Annie Hirsch

On February 7, 2015, The Next Generation Swing Dance Club hosted a fireside chat with the First Lady of Swing, Annie Hirsch. Taking place at Allegro Ballroom in Emeryville, California, the one-hour conversation was moderated by our friend, Tom Paderna, and featured special guest Kelly Casanova. Five years later, Eric is thrilled to share this rare interview with Annie, where she discussed her own experiences in swing. She talked about learning from her brother, her time as a contestant liaison, and why she created the points system. She shared stories about her partner Jack Carey, how they met, and some of their experiences dancing together. And she talked about what, in her view, makes swing dancing swing. Annie shared her experience with humor, wisdom, and lots of heart. So take a listen and learn more about the dance and this legend of swing!

footnotes
The Next Generation Swing Dance Club
Inside the WCS Studio: A Day with Annie
Photos from the event

Larisa Tingle

Champion dancer, DJ, dance studio owner, architect, musician, vocalist, and all-around awesome person – there are lots of ways to describe Larisa Tingle. So it’s no wonder that Eric was thrilled to finally sit down with her to talk about a whole bunch of topics. They talked about her start in West Coast Swing, her background in music, and her experience preparing to compete at the Open. Larisa told her story of moving up through the ranks to become a Champion-level dancer, and what she believes it takes to earn your spot at the top. She also shared her thoughts on the new WSDC pathway from All Star to Champion, and why she thinks it may not be a good idea. They also discussed her start as a DJ, and how she approaches DJing for both social dancing and competition. Larisa was open, thoughtful, and humble and shared lots of her own reflections and insights. Take a listen and learn from one of the best!

footnotes
Tony Schubert & Larisa Tingle – Classic Division, US Open 2019

Aging and Ageism

As our community has grown in recent years, it has attracted many younger dancers – a demographic shift that has altered the dynamic of our scene. The previous generation of dancers is getting older in an increasingly younger scene, and in addition to facing changes in their own bodies, they often find themselves facing changes in their relationship with the dance. To better understand what it’s like to age and mature in our dance community, Eric sat down with two good friends – Tom Paderna (a previous guest of the show) and Gail Jacobson (not related to Eric) – to chat about their stories and experiences. They shared some of their physical limitations and how those affect their social dancing and competitive experiences. They talked about how the community has changed over the years and how their own roles have changed as a result. They chatted about ageism in both social dancing and competition, and they discussed the Masters division and some proposed changes to that division. And finally they shared some thoughts on how we all can create a community that is more welcoming and inclusive of older dancers. Take a listen and broaden your own understanding of what your fellow dancers are experiencing.

footnotes
Mastery of Swing
Implicit Assessment Test

Torri & Maxime Zzaoui

In the last couple of years, there has been a renewed interest in dancing to classic swing music, in large part due to two dancers whose improvisational demos have gone viral on social media. Torri and Maxime Zzaoui embody grace, elegance, and the beauty of swing, and their videos capture their musicality, their playfulness, and their love of the dance. Eric sat down with these two talented, kind, funny, and down-to-earth champions to discuss their backgrounds, their success, and their personal stories. Torri shared her experiences working with Brennar and Benji, and winning Classic and Showcase at the Open in the same year. Maxime talked about his training, why France has some incredible dancing, and his own teaching philosophy. They shared the story behind the now-famous dance at WOTP (where they danced to “Nice ‘N’ Easy” by Frank Sinatra) and what they think about how popular it was. They also spoke candidly about how they develop themselves, the brand they’ve created, and how their brand sets others’ expectations. And of course, they told the story of how they met, became a couple, and formed their partnership. Listen to this heartwarming conversation with two of the most beloved, charming, and amazing dancers and people.

footnotes
Maxime and Torri
Torri Smith & Brennar Goree – Classic Division, US Open 2010
Torri Smith & Benji Schwimmer – Showcase Division, US Open 2010
Maxime Zzaoui & Virginie Perga – Classic Division, US Open 2012
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – WOTP 2018
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – Norway Westie Fest 2017
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – Budafest 2019
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – Budafest 2020

Personal Development with Courtney Adair

The new year is a time for reflection, taking stock, and thinking about what’s ahead. So for this first episode of the year, Eric sat down with Courtney Adair to talk about her own challenges, growth, and self-development. It was a very personal and honest discussion, and she was very open and real. She talked about her first experience with meditation, why it impacted her so greatly, and how in some ways it led her to dance. She discussed her appreciation of yoga, her journey to get certified as a yoga instructor, and how yoga influenced her as a dancer and teacher. Courtney shared some of her personal struggles, how she learned to embrace some aspects of herself, and how she supports others on their personal journeys, particularly women in our community. Full of wisdom and insights, this is a great conversation to get you thinking about your own personal development in the year ahead.

footnotes
Courtney Adair and Sean McKeever
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Choreo Camp
Westie Goddess Retreat