Tom Stevenson of Houston, Texas
For any endeavor to grow and progress, change is inevitable. In the mid-'80's, a new concept in scoring and tallying was introduced, starting in the Texas area. Today, of course, the relative placement scoring system is the standard in the Swing dance world. In 2001 we recognized two gentlemen from Texas who developed the relative placement system; having had the foresight and understanding to see its application to Swing dance competitions. Our first recipient is a long time member of the Texas Swing community. He is the man responsible for the original concept, and the initial development of the relative placement scoring system.
Gary Kuhn of Fort Worth, Texas
Our second Special Recognition Award Recipient is another Texan, who tweaked and further developed the Relative Placement System, and furthered its usefulness for competitions. He is also a fixture of the Texas Swing dance scene and still does scoring at competitions throughout the area. Annie Hirsch says he's "one sweet guy" - how's that for an endorsement! We are pleased to recognize Mr. Gary Kuhn of Fort Worth, TX.
Jeff Kletsky of San Francisco, California
Great ideas are wonderful. Taking a concept and making it available to a mass audience is also a truly tremendous accomplishment. Jeff Kletsky refined the relative placement system, made it user friendly, and "hit-the-road" with it, becoming a fixture at Swing conventions on the West Coast, scoring dance events for many years. In addition to making events run more smoothly, Jeff was noted as a man who gave of himself and his knowledge to others. When Annie wanted to purchase his computer program to spread throughout the Swing dance community, his response was, "Annie, you want it, you got it!" This man was also instrumental in the development and growth of the Next Generation Swing Dance Club.
Cay Cannon of Laguna Beach, California
We would like to give tribute to a special friend to the Swing community. A lifetime dance instructor and studio owner, this woman has been a pioneer in national publications for dance. A tireless promoter, her Dance Action and Jitterbug magazines, and her "Feather Awards" (a dance world equivalent of the Academy awards) have been instrumental in bringing dancers nationwide into a single community.
Mary Ann Bridges of San Marcos, California
Mary Ann began Swing dancing in 1982 when she met the man who later became her husband, Jack Bridges. Mary Ann is virtually known by every Swing dancer in the nation for having been Co-Director of the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships (along with Jack) from its inception in 1983 through 2000. Her part in running the event for those eighteen years reflects the growth of Swing dancing on a national level and their decisions on divisions, rules, and formats, etc. have had a long-lasting impact, and were quite often at the forefront on the national Swing dance scene. In 1995, Mary Ann expanded her role in Swing dance promoting by founding a second Swing event, The Jack & Jill O'Rama, which she directed and co-directed for eight years. In addition to being a promoter and event director, Mary Ann judged (often serving as Chief Judge) at a variety of Swing dance events for many years.
Carlito Rofoli of Tustin, California
Like many people who "danced since they were a kid," Carlito's dance passion took him dancing up to seven nights a week, making him a fixture in the LA dance scene - particularly at the "King's Table" (becoming the "Pressbox" in the mid-'70s.) When competing, he considered himself a Jack & Jill competitor, competing at the champion level for several years. He began teaching in the early '90s, and around '95 he faded himself from competitions, becoming a judge for many events. Carlito is known for helping virtually anyone who asked and has often volunteered his services, particularly for new events. When asked about his dance career, Carlito replied, "I'm here to have fun, and glad to help anyone whenever I can. I'm proud to say that, even when I was "big time," I've always been accessible to other dancers and pride myself on not turning anyone down."
Truman McCullough of Irving, Texas
We are pleased to present a Special Recognition Award to Truman McCullough who is the epitome of a 'Swing dance enthusiast'. He has been a long time dancer and avid supporter of the early Swing dance convention circuit events. A fixture in the Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas areas, he was one of the first Swing dancers to truly travel on a national level, from his south central region to the western states events (including the U.S. Open), and to many Shag community events. His friendly smile and infectious love of the dance and Rhythm & Blues music are present at many events today. He has also been a long-time 'quiet benefactor' of various young dancers. We honor his many years of dedicated support of the national Swing dance community.
Lynn Vogen of Huntington Beach, California
In 1983, Lynn opened "Lynn Vogen Dance Studios" where she taught thousands of students. Her love of the dance and creativity in teaching inspired many people and her youthful joy in life brought both inspiration and a positive influence into the lives of many young adults. Lynn built a legacy of teaching, "Dance to Express - Not to Impress." Every year she choreographed, taught, and produced two theatrical performances of both children and adults dancing. With a limited budget, she combined ample creativity and resourcefulness to create many fond memories for both the participating performers and the audience. Lance Shermoen became involved in the early 80's. Together, they created the highly energetic and athletic routine, "Band Stand Boogie" that was performed at each of Lynn's shows and at the US OPEN during a span of sixteen years.
Lynn will forever be remembered through all she touched.
(June 6, 1949 - August 29, 2006)