Being a native New Yorker and having been exposed to Broadway and the performing arts in general as a young man, Chazz became a working entertainer early in life. His mother took him to his first live production and it was his own father's act performing that night at the famed Roxy Theatre in midtown Manhattan. After seeing that presentation he was hooked and dance literally became his life. Chazz's own father was none other than the late, great swing dance innovator Frankie Manning, Ambassador of the Lindy Hop . Growing up Chazz spent a good deal of his time with his dad trying to learn everything he could about the art and expression of dance, well at least during the times Frankie wasn't on the road performing around the world himself.
Chazz formal dance training began at age twelve with the famous Mary Bruce Dance School located on the historic 125th Street in Harlem and he started teaching the students there when he turned fifteen years of age. This would make him one of her notable ‘Starbuds’ as they were called at the time. At age seventeen his father took him to meet the incomparable Norma Miller, known as the ‘Queen of Swing’. Auditions were being held and Chazz was accepted. This was the beginning of Chazz’s dance career as he became one of Norma Miller’s The Four Jazzmen. They debuted at The Apollo Theatre in 1949. Soon thereafter he was performing worldwide.
For the last 50 years Chazz has performed live and on film. He has taught tap, jazz and swing dancers around the world. When you watch old footage of Chazz or Frankie dance you know that some of his talent is definitely genetic. When asked what was his most memorable moment in recent history, he tells me that it was 2012 when he celebrated his 80th birthday celebration in three different cities, New York, NY San Francisco, CA and Las Vegas, NV. He was especially blown away by having to dance with 80 women in his hometown of Harlem and in San Francisco during planned events by former student and peers.
So as Chazz continues to dance as if there's no tomorrow, I believe the rest of us should take stock in what we have done in this lifetime and what we still have to do while working like we don't need the money, loving like we've never been hurt like and dancing like no one is watching. ;-)
Margaret Batiuchok and Chazz Young lead the Shim Sham along with Charlie Meade at the end with the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra at Lincoln Center's Midsummer NIght Swing, (MSNS) July 13, 2103 after Margaret taught the dance lesson at the final night of Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing's 25th Anniversary season - tribute to Illinois Jacquet and Franke Manning
Margaret and Frankie Manning did the very first opening dance demonstration at MSNS 25 years ago- also the second one-
and this year to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of MSNS, Frankie's son Chazz Young came in and taught with Margaret and lead the Shim Sham with Margaret, a tradition Margaret thought of doing and Margaret and Frankie began with the members of the New York Swing Dance Society at the NYSDS dances at the Cat CLub in the 1980s. Margaret met Chazz in Norma Millers Jazz Dancers Group of which Chazz was a member and Margaret was an understudy. She then met Frankie when hew came in to watch rehearsal one day and Margaret started dancing and performing with Frankie.