Sylvia Sykes (Part 1)

If you want to get your facts straight, you go to the source. Well, in this episode, we spoke with living swing legend Sylvia Sykes to learn more about her experience, her perspective, and the history of swing. She chatted with us about how she got into swing dancing as a teenager, how she ended up on the television show Shebang, and how she met famous lindy hopper Dean Collins. She shared what if felt like to dance with Dean, what he taught her about swing and following, and what he was like as a person. We asked her about Balboa, SoCal Swing, and how West Coast Swing fits into the family of swing dances (or doesn’t). We discussed her partnership with Ramiro Gonzalez, their famous win at the US Open, and of course, we asked Sylvia what makes swing “swing.” There’s a lot to learn in this rich and informative discussion.

Sylvia Sykes
Dean Collins – Let’s Make Music (1941)
Maxie Dorf & Sylvia Sykes – Balboa
Willie Desatoff & Ann Mills – Balboa
Shirley Fietsem & Tom Boots
Ramiro Gonzalez & Sylvia Sykes – US Open 1995

Alyssa Glanville

It’s always amazing to see young talent skyrocket and flourish in our dance world, and in recent years, Alyssa Glanville has been one of those bright, shining stars. In this episode, we sat down with this charming, dynamic, and down-to-earth champion to talk about her background, her influences, and how she developed herself into a successful champion. She shared her thoughts on teaching and judging the dance, her partnership with John Kirkconnell, and becoming more of a solo professional. We asked her what it’s like to live the traveling professional lifestyle, and what her assessment is of dancing around the world. And we asked her lots of questions about how she uses social media to promote herself, her love of music, and her passion for movement. Take a listen and be inspired by this thoughtful, passionate, and positive champion!

Alyssa Glanville on Instagram
Alyssa’s DJ.Lyssten.Up on Instagram
Alyssa’s Spotify account
Urban Dance Camp on YouTube

Barry Jones

Known for his energy, flair, and big heart, Barry Jones has had a long and successful career in West Coast Swing. In this episode, we chat with this US Open champion about his origins in West Coast Swing, his time competing in Showcase with Judy Ford and Kellese Key, and what he likes to see in a swing routine. He talked with us about the impact of his own routines, competing at the US Open, and why he no longer judges. We asked him about his experience developing local dance communities, his views of WSDC and NASDE, and his opinion of current happenings in the swing dance community. He told us why he’s no longer on the circuit and imparted his own wisdom about competing and the importance of originality in our dance. This is a discussion with one of the greats that’s full of warmth and wisdom.

Barry Jones’s post about judging
Depeche Mode – People are People

Sonny Watson

When it comes to understanding the history of our dance, few people bring a breadth and depth of knowledge like Sonny Watson. A dancer, teacher, judge, and historian who has been in our community for decades, he’s experienced the dance and its many ups and downs firsthand. In this episode, we sat down with Sonny to chat about his own journey into the dance, who influenced him when he started, and how he got involved in the Southern California community. We asked him to share a bit about Kenny Wetzel and his role as an emcee, and what makes Southern California such a hotspot of swing dancing. He chatted at length with us about his views on adjudicating swing content, the changes being made by The Open, and how it all ties to NASDE. And he shared his own opinions of the swing community today, the role of WSDC, and why he’s no longer active on the national circuit. Enjoy this informative, insightful, and honest conversation with one of the most knowledgeable people in our community.


LeAnn & Michael Norris (Part 2)

In the second part of our conversation with champion Shag dancers Leann and Michael Norris, we talk about a variety of topics. We begin with a discussion of Michael’s US Open-winning routine with Kellese Key and how they developed their choreography. They talked with us about taking over Grand Nationals from Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee, the challenges of running the event, and their reflections on honoring the event’s history for its 25th anniversary. We asked them how the Shag community respects their history, what it looks like when Shag evolves, and how West Coast Swing has influenced their dance. And we got a chance to ask them about what they hope Shag will adopt from West Coast Swing, as well as what they hope their own legacy will be. It’s a conversation that’s as sweet, insightful, down-to-earth, and charming as our two guests!

Michael and Leann Norris
USA Grand Nationals Dance Championship
Michael Norris & Kellese Key – GNDC 2007
Michael Norris & Kellese Key – US Open 2007
Michael Norris & Kellese Key – practicing 83
Michael Norris & Kellese Key – GNDC 2009
Michael & LeAnn Norris – GNDC 2019
Robert Cordoba & Deborah SzĂ©kely – GNDC 2019
Charlie Womble & Jackie McGee – US Open 1995