Frankie Manning: The Ambassador of Lindy Hop

Frankie Manning, Author, Cynthia Millman, Author , foreword by Mercedes Ellington. Temple Univ. $27.50 (286p) ISBN 978-1-59213-563-9

Frankie Manning spread swing dancing's popularity throughout the world while touring with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in the 1930s and '40s. Dance writer and swing dancer Millman conducted extensive interviews with Manning for a vivid account of his career. Manning became a star in Harlem's popular Savoy Ballroom with his unique style, including dancing at a sharp angle to the ground like a track runner, speed and musicality. In a dance competition, Manning astonished the crowd with the first-ever Lindy aerial, or air step (where the man sends his partner flying). Later Manning toured with jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and performed in several films, including Everybody Sings with Judy Garland. After a long hiatus from dancing, he was a consultant for Spike Lee's Malcolm X and coached a new generation of dancers in the swing dance revival of the '80s and '90s. While the first-person accounts of Manning's life capture his vibrancy, humor and charm, the narrative is interrupted by short sections of historical notes; their formality is at odds with Manning's ease and charisma. Still, this vivid memoir by one of swing dancing's innovators and stars is a must for lovers of dance, jazz and African-American history. 36 b&w illus. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 286 pages - 978-1-59213-564-6
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