It’s finally time for Northwest dancers to enjoy the living legacy of Luigi

Posted in Community News, Theater and Dance

Jazz dance teacher, Francis Roach, will arrive from New York City later this month to teach classes on Whidbey Island and in Seattle. Roach was the longtime dance partner, co-teacher and protégé of the late Eugene Louis “Luigi” Facciuto for close to 40 years.

Facciuto is known in the dance world as the “father of jazz dance” and who developed his own dance technique, opening the Luigi Jazz Centre school in New York City that became a mecca for dancers of all stripes. The “Luigi” style became hugely popular because of its accessibility to everyone; a style that’s easy to learn and puts no strain on the body.

Langley resident and dance teacher, Daunne Zinger, was instrumental in arranging the classes with Roach, who will teach classes Aug. 26 to 28 on the island and in Seattle.

“I’m excited about providing a unique opportunity for Whidbey Islanders to experience master jazz dance classes being taught by a world renowned Luigi jazz dance practitioner,” Zinger said.

“The beauty of the Luigi style is that it can be learned by anyone because of its simplicity of movements, while still offering a challenge to dancers both mentally and physically. And you won’t hurt yourself doing it,” she added.

During a typical class at Luigi’s studio, everybody dances. Zinger said she was once in a class where actor Ben Vereen was dancing next to a 7-year-old aspiring dancer, who was dancing next to her grandmother, who was recovering from an athletic injury.

“It’s a style for everybody. It’s inclusive. Everyone will feel welcomed, whether you’re someone with a casual interest in exploring dance or you are an experienced performer,” she said.

Zinger, who has been a longtime disciple of the Luigi style, calls Roach her mentor and credits him with shaping her passion for the Luigi technique.

“He’s bringing Luigi’s legacy to our community and I’m very excited about that. It took me a longtime to convince Francis to come!”

Generous donations of studio space have been provided by Whidbey Flex Studio in Clinton, Island Dance in Langley and Spectrum Dance in Seattle. Some of Zinger’s dance students from Sojourn Studios in Bayview have helped make Roach’s visit a reality. Carol Bingman, owner of Carol Lee’s Attic, will provide accommodations for Roach, while other students contributed funds for the marketing and have even arranged informal gatherings to give the jazz star a warm Whidbey Island welcome.

“My biggest hope is that the classes are filled with dancers and non-dancers of all ages, just like Luigi’s classes in New York City,” Zinger said.

All levels of dancers, and non-dancers can sign up for one or more of the four classes offered during the weekend. The classes include:

·         6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 at Whidbey Flex Studio, 11042 State Route 525, Suite 136 in Clinton;

·         11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 at Island Dance and Gymnastics, 714 Camano Ave, Langley;

·         10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 28 at Spectrum Dance, 800 Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle

The cost is $25 per class. Pre-registration is required as space is limited. To register, email Daunne Zinger at zingerd@whidbey.com or call 206-633-3589.

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