By Merle Exit
You may recall the Lindy hop from the 1940s and ‘50s, with hoop skirts and songs like “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets. This dance craze actually began in the 1920s and flourished in the Swing era of jazz and Big Band greats like Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman.
Project Connect, a group devoted to swing dancing, is bringing back the original in “Savoy! Dancing Through the Swing Era” on Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall. Akemi Kinukawa, the founder of Project Connect, is the lead choreographer and a dancer in the show.
“I actually discovered this dance 17 years ago in Washington, D.C., where a couple was teaching these athletic steps and I then formed a passion for it,” said Kinukawa, who lives in Astoria. “The beauty of the Lindy hop is that you can create the dance itself in your own way.”
Project Connect, a nonprofit group, brings the Lindy hop to places like nursing homes in the city. At this public performance, the audience is invited to sing and dance along with the performers.
As a culmination, the audience may join in a historic line dance, the Shim Sham, to celebrate the joy of dance and music. At the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where the Lindy hop gained early fame, some Lindy hoppers did the Shim Sham, a tap routine, as a group line dance, without the taps. A bunch of dancers would just jump up and start doing the Shim Sham on the side of the ballroom, over in the corner.
Turning to the subject of art, here is your chance to be creative by using sand art at a family workshop. Artist Borja González will offer instruction in working with sand, first on paper, then on a small-scale light table, on Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. Ticket-holders can then attend the artist’s 2:15 p.m. show.
González uses two types of sand, one from the Gobi Desert in China and the other from the Sahara. “It is a very fine sand type, and its characteristics are perfect for drawing,” González said.
He draws in the sand with only one thing: his hands. “Maybe with some tool, you can make beautiful drawings, but when I’m on stage, acting, I need to feel the sand in my hands to be able to express myself,” he said.
González, a native of Spain, began his sand art career 14 years ago. At first, he was a circus acrobat. “Later on, I began to assemble my two passions on stage, plastic and performing arts,” he said. “I painted pictures doing acrobatic movements.”
Then he came across a video of an artist doing drawings with sand, and it was love at first sight. “The next day, I began to work on this wonderful art. It took me a while to obtain the perfect light, since nobody in Spain knew this technique. In the end, I got it!”
His aim, he said, is to “understand the sand” as if it were his mind. “To be a good sand artist, you do not just have to know how to draw. Sand allows you to apply many painting techniques, such as dry and wet techniques at the same time. On the other hand, besides drawing, I also studied circus arts, drama, dance, which help me strike a balance with sand drawing.”
His first sand art show took place 10 years ago while he was living in a workshop in Barcelona full of paintings, sculptures and puppets. For this show, González says that with only a little bit of sand and his hands, he will produce a story of two people throughout their lives, from the dreams of childhood through adult experiences. The show is accompanied by live music.
Keep your creative juices flowing with Flushing Town Hall’s supportive Art-Makers group, which will meet from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every other Wednesday starting Jan. 10. Bring your sketchbook, small projects or even a part of a work-in-progress. You supply your own materials that are easily cleaned with water, as well as a snack to share. All are welcome, professionals and novices, working in any media.
The subsequent dates for the group are Jan. 24; Feb. 7 and 21; March 7 and 21; April 4 and 18; May 2, 16 and 30; and June 13 and 27.
The musical group Black String will present new sounds from ancient instruments of Korea on Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. Black String creates a distinctive language that draws on traditional Korean music, jazz and free improvisation.
Instrumentalists are Yoon Jeong Heo, a virtuoso on the geomungo, a Korean zither; Jean Oh, an electric jazz guitarist; Aram Lee, who plays the daegeum, a bamboo flute; and Min Wang Hwang on the janggu, a drum. They describe their sound as “dynamic, harmonic collisions of modes and rhythms at the intersection of East and West.”