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Frankie Manning

Symphony in Black:

A Rhapsody of Negro Life 



10 mins., black & white, 16mm. FAB 6260 
Paramount Pictures, 1935. 
Director: Fred Waller; 
Photography: William Steiner, Jr. 
Valburn/Ellington Collection of the Library of Congress 

Mildred Pollard
Billy Ricker
Willa Mae Ricker
Russell Williams 
 After Seben
The Big Apple
Call Of The Jitterbug
Can't Top the Lindy H
Cootie Williams
Day At The Races 
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All That Jazz 
Frankie Manning
 Instructional Videos 
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Killer Diller 
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The Spirit Moves 
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Swing Kids 
Swingin'at the Savoy 
Symphony in Black
This film of extraordinary historic and esthetic interest features Duke Ellington at the piano presumably composing the title symphony, crosscut with shots of a band playing the music. Includes the numbers "Jealousy", and the four parts of the composition in order: "The Laborers", "A Triangle (Dance, Jealousy and Blues)", "A Hymn of Sorrow" and "Harlem Rhythm". In the second part an uncredited 18-year old Billie Holliday sings the blues while watching a couple dancing Lindy Hop in silhouette behind a window shade. Dancers are not credited but Terry Monahan of the Jiving Lindy Hoppers suggests that they are "Snake Hips" Tucker (see below) and Bessie Dudley.

Also on the film is the eccentric dancer (that's a style, not an opinion) Earl "Snakehips" Tucker demonstrating his gifts in an appropriately surrealistic film sequence. Not to be missed. 

This filmis part of a video collection called Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, available through SavoyStyle Swing Dance Shop.


Written and researched by Judy Pritchett with Frankie Manning (C)1995,1996,1997. May be reproduced only with explicit written permission. Last updated:1 September 1997.Send your suggestions, corrections or comments to This Archive is also part of the World Lindy Hop Federation Archives maintained by Keith Hughes.