For a list of award, please scroll to the bottom.
In my younger years, I was a champion level springboard diver and épée fencer, but as a teenager, I was looking for something that was going to be more social. The Gap had some new commercial out that were trying to show how cool khakis could be, but these videos also highlighted various forms of dancing. One of the commercials was called Khaki Swing, and after seeing aerials and hearing the music, I knew that is what I wanted to spend my time doing. That day I told my parents that I wanted to take swing dancing lessons and we found a local ballroom where I could take lessons.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when I started, but I was able to pick on the steps pretty quickly, so I felt like I should stick with it. I wanted to do what I saw in the commercial, but something was missing. After doing a little bit of research, I found a place to go social dancing and dragged some friends along with me. I had such an awesome time because everyone there was my age and they were dressed up. I realized that prior to this night, I was missing to social aspect of the dance, and to top it off, I loved the idea that there was hair, makeup and costumes that went along with this new, cool thing I had stumbled upon.
I later joined a teen swing dancing troupe and started dancing as often as I could. Between driving to Danville and taking BART out to San Francisco, I was dancing six nights a week, much to my parent’s chagrin. I couldn’t get enough; I needed to dance every moment of my life.
When I was 16 I started traveling around CA with my instructor, Jane Barnes. I had no idea that the swing world was so big and that so many people loved the same thing I did. After I discovered the competition circuit I decided that this was my end-all, be-all and that this is what made life worth living. I had the great fortune of finding a competition partner who was about my age and who was wildly passionate about lindy as well, Todd Yannacone, and spent my waking hours rehearsing in SF and practicing jazz in my room (I had a bed which folder into the wall and a mirror in my room). I competed, performed, and social danced as often as I could. Life was amazing.
After I went to college, my friend Dax Hock helped get me a job at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. I was nervous about taking the job because I had just moved away from my parents house and I felt that I didn’t have enough training to be there, but I went because I decided that I wasn’t going to miss out on the experience. I had a fun year of training other dance styles and preparing for the 2003 US Open. I also started going by the name “Jo”. After completing my contract I went back to school and decided to start taking dance classes again; my experience in Japan opened my eyes to other dance forms, but I also felt like my lindy hop had fallen behind the times (but being absent for a year will do that to you). A year later I turned my attention back to lindy hop, hooked up with the OC Swing crowd, and started working with Shesha Marvin and Mikey Pedroza. Dancing with them provided me with an awesome teaching experience, fabulous friendships, and a constant inspiration.
Before I was able to finish at the university, I was invited out to the south of France a few times to teach, and later to train for four months. Other than feeling like I was NEVER going to graduate, life was great; I was dancing internationally, I was teaching, I had a dance partner (albeit he was in France), and I felt like I was getting to push myself again, like I had when I started. While in France, Kevin St. Laurent was hanging around Europe and we got to chatting and throwing some aerials, and we did some teaching together. That was the turning point in my professional lindy hop career, but at the time, I didn’t know it. I reentered school and within a few weeks, Kevin invited me to teach in the Ukraine with him. After rearranging all my midterms, I met Kevin in Kiev, taught an awesome 18-hr weekend of classes with no prep time, and decided that maybe I could do “this dance thing” professionally.
Four months later, I finally graduated from school, moved out to Pittsburgh and “went pro”. Since then I have taught in US, Asia, Australia, South America, Western and Eastern Europe, have put together two award-winning routines, learned to fan dance, and helped form the performance team, The Killer Dillers.
I guess that brings you up to date. What am I doing now? Follow me along in my journey of making sense of what it is to be a professional lindy hopper and the adventures along the way!
If you’d like to CONTACT HER about dance, movie quotes from recent comedies, or how to better become a secret agent, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to buy instructional DVDs, please go to www.ilindy.com. If you’re into buying a stranger something (referring to me), go here:
* ILHC (Arlington, VA) Team Division – The Killer Dillers (August 2009)
*Beantown (Boston, MA) Strictly Swing with Bobby White (June 2009)
* Camp Jitterbug Contest (Seattle, WA) Lindy Hop Couples (May 2008)
* National Jitterbug Championships (Los Angeles, CA) Invitational J&J (Aug 2008)
* Canadian Swing Championships (Montreal), Fast Division (May 2008)
* Canadian Swing Championships (Montreal), Just Do It (May 2008)
* New Years Dancing Eve (Danvers, MA), Strictly Lindy (December 2007)
* Swinging New England (Cape Cod, MA), Invitational Jack & Jill (November 2007)
* American Lindy Hop Championship (Stamford, CT) Showcase Division (October 2007)
* Virginia State Open (Herndon, VA) Strictly Lindy (October 2007)
* Ultimate Lindy Hop Championships (Minneapolis, MN) Slow Division (September 2007)
* SwingDiego (San Diego, CA) Jack & Jill, Am. West Coast (January 2006)
* US Open (San Jose, CA) Lindy Hop, Showcase (November 2003)
* Jitterbug Jam (Monterey, CA) Junior Lindy Hop, West Coast Regional (February 2002)
* Jitterbug Jam (Monterey, CA) Jack & Jill, West Coast Regional (February 2002)
* Broadway Studios (San Francisco, CA) Open Couples 2001
* American Lindy Hop Championship (Stamford, CT) Junior Lindy Hop, East Coast Regional (October 2001)
* International Lindy Hop Championships (Arlington, VA), Solo Charleston (Aug 2008)
* National Jitterbug Championships (Los Angeles, CA) ProLindy (Aug 2008)
* Canadian Swing Championships (Montreal), Showcase Division (May 2008)
* US Open (Aneheim, CA) Strictly Lindy (November 2007)
* Virginia State Open (Herndon, VA) Showcase Division (October 2007)
* Virginia State Open (Herndon, VA) Adv/Pro Jack & Jill (October 2007)
* Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown (Minneapolis, MN) Showcase Division (September 2007)
* Boogie By the Bay (San Francisco, CA) Lindy Jack & Jill (Oct 2006)
* Ultimate Lindy Hop Championships (Minneapolis, MN) Slow Division (September 2006)
* Rhythmic Arts Festival (San Diego, CA) Charleston Contest (Dec 2004)
* National Jitterbug Championships (Anaheim, CA) Junior Lindy Hop (July, 2002)
* Broadway Studios (San Francisco, CA) Jack & Jill (2002)
* U.S. Open (Anaheim, CA) Junior Lindy Hop (November, 2000)
*International Lindy Hop Championships (Arlington, VA), Solo charleston (August 2009)
* International Lindy Hop Championships (Arlington, VA), Showcase Division (Aug 2008)
* International Lindy Hop Championships (Arlington, VA), Classic Division (Aug 2008)
* National Jitterbug Championships (Los Angeles, CA) Showcase (Aug 2008)
* Beantown (Boston, MA) Strictly Swing with Bobby White (June 2008)
* Boston Tea Party (Danvers, MA) Strictly Lindy(March 2008)
* Boston Tea Party (Danvers, MA) Invitational Cross-Over J&J (March 2008)
* Virginia State Open (Herndon, VA) Cross-over Invitational Jack & Jill (October 2007)
* The Rhythm is Jumping (LA, CA) Strictly Lindy (Oct 2005)
* Ultimate Lindy Hop Championships (Minneapolis, MN) Champions Jack and Jill (September 2005)
* Ultimate Lindy Hop Championships (Minneapolis, MN) Champions Jack and Jill (September 2004)
* Jitterbug Jam (Monterey, CA) Junior Lindy Hop, West Coast Regional (February 2001)