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Swing dance is still jumpin’ and jivin’ in ‘Alive and Kicking’ [MOVIE REVIEW]

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Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

by Rebekah Roberts/www.cinemacy.com 

Alive and Kicking is a feature length documentary film about swing dancing, including its Harlem origin, its rebirth in the 1990s, and ongoing presence today. Film executive (and Lindy Hopper) Susan Glatzer makes her directorial debut with Alive and Kicking, giving audiences an inside look into the modern-day sensation of the international swing dance community. The film highlights this phenomenon which is clearly more than a hobby for a niche group of people who dream of yesteryear. And we are shown that swing dancing, in fact, offers one solution to the repercussions of technology as well as other issues of modern day society.

The film celebrates the origins of swing dance and its legends: Frankie Manning and Norma Miller (who were pioneers in the early days of jive and continued to teach and dance well into their nineties). In addition to paying homage to these icons of swing, Glatzer follows a handful of enthusiasts who are currently cutting a rug on the international competition circuit.

Through segmented interviews of dancers coupled with glimpses of the competitions, it’s clear to see that the dance that was born out of the Great Depression still resonates today. The audience is able to gain insight into how this genre of dance can specifically affect people from all cultures, generations, occupations, and walks of life. The filmmaker demonstrates that in stepping away from technology and engaging in “pure joy set to music” can alleviate isolation and bring not only a tight-knit sense of community, but healing, freedom and joy.

As a swing dance fanatic myself, I can safely say that this film accurately portrays the exhilaration and community, as well as depicts the changing demographic of its devotees, to a tee. The passion of the dancers is nothing short of magnetic. The enthusiasm and zest of Alive and Kicking are downright contagious.

Alive and Kicking is not rated. 88 minutes. Now playing on demand, including Amazon Video and iTunes.

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