Many people become interested in some dance style after watching online videos or movies with scenes on which dancers — or even actors — perform some kind of routine.
That’s not what happened to Sep Vermeersch. Dancer, artist, choreographer, teacher, DJ and event host, Sep entered the Lindy Hop world in 2008 when he attended a class with two old timers at an event in Belgium.
Currently his involvement with audiovisual material fluctuates: on some days he watches a lot of videos, or he can go weeks without even watching one. He mentions that he prefers to watch videos from friends or acquaintances and also recordings of big festivals, to stay updated on what is happening on the scene.
“Its is from movies and online videos we got some energy from, some ‘wow’ i wanna learn that. It was also a way to get educated, find information, know the oldtimers, see what contemporary dancers are out, to see how it evolves and evolved”.
On one hand, Sep believes that video production is important and may help promote schools, Facebook pages or the career of professional dancers: “It’s an important way to show that you are active on the scene and that you are working on something.” It also works for the promotion of festivals with big names on the guest list — “Look at the dancers participating at the event!” and, afterwards, to show that the festival was good.
On the other hand, he believes that the essence of what is happening on the local scene is more important than what is portrayed on the videos.
“For individual dancers, I think the era of video is ‘over’. The way others talk about a professional seems to be more important. With so much material online, how can you pick a teacher from that?”
Sep says that recent scandals about famous teachers also play a role in the selection of professionals. People are becoming aware that a good video do not necessarily mean that those dancers are good teachers. For him, the dissemination by word of mouth works better and carries more credibility.
But after all, what makes a good Lindy Hop video nowadays? The dancer believes it is about three elements: context, good music and aesthetics.
“Context is the biggest challenge for many videos. Think about the ‘swing’ videos that went viral: people talk about the beauty of social dance, but the music is mellow, the images are more aerials at super random places; they have no link with social dance and with the things the interviewed people talk about.”
In 2012, Sep participated on the video “Swing, Brother, Swing.” He tells that the project had the goal to connect people from the local scene, bring dance schools and organizers together, and show the joyful atmosphere of the city of Ghent, Belgium. The video was made in the form of a narrative, which was the directors’ idea, embraced by the cast. Sep was looking for something fun and full of energy for the soundtrack when he stumbled upon “Swing, Brother Swing,” by Willie “The Lion” Smith. All dance scenes were recorded in real dance parties, to have the youthful energy of the scene conveyed and felt by whoever watched the video.
Afterwards, those involved in the project learned about the Jazz Dance Film Fest and decided to apply. The video got first place in 2012. Sep acknowledges that the JDFF was important at that time, but adds: “I believe that it has lost a bit of its relevance. Times have changed and audiovisual production became much more accessible. JDFF videos are now submerged.”
And for you, are dance videos important?