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)

The Open 2018

Every year, The Open is a showcase for swing dancing – what it is, what it has been, and what it can be – and this year’s event was no exception. We talked about Deborah’s experience competing at The Open, how much we admired Benji and Nicole’s Showcase routine, and our reactions to his retirement from routine divisions. We also discussed the different showpieces at The Open, what we liked in the Classic division routines, and the different trends in costumes (unitards! tunics!) and choreography (walk offs and hands on mouths). Of course, we also looked at judging at the event, in particular the issue of swing content (and swing aesthetic) and we got into a debate about NASDE’s decision to degender the routine divisions (though we agreed that “degender” isn’t the right term). Take a listen and let us know your own thoughts!

NASDE Rules (including Statement of Swing)
The Open Rules [PDF]
Benji Schwimmer’s retirement from routines
Dawn Hampton discussing the feeling of the music
Benji Schwimmer & Nicole Clonch
Myles Munroe & Tessa Cunningham Munroe
Glenn Ball & Florencia Diaz
Semion Ovsiannikov & Maria Elizarova
Jesse Dickson & Lannie Sullivan
Tony Schubert and Larisa Tingle Schubert
Jakub Jakoubek & Emeline Rochefeuille
More routines to come as they become available online…

Music and DJing with Ruby Lair

Let’s face it: good music is essential for a good night of dancing and a good dance in competition. To discuss the power of music – and the role of DJs in providing that music – we sat down with one of the best DJs around (and one of our personal favorites), Ms. Ruby Lair. We asked her how she got started, how she got so good, and how she thinks about playing music for both social dancing and competitions. We talked about the influence of DJs, current trends in our music, and how DJs can grow and improve. If you have opinions about the music we dance to, if you are a DJ or an aspiring DJ, or if you are just curious to learn more about music and DJing, this episode is for you.

Ruby Lair on Spotify
Mike (not Danny) Zito – Little Red Corvette (on Spotify)
JJ Grey & Mofro – Lochloosa (on Spotify)

Brandi Guild

Grab yourself a beautiful glass of wine and find a cozy spot to sit for this special interview with one of the classiest people we know, the lovely Ms. Brandi Guild. We sat down with her to talk about how she got started in West Coast Swing, who has influenced her most, and her thoughts on women professionals in our dance world. She shared her worries about the current state of our dance, her opinions about judging, and her reflections on teaching. Listen to how she faces the challenges of balancing her career and her family, and learn why peach pie shouldn’t deter us from loving apple pie. This episode is rich, full-bodied, and refreshing, with lots of wisdom and notes of humor that will both engage and delight the senses. Enjoy!

Maxime Zzaoui & Torri Zzaoui – Nice ‘n Easy
Sean McKeever & Torri Zzaoui – Boogie by the Bay 2018
Shonda Rhimes delivers Dartmouth’s Commencement Address

All Things Swing with Tom Paderna

In this week’s episode, we sit down with our good friend Tom Paderna and talk about a wide range of topics. We discussed the origins of NASDE and how it’s changed over time. We discussed WSDC and how it’s impacted the scene. We chatted about Masters-level dancers and why they don’t get the same kind of respect they used to. We touched upon the growing perceptions of entitlement in our scene and how that has eroded our sense of community. And we talked quite a bit about how to foster more cohesion within our community – and the value of doing so. Listen for a very real, very rich conversation with a very knowledgeable, very insightful guy.

National Association of Swing Dance Events (NASDE)
World Swing Dance Council (WSDC)