Header Graphic
Representing Talent Worldwide

Apr 28, 2009

Lindy Hop great Frankie Manning dies at 94
Updated Monday, April 27th 2009, 4:09 PM

Tracy for News/Tracy, John, Freelance
Frankie Manning, 90, dances with one of his students, Denise Steele, at his tribute party at the Allhambra Ballroom in Harlem.
Frankie Manning, who pioneered the Lindy Hop in the 1930s, won a Tony a half-century later and inspired swing dancers around the world, died yesterday at Lenox Hill Hospital from complications of pneumonia.
But he didn't take the dancing with him. More than 2,000 swing dancers from 30 countries will come to New York May 21-25 to participate in "FrankieFest 95," which was originally planned to mark his 95th birthday on May 26.
Organizers say it will go on, and will now become a memorial celebration — which won't be a big transition, because almost every swing dancer in the world uses moves invented, shaped or polished by Frankie Manning.
A tall, courtly man with endless energy and enthusiasm, Manning lived long enough to see his style of dancing fade away and then spring back to life. He was a cornerstone of that revival, both as a teacher and a dancer himself.
He was actively dancing until late last year, when he fell on an overseas trip and suffered lingering complications. He had told friends he still planned to dance at FrankieFest this year — not a minor thing at his birthday celebrations, since he insisted on dancing with at least one woman for each year of his life.
Born in Jacksonville, Fla., Manning moved to Harlem with his family when he was 3. He grew up around jazz and later swing music, and in the 1930s became one of the star dancers at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom.
In the elite "Cat's Corner" there, he and partner Fredi Washington won a contest one year by creating the first "air step," also known as an "aerial," where Manning seemed to send Washington flying through the air.
Proficient as he was at solo dancing, Manning had an even greater knack for choreographing groups. So when Herbert White put together a troupe that became known as Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, Manning became its unofficial choreographer.
He toured the world with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers between 1936 and 1943, working with musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Cab Calloway. The group also appeared in a number of films during those years, including "Radio City Revels," "Keep Punching" and "Hellzapoppin'" (1941), where Manning choreographed the group's most enduring tour de force.
He served in the Army during World War II, then in 1947 formed his own dance troupe, the Congaroos. They performed until the mid-1950s, when rock ‘n' squeezed swing out of the picture.
He went to work at the Post Office, where he remained until he retired in 1985. At that point, at 71, he went back to full-time dancing. Pockets of swing revivals were popping up around the U.S., Europe and the Far East, and Manning happily became a godfather, crossing the country and touring the world to teach and encourage dancers.
In 1989 he won a Tony Award for the choreography of "Black and Blue," He choreographed, and danced in, Spike Lee's "Malcolm X." He was also a regular at dances around New York, and never discouraged his reputation as a ladies' man on the dance floor.
In 2007 he collaborated with Cynthia R. Millman on his autobiography, "Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop," published by Temple University Press and republished last October.
He can also be seen in a new film documentary, Julie Cohen's "Frankie Manning: Still Swinging," which will premiere on Ch. 13 on May 21. He is survived by his long-time companion, Judy Pritchett; two sons, Chazz and and Frank Jr.; a daughter, Marion; a half-brother, Vincent; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is being arranged in New York. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Frankie Manning Fund, P.O. Box 980581, Houston, Texas 77098.

APRIL 29th will be declared Duke Ellington Day in New York City...join the festivities, see below for a listing of some of the activities scheduled and please visit the official website for a longer list of activities:


Take a ride on the 1939 Original Historic "A" TRAIN on DUKE ELLINGTON Day!

Wednesday - April 29th, 2009

Get on board! Ride the 1939 Original Historic "A Train" with Paul Ellington &
The Duke Ellington Orchestra
in honor of Duke Ellington's 110th birthday!

Special Ceremony @ 10AM - 125th Station
The train will leave from the 125th St. Station @ 11AM
and run along the A line to Howard Beach and back.
Sponsored by The Islands Of The Bahamas

April 29th 2009 To Be Declared Duke Ellington Day in NYC
By Mayor Michael Bloomberg
MODA Entertainment is proud to announce that New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will declare April 29th, 2009 "Duke Ellington Day" in honor of the 110th anniversary of the jazz legend’s birth.

The proclamation will be presented to Duke Ellington’s grandson, Paul Ellington. Paul is the executor of the Duke Ellington Estate and musical director/ leader of the world famous Duke Ellington Orchestra.

The MTA will role out a 1939 vintage "A" Train that departs 125th Street "A" Train station promptly at 11AM.

Duke Ellington’s 110th on 110th

Harlem, NY, April 20, 2009 --(PR.com)-- On April 29, 2009, at 1:10 p.m., Duke Ellington’s family and The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts will be launching a series of activities to commemorate and celebrate the 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington.

The kickoff affair will be held at The Duke Ellington Memorial, located inside Duke Ellington Circle, on 110th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Open to the public, the program will feature tributes to The Duke, followed by a brass band and second line procession through Central Park.

Members of the performing arts community, friends, local dignitaries and students from neighborhood schools along with well-wishers from all walks of life are expected to join the Ellington family and board members of The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts for their announcement of the yearlong anniversary season—which will include numerous events in New York, across the U.S. and over 250 festivals around the world.

It is common knowledge that Duke Ellington was the most prolific composer on earth during the twentieth century. This applies both in terms of the number of compositions and the variety of forms. His development was one of the most spectacular in the history of music—underscored by more than fifty years of sustained achievement as an artist and entertainer. He is considered by many, worldwide, to be America’s greatest composer, bandleader and recording artist.

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899 to May 24, 1974) was, without question, the most significant figure in jazz and, in fact, all American music. Regarded in his lifetime as the most influential contributor to our music culture, he received in 1966 the President’s Gold Medal from Lyndon Johnson and in 1969 the Medal of Freedom from President Nixon. After his death, recognition for The Duke actually increased—including a special award citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board in 1999.

The Duke Ellington Memorial is located at Duke Ellington Circle on Central Park’s northeast corner. The sculpture of Edward Kennedy Ellington at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue is the first monument in New York City dedicated to an African American and the first memorial to The Duke in the United States.

The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts is a not-for-profit organization formed by Mercedes Ellington—the eldest of only four surviving descendants of Duke Ellington. The Center is coordinating the 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington under the theme “110 Years Duke!” and is collaborating with several other organizations and entities throughout this momentous year of festivities.

Contact Information
The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts
Jackie Harris
Fax: 212-504-8175