I have been doing social partner
dancing for over 10 years. I started with West Coast
Swing because I fell in love with the dance. During
the early years, I took as many lessons as I could,
first in workshops, then eventually private lessons.
After the first few years, I decided that I could
not really gain much from going to group workshops,
and, I only sought out private lessons when it was
“convenient”. I rarely contacted Pros prior to a convention
to get a private lesson time scheduled, and when the
Rebels brought Pros into town, I rarely signed up
for workshops, thinking that I could not gain anything
from the experience.
But, about five years ago, I hit a “wall” with my
dancing. I was entering competitions at national events,
but I wasn’t making it past the first round of preliminaries.
I became really frustrated, because I thought I knew
“all there was to know about WCS” and that I was at
the top of my game in terms of experience and knowledge
of the dance.
Well, I couldn’t have been more WRONG. It occurred
to me, that while my peers were progressing, I was
not. It was then that I realized that the only way
to improve my dancing was to become a STUDENT of the
My first step to improving my own dancing was to
begin teaching. The Chicago Rebels offered me the
opportunity to join the teaching staff and I welcomed
it with open arms. Through teaching others, I began
to see the dance in a whole new light. It also caused
me to analyze and dissect my own dancing, because
I really had to understand why certain things “worked”
and why certain things didn’t; afterall, my students
were looking to me as the “expert” and I couldn’t
let them down.
The next step in my “education,” was to take Skippy
Blair’s Intensive Class at her studio in California.
This was an awesome experience…the various sessions
and training materials gave me important “tools” I
needed to understand WCS (and all dancing) from a
After Skippy’s class, my batteries were recharged
and my thirst for more education and training really
kicked in. In 2002, I attended over 15
Swing and/or Hustle Conventions, took over
30 workshops (all of them as a Leader), and
took over 25 private lessons with
Pros such as, Tatiana Mollmann, Deborah Szekely, Robert
Cordoba, Wayne & Sharlott Bott, Angel Figueroa (Hustle),
Jordan Frisbee, Arte Phillips (Hustle), Kyle Redd
and Sarah VanDrake.
I want to encourage ALL dancers in the Chicago WCS
community to become more educated in WCS. Take workshops
offered by the local area dance clubs, take workshops
offered by the WCS Pros when they come to town, and
take private lessons, not only from national Pros,
but from your local Pros, as well. There is lots of
talent and knowledge right in your own backyard…so
take advantage of it!
If Chicago is going to keep improving the level of
our WCS dancing, then we ALL need to continue to learn
as much as we can about the dance. (You can bet that
I will continue, as well!)
Please feel free to contact
me with your comments, suggestions and feedback
about Dance Education Programs. We want to offer programming
that meets YOUR needs and inspires you to become a
KEEP ON LEARNING!