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Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop Paperback – September 28, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Frankie Manning spread swing dancing's popularity throughout the world while touring with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in the 1930s and '40s. Dance writer and swing dancer Millman conducted extensive interviews with Manning for a vivid account of his career. Manning became a star in Harlem's popular Savoy Ballroom with his unique style, including dancing at a sharp angle to the ground like a track runner, speed and musicality. In a dance competition, Manning astonished the crowd with the first-ever Lindy aerial, or air step (where the man sends his partner flying). Later Manning toured with jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and performed in several films, including Everybody Sings with Judy Garland. After a long hiatus from dancing, he was a consultant for Spike Lee's Malcolm X and coached a new generation of dancers in the swing dance revival of the '80s and '90s. While the first-person accounts of Manning's life capture his vibrancy, humor and charm, the narrative is interrupted by short sections of historical notes; their formality is at odds with Manning's ease and charisma. Still, this vivid memoir by one of swing dancing's innovators and stars is a must for lovers of dance, jazz and African-American history. 36 b&w illus. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"A poet of the dance floor. This book is a must read for any one who loves the dance, amateur or professional. What a life he has lived, and thank God he remembers it all!" Bette Midler, student and fan "The first-person accounts of Manning's life capture his vibrancy, humor and charm...this vivid memoir by one of swing dancing's innovators and stars is a must for lovers of dance, jazz and African-American history." --Publishers Weekly
"Manning's personality comes across via his vivid descriptions of dance contests, the excitement of choreographing, and the lindy's decline and revival. He also discusses the racism he faced in the U.S. Army during World War II and while on tour...This is an interesting and significant piece of the swing dance record valuable for its oral history. Recommended for academic libraries with dance history collections." --Library Journal
"Sit down with the book and you will feel you've sat down with Frankie in person to hear the wonderful story of his life." --Swing Dancer Magazine
"Manning has aged gracefully in spirit...sounding likeable and constantly refraining from grinding axes or settling scores, in what is a very readable memoir." --j.b. spins
"Frankie Manning has now emerged to share the most informative creative insight to date...sensitively co-written by Cynthia Millman, the book throws new light on broad swathes of original jazz dance practices...FRANKIE MANNING chronicles the dedication, rehearsals, and heard-earned technical virtuosity of a dance form often seen as reckless exuberance. Unlike most writing on the subject, Frankie's detailed acknowledgment of his various Linda partners subtly guides the reader to the dance's reciprocally rhythmic defining character. Frankie's disciplining of his body clearly matches the determination of his intellect that through telling his story significantly enlarges our understanding of 20th century popular dance." --Dancing Times
"On the crowded dance floor of Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, a nimble young New Yorker named Frankie Manning found his calling. Manning became a swing dancer who helped refine and popularize the Lindy Hop -- that remarkable, airborne style of terpsichorean Americana -- and go on to teach it to eager dancers his grandkids' age. In this good-humored, oral history-style autobiography, Manning covers a jumpin' and jivin' career that won't quit. (The 93-year old dancer recently showed off his classy moves at Seattle's Century Ballroom.) Making "guest appearances" here are many great dancers and musicians from the Swing Era and beyond. And among the many delightful photos is a publicity glossy of star hoofer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson inscribed, 'To Frankie, The Greatest Lindy Hopper of Them All.'" --The Seattle Times
"Assembled from interviews Millman conducted with Manning over 13 years, joins Norma Miller's Swingin' at the Savoy, written with Evette Jensen (also published by Temple, 1996), in recounting how some African American social dances gained international renown...Well-chosen photographs evoke the era and confirm the vibrancy of the dance forms. Appendixes providing a Manning time line, biographical sketches of Lindy hoppers, and a listing of swing dance resources greatly enhance the volume... Summing Up: Recommended." Choice "An engaging narrative with a dose of Linda lore." --Dance Teacher
"The timeline of Frankie's life, great photos, and an extensive listing of swing resources will keep you glued through the last page." --Dance Spirit
"This is an important book for anyone who is interested in lindy hop or the swing era...If you're a lindy hopper, you should own this book!" --Swingjazzblues
"The book serves as an insightful social history of the 20th century and the American vernacular jazz dance - a gem for anyone interested in this history of dance...Manning and Millman's book is not only a gift to the contemporary Lindy Hop scene, but a must-read for all dancers." --Dance Today
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For me the book is about much more than dancing Lindy Hop. It's about how to live your life which is finding your passion and becoming the best, not to become famous or rich, but because it gives you purpose and that gives others inspiration. Thanks for putting Frankie's life into words. He is someone I wish my kids, grand kids and all future generations could have met. I hope this book soon becomes a movie so all the world can once again see Frankie Manning on the dance floor.
I've been hearing Frankie tell his inspiring stories for a long time now, but never with this rich detail and the larger historical context provided by Ms. Millman to back them up.
From his days as a child at rent parties to the heyday of the Savoy Ballroom to performing internationally with the dance troupe Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, you follow the exciting growth of a young dancer. Then we follow Frankie into the war years and his dropping out of the swing world for several decades. Fortunately in the 1980s, Frankie is coaxed out of retirement and continues to do this day to teach and inspire others about this wonderful dance.
Throughout it all, you cannot help but be touched by Frankie's grace, style and humor in navigating tumultuous, often racially-charged situations. I want to be Frankie when I grow up.
A great read for anyone interested in African-american history, dance, or jazz.