Thoughts on swing dancing and Lindy Hop, one word at a time…

Performance: Making a Routine Your Own

The two videos below are two separate performances by Mark Muthersbaugh and Ellen Huffman in the showcase division first at ILHC in August, then later at Rocktober in October. If you have not had the privilege of meeting Mark on the east coast, besides being awesome and friendly, he is quite the ham and his personality shines through in these showcase performances.  (Note: Ellen seems awesome as well, unfortunately I have not got to somewhat know her like I have with Mark [1]).

Clip 1: ILHC 2010

Clip 2: Rocktober 2010

Highlights of Both Showcases:

  • At 0:22 in clip 1 and 0:14 in clip 2, the mess around after the flip. Very beginning of the routine Mark and Ellen sets the tone for how this is going down.
  • At 1:54 in clip 1 and 1:46 in clip 2, the call and response bit into the (Frankie/Lamppost/Lindy Flip) aerial.
  • At 2:12 in clip 1 and 2:05 in clip 2…. SQUIRREL!
  • At 2:25 in clip 1 and 2:24 in clip 2 , the scratches contrast perfectly after that nice line beforehand.
  • At 2:44 in clip 1 and 2:37 in clip 2, slow motion into one of the most creative endings in a showcase I have ever seen.


  • Overall in the Rocktober performance it seemed there was a lot less loss of energy between some of the transitions and both of them looked much more confident, especially in the solo movement. I believe though its probably a combination of being in their home-state it being a less intimidating crowd then ILHC, in addition to having more time to perform/perfect the routine.
  • At 0:27 in clip 1 and 0:21 in clip 2, Ellen changes to a back up motion instead of a to side motion which adds more energy to her solo bit. After Mark answers with that additional energy by changing from swooping gaze movement to a full on body roll.
  • At 1:12 in clip 1 and 1:05 in clip 2, originally they had these slightly twisty back walks. However they create these great lines and add more energy to the routine by switching them out for cakewalk kicks for the Rocktober performance.
  • At 1:19 in clip 1 and 1:13 in clip 2, there is a slight change that on the third stomp off Ellen switches it out for a swivel and accents the change in the piano in the song. Small detail, but adds greatly to the musicality of the routine.
  • At 1:22 in clip 1 and 1:17 in clip 2, there is this spin and then a walk back. For the rocktober performance they add in a spin for Ellen, while Mark walks sideways, followed by two small call and response hops. Like many of the changes before adds some additional energy to routine, and hits the musicality better then the previous choreography.
  • At 1:27  in clip 1 and 1:19 in clip 2, they switch from Ellen shimmying to Mark and a flip for Ellen.
  • At 1:33 in clip 1 and 1:26 in clip 2, Mark changes his hand placement to reinforce the tone he set for the showcase after that first mess around.
  • At 2:04 in clip 1 and 1:57 in clip 2, they change from a standard swingout to a cute modified swingout that adds to the energy and tone set for the performance.
  • At 2:24 in clip 1 and 2:26 in clip 2, in the ILHC performance they play a game of Pat-a-cake. They change this to Mark continuing his Charleston sidekicks while doing a fake slap on the rear, which still has the humor factor they are going for while maintaining the energy of the previous moves/flow the choreography.


Mark and Ellen continued performances/practices of their routine have made it so they have made some serious steps to owning it. What separates amazing performances for me from just fun or okay ones, is when people have made a routine their own.  What I mean by that, is when it is performed it looks almost as natural as breathing to them and it is difficult to not want to come along on the journey the performers are trying to take you on.


[1] I originally met Mark at the Oberlin Jazz dance festival 08′. It is amazing to see how much he has improved since then.

4 responses

  1. Pretty cool review 🙂
    Have you heard of youtubedoubler?

    It’s pretty convenient for this kind of analysis. Rik used it yesterday to compare the sequence in the toy story short with Todd and Frida’s spotlight at ULHS.

    October 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    • Thanks Patrick! No, I have not heard of youtubedoubler. It would have made this review much for convenient, haha. I appreciate the link and will keep it in mind for the future.

      October 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm

  2. Pingback: PittStop Lindy Hop: X « It's The Way That You Do It

  3. Pingback: Rocktober 2010 Showcase Competition ResultsSwingColumbus | SwingColumbus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s