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Fast Feet and Swing Music: A Conversation with Lindy Hop Legends

Steve Scher
08/16/2007 at 9:00 a.m.

Lives full of music and dancing. Today; a rare opportunity to hear the personal stories of legends of the Lindy Hop and Tap era. Frankie Manning, his son Chazz Young, Sugar Sullivan, and Dawn Hampton join us in our studios with their stories. We'll also explore how the tradition of dance and music goes on into the future.

Frankie Manning is credited with creating the first air step and first ensemble Lindy Hop routine. Growing up in Harlem, Frankie danced with a dedicated group of people that inspired the dancing and music of the 1930s and 40s. Though he was based at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, Frankie also took his talent on the road as a dancer and chief choreographer for Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. He also performed in several films including Everybody Sings with Judy Garland and Hellzapoppin'. Many jazz greats invited him to join their tours; from Ella Fitzgerald to Duke Ellington. In London in 1937, he performed for King George VI. When swing dancing resurged in 1986, Frankie emerged from his 30-year stint at the United States Post Office, to lead the new generation. In 2000, Frankie was honored with a National Heritage Fellowship award.
Chazz Young is a choreographer and performer, who teaches Lindy Hop to young dancers in Las Vegas. Chazz became serious about dancing at the age of 12, inspired by the performances of his father, Frankie Manning. After dance schooling, he performed with Norma Miller's dance troupe at the famous Apollo Theater with such famous bands as Count Basie. With Miller's Troupe he also traveled extensively in London, Australia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. He continues to actively perform, choreograph and teach internationally.
Sugar Sullivan started her career as a performer, choreographer, teacher and professional dancer at the age of nine. Sugar was a member of the Original Jazz Dancers, a distinguished group of Lindy Hoppers and Hoofers from Harlem's heyday. Sugar has been featured with the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band, Cab Calloway's Hi–De–Ho Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra, and Panama Francis and his Savoy Sultans, among others. Sugar also toured for fifteen years with Sonny Allen and the Rockets, a song and dance revue.
Dawn Hampton began performing at age of three. Her father, Clark Deacon Hampton, Sr., had a family band and vaudeville act that was part of a traveling carnival. Following World War II, the Hampton family performed throughout the Midwest and South; Dawn playing both alto and tenor sax. In 1950, the family band achieved its dream of performing at Carnegie Hall. They were also featured at the Apollo Theatre and the Savoy Ballroom. The Hamptons later became the house band at the then–famous Sunset Terrace in Indianapolis, and then moved on to the Cincinnati Cotton Club. By the mid–1950s, Dawn and her sisters began performing as The Hampton Sisters.

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