Introducing Frankie Manning ( 1914 – 2009 )
Today, we feature Part 4 of the Lindy Love Letter from Sing . (Read Part 1 here )
In this edition, I have Ana Ismail to share about Frankie Manning.
Ana Ow, 36 – a professional writer, started dancing Lindy Hop 14 years ago, where she first met Frankie too .
Since then , she met him every year during SEA Jam. She had also met him at Swing Camp Catalina , and Herrang Dance Camp 2004.
INTRODUCING FRANKIE MANNING
1. What were your first impressions of Frankie?
Ana : Initially, Frankie seemed like the God of Lindy Hop to me! I was intimidated, but as I got to know him, I was attracted to his gentle, jovial soul. I loved that he was so extremely human and such a free spirit! Always upbeat and smiling in classes, and in repose, he was contemplative and benign as he looked on at parties and performances. I imagine he’s at one with the music of the moment.
I had a chance to interview him and Chazz for a paper I was working on at that time (in 2002 I think) and what was most apparent was the total lack of agenda he had. He didn’t care about race or the “African American” movement. It was all about the dance for him, that 3 minute love affair. And love affair end just as songs end. You move on to the next song and be present with it. That was my experience of Frankie. I will never forget how his eyes would light up when he talks about dancing, how he used to call me “baby” (and lots of other girls probably!) and how he remembers little details.
Ana in Hot Mama performance during SEA Jam 2012
2. What do you like about Frankie’s dancing , when he was young and when he was older.
Ana : Looking at him in videos, his moves were so full of “attack: and power! Not perfect but raw and full of energy and WOW! Something that I rarely see in other performers who tend to be more self-conscious and meticulous and focused on perfection and looking clean. In his mid 80s through to his 90s, I have seen him in various stages of health. That latent strength was always there in his lead! But one thing that never shifted was his groove and sense of rhythm and musicality.
3. If you were a beginner again, what do you wish you had learnt from Frankie.
Ana : I would want to learn how to “forget myself” in the dance. To lose myself to the moment for each and every dance and not be so concerned about the count and shape and the figure.
Ana Dancing with Hubby Leonard and their baby boy
4. What was the most important thing Frankie brought to Singapore dancers ?
Ana : A sense of history brought to life.
Ana and Leonard at SEA Jam 2010
5. As an experienced dancer now, what would you ask Frankie if you could?
Ana : Frankie, how do you keep on keeping on?
6. What do you think is his legacy that we should continue to uphold in Singapore? What can we still learn from Frankie?
Ana : We can still learn from his videos and his stories.
There should be an archive of original videos, videos of his classes and his sharing sessions as well as his accolades accessible online. Everyone can and should learn from Frankie.
7. How do you think Singapore dancers can relate to Frankie ?
Ana : Frankie is the everyman, who happened to have a gift. He is the original Lindy Rock Star. Anyone can be like him if they so choose, so Singaporeans who dance should be able to relate to that as they learn and develop their skills! It is a shame that generations of dancers to come will not have a chance to meet him personally and be touched by him.
Thank you Ana
By Sing Yuen Lim
Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memories of Frankie.