Panelist Bios

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Educational Panels at Frankie100, now available in the form of podcasts here. 

 

Sonny Allen is an exciting performer, choreographer, instructor, and lecturer with expertise in Latin and Swing, learned and lived at New York’s hottest spots, from the Palladium to the world famous Savoy Ballroom. Known as one of the last remaining interpreters of the Savoy style of swing dancing, his experience spans several decades, His many credits include winning the 1958 Harvest Moon Ball Championship, and induction into the International Lindy Hop Championships Hall of Fame.

 

Margaret Batiuchok (danceMB.com ), one of Frankie Manning’s first performance and teaching  partners in the mid-1980s swing resurgence;  won the Harvest Moon Ball with George Lloyd at Madison Square Garden;  created obtainable historic Lindy DVDs featuring Frankie, George, Charlie;  wrote master’s thesis “The Lindy;”  cofounded  NY Swing Dance Society (at the Cat Club). NYSDS’s current president, Margaret teaches in NYC,  and performs (Lincoln Center’s MSNS, NYSDS, and elsewhere) with partners Charlie Meade and Sonny Allen.

 

Lance Benishek is a historian, teacher, and choreographer of 20th century social dance forms. In the mid 1970s, he began conducting extensive research, specializing in dances of the 1920s and Shag. He studied with and interviewed Frankie Manning; Tom Gallagher (choreographer of and a dancer in the Arthur Murray film Shag); and Betty Wood (one of the dancers who introduced the Big Apple to NYC in 1937), with whom he also taught and performed.

 

Barbara Billups is one of the last of the world-famous Lindy hoppers who came out of the Savoy Ballroom. A singer, dancer, and dance instructor, she won third place in the Harvest Moon Ball Championships at Madison Square Garden in 1958. Barbara toured the world performing with Sonny Allen and the Rockets. She’s described as smooth and sexy with a touch of class.

Ewa “W” Burak started Lindy hopping in 1986 after joining the renowned Swedish performance troop, The Rhythm Hot Shots (today Harlem Hot Shots). She’s been performing, teaching, and giving lectures since 1986, recently focusing on local schools. She’s had different positions at Herräng Dance Camp since 1989, lately serving on the HDC board. “W” holds a bachelor’s degree in Art & Exhibit Design.

 

Adrian Cunningham is a NYC based woodwind player originally from Sydney, Australia. As a leader, he has released 7 CDs and a live DVD. His band, Professor Cunningham and his Old School, is a six-piece New Orleans style band that plays dance events around NY. He also regularly performs with world-class trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Adrian is also a terrible dancer who can use up all his moves in about half a song.

 

Mickey Davidson started rehearsing with Norma Miller and her Jazz Dancers in 1985. Mickey maintained the group, Ms Miller’s choreography, and other diverse jazz styles. Mickey taught Lindy Hop workshops nationally and internationally. Ms Davidson frequently partnered and assisted Frankie Manning in workshops, video (Everybody’s Dancing), TV (Swingin’ with Duke, PBS) and during live performances. Ms D. set and maintained the choreography inherited from Mr. Manning for the European Tour production of Black and Blue.

 

Moncell Durden is a nationally and internationally recognized lecturer, dance educator, ethnographer and practitioner who teaches 20th century cultural dances and their correlations. Moncell’s recently published article in Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches explores the Jazz to hip hop continuum. Currently he is writing a book and developing a film about the genealogy of African American dance. Moncell teaches at the Yale School of Drama.

 

Richard Durlach was born in Columbia, SC, home of the Big Apple. He and Breedlove, his dance partner of twenty-two years, learned this native dance and Lindy from Frankie Manning. They hosted workshops with him at the original Big Apple nightclub, and subsequently with original Big Applers Betty Wood and Jean Foremen, and dance historian Lance Benishek. They teach and perform at the University of SC, and received the President’s Award from the Historic Columbia Foundation.

 

Frank Festa, age 94, still goes to work. Frank credits dancing for his longevity. Italian-American, from East Harlem, NY, he started dancing at age 19, got good, and ran the music for his social club near 116th Street. He met his wife Christine dancing at the Gloria Palace, (E 86 Street), and got married there too! He is known for his smooth social style lindy. His son, John Festa, also dances and DJs.

 

Thanks to the talented work of Ryan Francois on stage and screen, millions have seen Lindy hop and authentic jazz dances of the 1920s through 1940s. A driving force of the swing dance revival, his credits as choreographer and/or performer include Strictly Come Dancing, So You Think You Can Dance, Britains’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, Idlewild, The Polar Express, Swing!, and Malcolm X. Ryan shares his love of dance by teaching and touring internationally.

 

Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz artists of his generation, Wycliffe Gordon enjoys an extraordinary career as a musician, composer, arranger, conductor, lecturer, and educator. Before launching his solo career, Gordon served extensive stints as an original member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. A favorite with audiences and critics alike, he’s garnered numerous honors, including the Jazz Journalists Association “Trombonist to the Year” eight times.

“The Lady” Miss Dawn Hampton is a legendary dancer and musician with over eighty years of show business experience. Performing as a child with the Hampton Family Band, she eventually became a popular cabaret singer in New York City and performed with Cab Calloway, Bette Midler, and Barry Manilow.  A recipient of numerous awards for her work in cabaret entertainment, Dawn currently calls herself “an awakener” and inspires dancers worldwide through her spirit-filled lecture performances.

 

Saxophonist Michael Hashim has been a part of New York musical life since leading the first Swing Revival band, Widespread Depression, here in the late ’70’s.  Hundreds of recordings, nine as leader, music for film, cartoons, TV, and theater keep him busy, as do playing for dancing, singing, and celebrations of all kinds. He has toured the world since 1979, and is currently making new and classic music everywhere constantly!

 

Harri Heinilä is licentiate of Social Sciences in Political History (= lower post-graduate degree). He is doing his PhD-dissertation about ‘Harlem and Jazz Dance’. He is interested in all Jazz-music connected dances, which are known as Authentic Jazz Dance to many, but it is about Jazz Dance to him like it used to be in the past before ‘Modern Jazz’ –world disconnected Jazz Dance from authentic forms and took the term for their own purposes.

 

Jack Jeffers, composer, band leader and bass trombonist has played and recorded with numerous jazz and soul greats including Clark Terry, Lena Horne, Herbie Hancock, Chico O’Farrill, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie and Ray Charles.  He has co-directed and toured extensively with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. His own big band, The New York Classics, plays regularly at Zinc Bar in NYC.  He is an emeritus professor of music at the State University of NY at Old Westbury.

 

Adam Lee is a Lindy Hop instructor and performer in New York.  He is also an active saxophone player and music historian.  He spent eight years in Beijing, China where he founded the swing community and led a 17-piece big band. Adam recently completed a Master’s degree in music education at NYU and is pursuing a PhD in historical musicology.

 

Catrine Ljunggren learned from Al Minns and Frankie Manning. She played a big part in the Lindy hop revival as a founding member of The Rhythm Hot Shots and Herräng Dance Camp. She taught frequently with Frankie, and after thirty years is still teaching and performing Lindy, Tap, Charleston and Authentic Jazz around the world, spreading Frankie’s words. With TRHS she wan the Amateur Night at the Apollo, the Feather Award and the Frankie Award.

 

Charlie Meade started dancing in the streets of Jamaica, tapping barefoot with bottle caps between his toes. He began his professional career in London (1950s) where he performed swing, tap, and primitive dance with Buddy Bradley’s group, toured Europe, and appeared in the movie Cleopatra. Norma Miller introduced Charlie to one of his inspirations, Baby Laurence, in London, then to another in the 1980s in NY, Margaret Batiuchok, who has been Charlie’s partner ever since.

 

Norma Miller, last original Whitey’s Lindy hopper and lifelong friend of Frankie Manning, was born in Harlem in 1919. She danced outside the Savoy at twelve, an expert in the latest moves. By fifteen, Herbert White asked her to join his elite group. They soon performed in The Marx Brothers’ A Day at the Races (1937), and in Hellzapoppin’ (1941). Later, she performed on her own, in Redd Foxx’s Sanford and Son, Richard Pryor’s special, and more.

 

With Frankie Manning, Cynthia Millman co-authored Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop (translated into French and Japanese). She holds master’s degrees in dance/dance education and library science, and taught dance to children and adults for two decades. Cynthia performed with the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers, serves on the board of directors of the Frankie Manning Foundation, and writes and lectures on dance. She is Library Director at The Town School in Manhattan.

Charismatic dancer, choreographer, singer, and songwriter Steven Mitchell has been an internationally acclaimed dance teacher for the past three decades. Hugely influential in the swing dance revival, with partner Virginie Jensen he’s helped seed many new scenes, popularizing blues, authentic jazz, and swing walk. He studied with Al Minns; Frankie Manning was his teacher, mentor, and soul food buddy. Among his many credits, Steven performed with Erin Stevens at the White House for the Clintons.

An avid social dancer since the mid-1980s swing revival, Judy Pritchett developed a strong interest in the history of the Savoy Ballroom. In 1995, she launched one of the first swing dance websites, The Archives of Early Lindy Hop, followed by an online store, SavoyStyle Swing Dance Shop. Most importantly, she had the good fortune to be Frankie Manning’s close companion for twenty-one years. Judy also worked for twenty-five years in the mental health field.

 

Larry Schulz is a former news reporter (WBAL-TV, Baltimore) and field producer (WNBC-TV, NYC). In the 1980’s, he did several stories on Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom and met many of the great dancers from the 1930’s. In 1982, he convinced his wife, Sandra Cameron, to hire Al Minns and later Frankie Manning to teach Savoy-style Lindy Hop at her Sandra Cameron Dance Center in NYC. They closed the dance studio in July 2013, and retired.

 

Anaïs Sékiné is a PhD candidate at Université de Montréal studying the cultural politics of Lindy Hop today and lecturing on the sociology of ethnic relations and dance. She is a founding member of the W Project and the Cat’s Club Chorus Line, projects that explore the aesthetic values and cultural meanings of women in jazz. Anaïs teaches at the Cat’s Corner Swing Dance School, performs with the Northern Lights, and competes across North America.

 

Manu Smith has been dancing, performing, and teaching lindy hop around the world for nearly two decades, and counts Frankie among his primary influences. He has won several major national contests and has appeared on CBS, NBC, and PBS. Also a highly sought-after DJ, he spins for the 9:20 Special in San Francisco and at other major venues and events. He is a co-founder of Yehoodi.com, the Lindy hop community’s most popular website.

 

Erin Stevens is well known for her pivotal role (with Steven Mitchell) in bringing Frankie Manning out of retirement. She and her sister, Tami, have operated The Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association, one of the largest swing dance schools, since1983. PBDA presented annual workshops with Frankie from the 1980s until his passing. Their renowned “Swing Camp Catalina,” which ran from 1994-2004, featured Frankie. Their textbook, Swing Dancing, includes some of his last interview material.

 

Sugar Sullivan–Performer, Choreographer, and Dancer since the age of nine.

1944 seduced by Lindy Hop; 1955 Lindy Hop Champion-Harvest Moon Ball, Madison Square Garden, NYC; 1960 toured United States and Canada for 15 years with Sonny Allen & the Rockets (song & dance revue); 1980 appearances with Panama Francis and his Savoy Sultans-Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; Inducted in the International Lindy Hop Hall of Fame; 2004 to present-teaches Savoy Lindy at Herrang Dance Camp, Sweden.

 

Sylvia Sykes began dancing in 1966, competing in 1970, and teaching in 1979. She is internationally recognized for her expertise in, and work towards preserving, the older forms of Swing dance. Sylvia continues to teach and judge worldwide. She has appeared in several documentaries on Swing dancing, and has been featured performing with orchestras such as Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and Count Basie.

 

Christopher J. Wells holds a PhD in Musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and wrote his dissertation on Chick Webb’s dynamic interactions with lindy hopping audiences in the 1930s. He has been a lindy hop dancer for 12 years, and his scholarship unites his embodied practice as a dancer with archival music history. Beginning fall 2014, he will be Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

From reading Marshall Stearn’s Jazz Dance and watching classic lindy hop film clips, Lennart Westerlund travelled to New York in May 1984 to become one of the driving forces of the first revival generation. Several years later, he made lindy hop his profession. An international instructor and lecturer for the past 25 years, he also co-started the Herräng Dance Camp (1982), formed The Rhythm Hot Shots (1985), and opened Chicago Swing Dance Studio (2004) in Stockholm.

 

Chazz Young decided he wanted to be a dancer at age twelve after seeing his father, Frankie Manning, perform with Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. Chazz toured internationally with the Norma Miller Dancers from the late 1940s through mid 1960s, performing jazz, tap, and Lindy. He hoofed it in The Cotton Club and Lindy hopped in Malcolm X. Chazz currently teaches at dance camps around the world, and at the Austin Dance Academy in Las Vegas.