Frankie Manninglaura.h.knight@gmail.com

FRANKIE MANNING

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.


Putting the ‘Big’ into ‘Bands’

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’…

The Frankie Manning Timeline

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…