band greats such as Count Basie, Chick Webb and Duke Ellington. The routines will be varied in tempos, movements and moods. Some routines will be exciting and uplifting with various air steps. Some will be calm and melancholy while some will be comedic. Some numbers will be improvised in a jam style where dancers will trade off their moves. The routines will include traditional Lindy Hop movements such as swing outs, Charleston and air steps mixed with other cultural dances such as tap, American Ballroom dance and Polish folk dance. Between each routine, MC will narrate stories that tie all the numbers together.
The show is interactive and participatory. MC and dancers will interact with the audience from time to time and explain the ways to be part of the next routine. Examples include singing along the music, moving bodies, and/or creating rhythm by clapping, stomping and snapping. Once the performance starts, MC and dancers will encourage the audience to participate in the performance giving them queues and guiding them through the routine.
During our “Story Time,” the whole cast will listen to the audience members’ personal stories about dancing and playing music. Furthermore, the show will include a “Vintage Fashion Show,” which will feature some of nursing home residents. At the end of the show, the audience will learn simple moves from a historical line dance called Shim Sham using their feet, hands, upper body, head or all of the above and we all enjoy music and dance together at the end of the show.
The routines will be created by two main choreographers. Choreographers will collaborate with core dancers who bring in substantial expertise and performance experience in various performing arts fields in addition to Lindy Hop.
In preparation for the show, core dancers will work with the newer generations of volunteer dancers. Volunteer dancers are the newer generations of dancers without substantial performance experience. Core dancers will work with volunteer dancers as a mentor.