The audience is shouting, the music is beyond fast and four feet move triple-quickly, as if animated, over the floor. The rhythms are tight and the movement raw, facial mimics amusing and joy endearing. I´m watching the show with the face of a birds cave, with my mouth wide open, thinking,: “Who are these two?” They are Bianca Locatelli and Nils Andrén, Swedish Champions in Boogie Woogie and Lindy hop. They won the coveted titles in mid-May this year and they’ve just placed the trophy where everyone can see it in their home—it is big, shiny and well deserved. “It was a great achievement for us and something we are really proud of!”
By: Annika Munter Editor: Odella Schattin Coverphoto: Sara Pista
Bianca bubbles with joy as she speaks. Her story makes me smile too—how she first experienced dancing through the eyes of her sister, who did Hip Hop. Bianca was eight and wanted to bling too but discovered something else instead; Boogie Woogie.
– Dancing had and still has a magical power to make me live in the moment and enjoy it. It still makes me feel truly happy and carefree. Nowadays, dancing can challenge me much more than when I started and it makes me want to express my feelings.
From the age of eight, Bianca didn’t want to dance anything but variations of six beat patterns–not until one day, five years later, when she saw Lindy hop.
– I travelled around Italy taking Boogie Woogie classes at events and that’s when I truly discovered swing dancing. I signed up for some classes in my city but Lindy hop wasn’t popular at all. In class, there were the teachers, their parents and me. So I started convincing my parents to take me to swing events in order to learn even more.
Her parents did. They even took her all the way from Italy to Herräng. Bianca slept in general accommodation, struggled with her English, didn’t sleep enough and danced oodles, more than ever before. This was in 2012 and Nils was in Herräng for the first time too. The two youngsters had met before, at Boogie Woogie competitions (Bianca competing with the Italian team and Nils with the Swedish team). They both had regular partners and Nils couldn’t understand why he should dance with others, not when dancing with his partner already worked so perfectly.
– I came from a competition scene and the whole concept of social dancing Boogie and Lindy was something quite new to me. During the camp, I was overwhelmed with thoughts and inspiration. It took a while for me to realize that there was more to the dance than competitions, that perfection could be seen in so many ways. No matter what part of the world people came from, we could still dance with each other and make it work. When I look back, I am amazed that the only aspect of the dance I could see then was the competitive side, that I could have been so narrow-minded. That is something I have Herräng to thank for.
Nils owes the fact that he dances at all to a childhood friend – a friend who wouldn’t take no for an answer when nine-year-old Nils kept coming up with excuses for why he couldn’t dance.
– Eventually my friend made the dance teacher come to my school during physical education. I had to participate because it was during physical education and mandatory. That was the first time I ever danced. I basically got forced to do it, something that I was very upset about at the time but am very thankful for today.
Nils recalls struggling with the steps. In fact, he struggled with pretty much every aspect of the dance.
– I couldn’t find the beat at all. Leading and following was completely out of the question because it took all my attention to try to understand where my feet where going.
Despite the confusion and chaos, he found that he was happy and somehow intrigued by moving to the music he was listening to.
– It made me zone out my surroundings and just be in the moment. Nowadays, it’s very much the same, I still find myself zoning out and feeling the same kind of happiness.
The experiences in Herräng in 2012 meant a great deal to Nils, and even more to Bianca. She fell in love with Sweden and was determined to leave Italy for an exchange year. This triggered a band of events; first, Nils’s family in Falun became Bianca’s host family. Second, and crucial, Nils ended the partnership with his previous partner. Third, Bianca and Nils started to talk about dance and music and discovered that they had the same mentality and approach to it.
– We enjoyed dancing together and decided to compete in Boogie Woogie and Lindy hop for fun. It was just for fun because I was supposed to leave once the school year was finished.
But studies and dancing were going really well and in the summer of 2014, Bianca moved to Sweden permanently. Two years later, she graduated from Swedish high school and since then she and Nils travel the world to teach at camps and events. To Nils that is a dream come true.
– Being able to dance as my full-time job has always been a goal, I realized it quite early when I felt that dancing is something that makes me feel good. So why not do that all the time?
Future dreams and goals of yours?
– One of our biggest dreams has to do with the Boogie Woogie competition scene. We wish that one day the scene will draw attention to what we think are the core values of Boogie Woogie, such as the origins of it, including music, leading and following and spontaneity. One of our goals is of course to communicate what we cherish through our dancing. Another is to get better at other swing dances.
What do you wish to give your students?
– We want to teach them that it is important to challenge yourself, but also to go back to the fundamentals. We hope that everyone will leave our classes with inspiration and the desire to come back for more.
Boogie Woogie, rock’n’roll, Lindy hop and jive…what are the similarities and differences?
– All these dances are one big family and Lindy hop is the eldest. They are very similar in terms of shapes and moves, sometimes even the steps, but they differ from each other in terms of music and in terms of the different characters we assume while executing the steps.
Any advice for beginners on how to distinguish Boogie from Lindy, to not mix the steps up?
– In our eyes, Boogie Woogie is Lindy hop’s little sibling. It has the same origin and pretty much the same moves/patterns but it has its own personality. The Boogie just tweaks the older sibling’s moves. We move around or sideways with our basics in Lindy but for example in Boogie we do the basics on the spot. The Lindyhop has a rounder shape while Boogie Woogie hasa more linear shape to it.
Do’s and don’ts if I strive to dance in an authentic Boogie Woogie style?
– Do’s: watch dance scenes from 1950’s movies, be yourself, let the music decide for you. And don’ts: never limit yourself.
About: Bianca Locatelli & Nils Andrén
Age: 20 and 21
Homebase: Borås, a “textile town” in the south of Sweden since 2016. Nils grew up in Falun and Bianca in Imola, Italy.
Work: travel for teaching, competing and performing three weeks out of four. While in Sweden, they practice, either by themselves or with the Swedish national team.
Hidden talents: Bianca has extraordinary organizational skills and an interest in fashion. Nils is gifted with cooking.
Motto: “A dance a day keeps the doctor away.”