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Lindy Hop, the dance of life
Publication Date : 12-03-2013
Meet Evita Arce and Michael Jagger, international Lindy Hop teachers and performers who are living testimonies of the dance itself
If every day gives you a chance to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes and dance, then Evita Arce and Michael Jagger are living that carpe diem life, as said by Oprah Winfrey.
“Lindy Hop is all about having fun, being silly and living the moment of your life!” quipped Arce on the swing dance genre that originated in the ballrooms of Harlem, New York in the 1920s and 1930s.
Lindy Hop is not such a serious ballroom dance that you need to keep that chin up high always.
Instead, it’s a partner dance where you can fool around and be expressive. And although Lindy Hop sounds feminine, it is not a girly curvy sexy dance.
Watching Jagger and Arce doing their flying aerials, they emit an exuberant amount of energy that would lift your spirits high, make your jaw drop with their amazing sense of camaraderie and fill up the hall with barrels of laughter.
“Lindy Hop is not about an individual success. It is a team, a dual force, a partnership of two people that could enhance a performance to a higher level with more variety of entertainment,” said Arce, who with Jagger were finalists in season three of US television hit, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) and is thus far, the only Lindy Hop couple to have done so.
The pair represented the Lindy Hop world and proudly made it through every round, except in the finals, where they had to do modern dance.
“We were at the Chicago auditions and unexpectedly, we made it to Las Vegas. Nigel (Lythgoe) and Mary (Murphy) – judges of SYTYCD – told us that we were superb in what we were doing but they were looking for a Jack of all trades,” said Jagger, who graduated with a degree in journalism and public relations from the Colorado State University.
With their success in SYTYCD, the duo brought Lindy Hop to the world stage and they became famous in the world of Lindy Hop.
At the end of SYTYCD, they received a call one day in 2008 asking them to be part of the cast of the Japan broadway tour of Swing! and that was the first of endless performance requests that Jagger and Arce would receive in the coming years.
Nevertheless, life has not always been a bed of roses and fame did not come easily to them.
Six years ago, when they were still hidden talents in the dance company where they were introduced to each other in 2003, the couple admitted there were the dark times when they questioned themselves about dancing and not seeing any progress in their careers.
“Good things take a long time to come, so be patient and work hard at what you are doing,” said Arce to young people in an interview in Kuala Lumpur.
Today, both of them go Lindy Hop-ping, teaching and performing at swing festivals and camps worldwide. Their most recent stop was in KL with SEAJam, a South-East Asian swing dance camp that brought in swing dancers from New Zealand, Australia, China, Hong Kong and India.
Out of the performing arena, they also are two vibrant personalities with patience, energy and brilliant entertainment communication.
“They are fantastic instructors who go into detail on the fundamentals of swing and explain clearly on the movements that were done. Truly inspiring,” said YuPing Hsieh, one of their students in SEAJam.
Jagger and Arce, who also dance solo Charleston (another form of swing dancing), emphasise that partner dancing should be given the equal amount of recognition as compared to solo dances.
“As much as people understand and celebrate the success an individual could achieve, the same amount of celebration should be given to partner dancing as well, because more could be done with two people,” said Arce, who was the first place winner in the solo blues competition at the 2010 Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown held annually in New Orleans.
“Besides, I would not be where I am today without Michael,” she added.