Crescent City Swing is brought to you by passionate, dedicated individuals who strive to give you the best learning experience possible. Today I'm sitting down with Kerry Genese, co-founder of Crescent City Swing, to pull back the curtain a little bit on this woman of mystery.
When Did You Start Dancing? What Drew You To Dancing In The First Place?
I started taking lessons in the Swing Club at The College of New Jersey during my senior year. I was a swimmer and I needed a non-pool outlet. That was fall, 2006 maybe?
My grandmother was a dancer. She was a Broadway dancer in the 30’s and 40’s and I thought (and still think) that she was so glamorous and awesome. She was hired for a print modeling job with a buddy of hers for a swing dancing spread, and well, it ended up that one of their pictures was used on the cover of Life Magazine, above the title “The Lindy Hop”. I've been staring at the pictures in that magazine since I was a little kid. I knew nothing else about the dance of course except that she did it and that made it cool.
The first person I met besides my grandma who knew about swing dancing was a college friend, Marisa. She had been dancing in DC in high school and told me all about the dances and the dancers and basically clued me in to the fact that this whole weird world existed. Also she let me bully her into teaching me the Charleston. Bless. It still took me three more years to get into classes, but I got there.
If You Weren't Dancing, What Would You Be Doing?
I'd likely be a college swim coach, DIII probably. That was the track I was on before dancing took over. I'd be about ten years in now, so barring any major problems I'd be running a program at some cute little college, still smelling like chlorine and yelling at people to move faster. Smelling and yelling. That's the job. I'll tell you this though; I'd definitely not be using my International Studies degree. There's approximately one parallel universe out of a million where I take that degree, go to law school, and get jiggy with the world at large. In all the other ones I'm teaching or writing about my feelings.
Describe Your Hero, Dancing Or Otherwise.
Dang Matt, you gotta’ get deep like that? Fine. In rough chronological order my heroes go like this: Aladdin from Disney's Aladdin, Kristi Yamaguchi, Jo March, my sister, Natalie Coughlin, Baby from the 1987 hit Dirty Dancing, Janeane Garofalo, Tiny Fey, Ursula le Guin, Beyonce, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What's Your Favorite Donut Place And Why Is It Gerald's?
Gerald's speaks to me in the language of my ancestors. The connection is deep, inexpressible, and covered in sprinkles.
What's Your Spirit Animal And Why?
Can the moon be my answer? No? A cartoon sloth then. No, a lion raised as a puppy. A caterpillar eating hella leaves. A sun bear. Don't judge me, I contain multitudes.
Describe Your Favorite Dance Memory.
DJing and dancing on a canal boat in Amsterdam. There were three boats of dancers, three DJs, and one band. The band hopped from boat to boat, and we spent an afternoon as a caravan of floating parties. Everything about that experience felt magical to me. If there wasn't photographic evidence, I'd be sure I'd made it up.
What's Your Favorite Part About Dancing?
Getting lost in it. I want to say my favorite part is working with another person, or creating something, or feeling my heart race, or the music, or making people smile, but it's not. I do love all of those things, a lot a lot. My favorite part though, is getting outside of myself.
What's One Piece Of Advice You'd Give A Beginning Dancer? An Advanced Dancer?
Dancing is a conduit for other things. It's for fun, for connection, for expression, for all kinds of things. You short change the dance and yourself when it's only about steps.
What Do You Love Most About New Orleans?
I love that the city feels so tiny and the river feels so big. I love saying hi. I love coming and going. I love catching quiet streets when I don't expect them. I love eating and I love that other people love eating. I love the full reality of so many implausible moments. I feel like this town teaches me about passion and acceptance and life and death. It's fun and deep and beautiful and horrifying.
What's One Thing No One Knows About You (But They Should)?
I really like trains and I have creepy train station radar that must have been baked into me as a child. I blame my father.
In The Buffy Episode "Never Kill A Boy On The First Date", What Was The Name Of That Boy?
OhEmGee, Owen. I forgot and looked it up though. That was early in the series, real early, and inconsequential. Ask me something serious, like Angel v. Spike? Because heart-wrenching as it is, the answer is clear.
What's Your Favorite Food And Where Can You Get It In New Orleans?
Pizza and Pizza Delicious. Duh and Double Duh. Other pizzas exist, of course, and some are even enjoyable, but they fall into the category of Pizza: Other instead of Pizza: NY, and I just don't play like that.
What's Your Favorite Version Of A Trad Jazz Song From A Local Artist?
There's a recording of Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses playing Margie that my friend introduced me to that I'm obsooooused with.
Where's Your Favorite Place To Dance In The City?
Mimi's in the Marigny on a Wednesday night, about three years ago. For the current moment, d.b.a. Good floor, good music, bar where you can watch things, bar with a little separation, sitting nooks, good beer. I'm sold on that.
What Are You Most Thankful For?
The advent of peppermint season.
Well we're thankful for you, Kerry! Thanks for sitting down over donuts, time and again, not only for this interview but for all the hard work and dedication she's shared with me so far. Extra special thanks to Gerald's Donuts for being our constant meeting spot and for the great staff there for serving as our advisers, personal and professional.