- Louise Del Carlo | 1993
- Mario Robau | 2004
Mario Robau, “Jr.” has been dancing for as long as he can remember. Family gatherings in his Cuban community of Houston, Texas always involved dance and, since most husbands were reluctant dancers, Mario routinely took his place whether he wanted or not. He began break dancing at the tender age of eight because “it was cool” and at the age of sixteen, his father introduced him to Swing.
When Mario’s father won the first Novice Traditional Division offered in the Southwest Regional Dance Championships, Mario first saw his two all-time favorite dance heroes, Robert Perez and Gary Long. He still vividly remembers that night: “Watching Robert dance was like watching smoke rise…smooth from the word “go”. Gary came out on the floor and DEMANDED your attention, something I have never forgotten. Gary later told me, “If they’re not watching, how are they going to give you a standing ovation?” Gary was the most influential person in my teaching style for partner dancing and he is probably the most charismatic teacher I have ever seen.”
Mario has fond memories of his early dance training: “I was very fortunate to work with the “Old Timers” from Dallas and Houston – people who did not do things by the numbers, but by feel. While most people won’t recognize the names, people like Robert Perez, Gary Long, Rose Marie Mallady, Jack and Joyce Wells, Truman McCullough, and Joe Comstock from Dallas, plus Weldon Petit, Gilbert and Trish Huron, and Jack Scalise showed me more than I could have ever hoped. It is to these people that I am truly indebted.”
Mario danced in the “Dancin…The Company”, a Jazz and Tap group from Houston for seven years. His coach and choreographer, Glen Hunsucker, was a huge influence: “Glen was ruthless when it came to perfection and lightning quick when it came to choreography and learning. I once saw him choreograph the “Shaft” theme song (9 minutes) for the entire company of 16 people in 30 minutes, and it was PERFECT! Not a single nuance was missed in the song. It was at that moment that I began to truly appreciate Glen Hunsucker’s immense talent.”
Mario joined the Southwest Whip Club in 1984 and by 1985 he was instructing, judging and choreographing West Coast Swing. In 1988 he began traveling the country, working in various dance circuits, which allowed him to study all forms of Swing dancing with many legends in Lindy, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Whip, Push, Jitterbug, Tulsa Swing, St. Louis Imperial, and Shag.
He now travels over fourty weekends a year to teach, compete, judge, emcee, D.J., direct, and of course, dance in both Swing and Country Western events. In his long competitive career, Mario has amassed the impressive list of championship titles in the Swing circuit listed below. He is now the Director of the Novice Invitational and Co-Director of the America’s Classic Swing Dance held in Houston, Texas.