Hat Trick Shim Sham at Lindy Focus X

Unfortunately, I was in rehearsal during this amazing feat of Hat Tricking, but it was sooooooooo freaking awesome I had to post it. About a year ago, Tips and Tops had a dream were planning on performing the Hat Trick Shim Sham while at Lindy Focus this year, but when they realized that all their buddies were there, they knew it was time to take the performance to the next level. Here the eight of them are in all their hat tricking glory!!

From left to right the performers: Tin Tin, Taps, Tips, Toodles, Tops, Toes, Targoff, and Tubs.

How awesome was that?!!! This tip-top team tricked their way into the hearts of many this past weekend. What I enjoyed most about this performance was seeing the individuality of each performer and how well they all worked together. On top of that, I really liked how the choreography was modified to best use the number of performers. Neato Gang!!

In case you want to learn how to hat trick shim sham, you are in luck!! Here are the first two (of twelve) videos to get you started:

Word on the street is if you want to be initiated into the group and get your own terrific nickname, you need to learn the routine and perform it at an event (make sure to have video to prove it). I can’t confirm this, but that’s what a little birdy told me!!

Camp Jitterbug 2011 Contest Results

The results are in and videos are up!! Congratulations to all the competitors!

Solo Charleston

Winner: Joanna Lucero

Jack & Jill

1) Davis Thurber and Kelly Arsenault
2) Andrew Hsi and Maéva Truntzer
3) Juan Villafañe and Gabby Cook

Strictly Lindy

This year, the Strictly was done in a new format. Two couples at a time were given one chorus to battle for their life and then the 5 judges decided who lived, and who died (sounds very Roman the way I’m explaining it). After the four rounds of battle, the four remaining couples jammed.



1) William Mauvais & Maéva Truntzer
2) Juan Villafañe & Sharon Davis
3) Nick Williams & Jo Hoffberg


Lone Star Championship 2011 – Invitational Competition

Invitational Strictly – Spotlight 1

Invitational Strictly – Spotlight 2

You might notice that I dressed differently than I typically do. Lisa Casper (New Orleans) outfitted me from head to toe. That is her yellow bandanna, yellow top, and skirt. The fun thing about that skirt is that she made that herself! I think this might be the making of a new clothing designer in our scene!! (And and and, in a very short while I’ll be selling hair accessories handmade by her!!)


1) Nick Williams and Laura Keat
2) Peter Strom and Naomi Uyama
3) Todd Yannacone and Jo Hoffberg

Jack and Jill!!!!!!

What set this competition apart from all the others was the music. We danced to a lindy hop song and then something that fell into the karaoke/soul category. Nick Williams and I were brave enough to choose Karaoke Grab Bag, and to be honest, I think it was a great choice. :)

1) Sucking on the lindy hop portion and then finding total redemption with a Star Lift. To top that off, Nick’s “fork in the garbage disposal” moment. And I have to give Chia-Wen Lin a shout out for being such an awesome team player as well as Carla for continuing to play along.
2) Andrew Thigpen and Carla Heiney dancing to “Summer Nights” from Greece (14:41). She made such a great Sandra Dee and they both acted the crap out the song!! Hahha, and getting to be backup singers….man… I’ll never forget that.
3) Peter Strom and Mia Goldsmith’s dance was……so many things (21:39)!! One way to describe it is “not work appropriate”. Another: daaaaaaaaannng! Just watch everyone’s reaction in the background. Funny stuff. :)
4) Nikki Marvin swivel moment (28:30) shortly followed up by Jeremy Otth’s circle slide (28:35) and finger point (just to make sure you saw it dancing to Footloose (28:56). When he undid his suspenders….we all nearly lost it! He made such a great Kevin Bacon….it was ridiculous!

Naomi Uyama also did a fantastic job picking out the music!! People we so well suited to the music they chose. Love it!


1) Chance Bushman and Karen Turman (6:00)
2) Nick Williams and Jo Hoffberg (9:47)
3) Peter Strom and Mia Goldsmith (19:56)

ILHC 2010 – Charleston and Classic

ILHC 2010 – Charleston Solo – Finals – Spotlights

ILHC 2010 – Charleston Solo – Finals – All Skate


1. Kevin St. Laurent
2. Max Pitruzzella
2. Bobby Bonsey


Tommy Blacharz & Alice Mei

Mikey Pedroza and Nikki Marvin

Mike Roberts and Laura Glaess

Kevin St. Laurent & Jo Hoffberg

Oskar Markusson & Mikaela Hellsten

Nick Williams & Laura Keat

Joshua Welter & Mélanie Huot-Lavoie


1. Thomas Blacharz & Alice Mei
2. Kevin St. Laurent & Jo Hoffberg
3. Nick Williams & Laura Keat

Travel Days

What an impressive set of Travel Days I have had in the last two and a half weeks!

Here’s the run down on what it takes to be me (*tooting my horn):

May 17, Monday: 9:25am flight from Berlin to JFK. Arrive into Pittsburgh at 6:30pm.
Finally coming home from Europe! Can’t freaking wait! I’m basically coming home so I can rehearse for Camp Jitterbug and do some laundry.

May 20, Thursday: 7:00pm flight from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis. Arrive into Seattle at 11:30pm.
The idea was that I’d have time to spend with my family. Instead, I run errands for the next few days all over town.

May 24, Monday: 2:30pm flight to Orange County. Arrive 5:30pm.
Man, I love direct flights! They rarely seem to happen. It’s also fun to run into people I know, like Ben Morris. I want to rehearse with The Atomic Cherry Bombs before our performance on Friday night. Nikki was kind enough to let me work with the girls for about 2.5 hrs. We do a full dress rehearsal. I try to scare and motivate the girls :-D

May 25, Tuesday: 12:00pm flight to Seattle. Arrive 2:45pm.
Direct flights are fabulous! I rehearsed again before I left for Seattle. I continue to run errands until the day of the show.

May 28, Friday: JUMP SESSION SHOW 7:30pm
ROCKED IT. I was so very, very pleased with my ladies and myself. Sharon’s Bell Boy Routine went well and so did Stratosphere.

June 1, Tuesday: 5:00pm flight to Los Angeles. 10:30pm flight to Sydney, Australia.

June 3, Thursday: 6:30am arrival into Sydney. 9:15am flight to Perth. Arrive at 11:25am.
It’s glorious in Perth at the moment. Oh how I’ve missed the sun shining. I have class to teach from 8-10pm that night.

And there you have it. A rather crazy 2 weeks, wouldn’t you say?

What have I gleaned from my last two weeks?

  • It’s important to get your frequent flyer miles.
  • With those miles you don’t have to worry as much about over-weight luggage.
  • It’s important to pack layers.
  • Just because it’s “Spring” on the calendar doesn’t mean Mother Nature is going to play along.
  • Having gloves on you is never a bad thing.
  • “Days Off” are really just days to do all the chores I wasn’t able to do previously (translations: not really days off)
  • I must remember to schedule “Lazy Days” where I am just sitting around doing nothing. My scheduled “Days Off” aren’t working out the way I had hoped.
  • If you’re planning on performing something with a group of people, it’s worth the money, time, and effort for YOU to travel and go see them. It would have been a terrible idea to have not seen the Cherry Bombs before the show.
  • Never underestimate the power of a cupcake, especially when your best friend brings you one “just because.”
  • It’s important to run things full out. This means costume and body movement. Doing that the hour before the show does not mean you are well prepared. Remember, your building muscle memory when you’re rehearsing, so make it count AND you’d want to know if your who-ha was going to be showing before you got on stage.
  • (Ladies) Every performer should own false eyelashes and glue, bobby pins that match their hair color, hand mirror and fabulously bright lipstick.
  • Be gracious and understanding. It goes a long way.
  • Keep pushing. You’ll get to rest eventually.
  • Claire Pedroza might be a Vintage Hair Genius. She did my hair for CJ and it was in great shape until I left for Oz. Tons of compliments. She rocks.
  • Empty flights are a godsend.
  • Getting to sleep horizontally is awesome.
  • Too many bobby pins set off security alarms.
  • Nick Williams travels more than I do.

And there you have it! Two more things I think it’s important for you to know: how to pack for 10 Days in a Carry-On and What Happens to you crap after you’ve left if on a plane. Great reads, so check them out :-D


Camp Jitterbug 2010 Competitions

What an outstanding set of competitions this year!!! Holy cow.

Jack & Jill Finals

1st: Mikey Pedroza (OC) & Laura Glaess (Austin, TX)
2nd: Eric Bertrand (Montreal, CAN) & Stacia Martin (Minneapolis, MN)
3rd: Andrew Hsi (OC) & Mary Freitag (OC)

Lindy Couple Finals

1st place: Pontus Persson & Frida B.
2nd place: Nick Williams & Laura Keat
3rd place: Michael Darigol & Brittany Johnson

I had such a great time watching this competition! Every couple out there danced their ass off and the crowd freaking loved it! Fuck…..that was lindy hop.

Charleston Finals

Winner: Jessica Lennartsson (Sweden)

Inspiration Weekend

I can’t quite tell if Inspiration Weekend was a great weekend due to personal reasons, or because it was a great weekend, so I shall attribute it to both.

On a personal note, seeing Crystal, Nikki & Shesha (and their new baby), Mikey, and Claire was truly satisfying. As much as I felt like I never quite fit in during my time in Orange County, I managed to make some incredibly wonderful friends which made OC feel as much like home as the Bay Area and Seattle (see HOME blog).

But on to the weekend. I taught with Thomas Blacharz (Montpellier, France) and it was awesome as always.  Tommy and I go back to 2005; he invited me out to teach with him in Grenoble, France back before I was known internationally, so that among many reasons, he has a special place in my heart. I was thrilled when Shesha asked me to teach at IW, and even more so when he wanted to bring Tommy over. In life, as in the dance world, what goes around, comes around, and it was nice to get the chance to return the favor to Tommy for bringing me out.
Over the years, not only has Tommy’s English improved, but so has his abilities to explain what he was doing with his body visually and internally. He had recently finished a tour of Korea and Japan and had spent the month thinking and explaining the details of his technique, and his theories rocked my world. (NOTE: Currently my focus in my personal dancing is technique. I feel like I danced for such a long time not truly know what I was doing with my body, why I was doing it, or how to get better, and with the “formal” introduction (haha, or recognition/awareness/whatever ) of technique from Kevin, I finally saw myself change as a lindy hopper (Dax also played a roll in that). I went from being a dancer to a follow (or that was the goal….it’s still a work in progress if you ask me). I wish 5 years ago I had learned, or even heard, the stuff I am teaching now. Summary: technique makes all the difference. If you can’t get to the next level, focus on your technique!
The classes Tommy and I taught were very interesting to me as an instructor and as a follow. Now, a month later, looking back on the classes we taught, I might have taught some of them differently, but the content would have been the same. Tommy was really inspired by rhythms and stretch, and by the end of the weekend I was as well.
All of the classes we taught I enjoyed for different reasons. Our first class we knocked out of the park, if I do say so myself (toot toot). We did a fast dancing class and taught the beginning lindy section to the Ninjammerz Routine and people were loving it. Not everyone stayed for the whole class, but it was still packed by the end. I don’t recall anyone truly getting it, but the heart and spirit of each student were shinning bright. They did an awesome job. Our beginning classes were great; I think by giving the students technique from the beginning was a tad overwhelming, but oh-so-very necessary. By the end of our class, they were asking really great question about technique and leading and follow. The only unfortunate thing about that is that even with the answers we could give them, they weren’t really going to make that much sense until they had more actual time on the dance floor. (Starting to stand up on my chair) But that didn’t matter to them, (arm in the air) they were thirsty for the knowledge of lead and follow technique (now waving and shaking)!!! God the beginners were awesome (getting down from the chair now).

For the Inspiration Class, Tommy and I taught the Slip Slop Shim Sham. We didn’t get through the whole thing, but the class did an awesome job sliding around the floor. I think we got Shesha in trouble with the owner of the place because we used baby powder and should not have. Sorry Shesha!! But the class was awesome; seeing that many students sliding around on the floor was quite the sight.
And last, but not least, Tommy taught a class on rhythm (and I just say Tommy because they were all his ideas) and it was on of the highlights of teaching that weekend. We started with something that looked like a tap exercise: walks, hops, jumps, triples, four-ples (quadruples….you had to be there), and quintuplets. After having the class learn to move throughout five different rhythms, they had to the lead and follow them. Near the end of the class, Tommy whipped out 8 cards number 1-8 and then used his shoes to represent the beats in between beat, and then he had to lead me through the beats he set up. Haha, honestly it was a little stressful because I didn’t know if I was going to get them, but when I remembered that he had to lead me through them, I let it go and just followed what I was told to do. It was truly a show of how amazing Tommy is as a leader and his use of rhythm.

Not only did I have the privilege of teaching with Tommy, but I also got to teach two classes with Mikey Pedroza. For his Inspiration Class, he used a clip of Gene Kelly to show his movement, body control, and grace. To the song “September in the Rain”, Mikey choreographed a really lovely pieces that was rather romantic. We also taught a beginners class and helped them with their body movement and swingout.

The night dances were a blast. The music was awesome, the floor was slick, but not too slick, and there was plenty of water. The contest were fun to watch and difficult to judge. One in particular was the 30 second showcase because almost every couple had music troubles. The volume on the music needed to be all the way up for the start of the music, and instead it faded in, and most people missed their start. Once we (the judges) finally caught on to what was happening, we had a few of the couples go again.

Now to a personal favorite, performances! All the teachers performed in a group number or doing solo numbers. I unfortunately missed Stefan & Bethany and Mike & Casey’s performance (so if you have it, please send me a link), but from what I heard from some of the students, it rocked. Tommy and I performed a piece that he and Alice had choreographed, Dax & Alice made a guest appearance and performed their ILHC Classic Routine, Max and Annie did their winning ILHC Showcase piece, and the Ninjammerz performed.

Shout out time:

* Shesha did an awesome job as a host for the weekend. We stayed in a great hotel not too far away from the event, had a BEVY of people who were ready to give the instructors rides to and from their hotel.  We were also well fed and watered. Shesha had stocked a bunch of waters for us at our hotel and snack bars and chocolates so that we never went hungry – so thoughtful. He also took us all out to eat at an awesome Thai restaurant and had some awesome fucking food. (On a personal note, he and Nikki took very good care of me after the weekend was over. Yeah for friends).
* Nick Williams did an awesome job of skipping me like a rock against the floor. That man is strong, so watch out!

* The line-up of instructors was just as the weekend promised: Inspiring.
* Max and Annie were there, and they dance with more of themselves than any other couple I know. During their performance, Annie knocked Max over with one of their signature moves, and without missing a beat Max popped up off the floor and continued through the choreo as if nothing had happened. It was awesome because I’ve never seen that happen before, and even though it came to a surprise to both of the them, the continued to dance as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. True professional; true performers.
* Mike and Casey were darling as always even though they are a relatively new partnership, they are a classic couple for me. I think they balance each other very nicely and both bring a wide variety of information to the classroom and dance floor. They incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the dance, and Casey has the cutest little hands that are so expressive when she dances!!
* Mikey Pedroza is my supero hero.
* Stefan and Bethany have some of the best movement I’ve ever seen. They have been favorites of mine for quite some time and bring something to the floor that no other couple can. For me they are kind of an underground couple; they don’t have a website, but they do have a following and the people in the know, KNOW (shaking my head YES). I picture that when people write books about the Lindy Hop revival of year 2000 (and beyond!) that S&B with be dancers that are often referenced, but there is limited media of them. I picture them being super respect among the respected. Oh yeah, and their body control and choreography genius make me go “Wooohooooo!”

So the long of the short of it is that as an Instructor I was inspired; as a follow I was inspired; as a performer I was inspired; and as a dancer I was inspired. Shesha delivered exactly as he promised and I had an awesome time.

Camp Hollywood

What an awesome time in LA we had being at Camp Hollywood. The weather was lovely, Hillary (the organizer) took great care of us, and the students were amazing!

We taught some new Flash & Trash, Charleston Challenge, fast lindy, aerials, and Jam Routines and the classes were packed! There were about 150-200 people in our two largest classes (OMG). And everyone was so nice. Not to toot our own horns, but Kev and I were given an impressive amount of positive feedback about our material and our teaching style – it was really nice.

On the competition side of things, Kev and I, along with our buddies Juan and Sharon, cleaned house!

1st place – Advance J&J – Lead – Juan
1st place – Advance J&J – Follow – Sharon
1st place – Showcase – Kevin and Juan
3rd place – Showcase – Kevin and Jo
2nd place – Pro Lindy – Kev and Jo
5th place – Pro Lindy – Juan and Sharon

We had so many trophies that we couldn’t take all of them home, especially with the new excess baggage fees.

And a special shout out to Nick Williams and Laura Keat for their showcase piece. It was lovely, innovative, musical, and well performed!