Liza May

US Open 2016 Update #3 - 18 GREAT Dance Blogs!


Almost here!

37 days ... tick, tick, tick ...

Teams, routine couples, competitors round the world ... sweatin' it out right about now ...

So. While those guys are practicing all day and gluing rhinestones all night ... the rest of us might want to up our games, too. Get ourselves educated by checking out the wealth of great blogs on this impossibly difficult dance that we love.

There's a ton of great resource out there.

Here are 18 terrific websites covering social issues, technique, etiquette, musicality, practice tips, personal stories, teacher training, data tracking, community building, judging controversies ... so much juicy stuff!

"Brandi Tobias"


"Dancing was not a part of Brandi’s early life. Beginning at age 5, softball was her focus. It paid off, as she was awarded a full athletic scholarship to pitch for Marshall University. After making it to the final round of trials for the US Olympic team, Brandi was ready for the next chapter in her life.

"Dancing happened by accident. A move to Las Vegas and a night out at a county/western club with her sister, Brandi found what she was meant to do. After joining a dance team, she took the bold step of moving to Michigan to pursue her first professional dance partnership. Less than 2 years later, she won her first world championship.

"Brandi holds titles in Country/Western, International 10 Dance, and West Coast Swing, however, it is West Coast Swing that has captured her heart. An active competitor, she travels the globe teaching, judging, and performing. She is known as one of the top technicians in the world and has the pleasure of sharing her knowledge with dancers of all levels.

"Brandi currently lives in San Diego with her husband Rogan and children Dylan and Piper. She, along with her partner, Ronnie DeBenedetta, is director of City of Angels swing dance event in Los Angeles."

Udi Eylat and Roee Enbar:

"Bad Posture"


"Welcome to Bad Posture, where data science meets West Coast Swing!

"We are two West Coast Swing dancers by night, data scientists by day. Just like you, we attend West Coast Swing events. We love to dance, learn, socialize and compete. We also love data and we hope to share some interesting insights on our great community.

"We had first wanted to look at the data to settle a bet. One of us thought that dancers who pass Novice without ranking 1st or 2nd in at least one event are a minority. We wanted to know: What are your chances of moving up to a higher division without placing 1st or 2nd?

"The bet is settled!"

Brian Barakauskas:

"West Coast Swing Online"


"After 20 plus years of living in Kentucky, I finally accepted the culture. I now love horse racing and bourbon. I don’t think I will ever miss another Kentucky Derby in my life.

"I’m a lifelong athlete. I played baseball and soccer growing up and later ran track in high school and a college. I’ll still play a pickup soccer game now and again and I still run a few days a week.

"I did a 35 mile run on my 35th birthday, biked the Bourbon trail (over 100 miles) on my 36th birthday, and rode my bike 137 miles to teach a WCS class for charity on my 37th birthday.

"I’m a huge MMA fan. Yes, cage fighting. I have some friends who fight professionally and it fascinates me. I competed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitus for several years winning several tournaments as a blue belt.

"I love the outdoors and hiking. I’ve hiked across the Grand Canyon and back. TWICE.

"I live within walking distance of my brother and mom. My mom works for me helping manage the studio here in Louisville. Its fun working with her, except when she asks for a raise.

"I’m a serial entrepreneur. I dropped out of college after 2 years and have worked for myself ever since. I love learning about the internet, technology and business and even some business consulting for dance studios and local businesses.

"Oh and I run an awesome West Coast Swing website. Check it out!"

Laura Riva:

"The Dancing Grapevine"


"Based in Toronto, Canada, Laura Riva is a passionate lover of dance in all its forms. Since 2008, she has dabbled in everything from Blues and Swing to Tango and Salsa. However, her heart was stolen by the musical, improvisational, and smooth feelings of Brazilian Zouk and West Coast Swing.

"In 2013, Laura entered a Zouk partnership with Darius Zi. The couple now travel, teach, and performs together at Zouk congresses, organize "Canada Zouk Congress" and "Vision Dance Encounter" (North America’s first "Swouk" event,) and present full-length dance productions (“See Inside Me” and “Cirque du Zouk”.) Laura is also co-creator of dance programs for the blind.

"Laura has an undergraduate degree in Theatre and English from the University of Guelph, studied Law at the University of Western Ontario, and is a licensed lawyer with the Law Society of Upper Canada."

Michael Kiehm


"Michael began teaching dance at age 17. His first professional teaching gig was for “The Journey”, a young adult night club where he taught Hustle and Cha Cha. Soon after he began teaching full time at dance studios in San Diego and La Jolla (Southern California.) In 1982 Michael opened his own studio. Starlight Dance Studio has now grown to six times its original size with 30+ talented instructors and over 300 students.

"Michael competes, performs, coaches, judges, and hosts dance events throughout the year on top of his busy teaching schedule. Michael and sister Carmen Garcia hold a “Rising Stars” title in International Latin Champion title as well as several “Pro-am” Ballroom & Latin Championship titles.

"Find here a marvelous collection of Michael Kiehm's Free West Coast Instructional YouTube videos, daily tips, technique, patterns, practice sessions, and much, much more."

Nur Harel:

"Get Off My Slot"


She's funny.

She's LOLs Generator for "Get Off My Slot"

She has a Very. Impressive. Resume.

Born on July 20

Started Working IT Helpdesk at Xura Production Manager at The Perfectly Marvelous Cabaret

Went to Lindy Shock for the 3rd time!
Got a fat parasite Named Metukit

Broke Her 4th and 5th toe on her left foot
Worked at SuperDerivatives
Left Job at Xura
Won 4th place Newcomer Jack and Jill at the Hungarian Open

Moved to Lyon, France

Moved to Tel Aviv, Israel

Working at Swing It Like It's Hot

Event Director at Swing It Like It's Hot

Adam Milligan (Belfast, Northern Ireland):

"Swing Slate"


"Hey, I'm Adam and I started this blog in October 2014 not only to share my love of Lindy hop and west coast swing but also to save my (non-dancing) friends from having to listen to me talk about it. I also hope it can encourage folk more folk in Belfast, Northern Ireland and beyond to give swing a go!

"In January 2015 I was awarded a Frankie Manning Foundation Ambassador Scholarship, proudly becoming only the third European dancer to ever receive the award. I also help teach/demo for Swing Belfast, do a bit of graphic design work for swing events by request. Away from dancing I am a postdoctoral researcher in animal behaviour and welfare working with monkeys, hyaenas, cows and dogs."

Skippy Blair

"Swing World"

  • Started Swing Dancing - 1938 - Steel Pier - Atlantic City, NJ.
  • 1941 Jitterbug Champion w/ Red Rex, Steel Pier, Atlantic City...
  • Training Champion Dancers & Teachers since 1958
  • Creator - Universal Unit System®
  • Credited by Wikipedia for the naming of West Coast Swing in the early 1960’s. Involved in the effort to establish West Coast Swing as “California’s State Dance”.
  • Official co-creator with Tom Mattox of original line dance “Boot-Scoot-n-Boogie”
  • Founder: Golden State Dance Teachers AssociationConducting National Dance Teacher “Intensives” since1974. As of 2014 over 3000 dance teachers have passed GSDTA Teacher’s Certification.
  • Appeared in Movies - Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, Tales of the Hollywood Hills, and numerous movie pilots
  • Choreographer (12 years) for TV shows: Al Jarvis “Let’s Dance” - Bob Barker’s Truth or Consequences & “Barker’s Varieties,” "Kastles in the Air"
  • 1995 Feather Award: Person who Most Influenced Couples Dancing in the USA.
  • National Dance Director
  • Original Swing Dance Council (Nine years!)
  • Inducted into National Swing Dance Hall of Fame
  • WSDC World Swing Dance Council - Co-founder. Secretary & Educational Chairman.
  • Gold Medal recipient - California Swing Dance Hall of Fame
  • Year 2000, Hustle Federation “Hall of Fame” in Las Vegas
  • Facilitator for the US OPEN Judging Program (Nov. 2001)
  • US OPEN – Total Involvement - teaching - judging – over 25 years.
  • US OPEN - Four years – Chief Critique Evaluator.
  • Created 14 Instructional Videos
  • Authored seven books – Disco to Tango & Back, Dance Power, Dance Terminology Notebook, Dance & Grow Young, and Pathway to Dance Excelleration.
  • Known in the West Coast Swing World as the Teacher of Teachers
  • Year 2014 – Having taught Dance Certification Intensives for over 55 years, Skippy is currently writing new books, new music. She continues to conduct telephone consultations.

Nick Enge & Melissa Carvell:

"Library of Dance"


"Nick Enge is the co-author (with acclaimed social dance historian Richard Powers) of "Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living" (including essays on the ways in which social dancing can enrich our lives.) While he recently graduated from Stanford with a B.S. in Atmosphere/Energy Engineering, and an M.S. in Earth Systems, he is currently devoting his life to researching and teaching social dancing, which he sees as his greatest opportunity to make a difference in the world.

"Melissa Carvell has been dancing since the age of three. She recently graduated with a B.A. in Linguistics from Stanford University, where she currently teaches social dancing with Richard Powers.

"Melissa and Nick met in 2011 and are frequent teachers of social dancing at Stanford and around the San Francisco Bay Area. On October 23, 2015, they were engaged!"

Clint Steele:

"Dance Better Now"


"I am not a dance teacher. I am not a professional dancer. I am a dance student like you.

"I am also an academic who researches teaching methodology.

"I have applied this knowledge to dance and have devised many ways to help you become a better dance student. Once you're a better student you will automatically become a better dancer.

"A note on the similarities between martial arts and dancing:

-- Many dance steps feel like combat moves

-- Both disciplines place emphasis on the hips

-- Both focus on memorization of choreography

-- Dance is used to train in martial arts, to help increase combat skills."

Erik and Anna Novoa:



"I was born to two performing artists. My mother was a ballet dancer with New York City Opera Ballet and my father was principal tenor with New York City Opera. Since my parents met during a production of Carmen at New York State Theater (Lincoln Center), some might say that I am a product of an opera.

"I even had a article written about me in "Newsday New York" starting with the question, "What do you get when you cross Jeff Blatnick with Mikhail Baryshnikov?" The answer was Erik Novoa.

"Dance had started as a "tool" for me to physically move my body into the hearts of girls. Somehow, during the process, it became more, much more. It was a language. Not just a language to communicate to an audience, but an inner language to communicate with myself. There are times when dance has been the conduit between music and the an intangible feeling the music has created. I would even say that there have been times when my body, heart and mind have actually become one with an emotion or a sound. Every now and then.....someone sees it.....that's performing."

Myles and Tessa:

"Canadian Swing Champions"


    Our Values

  • Mentorship
  • Challenging ignorance about authentic West Coast Swing
  • Being humble, approachable, compassionate and full of integrity
  • Teaching beginners correctly from scratch We share our extensive pedagogical training in the Swing Literacy Development Method teacher development program.
  • Making dancers feel great in all arenas: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual.
  • Progressing the dance as an art form.
  • Practicing student-centered teaching methods based in sound scientific principles
  • Professional Development
  • Supporting local West Coast Swing instructors
  • Representing Canada internationally
  • Contributing to local and global communities
  • Entertaining audiences
  • Being spokesmodels and ambassadors for West Coast Swing

"West Coast Swing America"

(Archive of Various Authors from the 80's and 90's (Click "Articles")


"Please go to our Index of Articles where you will find over sixty West Coast Swing articles by over a dozen dancers, with instruction and essays on the "process" of West Coast Swing, to help you to understand what dancers before you have experienced and learned."

Rebecca Brightly:

"Dance World Takeover"


"When I first took swing dance classes in my early 20s, I completely fell in love with lindy hop. I was so excited! But I didn’t progress very fast.

"Over the next 8 years, I took tons of workshops, private lessons, a year of ballet, and a year of Alexander Technique. I even chose a career (massage therapy) to learn about anatomy and body mechanics.

"With a lot of practice and study, I finally became the dancer I always wanted to be: confident, creative, graceful, and ass kickin’. Some days, I am even fearless. Everything I’ve got is available for YOU to learn.

"Dance World Takeover is the outpost for serious dancers, whether you’ve been at it for 10 days or 10 years. Even a bumbling klutz can blossom into a savvy dance geek. With a small amount of courage, getting good is definitely within your reach."

Maria Ford:

"Smooth Style"


"I have danced since before I could walk. From ages four through 17, I trained, competed, and performed in modern jazz, tap, a bit of ballet, and even synchronized swimming, before discovering partner dance. I now focus on West Coast Swing, Hustle, Blues, and other partnered street dances including Salsa, Bachata, and Kizomba. I actively compete in the top divisions of both WCS (All-Star) and Hustle (Professional/Open).

"As an instructor, I have taught in a variety of adult-education settings for two decades, including as a professor and coach in a college, and nearly a decade teaching adult dance and training others to teach effectively.

"Some of my proudest accomplishments in dance include:

"Earning the “Top Teacher” award at Toronto Open Swing & Hustle Championships 2016 Owning & operating Smoothstyle since 2008 Coaching Ottawa’s first West Coast Swing dance team (with Andre Danis) through two fantastic routines Mentoring and training emerging instructors Co-choreographing and performing two West Coast Swing routines, including “Tore Down”, which was undefeated in Rising Star division, with David Ward Achieving Master’s-level certification from theGlobal Professional Dance Instructors Association (GPDIA) Achieving Level 1 Judging Certification for West Coast Swing also from GPDIA Watching the fruits of my persistence and vision come to bear in a growing local WCS community scene in Ottawa

"This is not my full-time job, but it is a full-time passion."

Eric Jacobson:

"Naked Basics"


"Eric has been dancing since the winter of 2000, when he learned lindy hop, ballroom, and latin. Two years later, he began his study of West Coast Swing and he quickly moved up the ranks to become a top-level competitor. He has not only mastered technique, connection, and partner communication, but he also brings an innate sense of musicality and soul to his dancing. Eric is acclaimed for his innovative and flexible teaching style and his ability to effectively communicate with all kinds of students. While he emphasizes a strong foundation in technique and partnership, he always infuses important aspects of the social nature of swing into his lessons, including musicality, improvisation, and especially communication."

Joo Lee:

"Lindy Jazz"


"Joo Lee attended a week-long "Charleston" dance camp in Durham, NC, and became instantly hooked.

"Desperate to learn Charleston Jazz, but unable classes, she spent the next six years taking anything else she could find instead: Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Salsa, Tango, and Modern Jive.

"In 1999 she attended the international dance camp Herrang, which gave her her first taste of Lindy. This proved as addictive as the Charleston and Jazz had in 1993, and soon after she met Andy and they've been partners ever since.

"This blog, "Lindy Jazz," launched in 2007. Joo Lee and Andy also helped establish the Durham University Swing Dancing Society, and together direct an annual swing dance festival, "DJam," a highlight for swing dancers all over the world."

And me!

"Liza May"


I'm a pretend photographer, wannabe writer, obedient West Coast Swing dancer, mother of four, and grandmother of seven. Very happy to be here! So far.

This website is a collection of the articles I've been writing and the pictures I've been taking on the West Coast Swing competition circuit.

(Also professional photographs of weddings and other contracted photoshoots.)

In 2006 - before the advent of LiveStreaming, Facebook streaming, or YouTube - before all that - I thought my friends at home would like to hear all the fun and funny and astonishing stuff going on at events, while the event was actually happening.

So I started sending emails from my phone to a small group of dancer friends at home in DC.

To my surprise, I discovered my messages were being forwarded. We’d go to a competition in Texas and people would ask to be added to my list. I’d tell them there was no actual “list" and I was no kind of journalist - I was just pounding out rough notes, bad grammar, bad spelling, bad writing. "Add me," they'd say.

Pretty soon the “list” got too big for my phone, so I moved to Gmail.

Then it got too big for Gmail so I moved to a newsletter service.

Now thousands of people are subscribed. Thousands! That's pretty cool. I hope they're actually reading the Updates, which are longer than 140 characters. Since the whole world has ADD I'm assuming nobody lasts beyond the first sentence. But that's okay - I'm writing for myself, because I can't just see all that great stuff and not tell about it. Right? And writing is fun sort of.

I hadn't been saving the Updates, cause I figured no one would want to read old news. I deleted all those first years - the ones sent out on my phone.

But now, dancers who weren’t born yet in 2006 want to read updates “from the olden days.” 2006 is the olden days, by the way.

I don’t have those updates from the olden days! Do you? If you do happen to have any from 2006-2009 please send them to [email protected] They might be fun, mistakes and all.

So that’s what this website is - the misadventures of my husband Genieboy and myself sent from west coast swing competitions, 2006 to the present. And a few essays on community culture, issues, dramas, and breaking news.

You can find all Updates for a certain event listed under "Updates By Event" on the right of each page.

Pictures are free to download for dancers. I don't charge dancers for pictures. It's never seemed right because I'm not taking pictures or writing to make a profit from the dance community. You'll find a few sample pictures from each event under the “Event Photography” tab; and the complete collection of all photos from the event under the "Archives" tab.

Please feel free to leave comments! Corrections (I make a lot of mistakes,) your impressions of an event, gripes, thoughts about the community, your life as a wcs dancer, where to buy pizza at 4am, new events you want to publicize ... All comments are welcome.

If you’d like to receive these Updates in your Inbox, in real time, during the events, click here to subscribe.

Thank you for reading!


Are there more dance blogs out there?

Have I missed any?

Please add them in the comments!

Filed Under: Community, US Open

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