2013 World Swing Dance Hall of Fame Induction
Reflections on the 2013 World Swing Dance Hall of Fame Award
As I boarded my flight, heading out to attend the 2013 US Open Swing Dance Championships, I was remembering the first years I attended and then competed at the US Open back in the very early eighties. What fun we had when it was held at the Disneyland Hotel. It was like attending a flashy Las Vegas show with all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood premier. All the guests would dress to the nines and it was a weekend full of fabulous dancing! The lounge bar was a wash of colored rhinestones and celebrity. If you think rhinestones are in now, it was crazy back then and you never saw a pair of jeans in prime time. We would spend a full day and night at Disneyland after the event to celebrate and play. The flight home was always a challenge as the trophies were so tall they almost wouldn’t let them on the plane. I remember one year, the pilot stored mine up with him so I didn’t have to check it. He then showed me his best swing moves as we danced for the crew and passengers…what fun!
Now, I was in Burbank, California at the 2013 US Open Swing Dance Championships. There were so many new and old friends to visit with. The energy was high with something going on every hour and there were competitors from all over the world. It was a bit strange to not be judging or competing. I had come to support students that were competing and to coach during the days with time off to socialize at night. Taking photos and dinning with old friends warmed my heart. I even ran into Rose Marie Burrell, our Tucson Swing Dance Club founder.
By Saturday night the excitement had grown. We were all dressed for the evening and the ballroom was full. We were in the middle of some of the most highly anticipated divisions on the schedule. The backdrop for the dance floor was draped with the most beautiful light blue and white sheer draping with a bit of beaded bling in there for added sparkle. I had been on the US Open stage for many years and was thinking about the next routine and costume I wanted to bring to the floor. I guess once a performer/competitor, always a performer/competitor.
It was time to announce the Hall of Fame inductees for 2013 and for a moment I was distracted by the thought of everything the award represented. Dance legends and many friends, that I admired, were in the Hall of Fame – Dean Collins, Frankie Manning and so many more. For a person to be considered as a candidate for nomination into the World Swing Dance Hall of Fame, a very detailed account of their involvement is requested. They must have spent at least 20 years in the swing dance community, they must provide a list of awards received for dancing, competing and performing, list all community service and leadership contributions and credentials, including all types of swing dance. As explained by the World Swing Dance Council, the Hall of Fame is a lifetime achievement award for swing dancers whose long-time contributions and accomplishments have contributed to the growth and prestige of swing dancing. Through dancing, competing, teaching, judging, educating and/or promoting, inductees have shown distinction in exemplifying the highest standards of leadership, ethical conduct, and local & national service, resulting in a body of work with a far reaching and significant impact on swing dancing. Beyond mere enjoyment and participation, they have given of themselves to their local swing dancers, the general public and the national swing dance community. Etched on the beautiful award is “Not for what you did last, but for what you did that will last”.
They started to read the second inductee’s bio and oh my goodness, it was mine. Wow, I was overwhelmed by the applause when my name was read and was so struck by the outpouring of love in the ballroom. I had spent most of my life in the dance business and there were many, many trophies on the shelves but this one was the icing on the cake. It meant so much and I was very honored! It was a long walk down to the dance floor and it seems like a mile in the moment. Annie Hirsch, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for many years, was there to present it to me. Jim Tigges handed me the microphone so I could say a few words. Now, how could I express my gratitude and love in a few minutes? The one thing I wanted to impart other than a heartfelt thank-you was that moments like that exist because years ago, my artistically creative, supportive and loving parents took the time to stimulate my imagination and cultivate my creative passions…something I will be forever grateful for.
Dance has always been my “Best Friend”. The road has not been an easy one, no entertainer’s is, but it has brought me much joy. By the age of 3 ½, I had already been bit by the “dancing bug” and was an actor and model with The Coronet Modeling & Talent Agency based in New York and Miami. After doing numerous TV spots and Commercials, it was obvious that I was comfortable being in front of crowds and cameras so theater and dance became the focus. Joe Michaels, father of Mia Michaels (“So You Think You Can Dance” – Judge/Choreographer), had played my father in many TV commercials and had a long career in dance. He owned his own studio and was a great choreographer. Most teachers did not take a child on at such an early age but Joe knew my work ethic and desire so he became my first dance mentor. He taught me tap, jazz, ballet, swing, theater arts and so much more. We performed on cruise ships, opened for Tito Puente at the Fontainebleau in Miami, Florida, dance in shows, on TV and were a wonderful duo. I thank all the talented and caring mentors I have had in my life. They have helped make me the entertainer and dance coach I am today. (Jeannie's Career History)
After moving to Los Angeles and attending the US Open, I found the California West Coast Swing Dance community. Since then I have been a part of the West Coast Swing Circuit as a performer, top ranking competitor, judge, body mechanics and movement coach. For years I traveled so much that my suitcase rarely rested. I was always very proud to be from Tucson and to represent our great state. There have been too many competitions, exhibitions, TV commercials, shows, teaching opportunities and travels in my career to list. Thank-you to the wonderful dance partners who I had the pleasure of working with along the way.