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MOVE Together ~ Build Back Better (pt 5)

April 6, 2023

MOVE Together ~ Build Back Better (pt 5)

Gabriela Novellino

“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 did this is by attending virtual events like Build Back Better, hosted by MoveTogether. The aim of the event was 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

Check out Part 2

Check out Part 3

Check out Part 4

In Part 5 of Move Together – Build Back Better, the panelists share their views and experiences related to three different topics:

  1. Organizing big in-person events following all safety protocols and concerns.
  2. Recognizing the trauma most of us have faced the past year and a half and giving us time to heal.
  3. Adopting a trauma-informed approach and accepting people in the full spectrum of their humanity.

We’ll highlight some of our favorite moments shared by the brilliant Hilary Alexander, Tise Cho, and Chisomo Selmani. 

As these are but a few of the golden moments, we strongly recommend watching the clip for yourself. Enjoy!


Click the image below to watch it on YouTube


2:29:18 – Hilary Alexander is a singer, dancer, and event producer. She created Camp Hollywood in 1998, The National Jitterbug Championships in 2001, and has been the co-leader and vocalist for The Jonathan Stout Orchestra since 2002. Camp Hollywood:

Hilary shares her experience of attempting to organize her big dance event Camp Hollywood with the vaccine-only policy. She shares how she used a lot of help and advice from Dr. Dorry Segev and that she had some pushback, but not much, about her chosen policy. 

Hilary talks about communicating the covid-safety event policies: 

“I’m trying to communicate as effectively as possible. There are so many places where you need to have the information, and I feel like I’m always one step behind.”

She shares how she is aware that she might have to adapt the event’s policies as the covid situation progresses:

 “Over the next two months, things will change. Some policies may change, we may have to get stricter on certain things.”

The responsibilities that come with the territory: 

“People need to have faith in the organizer that they will keep them safe. This is a massive responsibility and I do not take it lightly. I also understand, and I hope everybody understands, that there is no way to make anything 100% safe, despite our best efforts. We are at a very scary time and I understand that some people just won’t feel safe dancing. […] I completely respect that. But I did want to offer this. I think we all need a little joy. So for the people who do feel safe, I am offering this. I’m making this as safe as I can. I hope people will come and have a great time, feel good and I hope that they can trust me with their safety for a weekend.”

2:36:34 – Tise Cho – a mental health professional – shares some wisdom about taking time to heal from the trauma the pandemic has left on each of us.

“Everybody is leaving in fear. That fear is real and it creates trauma within us. That trauma is something that is really hard to process. And at any second, that trauma can get triggered.”

“There is a lot of PTSD, anxiety and depression that is being created within people. If people can listen to each other, acknowledge their feelings and respect what they are saying, we wouldn’t have this kind of animosity.” 

“We all need to learn how to heal, how to process this, how to get back into this safely. We can’t jump back into the dance as if nothing happened. Something happened to us, to all of us. So let’s all be gentle and kind to each other, love each other a little more. Let’s heal. And then, we can have fun again.”

2:40:37 – Chisomo SelmaniChisomo 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. 

Integrated Rhythm with Chisomo & Bobby 

“When we think about mental health, coming together and moving together, we want to invite people to be their full spectrum of their humanity. We want to invite people into the fullness of who they are, every bit.”

Chisomo shares her view about how we are facing three pandemics together: Covid-19, mental health and racism:

“As we seek to move together, as we seek to form our swarms and move forward better, let us do that in the broad spectrum of our humanity.”


Chisomo mentions that there are different approaches on how to do that, and she explains mainly the approach through a trauma informed perspective :

“Adopting a trauma-informed approach is not accomplished through any singular particular technique or checklist. It requires constant attention, caring awareness, sensitivity and possibly a cultural shift.”


Chisomo goes on to mention that there are six guiding principles to a trauma-informed approach. The first of which is Safety:

“Safety cannot be defined from our own perspective. We need to make sure that we are asking questions and doing things through collaboration and through community connection.”


After such a long panel with the Move Together panelists, many people are probably asking themselves “Do I have what it takes? Can I be what my scene needs?”


Chisomo helps us to answer these questions by pointing out what are the key ingredients we need to move together and build back better.

Shared brilliance: “What we need now are transformational leaders. And the ingredient that you need to be a transformational leader is courage. We might think that courage happens in the absence of fear, but all of us who deal with anxiety know that we do a lot. […] We don’t need to get rid of fear. We need to manage it and make sure it doesn’t go into panic. […] But good courage comes through vulnerability. The barrier to courage and courageous leadership is actually self protection, and not fear. […] So, the number one key to transformational leaders is vulnerability.”

To finish off, Chisomo shares a quote from the recently passed founding president of Zambia who united all of Zambia’s 72 tribes into one nation: “Let us walk together with one heart.”



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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