For any endeavor to grow and progress, change is inevitable. In the mid-’80’s, a new concept in scoring and tallying was introduced, starting in the Texas area. Today, of course, the relative placement scoring system is the standard in the Swing dance world. In 2001 we recognized two gentlemen from Texas who developed the relative placement system; having had the foresight and understanding to see its application to Swing dance competitions. Our first recipient is a long time member of the Texas Swing community. He is the man responsible for the original concept, and the initial development of the relative placement scoring system.
Our second Special Recognition Award Recipient is another Texan, who tweaked and further developed the Relative Placement System, and furthered its usefulness for competitions. He is also a fixture of the Texas Swing dance scene and still does scoring at competitions throughout the area. Annie Hirsch says he’s “one sweet guy” – how’s that for an endorsement! We are pleased to recognize Mr. Gary Kuhn of Fort Worth, TX.
Great ideas are wonderful. Taking a concept and making it available to a mass audience is also a truly tremendous accomplishment. Jeff Kletsky refined the relative placement system, made it user friendly, and “hit-the-road” with it, becoming a fixture at Swing conventions on the West Coast, scoring dance events for many years. In addition to making events run more smoothly, Jeff was noted as a man who gave of himself and his knowledge to others. When Annie wanted to purchase his computer program to spread throughout the Swing dance community, his response was, “Annie, you want it, you got it!” This man was also instrumental in the development and growth of the Next Generation Swing Dance Club.
We would like to give tribute to a special friend to the Swing community. A lifetime dance instructor and studio owner, this woman has been a pioneer in national publications for dance. A tireless promoter, her Dance Action and Jitterbug magazines, and her “Feather Awards” (a dance world equivalent of the Academy awards) have been instrumental in bringing dancers nationwide into a single community.
Mary Ann began Swing dancing in 1982 when she met the man who later became her husband, Jack Bridges. Mary Ann is virtually known by every Swing dancer in the nation for having been Co-Director of the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships (along with Jack) from its inception in 1983 through 2000. Her part in running the event for those eighteen years reflects the growth of Swing dancing on a national level and their decisions on divisions, rules, and formats, etc. have had a long-lasting impact, and were quite often at the forefront on the national Swing dance scene. In 1995, Mary Ann expanded her role in Swing dance promoting by founding a second Swing event, The Jack & Jill O’Rama, which she directed and co-directed for eight years. In addition to being a promoter and event director, Mary Ann judged (often serving as Chief Judge) at a variety of Swing dance events for many years.
Like many people who “danced since they were a kid,” Carlito’s dance passion took him dancing up to seven nights a week, making him a fixture in the LA dance scene – particularly at the “King’s Table” (becoming the “Pressbox” in the mid-’70s.) When competing, he considered himself a Jack & Jill competitor, competing at the champion level for several years. He began teaching in the early ’90s, and around ’95 he faded himself from competitions, becoming a judge for many events. Carlito is known for helping virtually anyone who asked and has often volunteered his services, particularly for new events. When asked about his dance career, Carlito replied, “I’m here to have fun, and glad to help anyone whenever I can. I’m proud to say that, even when I was “big time,” I’ve always been accessible to other dancers and pride myself on not turning anyone down.”
We are pleased to present a Special Recognition Award to Truman McCullough who is the epitome of a ‘Swing dance enthusiast’. He has been a long time dancer and avid supporter of the early Swing dance convention circuit events. A fixture in the Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas areas, he was one of the first Swing dancers to truly travel on a national level, from his south central region to the western states events (including the U.S. Open), and to many Shag community events. His friendly smile and infectious love of the dance and Rhythm & Blues music are present at many events today. He has also been a long-time ‘quiet benefactor’ of various young dancers. We honor his many years of dedicated support of the national Swing dance community.
In 1983, Lynn opened “Lynn Vogen Dance Studios” where she taught thousands of students. Her love of the dance and creativity in teaching inspired many people and her youthful joy in life brought both inspiration and a positive influence into the lives of many young adults. Lynn built a legacy of teaching, “Dance to Express – Not to Impress.” Every year she choreographed, taught, and produced two theatrical performances of both children and adults dancing. With a limited budget, she combined ample creativity and resourcefulness to create many fond memories for both the participating performers and the audience. Lance Shermoen became involved in the early 80’s. Together, they created the highly energetic and athletic routine, “Band Stand Boogie” that was performed at each of Lynn’s shows and at the US OPEN during a span of sixteen years. Lynn will forever be remembered through all she touched. (June 6, 1949 – August 29, 2006)
Lifetime Special Achievement Recognition Over the last 50 years, Annie Hirsch has been the chief judge at almost every major swing event across the country. Along with Skippy Blair, Annie started the World Swing Dance Council as a means to promote swing dancing and keep it alive. Annie implemented many of the swing competition rules, guidelines, scoring systems and the Dancers Registry that is in use today. Her efforts have been instrumental in the popularity of swing today.
Lifetime Special Achievement Recognition Skippy Blair’s dance resume is formidable: co-founder of the World Swing Dance Council, Feather Award recipient, founder of the Golden State Teachers Association and developer of the Universal Unit System® a complete system of dance notation that allows dancers to “read” a dance much like musicians read music. Skippy Blair has been a significant figure in the world of dance and, particularly, West Coast Swing since the early 1950s. She is generally credited with popularizing “West Coast Swing”. In 1958 she opened her first studio and started training Champion Dancers and Teachers. In 1974 she inaugurated National Dance Teacher Intensives which involved detailed, comprehensive training in dance knowledge, teaching and judging. Even today Skippy continues to be extremely active in the dance world and has coached some of the leading swing dancers in the country.
The World Swing Dance Council wishes to recognize Anthony (aka Awgie) Genatempo for his critical work in creating the original digital Points Registry database. Since the World Swing Dance Council was founded in 1993, Annie Hirsch had wanted to track the progress and advancement of swing dancers in a digital format, to promote the dance she loved so much. In 1996, while stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Anthony Genatempo was a familiar person at the nightly swing dance locations in Southern California. During this time, Anthony became close to Annie Hirsch and the World Swing Dance Council. Recognizing his natural enthusiasm, passion for the dance, and technical abilities, Annie asked Anthony to convert her concept of a swing dancer tracking system into reality. Anthony worked with Annie Hirsch and Mark Scheuffele to understand Annie’s vision, scope, requirements and limited resources available to the fledgling non-profit organization. To understand the complexity of this initiative, he consulted his cousin Steven Diethelm for additional insight on database design. Aware that custom technology can become unmanageable or obsolete, Anthony designed Annie’s concept using commonly available technology. By mid-1997, Anthony Genatempo created a usable, reliable database using Microsoft Access to record dancers’ Jack and Jill contest results and the associated points for placements. Annie finally had a tool that could be used to promote swing dancing by tracking a dancers’ progress. This Access database became the first working prototype of what is now known as the WSDC Points Registry. Anthony recognized the magnitude of the work Annie was trying to achieve. He donated his time, effort and the Points Registry database to the World Swing Dance Council. Over the years, this original database has been updated and enhanced, but the core functionality remains. The World Swing Dance Council recognizes Anthony Genatempo for his time, effort and generosity in creating the Access database that was the first viable digital Points Registry and fulfilling a vision of Annie Hirsch’s to promote swing dancing.