During the weekend of 3-6 March 2011 dancers from all over the Midwest and beyond will meet in Des Moines, Iowa for Heartland Swing Fest, a workshop and jazz dance weekend featuring instructors Kevin St. Laurent and Jo Hoffberg, Peter Strom and Naomi Uyama, Tiffiny Wine and Kenny Nelson, Jon Tigert and Mandy Spencer, Jenna Stworzyjanek and Oscar Hampton, Mikey Brafford and Eve Johnson, Dee Daniels-Locke, Kenna Sarge and Voice of Cultures (yes, there are many); live music by the Grand Marquis and the Hot Swing Combo; exciting contests with the Collegiate Jitterbug Championships; and, of course, hours and hours of social dancing! In an e-interview Michael Brafford, the festival’s primary organizer, had this engaging information to share about the event:
1) What is the purpose/mission of the Heartland Swing Festival?
The Heartland Swing Festival preserves vintage Swing dance by providing a venue for dancers to share their passion for the Swing culture through classes, dances and competitions, thus inspiring a new generation of Swing dancers in the Iowa community.
2) What excites you the most about this event?
I’ve always been excited about the opportunity to invite dancers from all over the country and introduce them the Iowa swing dance scene. Des Moines doesn’t have a lot of opportunities like the Heartland Swing Festival and this is a great way to inspire dancers in our scene. The Team competition has always been my favorite part of the weekend because I know how much work goes into putting a routine together and how satisfying it is to final perform it for others. The Cutters’ Cup contest has always been free to enter because we want to encourage others to work with a group to grow as dancers and performers.
3) What should dancers attending your event expect to see/experience from the Collegiate Jitterbug Championships?
The CJC has always been run a little differently. Low-pressure is key and our number one priority is to have fun. Team competitors have danced to a variety of music including Jazz, Hip Hop, Latin, Show tunes and everything in between. One of my favorite all time performances was the “Star Wars Medley” by the University of Minnesota. While we want to stress the importance of swing preservation, we also promote creativity and Teams like the U of M and Truman State have always brought creative routines to the event. The AnySwing Goes contest is also a crowd favorite. The format is like none that I have ever seen; it’s a no holds barred street jam. The finalists have no restrictions and are expected to “Take it, if they want it.” There is no order or time limit and Any Swing Goes! The competitors battle it out in a jam style format while the band takes them to the limit. It’s always an exciting event.
4) So, tell us about this Miss Heartland pin-up contest . . .
We are very excited about the addition of the Miss Heartland Vintage Pin-up Girl Contest. It was inspired by the Miss Camp Hollywood contest in L.A. and we see a lot of possibilities for this event. Contestants will register on-line and send it their pin-up photos (tasteful photos please). The top 12 will be selected for our Miss Heartland Swing calendar that we intend to promote all over the country. Miss Heartland Swing will be crowned on March 6th, 2011 and will win a pass to Camp Hollywood and Airfare to Los Angeles. We think this contest will be a lot of fun and gives us another means to promote the swing culture.
5) Why should we all be in Iowa for HSF/CJC 2011?
The people that come to this event are the most welcoming and fun people you will ever meet. The dancers love to share their passion for swing and we all get carried away in the swing culture. The music, the dancing, the clothes and even the lingo creates an atmosphere that the outside world may not really understand. For many of us, swing dancing is a way of life and the Heartland Swing Festival is one of the best opportunities we have to share that with others. We offer a variety of classes for all ability levels taught by some of the world’s greatest instructors, we have the region’s best Swing bands and our contests are like none you’ve seen! The Heartland Swing Festival and Collegiate Jitterbug Championships has something for everyone.
You can find out more about (and register to attend!) the Heartland Swing Festival at http://heartlandswingfestival.com/