Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop by Frankie Manning and Cynthia Millman

Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop by Frankie Manning and Cynthia Millman
Publisher: Temple University Press
Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Non-Fiction, Biography, Memoir
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In the early days of swing dancing, Frankie Manning stood out for his moves and innovative routines; he introduced the ‘air step’ in the Lindy Hop, a dance that took the U.S. and then the world by storm. In this fascinating autobiography, choreographer and Tony Award winner (Black and Blue) Manning recalls how his first years of dancing as a teenager at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom led to his becoming chief choreographer and a lead dancer for ‘Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers,’ a group that appeared on Broadway, in Hollywood musicals and on stages around the globe. Manning brings the Swing Era vividly back to life with his recollections of the crowded ballrooms and of Lindy Hoppers trying to outdo each other in spectacular performances.

Frankie Manning might not have been a total pioneer in the world of dance, but he’s right up there with the greats.

Now you might be wondering why I’d say he’s not a total pioneer. You might wonder who Frankie Manning is. Valid questions. Unless you’ve done any studying of jazz dance, you might not know this dancer, but you should.

Frankie Manning came of age in the swing era. He talks about going from ballroom to ballroom, club to club, learning how to dance. I liked this book because there are parts where he discusses dance and how he got as skilled at swing dancing, but also his simple love of dance. He’s done other things, but he sincerely loves dance, and it shows. I also liked that the book had other sections that discussed what the various dances were/are and how they evolved. That was so neat because I had no idea what some of them even looked like. Now I know.

Manning isn’t a perfect guy, but he loves dance and that shines through every page of the book. He not only talks about the heady swing days, but also his life after and how he came to teach.

It’s a fascinating look at swing dancing, the Lindy Hoppers and more. Grab a copy today!