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The Congaroo Dancers were a Lindy
Hop performance group led by Frankie
Manning after he returned from serving in World War II in 1947. The
group originally got its start in 1939 as the primo group of Whitey's
Lindy Hoppers known as The Harlem Congaroos. After playing the Cotton
Club, they danced in the movie Hellzapoppin'
in the soundie Hot
Of The Jitterbug
At The Races
The Milton Berle Show
After the Second World War, the popular
music scene underwent great changes which affected popular dance styles.
Big Band swing music was declining in popularity as newer musical forms
emerged. On the one hand, jazz was evolving into Bebop, which was not very
danceable, although a 6-count form of Lindy done with a "stutter" did develop
in attempt to dance to the new music. On the other hand, Rhythm'n'Blues,
a very danceable music, was gaining popularity and evolving into Rock'n'Roll,
a music which lacked the syncopated rhythms and melodic sophistication
of swing jazz. To this changing music, young people were dancing a simplified
form of the Lindy, in which 6-count patterns predominated.
Despite a declining audience for jazz-based
authentic Lindy Hop, the Congaroo Dancers found a comfortable niche performing
in large traveling shows with big name artists and bands, such as the Dizzy
Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Sarah Vaughan and Nat King Cole. But the popularity
of live stage shows was declining, as well, and they were getting more
and more expensive to mount. By 1954 the Congeroos disbanded.
Written by Judy Pritchett with Frank Manning. Copyright,
1995, 1996, 1997 May not be reproduced without written permission. firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Last updated: 22 September, 1997.