USOswego Kicks Off September 11

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – RSVP of Oswego County’s USOswego 2008-09 Music and Dance Series will kick off Sept. 11 with a tribute to Frankie Manning, a leading figure in the 1930s and 1940s swing dance era.

Manning was scheduled to attend the event this week, but is recovering from an illness, so his friend and co-author of his autobiography, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, Cynthia R. Millman will be taking his place.

“We just learned this past week that Frankie would not be able to attend due to his illness,” said Ellen Wahl, executive director at RSVP of Oswego. “But, we’re very excited to have Cynthia Millman participate and reflect on Frankie’s wonderful career. And, we’re also thrilled to kick off our third season of the music and dance series with Don Goodness and The Do Good Swing Band.”

While in Oswego, Millman will visit Fort Ontario and the former site of Whitey’s Savoy.

Public book signings will be at 10 a.m., Sept. 11 at the fort, followed by a tour of the fort.

At 5 p.m., Millman will reflect on Manning’s career and show film clips at the Oswego Elks Lodge, and then dinner and dancing at the USOswego will follow from 6 until 9 p.m.

Admission for the evening fundraising event will be $25 per person.

Born in 1914, Manning’s coveted dance and choreography skills have taken him from being chief choreographer and dancer for Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, to appearing in and choreographing several major motion pictures.

“Frankie Manning’s impact on dancing and its evolution to today’s genres is significant,” said Wahl. “We’re extremely excited to have him kick off our 2008 season to say the least.”

Manning looks back at his own time spent at the Savoy’s here in Oswego and Harlem fondly.

He remembers them as a second home, where he and his friends could go hang out, dance and exchange ideas that would eventually shape the music and dance of the period.

Manning’s mother moved them to Harlem when Frankie was just three years old.

It was there that the Lindy Hop was born and he made Swing Dancing his passion.

While in the United States Army during World War II, Manning camped in Oswego with the 369th all black division.

At that time famed Lindy Hopper, Herbert “Whitey” White had opened Whitey’s Savoy at the entrance of Fort Ontario to give the black troops a place to socialize and dance.

Outside of Harlem, Oswego had one of the only authentic Savoys at that time according to Manning. And to him, it was “heaven.”

After the war, Manning took a 35-year hiatus from dancing. He returned to the dance scene with the revival and popularity of the Lindy Hop in the 1980s and 1990s, when he once again took up dancing, choreographing and teaching his famed talent.

Over the years, he has also made appearances in many films such as Everybody Sings with Judy Garland, has been profiled in magazines including GQ and People, acted as a consultant for and performed in Spike Lee’s Malcom X, and won a Tony Award for his choreography for the Broadway hit musical Back and Blue.

Dance and choreography aside, Manning is also a master storyteller and loves to share stories from his fascinating past. He shares tales about everything from the birth of the Lindy Hop to touring with many jazz greats such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald.

Contact RSVP at (315) 312-2317 for presale ticket information or you can pay at the door the night of the event.

The Oswego RSVP office is located at 103 Rich Hall on the Oswego State University campus.

For more information call RSVP at (315) 312-2317.