From the Lindy Hop to the Carolina Shag, there is a vibrancy and excitement to Swing that will be evident as we kick off Let’s Dance Boston on Wednesday, September 13, at Dewey Square Park! Join us on the dance floor as local instructors and choreographers, Katie and Paolo Piselli, lead the audience in a swing lesson for dancers of all ages and abilities. Partners in life and dance, Katie and Paolo bring more than 15 years of swing dancing experience to the Let’s Dance Boston stage and are returning instructors from our inaugural 2015 event.
How did they get into social dancing? What do they say to someone with two left feet? Ahead of the event, we asked Katie and Paolo a handful of questions to help you get to know these talented cats before joining them on the dance floor this September.
Celebrity Series: How did you get into social dancing?
Paolo: A long time ago a friend dragged me to a swing dance. At first I wasn’t interested but I ended up having a blast! Almost 20 years later I am still dancing and loving it.
Katie: I started because of Paolo! We met doing a show together at the Turtle Lane Playhouse and he offered to teach swing dance to any cast members who might be interested. I very eagerly said “yes, please!” (I also had a crush on him. So….win win?) Years later we’re married and I am a full time swing dance instructor. So there you go.
Celebrity Series: What do you say to people when they tell you they can’t dance?
Paolo: I say don’t worry so much about whether or not you are doing it right. Social dance is about having fun so if you are having fun then you are doing it right.
Katie: I say of course you can! It’s not about the steps. It’s about the experience of dancing with someone. That’s what makes any social dance special – you get to share the music with someone else.
Celebrity Series: What did you like best about Let’s Dance Boston 2015?
Paolo: I liked how out in the open it was. Many people don’t realize that dance is a passion that adults of all ages and all walks of life share and participate in. Let’s Dance Boston shows people that they can participate in one of the many dance communities in the city.
Katie: I liked how each dance community came out to represent the dance they loved! When social dance is a regular part of your life it can feel very significant to you – and it’s really special when you get to share it with people who are new to it. Especially in such a public setting!
Celebrity Series: For anyone coming to your dance lesson, what should they expect?
Paolo: They should expect that, whoever they are, they can learn to dance while meeting friendly people and hearing some great Jazz music.
Katie: Everyone is welcome! Dance whatever role you like (the leader or follower). You will likely high five a bunch of people, shake your butts to some swingin’ jazz, and hopefully share a dance with someone new to you.
Celebrity Series: What’s it like dancing to a live band versus a recording?
Paolo: When you are dancing to a live band, especially Jazz, it is really special because those musicians are creating a one-of-a-kind performance just for that audience. There is nothing more in-the-moment than moving to music as it happens!
Katie: The old recordings are so good. Do yourself a favor and listen to some 1930s/1940s Chick Webb, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, & Benny Goodman (to name just a few). I would dance to those recordings any day. But I also LOVE dancing right near a live band! The musicians can tell when dancers are really listening and interpreting what the band is playing. The most magical moments are when you can’t even tell if the dancer is responding to the musician or if the musician got inspired and starting riffing off the dancer. The improvisational nature of Jazz music and Jazz dance allows for that relationship. It’s so cool!
I’m excited that Michael Gamble is coming to Boston for this! He’s a favorite of the current swing dance scene and really values playing for the dancers. There is an art to it! I’ve definitely had a dance high from Gamble’s sets. I can’t wait. See you on the dance floor!
Katie and Paolo will teach swing on Wednesday, September 13, at 6pm at Dewey Square Park. Following the 45-minute lesson, you can practice your new moves and dance the night away to Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenadors. Learn more at celebrityseries.org/letsdanceboston.