Mary Ann Nuñez, the dancer, danced her first couples dance in 1981 - it was the Country Two-Step. Then, in 1982 she saw people dancing Swing for the first time and fell in love with it. She found places where they were dancing Swing so she could go and watch. By 1983 she was learning Swing by social dancing with anyone who would ask her. Many of the first dancers she danced with and learned from were some of the greats that met at a place called "Bobby McGees" once a month. They danced to Big Band music, so their wonderful styles were in the Lindy family. Soon after that she discovered places where they played Blues and learned another great dance style called West Coast Swing.
In 1983 Mary Ann was asked by Dean Collins to be in a T.V. Special called "In The Swing" and was introduced to Lance Shermoen. Later that year, Lance became her dance partner for the 1983 U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships. Mary Ann quickly became the new kid on the block, taking the Swing community by storm and winning the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships Showcase Division two years in a row.
It was her natural talent for Swing that led to Mary Ann Nuñez's dance career in television, where she appeared on “Dance Fever”, and “In The Swing”, as well as in T.V. commercials. Since then she has garnished many awards and accomplishments to her name. She has placed first in Champion level Jack & Jill Swing competitions nationwide so many times that she has accumulated one of the top highest points in the "Jack & Jill's" World Swing Dance Council's Registry.
Mary Ann Nuñez, the dance teacher received her teacher’s certification from the Golden State Dance Teachers Association. She was awarded the Technical Dance Award from the GSDTA Reunion and is one of the most sought after teachers both locally in Southern California, as well as nationwide at many dance conventions in the National Association for Swing Dance Events (NASDE) circuit.
For more information on Mary Ann Nuñez, visit her website - http://www.maryannnunez.com
Sylvia Sykes began dancing in 1966, competing in 1970, and teaching in 1979. She has studied with many of the dance greats, including Frankie Manning, Dean Collins, Maxie Dorf, and Willie Desatoff. Her extensive studies and travels have made her an expert on regional dance styles and she is known for her expertise in, and the preservation of the older forms of Swing dance. In addition, she is credited with helping to preserve the Balboa by introducing the dance World Wide.
In 1985 Sylvia and Jonathan Bixby co-founded the Santa Barbara Swing Dance Club, a twice-monthly live-music dance club that they continue to run. She is still teaching her weekly classes that she started teaching in 1979, plus she teaches out of town over forty weekends per year. Her dance troupe ran for fifteen years, performed with some of the great Swing bands, and nurtured other International teachers. She has been a member of the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance since its inception, has taught at the University of California, and has appeared in many TV shows and in several documentaries on Swing dancing over the years.
Sylvia is actively judging and teaching various forms of Shag, Balboa, Lindy Hop, and West Coast Swing throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Asia. She is still an active competitor and she has won or placed in virtually every Swing event she has entered, in a multitude of Swing forums.
Lance Shermoen has been involved in Swing dancing for over twenty-five years, in many forms, and in many capacities. His lengthy list of dance credentials could be summed up with his distinction of being a five-time U.S. Open Swing Dance Champion. In addition to consistently placing high as a routine dancer for an incredibly long time, he competed in Invitational/Champion level Jack and Jill contests for over ten years. He has often been compared to a young Dean Collins and is known for his smooth and elegant style.
Lance is also a four-time Feather Award Recipient (presented by Fan Flair Enterprises) for "Best Swing Dance Showcase Dancer" (in 1991, '92, '93 and '94). He also received the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame "Nova Star" award in 1990, and a "Rising Star" award in 1996.
He has served the Swing dance community for all of these years in every capacity: teacher, choreographer, and judge. He has created demo tapes, given exhibition performances, and participated in many Swing dance promotions - including an appearance in the TV special "In The Swing".
Lance has given freely of his time and talents. For many years, he has actively taught and worked with children in Lynn Vogen's dance studio. His volunteer efforts have also been instrumental in the informational systems aspects of the World Swing Dance Council.
His skills, thoroughness, and dedication are reflected in his well-known event competition computer scoring services. Over a dozen weekends a year, you will find him working with promoters, judges and contestants, for efficient and smooth-running events.
Jackie McGee and Charlie Womble started dancing the Carolina Shag in 1980 and have competed and taught the dance since that time. Jackie McGee is a ten-time Overall National Shag Dance Champion, and her husband Charlie Womble is a nine-time Overall National Shag Dance Champion. In 1989 they introduced the Carolina Shag to the U.S. Open and started teaching Shag workshops across the country. They became the first Shag instructors to be endorsed by the SOS organization, and are still actively teaching locally and across the country.
Charlie and Jackie are the founders and directors of the USA Grand National Dance Championship (founded in January 1994, with the first event in May 1995.) They have served on the Competitive Shaggers Board of Directors; hosted local charity and fund raising dance competitions in Atlanta, GA and Myrtle Beach, SC; and created fourteen instructional videos, many of which are donated to fund raising events and charities.
They also created the first scholarship to assist Junior Shaggers in the Shag community. Charlie and Jackie became the first and only spokespersons for Anqet Natural Spring Water (a company that supports and sponsors a significant number of events for the Shag community.)
A trophy in their likeness, called the "Charlie and Jackie Trophy" was created by the National Shag Dance Championship to be presented to its "Overall Champions" in March of each year.
Mario Robau, "Jr." has been dancing for as long as he can remember. Family gatherings in his Cuban community of Houston, Texas always involved dance and, since most husbands were reluctant dancers, Mario routinely took his place whether he wanted or not. He began break dancing at the tender age of eight because "it was cool" and at the age of sixteen, his father introduced him to Swing.
When Mario's father won the first Novice Traditional Division offered in the Southwest Regional Dance Championships, Mario first saw his two all-time favorite dance heroes, Robert Perez and Gary Long. He still vividly remembers that night: "Watching Robert dance was like watching smoke rise...smooth from the word "go". Gary came out on the floor and DEMANDED your attention, something I have never forgotten. Gary later told me, "If they're not watching, how are they going to give you a standing ovation?" Gary was the most influential person in my teaching style for partner dancing and he is probably the most charismatic teacher I have ever seen."
Mario has fond memories of his early dance training: "I was very fortunate to work with the "Old Timers" from Dallas and Houston - people who did not do things by the numbers, but by feel. While most people won't recognize the names, people like Robert Perez, Gary Long, Rose Marie Mallady, Jack and Joyce Wells, Truman McCullough, and Joe Comstock from Dallas, plus Weldon Petit, Gilbert and Trish Huron, and Jack Scalise showed me more than I could have ever hoped. It is to these people that I am truly indebted."
Mario danced in the "Dancin...The Company", a Jazz and Tap group from Houston for seven years. His coach and choreographer, Glen Hunsucker, was a huge influence: "Glen was ruthless when it came to perfection and lightning quick when it came to choreography and learning. I once saw him choreograph the "Shaft" theme song (9 minutes) for the entire company of 16 people in 30 minutes, and it was PERFECT! Not a single nuance was missed in the song. It was at that moment that I began to truly appreciate Glen Hunsucker's immense talent."
Mario joined the Southwest Whip Club in 1984 and by 1985 he was instructing, judging and choreographing West Coast Swing. In 1988 he began traveling the country, working in various dance circuits, which allowed him to study all forms of Swing dancing with many legends in Lindy, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Whip, Push, Jitterbug, Tulsa Swing, St. Louis Imperial, and Shag.
He now travels over fourty weekends a year to teach, compete, judge, emcee, D.J., direct, and of course, dance in both Swing and Country Western events. In his long competitive career, Mario has amassed the impressive list of championship titles in the Swing circuit listed below. He is now the Director of the Novice Invitational and Co-Director of the America's Classic Swing Dance held in Houston, Texas.
Kelly (Buckwalter) Casanova has been teaching West Coast Swing in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1981. In addition to teaching weekly classes in three different cities around the Bay, she travels throughout the country competing, teaching, lecturing, and judging. Kelly has judged the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships for many years and with the encouragement of her mentor, Annie Hirsch, she has served for more than a decade as Chief Judge of numerous prestigious conventions including Phoenix, Boogie by the Bay, and Seattle Easter Swing.
Kelly began her dance career as a senior at UC Berkeley in a social dance class. There she met Bob Demyanovitch who introduced her to Tony Genero, a West Coast Swing instructor. After lessons, they would drive to the "Avenue Ballroom" to practice - oblivious to the fact that 50's rock 'n roll music was insanely fast for West Coast Swing. Fast forward a year later and Kelly was managing both the Jitterbug and West Coast Swing programs at the "Avenue Ballroom". Since then, Kelly has never looked back and has continued pursuing her love of Swing.
In addition to Swing, Kelly has studied many forms of partner dancing, including five years of training in International and American Ballroom with Rex Lewis and Rhona Pick. She has been featured on local, national, and international television in news clips, documentaries, and entertainment, as well as appearing in books, magazines, and newspaper articles promoting Swing.
Kelly Casanova has supported her local and national Swing communities by volunteering to teach at various public schools, providing articles on dance for several dance newsletters, and introducing several innovative ideas at her own convention, "Swing Break". She has produced a line of popular instructional dance videos; is a charter member, and on the Founder's Committee of The Next Generation Swing Dance Club; and she is a member and elected Founder of The Redwood Empire Swing Dance Club. She is the RESDC's performance team choreographer/coach - a dance team that performs to educate the public about Swing and generate new dancers in the community. She has also served on the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships Advisory Board for many years and is a long time World Swing Dance Council member. Kelly is also the founder of the "Jack & Annie Scholarship Fund" which provides financial aid to well deserving juniors in the dance community.
For more information on Kelly (Buckwalter) Casanova, visit her website - http://www.Kellydance.com
Margaret Batiuchok's hard work, critical eye, creative drive, and love for dancing has inspired many. Beginning modern dance at age twenty, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from California Institute of the Arts in 1978. She began dancing Swing in her early 30's while a pre-med student at New York University. She met George Lloyd, an African-American "Savoy Ballroom 400 Club" dancer (twice her age) and just six months later they won the 1983 Harvest Moon Ball at Madison Square Garden. Margaret then began teaching, performing, promoting, producing, and writing about Lindy for the Swing Community.
In 1988 Margaret received her Master's Degree from NYU. Her groundbreaking 104-page thesis, "The Lindy," and DVD's produced with her partners Frankie Manning, George Lloyd, Charlie Meade and her partner/student Tom Lewis, remain important historic contributions documenting Swing Dance. Margaret has also written many articles (award winning) for Dancing USA, The Ballroom Review, Jitterbug Magazine, and Dance Action.
She co-founded the New York Swing Dance Society, NYSDS, in 1985, when there was no organized Swing dancing in New York. The NYSDS became a mecca for all generations, races, and level of dancers, with the weekly dances consistently drawing 300-500 dancers. Margaret, a volunteer board member who has hired the bands for over 20 years, has also been president since 1996.
Margaret launched the Lincoln Center Midsummer Night Swing series with Frankie Manning, where she recommends bands, teaches, and performs each summer. On closing night 2005,
she helped conceive, produce, and danced in a tribute to Illinois Jacquet. Margaret has produced many large tribute events honoring great dancers, musicians, and in 2006, the Savoy Ballroom. She currently performs with Savoy legend, Harvest Moon champion Sonny Allen.
When West Coast Swing was almost unknown in the East, Margaret traveled to national events as New York's sole ambassador and brought the dance back home. She began teaching and held the first West Coast Swing Dance in New York, bringing West Coast Swing instructors to the NYSDS weekends. In 1986 and '87 Margaret went to Myrtle Beach's SOS to bring Carolina Shag to NYC. Now, venues for dancing Lindy, West Coast, and Shag are available in NYC every night of the week.
Teaching for over twenty years, Margaret ran weeklong Swing programs at Omega Institute, and has taught Jazz, Ballroom, and Swing at NYU. Currently teaching yoga-stretch and dance at Rockefeller University, teaching seniors elsewhere, dancing with children, and developing related arts workshops (poetry and art), she continues to run the annual Mohonk Swing Weekend, which she founded. She has judged and taught at a variety of events including the U.S. Open, NADC, Seattle Swing, Can't Top the Lindy Hop, and Lindy Hop Showdown. She has shared her love of dance with many students (including John Festa), who have made their own major contributions to the Swing World.
Currently working on a new film documentary on Swing, Margaret Batiuchok continues to surprise, delight, and inspire through her commitment to the art of dancing.
Sharlot Bott has been a champion dancer for over twenty years and continues today as one of the longest-running champion competitors on the circuit. She continues to achieve top awards and is the female other female dancers aspire to be. With her husband and dance partner, Wayne Bott, Sharlot maintains a full time dance business, (www.wayneandsharlot.com). They travel throughout the U. S., teaching, competing, judging, and choreographing dance.
Inspired by the movie "Saturday Night Fever", Sharlot studied and competed in the Hustle circuit in the late seventies. She began dancing Swing in 1982, when introduced to West Coast Swing by a co-worker. While maintaining a full-time career with Southern California Edison, Sharlot began training at Sundance Studios in Downey, California. She possessed a natural talent for body movement and musical interpretation, as well as an athletic ability. To refine her natural talent, she trained with top coaches, teachers, and mentors in dance and aerials, while studying Jazz and Ballet.
Sharlot thanks and recognizes her social dance partner Randy Albers (1984 to 1992), who gave her inspiration and allowed her to release her creativity to its maximum potential. Almost every summer night you would find them dancing along side, Jack and Annie, Hal and Marge, and Tony and Natalie at Disneyland's Carnation Pavilion, where they all inspired the public with their interpretive live performances to Big Band music.
She won the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships Showcase division with Jim Fisk in 1985; and she competed and performed with Lance Shermoen from 1986 to 1991, winning the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championship in Showcase Division in 1986 and 1990. (They were in the "top-four" finalists in the Showcase Division from 1986 thru 1991.) Their exciting athletic routines with aerials and fast dancing at Swing events, county clubs, corporate parties, studios, retirement communities, charity events, the "Feather Awards", in parades and on cruise ships helped to promote the art of Swing Dancing.
Sharlot studied the elements of teaching with Skippy Blair and received her certification through the Golden State Dance Teachers Association, GSDTA in 1992. That same year, she and Wayne Bott began their dance career as partners. Competing with Wayne and individually, Sharlot won numerous National Dance Championships in Classic, Strictly Swing, and Champion Jack and Jill categories from the early 90's thru today. In 1993, as one of the first to travel to New York, they took West Coast Swing to the East Coast Swing community. Also, adding Atlanta to their travels, they continued to contribute to the merging of East Coast Swing, Shag, and West Coast Swing styles.
During this decade, Wayne and Sharlot have trained, mentored, coached, and influenced the stars of today. Many of them continue to perform and teach Wayne and Sharlot's creative patterns and unique Swing "Stylings". In 2000, Wayne and Sharlot became investors in the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships. Sharlot has served on the Board of Directors since that time, helping to run this prestigious event and serving to uphold its proud integrity and tradition during a challenging five-year transition period.
Michelle (Mayers) Kinkaid began her dance career in 1975, teaching classes in East Coast Swing and Jitterbug, which lead to her first series of undefeated championship titles (1977-1980) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her first exposure to West Coast Swing was in 1979 at the "Avenue Ballroom" in San Francisco. This dance style quickly captured her attention and her heart and lead her to many other local West Coast Swing dance venues, including the "Jolly Friar's" (California Swing Dance Club); "Bay Swinger's" Swing Dance Club; and the "Top of Beardsley's", where she later met and competed with co-owner, Phil Trau. Together, they won three U.S. Open Championships (as well as many other competitions.)
When Michelle's dance teaching and choreography work began in 1975 she was coaching a performing dance group at San Francisco City College. In addition to Ballroom, Folk, and Swing dancing, this group's primary focus was Clogging. Michelle later added Hustle, Night Club Two Step, Ballroom, and Latin dance forms to her teaching expertise, teaching weekly Swing and Latin classes at the South San Francisco Park and Recreation Department, as well as guest teaching at various San Francisco city schools.
In 1983 Michelle began studying International Ballroom and Latin dancing with champion Rex Lewis from the "Imperial Dance Club". She later did Pro/Am competitions with her students, as well as Pro/Pro routines with Rex. In the mid 1980's Michelle became involved with County Western dancing and began attending and working at those events as well. In 1991 she pioneered the first "Swing Joins Country" event in the Bay area, which bridged West Coast Swing and Country Western dancing.
Included in her extensive list of accomplishments are Michelle's three-time undefeated U.S. Open Swing Dance Championship record and four-time undefeated Jitterbug Championship record. Michelle has also successfully competed in Ballroom and Latin dancing and in Country Western Jack & Jills, winning the Fresno Country Classic for two consecutive years (1993 & 1994). Michelle has also performed in film, television, and theater and is credited with numerous awards and championships (see below).
Michelle continues to personally oversee and run all aspects of her varied dance offerings: her monthly Swing dance events, workshops, group classes, "Mountain Magic" Dance Convention, "Sea Magic" Dance Cruise, and the "Train Magic" Fun Train Adventure Event. She often works as the D.J. and continues to teach private lessons. Michelle travels all over the United States, Canada, and Europe to teach, judge and promote dance.