More than 3000 persons visited Herräng Dance Camp last summer. Approximately 120 of them were children. Did you see them perform? If you did, you should have asked any of them for an autograph – they are expected to be the next generation’s Lindy hop stars.
The audience cheered when around 40 swing kids and swing teens left the stage after their final performance in Herräng last summer. The master of ceremonies, Hanna Lundmark, was encouraging the audience to be even louder and the parents were so proud they could almost burst. And they had many reasons to! The Glenn Miller Orchestra’s American Patrol was played while the kids and teens contributed to a show in beginner level Lindy hop that made eyes tear on more people than just the kids’ parents. The choreography contained both jumping as well as aerials and in addition to Lindy hop, they also performed tango, tap dance, and African dance. Even the dance hype of the year, the Korean ”national dance” Gangnam style was in the repertoire. However, Lindy hop was the children’s big favorite. Leo Stenberg, 10 years old, explained why:
– Lindy hop is fast and you laugh when you dance.
Together with 30 some new friends, Leo danced every day for a week. Even though the classes started as late as 10 am a lot of the kids showed up in class barely awake and with many different bed hair styles. The teachers Mattias Lundmark och Sandra Klack quickly woke them up by playing music, playing games and doing cool moves.
– It is fun to see the kids dance. They are having a good time and it shows. I think their perception of the dance classes is that we are playing games, says Mattias Lundmark.
Attentively the kids followed the movements of the teachers, tirelessly stomped on the wooden floor and clapped their hands so loud that the sounds echoed far beyond the tents where the classes were held. In the beginning of the week, there was always some giggling when it was time to hold hands to start dancing in couples. After a while, though, it became natural for them to grab a partner and invite for a dance. Hugo Munter, 9 years, would have preferred to dance more with the other boys.
– I would rather dance with my new friends who are boys. When I grow older I will practice more with girls, said Hugo while promising to do one exception. A dance with his mother.
Hanna Lundmark, the founder of Swingkids och Swingteens, believes that several of the kids in Herräng will be the next generation’s Lindy hop stars.
– When they start dancing at this early age they become fearless. They develop the courage to really dance, they learn how to improvise and create new, cool movements, she says and continues:
– Right now, we are talking about four, five children whom we think have the ability to go far with their dance.
According to Hanna it is often easier to teach kids than adults how to dance.
– The children are more positive towards themselves as well as towards the dance. They learn the steps easily and without being self-critical, she says but adds that there are challenges.
– The children are shyer than adults when it comes to holding your partner, boy or girl. We have to teach them that, we do that by playing and without demanding anything from them.
Her own dancing career began when she was 16 years old, in Herräng. Since then, not a day has passed without dancing being involved in her life. 1993 she arranged Swingkids for the first time, back then she had eight students. This year, the total number of kids was 120.
– What primarily has changed since the start of the children’s camp is that Lindy hop has become the main focus. In the beginning, kids came to dance, the ones showing up in Herräng nowadays specifically want to learn how to Lindy hop.
During the summer of 2013 and 2016, Hanna was on maternity leave but she was often seen in Herräng anyway.
— The dance is my life, it is the air I breathe! I can sum it up very simple: all my life is the fruit of Herräng Dance Camp. My dance partner, my career and my free time. The dance is the meaning of my life.
Sleep is an activity that a lot of participants at Herräng Dance Camp have difficulties getting enough of. Mattias Lundmark advocates early bed time for the kids so that they will be able to join and enjoy the whole week of classes.
– We recommend that the kids should leave the festivities at ”Folkets Hus” at 00.30 am, he says and letting us know that his experience is that a lot of children stay up much later than that.
Leo, Hugo and their friend Alex thought it was great fun to hang out at the ”Folkets Hus” area. According to them, they never stayed up too late…
– There are so many fun things to do at ”Folkets Hus”, says Alex Enblom, 9 years old.
The boys tell they met the cool teachers who taught them breakdance, that they had cake, played fussball, enjoyed water wars and that they tried some of the hundreds of costumes and accessories that are to be found in the Prop shop.
Leo wants to come back to Herräng next year, he says. Hugo agrees and he enthusiastically looks towards his friends.
– This was the best summer vacation ever! Can we please move to Herräng?
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE This article was originally published in the amazing Swedish magazine Swing 2013
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