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Swing dancer extraordinaire Frankie Manning was a leading dancer at Harlem’s legendary Savoy Ballroom where, in the mid-1930s, he revolutionised the course of the lindy hop with his innovations, including the air step.
As a featured dancer and chief choreographer for the spectacular Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, he performed in numerous films (including Hellzapoppin’ (1941)), and entertained on stages around the world with jazz greats Ethel Waters, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Cab Calloway.
Upon the demise of the Swing Era, Frankie took a job in the Post Office, where he worked for thirty years until his rediscovery by a new generation of swing dance enthusiasts in the mid-1980s. From then on he was in constant demand, teaching, choreographing, and performing globally. He won a 1989 Tony Award for his choreography in Black and Blue, and served as a consultant for and performed in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. Frankie’s activities have been chronicled in hundreds of articles (including features in GQ and People) and dozens of news programs (including a profile on ABC’s 20/20).
Considered the world’s leading authority on the lindy, he is highlighted in Ken Burns’s acclaimed documentary, Jazz. His autobiography, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, co-written by Cynthia R. Millman, was published by Temple University Press in spring 2007.
Frankie passed away in 2009, but his memory and legacy are being carried on by swing dancers around the world.
In this section you will find resources about Frankie including articles written by some of our own dancers on this legendary swing dancer, from his very first air-step to his life after the forties.
London takes part in the Electric slide presentation for Frankie Manning at Frankie100.
Scott recorded his reflections on Frankie Manning for the Frankie 100 celebrations. Have a listen here.
We love this little bit of footage from the London Swing Festival 2011. A Shim Sham for Frankie Manning’s Birthday.
All about the Savoy Ballroom – the home of the happy feet and the Lindy Hop!
This article talks about Frankie Manning’s dance partners – Freda Washington, Willa Mae Ricker, Ann Johnson and Norma Miller
An article about when Frankie Manning and seven of the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, billed as the Eight Original Apple Dancers, last visited Melbourne.
by Henry Kovacevic How important were the Great Swing bands of the 30’s and 40’s to the culture and evolution of the dance we know and love today? Well, let’s just say that it is thanks to these musical entrepreneurs that we’re not milling ‘round dance floors today doing the ‘Sit’, the ‘Shuffle & Yawn’…
Jennifer Farrington talks about the life of Frankie Manning after Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers disbanded
by Sally MacAdams 1914 Frankie Manning was born on the 26th of May, 1914, in Jacksonville, Florida. According to Frankie, his mother, a party lady, told him that even before he was born he used to kick in time to the music when she went out dancing. At the age of three, Frankie moved with…