Alive and Kicking
A pleasant, often exuberant look at Lindy Hop, the original style of swing dance from which numerous other versions have sprung, Alive and Kicking offers a fairly comprehensive look at its origins, post-WWII decline and eventual rebirth in the mid-1990s.
Lacking much structure as well as deficiencies in other technical arenas keep Susan Glatzer’s documentary from achieving the transcendent heights to which it aspires, but there’s no shortage of remarkable dancing, courtesy of both the young folks stunning audiences and colleagues with their fast, fancy and inventive moves and industry legends like Norma Miller and Frankie Manning who continue to shake a remarkable groove thing into their 90s.
Interviews with both generations cover Lindy Hop’s history, from the originators who were forced to give up their trade when the work dried up to new faces trying to make a living at what they love, including plucky Evita Arce and the endearing teams of Stephen Sayer & Chandrae Roettig and Emelie & Rebecka DecaVita, all of whose love for dancing is crystal clear.
Glatzer employs a wealth of uptempo tunes and clips from a laudable number of sources to keep the energy high, though much of her own visual sourcing is marred by low production value. Her cameras struggle to strike a balance between their noticeable distance from the dance floor at competitions and intrusiveness in slower, reserved moments while interviews are commonly shot at unflattering angles and in poor lighting.
There’s also no clear idea how interested novices may get started with Lindy Hop – other than to take a class from one of the film’s subjects – but these shortcomings aside, as a recruitment video for what’s possible once the fun begins, Alive and Kicking is a success.
Grade: B-minus. Not rated, but with nudity and adult language.
**What Next? and Dinner Party Fodder for Alive and Kicking: bonus insight and follow-up film suggestions, available exclusively to patrons.**
(Photo: Magnolia Pictures)