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Popular dance has played a defining role in the decades that unfolded since the beginning of the 20th century. Americans have always taken to the dance floor to celebrate good times. For the length of a song or two, they also escaped from the harsh realities of wars and the Depression. They challenged and changed social and cultural conventions in dances such as the Charleston and Twist. At heart, though, they simply had fun in one of the most democratic and delightful ways possible.
With steps whose paths wove from the ballroom, nightclub, or street to the stage, film, and television screen—and often back again—people of all ages and economic classes expressed who they were (or aspired to be) on the dance floor. In the Castle Walk or the Stroll, the Shorty George or the Freddy, the Lindy Hop or hip-hip moves, our social dances tell us who we are as individuals and as Americans.
Dan Joyce of George Mason University’s School of Dance follows the footsteps of the past century and decodes the social and cultural meanings behind the moves. In addition, dance teachers and performers Tom Koerner and Debra Sternberg of Gottaswing will bring the Lindy Hop to life in a swingin’ demonstration. Since the program will leave you wanting to hit the floor, they’ll also be a chance to show off your own steps as Joyce leads a fun and easy group dance.
Tom Koerner and Debra Sternberg have been partners in Jitterbug and Lindy Hop since 1987. They began their teaching career with a weekly swing class in 1994. Now their lessons take place five nights a week at nine locations in the Washington area, and they’ve introduced more than 4,000 new dancers to swing each year. See them in action on Gottaswing’s website.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)