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2018 Grand Prize Recipient

BRITTANY SCHIRO
San Jose, California

Hi! My name is Brittany Schiro and I am from San Luis Obispo, California. As of June 2018 I am a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, and just last month relocated to the Bay Area to pursue West Coast Swing as well as a job doing behavioral therapy with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I could not be more excited to join the Northern California West Coast Swing Community!

 This scholarship would allow me to continue to work towards my goals as a dancer, and eventually my passion for helping others recognize their worth and their strength through the power of dance. Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and thank you for your willingness to give back to our community in such a generous way.


  • 14 Feb 2019 8:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Between the holidays, starting a new job (again), and moving (again) it’s taken a bit of time for me to sit down and reflect on what I consider to be my favorite back-to-back events of the year: The US Open Swing Dance Championship and TAP, otherwise known as The After Party.

    This amazing, event-packed week began on Thanksgiving Eve with a road trip from the Bay Area down to Burbank. This was the first time ever in my life that I haven’t been with my family for Thanksgiving (sorry, fam), but for years I have wanted to have the full weekend experience of the US Open. I found it extremely weird to be competing in a jack & jill on a Thursday (and Thanksgiving, nonetheless), but it was great to be able to experience the rest of the weekend with no stress or commitments!

    After Thursday, my weekend was filled with hanging out with amazing people, watching some amazing routines, and having some of the best social dances of my life in the wee hours of the morning. I left the weekend feeling especially motivated to work on my own dancing, as well as longing for the opportunity to one day compete a routine of my own on the US Open floor.


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    Late night burritos at the US Open!

    Fast forward through a ten hour drive home, my 23rd birthday, and a 2.5 day work week, I found myself on that same road trip back down to SoCal-- this time with a car full of motivation, snacks, and many, many pairs of dance shoes.

    The After Party has always been an intense weekend of growth and learning for me. It’s the weekend where I tend to splurge on private lessons, as well as take as many classes as humanly possible. This was the first weekend ever in my life that I actually sacrificed most all of my social dancing for learning opportunities. I had the pleasure of working directly with Sean McKeever again, as well as Hugo Miguez and Stacy Kay. All three pros were an absolute joy to work with, and I left each lesson with a long list of things to take home and practice.

    As for classes, I decided to focus on all of the solo classes offered over the course of the weekend. One of the reasons why TAP is among my favorite events is the crazy number of solo classes offered. As someone who didn’t grow up a dancer or dance at all until college, I happily eat up any opportunity I can to get into any sort of solo class. Among my favorites were Cameo’s ballet class and Nicole’s contemporary class. Cameo was wonderful at relating ballet technique to West Coast Swing, and I have never felt so comfortable in a contemporary class as I did in Nicole’s. She was not only warm and welcoming, but opened my eyes to a lot of new concepts about solo dancing as they relate to WCS.

    TAP is one of those events that has so much happening throughout the weekend that I actually forget that I’m supposed to compete. I was shocked to make finals amongst such a large group of amazing dancers, many of whom I didn’t even know because of the huge international presence at the event. That final was one of the most fun ever, and even though we didn’t place in the top five (sixth though!), I felt comfortable with my partner and had a blast just goofing around on the floor. It was a nice change from the usual nerves I get before/during any form of spotlight final.


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    Jack and Jill prelims at TAP!

    Lastly, I was able to continue my judging apprenticeship by mock judging all weekend. I explained my scholarship to Myles, the head judge, and he happily allowed me to mock judge all weekend and even took the time to meet up with me at the end of the weekend at answer my (many) questions. Since my last time mock judging with Kelly at Boogie by the Bay, I’ve continued to gain experience by judging several times per month at various local J&Js, so it was great to be able to judge at a “real” event to check in on my progress. This is a skill I’d like to pursue seriously some day, so to have support from my community in doing so has been extremely encouraging.

    The US Open – TAP week is one I look forward to all year long, and this year was by far my favorite yet. I love the drastic change of environments from competition-focused to learning-focused. I want to extend a huge thank you to both The Next Generation Swing Dance Club as well as The Silton Foundation for supporting me on my dance journey. So much of this wouldn’t be possible without you guys.

    Thanks for reading, and hope to see you at Capital Swing Convention!

    -Brittany



  • 27 Nov 2018 9:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

         As I reflect back on my experience at Boogie by the Bay this year, I cannot help but smile even after over a month’s passing. Boogie has always been one of my favorite events, but this year was probably (read: absolutely) the best weekend I have had at an event, ever.

         There were so many things about this year that made it such a special experience, one of these of course being the Next Generation Swing Dance Scholarship. As some of you may know, I recently relocated to the Bay Area from San Luis Obispo. While this is quite an exciting change for me, it was also hard leaving the first and only dance community I’d ever known. While I was thrilled to be moving to one of the largest (and most awesome!) dance communities in existence, I was a bit nervous to be a small fish in such a big pond—er, bay. It was nerve-wracking to think about having to find my place in a brand new community. It’s like being the new kid in school, except for the part where I’m 22 and no longer in school. Shortly after moving here, I came across a post one of my friends shared about the NGSDC Scholarship application deadline being extended. I hadn’t heard of the scholarship before this, but after reading about it I decided to apply. The application was a bit lengthy, but I actually enjoyed the process because it allowed me to thoroughly lay out and reflect on my goals and thoughts regarding West Coast Swing, and what type of role I’d like to take on in the community in the future.

         I’m so happy I applied, because it not only was a large part of why Boogie by the Bay was so amazing for me this year, but it also opened countless doors along my dance journey over the next year.

         First, I was able to get my first bit of experience judging under the wonderful Kelly Cassanova. After finding out about the scholarship on Friday night, I decided to shoot her a message via Facebook on the off-chance she might let me apprentice judge for the rest of the weekend. I’m so thankful for her taking the time to allow me to do that on such short notice. I learned so much over the course of those two days, including the following:

    1. Judging is HARD.

    2. Kelly is an absolute beast of a head judge.

    3. Judging is my thing!

         For quite some time now I have known that judging is something I hope to do (and do well) in the future, and the judging mentorship was one of the main reasons why I applied for the scholarship in the first place. Since then, I have been able to judge a handful of local jack & jill’s in the bay area, and hope to continue to gain experience and better my skills over the next year.

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         As for the rest of the weekend, there are a few other things I’d like to share that made this event so special to me. For one, I had some amazing dances with some amazing people! I had the pleasure of drawing Chris On in finals on Sunday. It was hilarious because we drew each other the week before at Bridgetown Swing, and even got the same song!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0sqcenHYRQ

         Finally, the last special piece of the weekend was the fact that my parents and brother were there for the whole thing! This was their first event ever, as well as their first time seeing me dance in person. It meant so much to me that they came up to support me, and honestly I don’t think they could have picked a better event or year to do so. My brother even took all the beginning and junior’s classes! We went to the junior’s pizza party on Saturday night, and it wasn’t long before I realized he didn’t need me. I asked him about it later and he said all of the juniors were super welcoming and friendly. Even though I’m not a junior, I appreciate what a great environment Boogie by the Bay cultivates for this next generation of dancers.

         I just want to wrap up by saying that in my short time here, I have felt so incredibly welcomed and loved by the NorCal Westie family. I want to extend a huge thank you to the Next Generation Swing Dance Club for awarding me such a generous scholarship. I’m so excited to be apart of this community, and can’t wait to use this scholarship over the next year to not only better my own dancing, but contribute to the community in every way I can.

         Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on the dance floor soon!

         ~ Brittany



  • 21 Oct 2018 1:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations to all of our Next Gen Scholarship Recipients!  

    Our GRAND PRIZE Recipient, Brittany Schiro, will be spending the next year of her WCS journey utilizing all of the gifts that this scholarship has to offer, and blogging it all here!  From posting photos and video, as well as keeping a journal of her entire experience . . . our community will be with her every step of the way!

    We can't wait to see the amazing impact this next year has for you, Brittany, and we know it's going to be absolutely life changing!

    Sincerely,

    K. Sorci, K. Teuscher, L. Wood

    Next Gen Scholarship Committee


2018 FIRST RUNNER UP 

2018 SECOND RUNNER UP

San Jose, California

I think that the foundation of West Coast Swing is passion. Ultimately, I think passion is what makes the West Coast Swing community and the structures that it operates within functional. West Coast Swing generally takes a lot of time, dedication, effort, and money, and I can’t fathom why so many people would be willing to fly around the country and spend the majority of their time in a hotel, or spend upward of $100 for one hour of instruction, or stay up really late at their local dance even though they have an early morning if they weren’t passionate about it. Without the willingness of dancers to pour in so many of their resources to practice and mastery of this dance, dance events, local venues, and everything in between wouldn’t be able to exist. And I think they are willing to do that because of their passion.

Rancho Cordova, California

I believe the foundation of West Coast Swing is built on several components. The ones that stand out the most to me are the a) community, b) music and c) specific characteristics of this dance, such as the footwork, the slot, and swing connection.  A unique quality of WCS is that it stems from traditional roots but is able to incorporate new elements from other dance styles throughout the years. The community comprises of people from all backgrounds, who share a common passion.  It brings people together that might have never otherwise crossed paths.  The social aspect of this dance encourages us to meet new people, rather than dancing solo or with a single partner.  The wide variety in music is another integral part of WCS, which is critical in allowing dancers to have endless ways of expressing themselves.

As I have more conversations about dancing and attend more workshops, I’ve continually discovered more about WCS is and what it embodies.  I still have an overwhelming feeling that there is so much more for me to understand about this dance, and I’m excited to keep learning!  


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