Carter Lovisone grew up in Denver, Colorado. When he was seven years old he started taking Jitterbug (and later Ballroom) lessons with one of his father's employees who taught ballroom dancing on the side. Carter was paired with his instructor's seven year old niece, Maria and they soon started dancing at shows and exhibitions in the local area, often to a standing ovation. When the audience threw money at them, Carter would go to the candy store for the biggest bag of malted milk balls he could buy. Little did he realize that his life-long dance career was off and running.
Carter's family lived close to the Rainbow Bread Bakery and there was a beautiful ballroom on the top floor of the building. The company sponsored a public dance for the blind twice a week. An uncle of Carter's mother loved ballroom dancing and he was blind. So, Carter would walk the elderly uncle to the ballroom and ask different ladies to dance with him. With each dance, Carter stayed close by, helping to guide them through their moves without running into walls and other people. He made sure his uncle would dance with every lady in the ballroom. This was 1938 - the beginning of Carter "paring-up" people to dance.
Years later Carter opened his own dance studio and discovered that most of his students were single. So, during class he rotated the dancers, giving every gentleman the opportunity to meet and dance with every lady. Carter's favorite saying was, "You never know who you might meet in a dance class."
Reflecting back on his many years as a dance teacher, Carter will tell you, "The dance business has been very good to me. I never once thought of it as a job. If one has to do something for a living, it is great to be able to do something in life that is also one's passion. I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by very talented people that have made it possible for me to have a degree of success."
Several top dancers and instructors of today trained with Carter Lovisone - namely, Mike and Amber Cross, and Wayne Bott. Wayne recalls, "When living in Denver, I was lucky enough to have discovered Carter. Carter gave me a fantastic and unique West Coast Swing foundation. He took me under his wing and graciously shared his dance knowledge. These were good times. My life of dance began with Carter's love of dance."
Carter was unfortunately crippled when a truck pushed a concrete wall over on him, breaking his back and leaving him in a coma for eleven weeks. Since his recovery he has had five hip replacements and numerous operations. He doesn't dance much anymore, but his students have all heard him say, "Do me a favor the next time you go dancing - dance one for me." … we'll do that, Carter.
Jack Sigler was a dancer even before he was born. His mother danced as a young girl in Russia . . . so, it was in his genes. Jack grew up in a 'mixed' culture neighborhood in Detroit. Watching his Black friends Tap dance, Jack eagerly picked it up on his own.
As time went by, the big band sound and Jitterbug dancing came into his life, and Jack began dancing to such greats as Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and Count Basie. About that time, his family moved to San Diego and the war broke out. Then it happened . . . Jack was drafted! However, he auditioned with the USO, was accepted, and began performing in shows up and down the West Coast for the servicemen.
The war ended and Jack was released from the USO looking for work. He heard through a booking agent that the Hollywood Burlesque in San Diego was looking for a 'hoofer'. He beat it over there, auditioned for the job, and got it! Jack worked with stars such as Lily St. Cyr and Gypsy Rose Lee. There was a new headliner each week, with many well-known and great entertainers. Jack can honestly say it was two years of the greatest, most rewarding experiences of his life.
Leaving burlesque, Jack joined the March of Dimes Organization, producing and directing a fundraising vaudeville show with Fro Brigham and his Blues Band. He then became very involved in West Coast Swing and in 1973 he joined the San Diego Swing Dance Club (one of the oldest dance clubs in the country). There, Jack served five terms as president, and for many years thereafter he has been the Master of Ceremonies for Swing dance contests in nightclubs all over San Diego. From the end of World II until the late 1990's, Jack has been a key promoter of West Coast Swing, keeping it alive in the San Diego area.
Terry Rippa was inducted into the Swing Dance Council Hall of Fame in 1992 as its eleventh member and youngest inductee. He has taught and coached dancers since 1980, introducing literally thousands to Swing dancing. He credits his success in getting students quickly through basics and onto the dance floor to his ability to explain dance. His students, and seasoned dancers alike, will tell you he is sought out for his ability to teach the highly-desirable-difficult-to-master-double-resistance Rock Step.
Terry doesn't just teach dance. He has been an integral part of the Dallas Push Club since 1977, serving in every officer position and representing the club at associations from city to national levels. As a leading proponent of the Relative Placement System, he helped change contest scoring procedures nationwide. Through his dedication and leadership, the Dallas Push Club remains one of the oldest and largest West Coast Swing dance clubs in the country.
Terry's goals have always been to preserve, perpetuate, and promote Swing dancing. He continues to work tirelessly behind the scenes at the Dallas Push Club, promoting dance-related activities. An accomplished deejay, he is always on the lookout for dance music and has amassed an amazing collection of recordings for dancers. Terry understands the importance of camaraderie in promoting dance, and his students will tell you that the after-class "dance bonding" at a nearby restaurant is a popular venue for getting to know potential new dance partners.
Terry's lists his greatest accomplishment as Dallas DA.N.C.E. - the largest West Coast Swing dance convention in the nation, and his highest honor is his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
Frankie Manning, the dancer, innovator, and choreographer has been the unofficial Ambassador of Lindy Hop for much of his lifetime, for no one has contributed more to the dance than he. Originally touring as a dancer and choreographer with "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers" in the 30's and 40's, he helped spread the popularity of the Lindy Hop through three continents. And with the Swing dance revival beginning in the 1980's, Frank Manning, once again became a driving force worldwide with his teaching, choreography and performance. For all of these years, his deep love of Swing music and dancing has been as contagious as his dazzling smile.
From its beginnings, Whitey's Lindy Hoppers was much more than a dance troupe. It was a training ground that prepared the most talented social dancers of the Savoy Ballroom for professional gigs. It was also a social club that kept the young people out of trouble by allowing them unlimited access to the Ballroom - by day to practice and by night to dance to the best Swing bands in the world.
Whitey's group was formed from the crème de la crème of the Savoy - the top dancers in the top ballrooms of the Swing Era. With Whitey's entrepreneurial skills, these Harlem youngsters were catapulted into world recognition thru both live performance and film. Their Swing dance innovations had permanent impact on the social dance styles of the United States, Europe, Australia, and even Latin America and parts of Africa.
When "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers" got their start in the early 1930's, word got around about the sensational Swing dancing at the Savoy Ballroom and requests came from downtown socialites and rich folk who wanted to have Lindy Hoppers perform at their lavish parties. Whitey, who got to know the young dancers well, was able to hand pick exciting dancers who were also socially adept and reliable. They were invariably delighted to make a few dollars doing what they loved. (Aren't we all?)
A father figure to many of these dancers, Whitey would send them downtown to those fancy digs with the admonition, "Remember, ain't nobody better than you." This advice must have come in handy in 1937, when a group of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers stood in line to shake hands with the Queen of England! This self-respect and pride permeated the Savoy Ballroom, one of the few places on earth where Blacks and Whites could meet on the dance floor as equals.
Now in 2006 (69 years later) Frankie Manning is 91 years old, he's still Swinging, and he still has that contagious smile! For more information about Frankie Manning, visit the website http://www.savoystyle.com/
Craig Hutchinson taught social, exhibition, and competitive dancing for over 38 years (from 1964 to 2002). He first taught Ballroom and Night Club, then began teaching all styles of Swing - Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Swing (West Coast, East Coast, Supreme, Push, Whip, and Imperial styles), Rock-n-Roll, Carolina Shag, and St. Louis Shag, plus Hustle in 1964. He taught Swing to U.S. servicemen in Germany, South Vietnam, Australia, Japan, and Taiwan. The pinnacle of the many years he taught Swing in the U.S. was in 1985 and 1986, when his students won four first place titles in Swing and Hustle at the Grand National Championship.
Craig was a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, holding a Mineral Engineer-Mathematics degree from the Colorado School of Mines and a MA degree in Mathematics from the University of Arizona. He formed the United States Military Academy Swing Dance Club at West Point, NY in 1975 and wrote a West Coast Swing Syllabus for its use. He authored Swing Dancer, a Swing Dancers Manual and wrote over 30 articles on Swing dancing. He was also the editor of the Swing Dancer Newsletter.
Craig Hutchinson produced four Swing dance instruction video tapes and held numerous positions in various dance organizations over the years: Founder and director of the Potomac Swing Dance Club, Inc. (PSDC), which is a charter member of the United States Swing Dance Council (USSDC); Director of the VA State Open Swing Dance Championships; Secretary for the National Association of Swing Dance Events; Librarian/Archivist for the American Go Association; Judge at the US Open Swing Dance Championships; Judge at the NASDE Swing Dance Championships; and West Coast Swing choreographer and coach for The Boothill Dancers, a team which consistently wins first place in Country Western AA Division competitions.
Craig married his long-time dance partner, Lucy Renzi, and they lived in Falls Church, Virginia. Craig Hutchinson passed away peacefully October 30th, 2007 after a valiant battle with cortico basilar ganglionic degeneration. (Imagine Lou Garretts disease mixed with Alzheimers.) Craig, who received a purple heart in Vietnam, is buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Robert Bryant has been a Swing dance enthusiast for over forty years. He established the United States Swing Dance Council and helped establish West Coast Swing as the State Dance of California. He and others are responsible for bringing the East and West Coasts together. He is one of ten people who established the Greater Phoenix Swing Dance Club and the 4th of July Convention of Phoenix. Since that time, he has helped many clubs and conventions get their start. Robert's efforts to promote Swing have been honored by the Michigan, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, Texas, California, Missouri, Oklahoma, and numerous other Swing organizations.
Teacher, adjudicator, coach, choreographer, and dance theorist for three decades, Robert Bryant has helped many Swing and National Ballroom dancers improve their dancing. He has conducted seminars on teaching and judging. He has his teaching certification from the National Council Dance Teach Organization "NCDTO" (now called The National Dance Council of America, "NDCD"), plus the Terpsichore Association "USTA", the Golden State Dance Teacher Association "GSDTA", and many more. His certification of instruction is at all levels of American dances and a few International dances. He specializes in West Coast Swing and Latin dances.
Sherry Lawson Martin has been dancing for over forty years and has been teaching West Coast Swing for over twenty years. In the summer of 1983 she met Dave and Betty Miller at "Stingers Lounge" who encouraged her to join the Southside Dance Club. She danced in her first competition with Bobby Hawkins that fall at Northside Missouri State. In 1984, her real inspiration came when she saw Barry Jones and Judy Ford dance to "It's Raining Men" at her first Midwest Challenge event.
Sherry has competed, taught, and judged all over the country. Dancing is a major part of her life, which she loves to share with others. She has been blessed with some wonderful awards, including the National Swing Dance Hall of Fame; Dallas Dance Hall of Fame; Midwest Swing Dance Hall of Fame; the U. S. Open Humanitarian Award; and Member of the Year at her local club. She says, "The best feeling in the world is being recognized by your peers!" And, she has learned over the years that every dancer in the audience is on the performer's side - "Everyone wants you to do your best."
Sherry has won so many competitions, the list below does not include them all. When asked why she has competed so much, she says she loves to perform and is a real ham. She compares performing on the dance floor to the rush one gets riding the Screaming Eagle. She also loves the friends, fun, exercise, knowledge, and travel that dancing has brought into her life. She teaches because she has taken so many dance classes that she feels she has a lot to share, and she wears her U.S. Open and Dallas Dance Hall of Fame rings always, "They're my diamonds!"
A little know fact about Sherry is that she's a fairly good artist and is a real "house mouse" because she loves to cook, sew, and garden. She hopes the dance community will continue to grow and try new things, with dancers incorporating the best of every form of Swing into their dance. As Sherry puts it, "Life is a process of change and growth, and dancing should be the same."