This week we’re back on schedule with another routine choreographed by Amanda Gruhl! This was performed at ALHC all the way back in 2001, making it historically important for helping to define the nascent blues dancing community. It’s also a great example of a choreographer with a clear artistic process. There’s never any doubt what is being expressed through the choices of music and motion.
What did you want to express with this choreography?
I hadn’t seen a partnered blues choreography before this and wanted to try it. Ogden and I had entered the “Blues Division” of ALHC the year before with an improv piece, and figured it would be a great moment to choreograph something to show the lindy community. At that time, blues dancing was also generally viewed as a body-rolling, grinding-on-each-other dance that happened in back rooms at lindy events. We wanted to show everyone how differently we danced blues.
Why did you choose the song for the piece?
The song is “All Night Long” by Nancy Wilson. We just listened to a few pieces, and this one seemed to fit us perfectly.
What other dances influenced or inspired this one?
Like I said, I hadn’t seen any blues choreographies before this, so I extrapolated from contemporary pieces I’d choreographed previously for interesting ideas. But my main influence was just thinking about how Ogden and I danced together at the time.
How did you go about combining your concept, song choice, and influences to create the finished choreography?
It’s kind of an interesting, and somewhat personal, story. The song lyrics talk about a woman being haunted by a man she hasn’t met, that she only sees in her dreams. Ogden and I wanted to do a piece that was intimate, but not sexual, and one thing we felt united us was the longing to find our soul mate. So we put our longing to find that person into the piece. I wanted to do something choreographically interesting, and the idea just came to me to do the whole piece in a back-to-front position (except for the climax). It made every move more interesting and fresh, and expressed the theme beautifully. I still love this piece.