Still Crazy for Dance After All These Years

by Suzie Gri

This is my first interview for The Paper and I was reading through John Woodruff’s book, “John’s Little Book of Dance Quotes,” for questions to ask him. Instead, I found all these things people have said about Woodruff and his dancing:

“I know from my limited exposure to him that he’s had ballet and jazz training, that he hangs out with the cream of the swing world, and he can spin like few can! “

“John is by far the most energetic (retired!) person I’ve ever seen, and I’ve mentioned in the past that he really puts those young girls at Jason’s dances through their paces!”

“John taught a ‘Spins & Turns’ workshop that I attended, and I’ve heard since then that he can do six spins!”

“If you go only to see the singing, dancing and acting of John Woodruff in ‘Little Me,’ it is worth the price of admission.”

“I couldn’t put down ‘John’s Little Book of Dance Quotes’ once I started reading it…very informative, entertaining and filled with really great quotes from some very unusual sources and the pictures are amazing.” “

OK, this is namedropping, but he knows Benji Schwimmer (of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame) and his father ‘King of Swing’ Buddy Schwimmer.”

John currently has two videos on YouTube, both of which can be found by searching for “swingtimedanceman” at www.YouTube. com.

John has lived in Sunland for more than 40 years, and he has been in a number of movies and TV shows as both principal and extra. There is a snippet of him in ”Mr. and Mrs. Smith” dancing around Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt .

“I think of myself as primarily a showman,” he said . “I enjoy entertaining folks….the routines I have put together have been well received. I strive to make them visually interesting. I like to tell stories when possible in song and / or dance.

“There are several older pieces that are part of my repertroire that most folks can relate to and enjoy…one example of that is the number that Judy Garland and Fred Astaire did in ‘Easter Parade’ titled ‘We’re a Couple of Swell.’ Not only do folks enjoy seeing it reproduced but it is a lot of fun to perform. I sometimes get asked to reproduce pieces that involve singing and dancing that are classics in the entertainment field. I very much enjoy teaching dancing to folks of all ages.

“There are times when it is very appropriate to teach some simple steps to some basic dances like swing, salsa,cha cha, waltz, foxtrot, rumba, samba, tango etc. Those who wish to and do participate seem to really enjoy the experience of learning some of the basics of dances. I give a history of the dance to be taught and a short, one-minute lesson of the dance style before instruction begins. I keep it simple: five steps per dance is usually enough to allow them to get out on any dance floor and try out their new dance skills yet is not too much to learn in one lesson.”

He currently is working on a 20-minute show, a 40-minute show and an hourlong show to be performed primarily at assisted-living homes for older folks around the country. Singing, dancing and acting are some memorable moments that older folks can relate to as well as some newly written and choreographed pieces which hopefully will spark their interest or tickle their funny bone or just be appreciated for the entertainment value it offers.

He added, “My days are filled with fun things and concepts that please me. Life for me is so amazing and filled with ‘awesome.’”

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