INTERVIEW WITH A MONTREAL WEDDINGS' EXPERTS FROM STUDIO 88-SWING
Names: Didier Jean-François and Annie Trudeau
Business name: Studio 88-Swing and Groupe de Divertissement Swinging Air Force
Telephone: (514) 88-SWING
Address: 7243 St-Hubert, Montréal, Qc, H2R 2N2
How long have you been Co-Owners of Studio 88-Swing?
We have been Co-Owners since 2002 and we are also teachers and performers, for 18 years now, since 1998.
Where do the names Swinging Air Force and Studio 88-Swing come from?
When we started we had a dance troop: La Swinging Air Force. That troop has since been named National and International champions several times. The Swinging Air Force dance troop was doing the « danses de la guerre 40-45 ». To find the name, we inspired ourselves from a poster that showed that the US Air Force support services kept the planes in the air against all odds. We told ourselves that, us too, « we keep them flying » int the sense that the ladies of the troop were often in the air… Hence, we named ourselves the Swinging Air Force.
For the Studio name we wanted to combine the word swing to our telephone number. We contacted everyone that had a telephone number ending with the numbers 7-9-4-6-4.
When we contacted the owner of the phone number 514-88-SWING, we were happy that he accepted to sell it to us. We were happy to include 88 in our phone number as the number 8 is romantic, it represents infinity and also in the Oriental cultures it is the luckiest number.
What has brought you to this (education, jobs, family…) ?
In my case, I have a background in gymnastics and my mother was a professional dancer for the Grands ballets canadiens. I found out about swing during my engineering studies at the Polytechnique. My friends and I would go out dancing.
« Annie is a true genius, she was studying Physics Engineering and worked on the Canadian Radarsat II… She even won the Da’Vinci award at Polytechnique, an award that can only be won by the top 4% of students » adds Didier.
After my graduation, I took part in different internships but still had a calling for dance. I soon became a full time entrepreneur and dancer, in 2007.
I then started to travel to teach dance across Canada and Internationally. It is at that moment that I got known and recognized internationally, through dance competitions (see Annie’s accomplishments: http://www.studio88swing.com/our-teachers ).
My story is very different from Annie’s who is known as one of the best dancers in the world. I am a music lover, Jazz, Rock n’ Roll, and I have always loved sports and dancing.
I have been a DJ, radio host, a basketball coach and the leader of a Hip Hop dance troop, as I also took part in many team and individual sports. I have always been a curious person and I have to admit a little « workaholic ». When I was at university, I had two jobs. I define myself as a business man that knows how to identify opportunities.
Since the begining of college I wanted to do couple dancing. The women around me thought that is was too old fashioned and I was looking to find myself a dance partner. It’s then that one of my friends told me about a place where I could dance on Jazz music, in couple, without needing to be with a partner. And that is when I officially started to dance swing.
I took part in all the activities, I helped all associations and groups plan their dance events, I gave dance classes. I took on any responsabilities that I was offered and when I joined Swinging Air Force, they soon named me Director of the troop. « Didier is a natural born leader », adds Annie.
I was passionate about the Canadian scene on the International level and I wanted Canada to be seen and recognized. I was motivated by competition.
I organized our troop in the sense that we became the first Canadian team to make it internationally and win "Lindy hop" type dances, the master dance of swing.
Can you imagine that the level of the troop back then was of a lower level than Annie’s level of dance? After winning the award, we turned our attention to Montreal, where the interest for retro was not at its most popular. We wanted to keep swing alive and it is then that Studio 88-SWING was created, to train new dancers.
That same year, I created the Canadian Swing Championship in order to help develop the community. It will be the 15th edition this year.
What do you love the most in what you do?
Annie : I love to see the evolution of this project and of dance. The level of the art of dancing has evolved with the internet. It has allowed us to see what is being done in different cities and schools everywhere.
As the choreographer for the show "Les Dieux de la danse" on Radio-Canada, and guest dancer for the first two seasons, we are happy to have contributed to popularize " Lindy Hop " and other dances that date back to the time of the second world war (charleston, jitterbug, rock n roll).
The show "Les dieux de la danse" has brought awareness and historical facts about dance to the public of Quebec. The winning dance of the first season was also "Lindy Hop" and we were the choreographers of the winning team with Jonas and Joannie Rochette.
Didier : We love to play a role in so many retro type projects. We have been choreographers for many important projects such as Cirque du Soleil’s « Viva Elvis » presented in Las Vegas and « Banana Chapel » presented in Chicago.
The most gratifying thing remains to be able to see the impact that we can have on our public, partners and students. We have built many friendships and are able to change their lives. We have had the privilege to reach them through many different platforms. The numerous projects that we played a role in, has helped us get known throughout the years.
We have been consultants for a various number of shows, such as : " Le match des étoiles", " Belle et bum", " La vie est un cirque", " En direct de l’univers", "La fureur", " La voix", "Art TV" , "La culture pour les nuls"…We have also participated in many music videos such as « Them Kids » , Sam Roberts and many movies such as "Les Reagons", "Gleason" and most recently ; " The Race". It’s a real privilege to touch so many people though different types of medias.
You are both so passionnate, what keeps that flame lit for you ?
Annie: For me, it’s performing and the creation that keeps the flame lit. When i’m performing I feel that I am contributing something unique, my art and my passion. I am privileged to have the possibibility, and the body to allow me to do so.
Didier: Annie is so artistic and so innovative ; as for me, its being able to reach people that I am passionnate about. People come to us to learn to dance for so many different reasons. I love it when people have so much fun when learning to dance and that it can help them reach objectives in their lives, on the dance floor and off the dance floor. I love spreading the joy !
What is the strenght of the Studio 88-swing dance school?
Didier: I love that we are as good in all projects with stars as we are with our growing clientele because of the quality of our school’s teachers. Whether people are interested in becoming the next world champion or simply learning the basic steps to have fun dancing, they will progress much faster than they can imagine. Students at our school often become teachers or even troop members that participate in dance competitions, even if they had never imagined getting to that level when they forst joined the school.
Some couples come to see us to learn a first dance for their wedding and they tell me ; « We would love to do X, but we will never be able to». Every time that this happens, they are always suprised when they reach their goal.They often are able to make it happen in less time than they thought possible and at less cost. We are good at explaining things in a way that is easy to understand.
One of the things that I am the most proud of is that we are respected by our peers, the elite Salsa, Ballroom, Tango, and Hip Hop dancers, that invite us to collaborate on different projects. They are also professionnals that acknowledge that, like them, we trained excelent dancers.
Do you have any fun facts to share with us, since you have started your business ?
Didier : I have been asked quite a few times to be a wedding officiant. Futur brides and grooms have told me that they would not have met if it wasn’t for me.
Studio 88 Swing’s slogant is so relevant to this… « Change your life and learn to dance ».
How long before their wedding should souples come to see you and why ?
Annie : We can give them classes at any moment. If they have the time, one month ahead of time is ideal. It always depends on the extent of the goal that they want to reach. One to two hours of private classes 2 or 3 times per week can be sufficient for a simple dance. In the case of a bigger goal, for exemple « we want to give a show » one month with practice time on your own might be more reasonnable. 6-12 total hours with a meeting every few days everything is possible. We can propose the best solution to make sure that we make your dream happen.
Didier : A good example would be what we have done for the show "Les Dieux de la danse". For each choreography that you see on television, 12h of pratice, over a two week period, were necessary. The artists were actors or musicians not dancers. We were able to teach them the choreographies in less than 12 hours.
Could you give futur brides and grooms three pieces of advice?
What are the latest trends ?
"West Coast Swing" dance style can be danced on any type of music. You can dance it on your favorite song. Futhermore swing is a dance that reaches the most people. For example a waltz can be danced on one type of music waltz. Swing can be danced on a Colin James, Elton John and even Foo Fighters music.
If you see people tapping their foot to the sound of muic, you know that you can dance swing to that song. We can surely help choreograph a dance to the song of your choice.
The entertainment of your wedding reception is of the outmost importance. That is why we offer extra services to make sure that your wedding reception is absolutely perfect for you and your guests.
From the wedding MC wedding games, stories, sound effects, Djs bands… we personnalize your entertainment from A to Z. This service is personalized, we do not offer any service packages, we provide exactly what you need to make your dream evening come true.
Let us know what you envision your ideal reception to be, no limits, and we will make it happen.