I first began dancing rather late in life, at the age of 21. This fact alone contributes to my ability to relate to the adult students who seek my help in learning to social dance. As many of the dancers I teach are, I too was an adult beginner in dance. However, I was fortunate to fall in love with dance at a studio where a five-time World Country Dance Champion by the name of Robert Royston was teaching. Robert recognized my natural talent and passion and became my mentor in Country Dance and Swing. Robert, who just finished choreographing and producing a revival of his Broadway show Swango, is also a Champion West Coast Swing dancer and I now have the pleasure of competing against him as a colleague. Many of the drills I use to reinforce technique and basic body mechanics are derived from Robert's teaching.
After achieving a high level of accomplishment in Country Dance, which involved learning Country Two-Step, Night Club Two-Step, Waltz, Cha Cha, and Swing, I began to compete solely in West Coast Swing. West Coast Swing was and continues to be a rapidly growing dance form because of its versatility and appeal to a younger audience. With aspirations to ascend to the Champion level, I sought mentorship and training from the top dancers in West Coast Swing including: Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollmann, Kyle Redd and Sarah Van Drake, Jessica Cox, Sharlot Bott and others. One of my proudest moments came when at the All-Star level I competed against these Champion level teachers and placed 1st at Monterey Swingfest 2008. I have since and most recently been working closely with Benji Schwimmer (winner of So You Think You Can Dance Season 2), who has choreographed and coached my US Open routines for the past three years. Benji’s mentorship has helped me grow and push my boundaries as a dancer, artist, choreographer and teacher.
I am at the point in my dance career at which I have earned sufficient accolades and respect as a performer and teacher that I have been invited to teach at events in Europe, Latin America and most recently New Zealand. I also maintain regular group classes in the Bay Area at Stanford University and Starlite Ballroom.
As a teacher, I am known for my focus on the underlying principles and technique that apply across all levels of pattern difficulty. Unlike ballroom, which I have also taught, social dance is based on the premise that the skills of leading and following, when mastered, allow for immense freedom of expression and creativity within the basic structure of a dance such as West Coast Swing. Consequently, it is these skills that I seek to instill in my students whether I am teaching Salsa or Country Two-Step. And it is also this emphasis on technique that has earned me the reputation of the instructor to see if you want to “make finals” at your next competition. I have also gained experience in choreographing social dance routines over many years of competing in routine divisions and training and mentoring other routine couples. In 2014, my partner and I choreographed the 1st place winning routine for the Rising Star division at the US Open.
I have accomplished much of what I set out to achieve professionally in dance. What I most enjoy, however, is the opportunity to teach others the joy of social dancing and pay forward the physical, emotional and psychological benefits that dance has brought to my life. My classes at Stanford University have provided some of my most treasured teaching experiences because I enjoy fusing the physicality of dance with the intellectual exploration of the science and artistry that make dancing, particularly social dance, more than a sequence of steps.