"So many of the steps he introduced caught on, and they're still done today," said Cynthia Millman, a swing expert and co-author of Frankie Manning's autobiography.
"These were the greatest dancers of this type of dance in the world," she said. "In fact they traveled the world showing [the Lindy Hop], and they were in films."
Films like the Marx Brothers' "A Day at the Races," in which 17-year-old Norma Miller lit up the screen; and "Hellzapoppin'," in which she wore a white chef's hat and danced her heart out front and center.
To watch the extended Lindy hop dance sequence from the film "Hellzapoppin'" (1941), click on the video player below.
Michelle Miller said, "Some say that was the best routine of swing dance of all time."
"I think everybody would probably agree with that," said Millman. "I call it Frankie's masterpiece. I said, 'So is that, like, the best you ever did, that routine?' And he said, 'No. We were so tired, we'd been filming for three days. We did it so much better so many other times.' But it gives you an idea of how amazing they were, because that is just spectacular."
And hard to resist.
Norma Miller teamed up with Frankie Manning's son, Chazz Young, to teach Michelle Miller a few moves, including that legendary aerial. (Watch video at left.)
And it all paid off.
Proof that a dance nearly a century old still has the power to make you swing.
"You see people come off the dance floor, they're smiling or they're laughing," said Norma Miller. "It's not too many things that do that like swing dance. And I'm so proud of that."
For more info:
- Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center, New York City
- SF Bal Fest, San Francisco
- Lindy in the Park, San Francisco
- Grand Rapids Swing, Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Swing City Chicago
- Disneyland Swing
- Lindy on Sproul at UC-Berkeley
- World Swing Dance Council (includes nationwide listings of events)
- "Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop" by Frankie Manning and Cynthia R. Millman (Temple Univ. Press)
- Frankie Manning Centennial & World Lindy Hop Day
- John Biffar and Dave Beaty, Dreamtime Entertainment
- Watch a trailer of the documentary "Queen of Swing"
- Norma Miller
- Tampa Florida Swing via Jim Webb at The Webb Works
- U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships in Burbank, Calif., Nov. 26-20, 2014
- Kevin Yatarola, Lincoln Center photographer
- Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
- Frankie Manning Foundation
- "Swing: The Documentary" - Upcoming feature film