Google has paid tribute to the Ambassador of Lindy Hop, Frankie Manning, who would have turned 102-years-old today (26 May), it it’s lstest doodle. The dancer, choreographer and innovator behind the dance craze moved to Harlem, New York aged three and it was here where the fusion of jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston would witness its transformation throughout the 1920s and ’30s.
Manning was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1914 and moved to Harlem with his mother after his parents split up. After attending a dance with his mother, a keen ballroom dancer, she famously remarked to her son: “Frankie, you’ll never be a dancer. You’re too stiff.”
Although the Lindy Hop was invented by Harlem’s African-American communities, it would quickly go on to gain widespread popularity in the 1930s with its gravity-defying, acrobatic movements. Indeed, each year people around the world celebrate World Lindy Hop Day on or around Manning’s birthday.
Paying tribute to Manning’s contribution to the highly energetic dance form, fuelled by its trademark frenzied kicks, the Toronto Lindy Hop website notes: “At the height of the swing era, Frankie was a central influencer of the Lindy Hop, co-creating the air step and synchronized ensemble Lindy routines, both of which helped catapult the dance from ballroom to stage and screen.
“Toronto World Lindy Hop Day carries on Frankie Manning’s work, and his spirit, works to spread the joy of Lindy Hop, danced to big band swing music, throughout the world.”
Commemorating Manning as “the first person to take swing from the dancefloor to the air above it”, Google wrote: “Today’s doodle by Nate Swinehart celebrates Frankie Manning’s acrobatic, powerful style, in which his partners were flipped and spun to the emphatic horns of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and others.
“The Lindy Hop and Manning’s aerial flourishes became wildly popular, and Manning himself performed the dance in several 40’s era movies.”
Manning died in April 2009, aged 94.