Spotlight On: SHARON DAVIS
This week we have started stocking Sharon Davis' fantastic Charleston and Jazz Moves DVD - 1920s Charleston - which is the perfect introduction into both fundamental moves and advanced jazz and charleston steps. Whether practicising at home or in the dance studio Sharon gives you all the tips of the trade - to give you that extra sparkle solo dancing.
We put her through our quick fire interview to find out more about her, and the DVD:
YEARS DANCING: 15 years
CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: London UK
DANCES SPECIALISE IN: Lindy Hop, Charleston, Jazz Roots, Blues, Burlesque
I GOT INTO SWING DANCING VIA: I learned to dance in Perth, Australia where I grew up. When I was 19 I stumbled across some Lindy Hoppers dancing to a live band in a bar one night, and it was love at first sight. I had no idea what they were doing, and I’d never done any dancing of any kind before, but I was hooked. Amazingly, Frankie Manning was in town teaching the following weekend, so my first Lindy Hop workshop was with the master himself. I had no doubt from that moment on, that I wanted to dance for the rest of my life.
BIGGEST DANCING INSPIRATIONS: I am a vintage film collector and I’m obsessed with watching dancing in old films, so I could tell you so so many names of dancers that inspire me. Here are just a few: Frankie Manning, Jean Veloz, Norma Miller, Jewel McGowan, Sandra Gibson, Al Minns, Leon James, Pepsi Bethel, Tops & Wilder, Mabel Lee, Josephine Baker, Eleanor Powell, Earl Tucker, Bill Bojangles Robinson, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, John Bubbles, Cholly Atkins & Honi Coles, Bessy Dudley, Mitzi Mayfair, Vera Ellen, Cyd Charisse, I could go on and on!
FAVOURITE DANCING SHOES: Recently I got some new shoes from Saint Savoy and I’ve been dancing in those non-stop. They are a fairly new European shoe company specialising in shoes for swing dancers, and I find them really comfortable. They have cute vintage styles, including some bright colours, which I like. And they do nice little low heels for followers, great for Lindy.
FAVOURITE DANCING OUTFIT: I have a vintage dress from the early 1950s, it’s bright yellow with fabric flowers on the skirt, and it’s like wearing sunshine! The vintage fabric is beautiful heavy, so it whips around when I dance. I love that feeling, when your skirt snaps around your swivels!
DANCING GOALS FOR 2015: This year I am focusing on running the 2015 European Swing Dance Championships, which will be held in London 15-18 October. I am also trying to set up my own swing school in London, which is called JazzMAD (which stands for Jazz Music And Dance). So these projects are keeping me busy, although of course I am still teaching swing at festivals overseas on the weekends, and I am also doing a lot of performing these days, especially in burlesque.
ONE PIECE OF ADVICE I'D GIVE TO ASPIRING SWING DANCERS IS: listen to lots of swing music, support your local jazz bands, study the vintage dance films, take classes from as many different teachers as you can, go social dancing as often as possible, and try to attend events where you can meet our living legends like Norma Miller, Dawn Hampton, Mabel Lee, Jean Veloz and others - sadly they won’t be with us forever, so meet them and learn from them while you can!
IF I COULD INSTANTANEOUSLY BE GOOD AT A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DANCE IT WOULD BE: I think Argentine Tango! I fell in love with it while I was in Buenos Aires with my partner Juan Villafane, who is Argentinian. But I’ve never had the time to study it. It is another partner dance with an intense lead-follow connection, but it is in so many ways the opposite side of the coin to Lindy Hop. It is dramatic, passionate and intense, which is a lovely antithesis to Lindy Hop which is about joy and happiness and positivity. So doing both might be a marvellous balance.
Please tell us a little about your 1920s Charleston DVD which we're now stocking here at the Swing Dance Store….
I filmed this DVD in 2009 in Australia. It is a pretty comprehensive overview of the basics of 1920s solo Charleston, the basics of 1930s/1940s jazz steps, the fundamentals of solo blues dancing, and then also some advanced Charleston steps, and advanced vintage jazz steps. There’s really a lot of material on this DVD, and it will be of interest to total beginners but also more advanced jazz dancers. The DVD was produced as part of a series through Sugar Blue Burlesque, which is the burlesque company I founded in Australia, so the styling of the DVD is quite feminine (ie: I’m wearing heels in most of the videos), but the material itself is the same for both men and women. I think there’s over 80 steps on there!
To have a sneaky preview of the content see here: