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USOswego To Welcome Legend Frankie Manning

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego will be doing a little “shim sham” on Sept. 11 when legendary dancer Frankie Manning swings into town for a day of events.

Frankie Manning
Frankie Manning

According to Ellen Wahl, executive director at RSVP of Oswego, the event will kick off the 2008-09 USOswego Dance and Music Series.

While in Oswego, Manning 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., Manning will showcase his famed storytelling talent and show film clips at the Oswego Elks Lodge, and then dinner and dancing at the USOswego will follow from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m.

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

Born in 1914, Manning was a leading figure in the 1930s and 1940s swing dance era, and is best known for his role in the development of the “Lindy Hop.”

His 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 Frankie 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.

Continuing his storytelling tradition, Manning recently released his autobiography, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, co-written by Cynthia R. Millman.

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 in Mackin Hall on the Oswego State University campus.

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