Sylvia Sykes began dancing in 1966, competing in 1970, and teaching in 1979. She has studied with many of the dance greats, including Frankie Manning, Dean Collins, Maxie Dorf, and Willie Desatoff. Her extensive studies and travels have made her an expert on regional dance styles and she is known for her expertise in, and the preservation of the older forms of Swing dance. In addition, she is credited with helping to preserve the Balboa by introducing the dance World Wide.

In 1985 Sylvia and Jonathan Bixby co-founded the Santa Barbara Swing Dance Club, a twice-monthly live-music dance club that they continue to run. She is still teaching her weekly classes that she started teaching in 1979, plus she teaches out of town over forty weekends per year. Her dance troupe ran for fifteen years, performed with some of the great Swing bands, and nurtured other International teachers. She has been a member of the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance since its inception, has taught at the University of California, and has appeared in many TV shows and in several documentaries on Swing dancing over the years.

Sylvia is actively judging and teaching various forms of Shag, Balboa, Lindy Hop, and West Coast Swing throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Asia. She is still an active competitor and she has won or placed in virtually every Swing event she has entered, in a multitude of Swing forums.

Awards & Accomplishments:
  • 1981 – Co-Founded the Santa Barbara Swing Dance Club
  • 1985 – U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships – 3rd Place
  • 1986 – U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships – 2nd Place
  • 1995 – U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships – 1st Place
  • 1989 – Humanitarian Award presented by the U.S. Open
  • 1989 – Santa Barbara Swing Community Award for “Contribution to Swing Dancing”
  • 1991 & 1992 – Southern California Balboa Championship – 1st Place
  • 1992 – Rebels Swing Club “Teacher of the Year”
  • 1994 – Can’t Top the Lindy Hop Award
  • 1994, 1995, & 1996 – Feather Award for “Best Female Lindy Dancer – USA”
  • 1995 – Top Female NASDE point winner
  • 1997 – Feather Award for Best Female Teacher
  • 1995 – American Movie Channel “Gotta Dance” (Lindy and Balboa)
  • 1996 – Discovery Channel interview with Frankie Manning
  • Nova, Rising and Shinning Star Awards from California Swing Dance Hall of Fame
  • 2002 – WSDC National Swing Dance Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2005 – Honored as one of the Greats in Balboa
Bio information provided by Sylvia Sykes - Photos courtesy of Annie Hirsch & Terry Rippa