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Behind the Design: The Twelve Dancing Queens (Part Two)

colored pencil drawing of a brown skinned woman kicking her left leg high in the air with her arms extended upwards. She is wearing a green headwrap with blond curls hanging over the top and a deep purple jumpsuit with wide legs and little gold crowns patterned all over.
Lindy Hop/Jitterbug Sketch

Welcome back to another exciting episode of Behind the Design, with Enivid by B. Genette. In today's episode, I will walk you through the process behind the Jitterbug/Lindy Hop Queen and the Shuffling Queen. I'd like to think of them as nonidentical twins, since they were borne out of a singular inspiration.

One night, after getting my kids to sleep, I restlessly began looking through Google for images of dancers from the 1950s. This quickly brought me to the lively black and white photographs of couples swinging each other around and kicking their legs wildly. I fell in love with the liberated way they smiled while dancing feverishly and almost manically. Not long into my search, I found an image that stood out to me, of a couple of dancers. I couldn't even begin to tell you what the man was doing in this photo without looking at it again, because the woman completely took my attention. With the broadest of smiles, she kicked her leg high in the air, farther than I ever could. She looked as if she was having the time of her life. I wanted to take the pure joy of that photo and put it in my own style. Adding a custom jumpsuit in a lavish purple hue, golden curls, and a vibrant headwrap, I managed to take that black and white photo into the 21st century.

Due to licensing rules, I can't share the photo here, but I'll include a link, as well as this snippet about our dancing Queen:

American Lindy hop dancer Norma Miller Norma Miller (1919 - 2019) and her long time dance partner, Billy Ricker, in action, Chicago, Illinois, circa 1940. Known as the "Queen of Swing", Miller, later formed her own dance troupe and was also a choreographer, actor, writer and comedian. (Photo by Maurice Seymour/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

colored pencil drawing of a girl with light brown skin, bright pink hair, and a green t-shirt and flowing yellow pleated skirt dancing in the shuffling style.
Shuffling/Jitterbug Sketch

For the Shuffling Queen, I actually blended references of Jitterbug dancers from the 1950's with Shuffle dancers from the 2010's (which was three years ago, right? Millennial math is hard). I wanted to capture the joy that dancers from both eras exude, as well as their carefree spirits. My Goddaughter picked all the colors for this Queen, which only added to the childlike whimsy and freedom of this drawing.

We are now four of twelve Queens in, and I've got to say, writing about them has been both a delight and a challenge. Let me know if you're enjoying this series by commenting or messaging on my Instagram!


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