SXSW Film Review: Alive and Kicking

Swing dancing is back (again) in this charming doc

You know there’s been another resurgence, to put it mildly, in swing dancing, right? You know that the Lindy Hop – and all the regional and stylistic variations that manner of social hoofing generated – lives on, in spectacular kinesis all over the globe?

If you didn’t know that, Susan Glatzer's directorial debut will fill you in on the thriving scene. Like, we daresay, gangbusters.

Get a load of Alive and Kicking and you’ll be schooled in the whys and wherefores, the history and the hullaballoo, of what kind of glorious frenzy started in the Roaring Twenties, flourished during WWII, and - until the dance’s resurgence(s) - bit the dust when Johnny came marching home again.

You’ll be schooled, but you’ll also be 1) vastly entertained, and 2) impressed by the way this documentary focuses on several current stars of the swing circuit and features inspirational bits on the style’s originators – some of whom are still, indeed, alive and kicking – and provides both a sweet gloss of the subject and a few deeper explorations of the diverse people involved.

[Note: As one of those stars is native Austinite Evita Arce, you can imagine how pleasing this is to the hometown crowd.]

The music, the interviews, the interleavening of stock footage, the way the various modern narratives and backgrounding histories are fitted together: All of this works toward a successful expression of what means a thing because it does have that swing. Read the project’s press releases and you’ll see that Glatzer’s previous experience is pretty substantial, but exclusively in the role of “film executive;” and you’ll be damned if you know what that means, precisely, but that, if all such executives could create a movie as engaging and informative as this one, then they need to get the hell out from behind a desk and get into some hands-on production, because wowza.

Alive and Kicking

Documentary Feature Competition, World Premiere
Monday, March 14, 4:45pm, Rollins Theatre
Wednesday, March 16, 3:15pm, Stateside

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