Laureen Baldovi

Most people know Laureen Baldovi from her winning routines with Robert Royston, but she has followed her own path since their partnership ended nearly two decades ago. In this episode, we sat down with the eight-time US Open Swing Dance Champion to discuss her early days in West Coast Swing, her inspirations and mentors, and what made her and Robert so successful. We talked about why she stepped away from swing dancing, how she found her way back, and the challenges she had to overcome along the way. Plus, she shared her view of the dance today, her feelings about performing “Fever” at The Open again, and her thoughts on judging swing content. So settle in, get cozy, and enjoy our conversation with this classy and lovely living legend of swing.

Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi – Fever (1997)
Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi – Fever (2018)
Ronnie DeBenedetta & Lauren Baldovi (2010)


  1. Chanukah swing event out take was very funny. Maybe some of the existing holiday-themed events could incorporate elements of Chanukah, Kwanza, and other holidays that occur in/near December. Enjoyed listening to Laureen. Beth G.

  2. Loved this one! ( I have loved just about all of them)
    It was so great to be able to learn about Laureen a little more and her journey. Inspired me to keep going . Many times I’ve thought “ I’m done” . Either an injury,… disease process and surgery … ….life happens … discouraged … disappointment ….. aging …
    It really is inspiring to hear this happens at the Champion level and what she did.
    Yeah Laureen!! Thank you 🙏
    I have to say I keep listening even after you sign off the interview , to hear your little giggle sessions.
    You just crack each other up .

  3. Swing content….one of my favorite can of worms to open.

    I will be the first to say that I have a conservative view of what swing content is. When I observe (I am not a judge) a swing contest, I tend to focus on what swing is not. Because I think the most people can agree on some of the things that are NOT-swing.

    First a little background math….

    A slow, short song will be 80bpm for 2 minutes. That is 160 beats of music. 20% of that (for a Classic routine) can have at most 32 beats of NOT swing.

    A fast, long routine will be 140bpm for 3 minutes. That is 420 beats of music. 20% of that (for a Classic routine) can have at most 84 beats (two and a half phrases) of NOT swing.

    Almost all routines will fall in between those two marks…but they are helpful when one is watching a routing.

    What that means is that when I count up NOT swing…and if I get to 32, there may be a problem. If I get to 64 there is likely a problem. If i get to 96 there is absolutely a problem.

    Now, what is NOT-swing content….??? Well….

    “Standing there” is NOT-swing content. I am all for “advanced mans footwork” but if neither partner is changing weight for 4 or 8 or 12 or 16 beats…that is a good indication of NOT-swing content.

    Apart dancing (like in an intro) is LIKELY NOT-swing content. Intros are allowed, but they are often NOT-swing content. And a 32 beat NOT-swing intro means there is probably going to be a problem.

    Recognizable content from a non-swing dance is NOT-swing content. If I can recognize foxtrot, or mambo, or cha-cha, or hip-hop — that is NOT-swing content. Hustle is not a swing dance!

    Lifts are NOT-swing content. This is one of the reasons that Showcase has a lower swing content requirement compared to Classic. The intro, lift, and recovery are NOT-swing content….this REALLY hurts Showcase when the number of lifts are not limited.

    Pantomime is NOT-swing content.

    It all adds up…and rather quickly.

    As long as I am ranting….here is one that will keep the worms from going back into that can….

    General dance-like movement is NOT-swing content. Most people seem inclined to include any general dance-like movement that happens between a “walk-walk” and and “anchor” to be “swing content.” I am not. I think that general dance-like movement that lacks any character of any “swing dance” should be counted as NOT-swing content.

    So, a division that only requires 30% swing content already exists in practice — it is called NASDE Classic.

    1. Hmmm …

      There are patterns such as grapevines that are done in foxtrot and hustle, as well as WCS. Pros who teach and judge at NASDE events teach these patterns. Shouldn’t they be included in swing content?

      There is also the distinction between WCS and other types of swing dances, which may incorporate patterns, stylings, and extensions that could be construed as general dance-like movements.

      Finally, swing dances, generally speaking, are “street dances”. They evolve over time, and aren’t always codified in a syllabus. Thus, it is possible that judges may not agree, or even know, that a particular pattern, styling, or extension has been incorporated into the “canon” of a swing dance.

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