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Move Together ~ Build Back Better (Part 2)

April 6, 2023

Move Together ~ Build Back Better (Part 2)

April 6, 2023
Gabriela Novellino

“Last year, the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery unified many of our communities and galvanized a rallying cry for justice. In the past year and a half, we have been confronted with some uncomfortable truths, and many of us have had to do some deep soul searching. Last summer, in response to the need of this community, Move Together hosted a panel to amplify black voices, teachers, academics, musicians, dancers and scene leaders. As we are aware, we have two viruses going on in the United States, and we only have a vaccine for one of them. We are here to take some leadership and ease in the transition back for all of us into personal spaces.” – Shaheed Qaasim




iLindy is committed to expanding our learning about the black community. One way we are doing that is by attending virtual events like Build Back Better, hosted by MoveTogether. The aim of the event is to boost black voices from the Lindy Hop community. We’ve summed up some of the key takeaways that made the most impact on us.

Check out Part 1

In Part 2 of Build Back Better, we’ll highlight some of the shared brilliance from Tena Morales-Armstrong, Marie N’diaye, Chisomo Selemani, and Shaheed Qaasim. As these are but a few of the golden moments, we strongly recommend you to listen to the full video for yourself. Click the image below to watch it on YouTube.

We encourage you to listen to the full video for yourself, click the image below to watch it on YouTube.

37:00 – Introduction about Heritage by Shaheed Qaasim

“How do we honor the cultural roots and our elders in this dance?”

We’d like you, the reader, to take a moment and think about this question for yourself. How do you honor the roots of the dance? When you’ve taken classes, how have the teachers honored the roots and elders of the dance? 

These “simple” questions are a really great way to start engaging and reflecting in building a new future for the Lindy Hop Community.


37:55Tena Morales-Armstrong – is a renowned promoter, producer, swing dance teacher and judge. She has run international events for over 22+ years including Lindyfest, Frankie95, ILHC and is on the Board of the Black Lindy Hoppers Fund. 


She talks about her project of collecting oral history: “You honor and respect your elders by listening to them.” 


Shared brilliance: “Oral history is so important at Black gatherings. If your Great Grandma or Great Grand Dad is talking, you listen. That’s what you do. You listen. The sheer fact that they dealt with and experienced things that you can only imagine, commands that respect. The fact that they actually survived. This is why you honor them and respect them by listening to them.”


48:52 – On Competition:

“At any Black gathering, from a cultural standpoint, there are things that we are going to do. I’ve always tried to incorporate those at all of my events. We are going to dance, we are going to compete […], we are going to play games, to have fun, and we are going to listen.”


43:38Dr. Marie N’diaye (PhD) – is a choreographer, performer, educator, and dance researcher in Lindy Hop and African American vernacular jazz. She founded and leads Collective Voices for Change, and is also on the Black Lindy Hoppers Fund Board

Shared brilliance: “Culture lives and is passed on from people to people […] If you want to speak of a culture, especially a culture that is not your own, you will have to do some level of cultural immersion.”

Shared brilliance: “There are some fundamental values that are shared between Black culture and an African Diaspora point of view […] Communication, improvisation, community, rhythm and play.”

Marie mentions how she desires a multidimensional Lindy Hop scene, just like Black and African American culture is multidimensional, and that it doesn’t only focus on the convenient or popular elements of that culture.


📚📚📚She also recommended Steppin’ on the Blues by Jacqui Malone. We second this recommendation. 📚📚📚


52:25 Chisomo Selemani, M.A., CCC-SLP – is an associate professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Baldwin Wallace University. Chisomo and jazz historian Bobby White, host the podcast Integrated Rhythm to elevate BIPOC perspectives in Swing and other Afrocentric dance communities. 


Shared brilliance: “Coloniality seeks to codify and categorize in order to understand, perfect and control. […] As we look to move away from colonitality, that is the answer: collaboration, community and relationships.”


1:01:10 – Actualizing

Shared brilliance: “I’ve seen people […] taking a time to bring different speakers, to not just bring people into your community, but allowing Black folks to actually develop a cultural space and step into that.”


1:06:37 –  Tena Morales-Armstrong explains and summarizes all the amazing work that the Black Lindy Hoppers Fund has been doing, such as providing a page of artist resources for the community to use, supporting Youth Programs around the world, developing an oral history project, and offering online intensives and residency programs for Black dancers around the world.


Again, this is not at all inclusive of the entire value of the discussion and we strongly recommend that you go watch it yourself.



“We at #MoveTogether are aware that many dancers have justifiable fears and concerns as the dance scene begins to reopen. We have all had safety concerns around COVID-19 in the past year, but there is a fear that the issues around diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion will be overlooked.

We are at an opportune moment in our dance scene. We have a chance to not just restart, but to rebuild from the ground up. A chance to change the systemic issues that plague our scene. 

Move Together is partnering with the Black Lindy Hoppers Fund for the Build Back Better event!

🔸 Love what you’re hearing? Help support and Donate!



Donations will go towards:

  • The Black Lindy Hoppers Fund: “Through legacy building exchanges, mentorship facilitation and development, generative residencies, impact focused community building and stewardship we aim to galvanize the cultural core of Lindy Hop and recenter the gaze and presence of the African and African diasporic community towards this phenomenal cultural artifact.”
  • Paying BLHF’s amazing panelists for their knowledge and time as well as production costs, Tena Morales-Armstrong and Marie N’diaye.
  • BLHF initiatives such as the Youth Program and Legacy LH History Continuum.


Interested in the Move Together – DEI Toolkit? Check out their resources here!”

Gabriela Novellino

Gabs started dancing in 1995 at four years old and has never stopped. While spending a year abroad in Leeds, UK in 2012, she discovered the dances of the Jazz Age, fell hopelessly in love, and decided to dedicate her life to this passion. She acts as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, researcher, dj and event organizer primarily in Brazil, Chile, and other South American scenes. She specializes mainly in Lindy Hop, Authentic Jazz, 1920s’ Charleston and Collegiate Shag. During the pandemic, Gabs has reinvented herself in order to bring people together through dance in an online format, by hosting online classes, sharing interesting information on social media and organizing big events, such as América Latina Swings. She is also a huge history geek and loves to dig deeper into the roots of Jazz music and dance. As a guest in the culture, she honors the opportunity to share the legacy and culture of Black American artists who created this art form.
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