Lila Desatoff

Lila has made a significant impact on the swing dance community. She began her journey with ballroom dancing before venturing into west coast swing in the 1980s. Her mentors for west coast swing were distinguished instructors like Mark Swann, Jerry Crim, Skippy Blair, and Kenny Wetzel. One of Lila's students was none other than Sonny Watson, a fabulous dancer, and historian.

Lila also took lindy hop lessons from Dean Collins, and it was during one of these sessions that she met Willie Desatoff. Willie would often visit looking for potential students for his balboa dance class. Although he did not find anyone in that particular class, he later regretted it. Sylvia Sykes thought that Lila would be an excellent fit for Willie and informed her of his next class. However, when Lila arrived, Willie's greeting to her was less than friendly. But Lila's charm and skill were undeniable, and before they even had their first date, Willie was telling people that he was going to marry her. At their engagement party, he revealed that she had become his best student, and so he decided to marry her. Lila had the distinct honor of teaching him how to waltz for their wedding.

Lila's talent and expertise have made her a fixture in the balboa dance community, performing at events and teaching workshops worldwide. She is also a respected judge and coach, using her skills to help other dancers improve and reach their full potential.

Lila's contributions were recognized with numerous awards and honors, including induction into the Camp Hollywood Hall of Fame in 2007. She continues to inspire and influence dancers all over the world.

The Lindy Hopkins

Karen and Dabney (along with their children Alice and Joe) collectively make The Lindy Hopkins. Lindy Hopping their way through every adventure they take since they started partnering in 2010! 

Together they have taught across the United States,  perform regularly with bands in Arizona, California, and Nevada, were resident performers at The Cosmopolitan Chandelier Bar with Electro Swing Club, produce 3 annual weekend events complete with competitions and “licentious” social dancing until all hours of the night, and more. 

In 2020 Karen and Dabney were honored to be recognized by the Arizona Dance Coalition for their contributions to the dance community through the “Creating Connections Award” and they have been honored to be part of the elite group of dancers inducted into the Camp Hollywood Hall of Fame.

Dabney Hopkins loves to swing dance and has been actively doing it for over twenty years. His favorite thing is to spread his love of dance to everyone he can through teaching, social dancing, and organizing events. One of his greatest moments was when he and his partner were awarded the Golden Budgie (rock the house) award at Camp Hollywood in 2002!

Karen Vizzard first became enamored with Lindy Hop in 2003, when she was introduced to the dance at a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert in Santa Monica. Since then, she has dedicated herself to becoming an exceptional follow, as well as a versatile dancer with experience in Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and Solo and Partnered Charleston. She is an award winning dancer who loves to compete and does so any chance she gets. She would rather be on the floor dancing than sitting and watching! She is also the director of Phoenix’s award winning all female solo dance team. Her other credits include performing with the Hollywood Hotshots, as well as being cast as a dancer in Katy Perry's music video "Thinking of You" and being cast as a principle dancer for the episode “Static” on the TV show “Cold Case.” 

Julie Roman

Julie Roman is a Phoenix-based artist. As a classically trained concert pianist/vocalist (with a career as a certified music educator and private vocal coach), she is passionate about pursuing excellence and spreading a love for the arts. 

She enjoys collaborating with vintage swing dancers from around the world to compete, teach, choreograph, and perform. While she studies and competes with as many jazz dances as she can, Julie is madly in love with collegiate shag (and flying air steps). She has taught at, judged, made finals, placed in, or won contests at shag events such as the Warsaw Shag Festival, the Barcelona Shag Festival, Camp Hollywood, Shag and Drag, the LA Shag Festival, and Hot Rhythm Holiday. 

Julie is also the artistic director for and a founding member of the Phoenix Swing Project (an arts coop dedicated to growing and enriching the swing dance experiences available to people in Phoenix through collaborations and team training). The program is especially focused on creating contest teams, advocating for junior swing dance opportunities, and mentoring young dancers as they start competing and social dancing. 

Julie has performed with or directed several Phoenix-based teams including the Rain and Shine Shufflers (balboa), The Phoenix Bomb Squad (lindyhop), The Phoenix Fleahoppers (shag), The Phoenix Firecrackers (junior Lindyhop), the Salty Dogs (solo jazz), and the Gypsy Jitterbugs (solo jazz). 

Jacob Spinney

Known by his friends as "Spinney," Jacob Spinney has been obsessed with swing dancing for well over a decade. Achieving titles such as National Jitterbug Champion, Arizona Swing Dance Champion, Arizona Balboa Champion, and California Balboa Classic Champion to name a few, Spinney’s love for swing dancing has helped him create a unique style focused on creativity and expressiveness. 

Co-Captain, Choreographer, Talent Developer, and Skills Coach for the Phoenix Swing Project which encompasses national award winning teams, Phoenix Bomb Squad, Phoenix Firecrackers, as well as the Sunny Side Stompers, Spinney enjoys sharing his love for swing dancing, doing slides, and being a goofball. He drinks a Roy Rogers, easy on the ice, extra cherries. 

Cassie Mae and Matthew Hughey

Cassie Mae has been honing her dance skills for just under a decade. Going head first not only into lindy, but shag and balboa as well. Cassie has become nimble and athletic on the dance floor no matter the tempo. She also challenged herself in joining Phoenix Bomb Squad, which went on to win first place both years she was on the team. Cassie has also won various competitions around the country in Lindy, Shag, and Balboa, and is a National Jitterbug Champion. 

Hughey is almost at his 15 year milestone for dancing and has never once looked back. Empathetic and adaptable would best describe his unique style. Hughey has competed in the United States and abroad and won competitions in Shag, Lindy, and Balboa, and he is a National Jitterbug Champion. He also has a golden budgie pin. His greatest achievement has always been to play to the crowd and let the jitterbug spirit guide him.

Michelle Kostuk

These last three years have highlighted the need for connection, art, and recognizing each other’s struggles. Social dance and the swing community have provided Michelle with a reminder of the joy that can still be experienced in life. As it becomes safer to gather and social dance again, Michelle has focused her teaching on exploring the power behind solo movement in vernacular jazz and bringing the Afro swing rhythms of Lindy Hop and Balboa to new and seasoned dancers. In addition to swing dance, Michelle is an avid student of Pachanga and Boogaloo, dance styles in the Afro-Cuban tradition, which reached their height of popularity in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Samara "Sami" Askew

Sydney Abel

Sydney Abel is a dedicated swing dancer, with a lifelong passion for balboa and solo jazz. Originating from Phoenix, AZ, Sydney began dancing at the tender age of three and has since traveled around the country learning from the best.

Sydney has achieved a number of notable accolades in her career, including first place wins at the California Balboa Classic, Rocky Mountain Balboa Blowout, Great Lakes Balboa Escape, Swingdependance, BadAZ Balboa, Phoenix Lindy Exchange, and the California Swing Dance Championships, among others. Despite these achievements, Sydney remains committed to her craft, always seeking to refine her technique and improve her performances.

Beyond her success as a competitive dancer, Sydney has also made contributions to the swing dance community as a whole. She has served as an integral member of event coordination teams, working behind the scenes in roles such as an organizer for the California Balboa Classic, registration manager and contest assistant at Hot Rhythm Holiday, Youth Program Administrative Director at ILHC, and contest coordinator at the Intercollegiate Swing Battle. She is also set to coordinate at upcoming events such as Balorado, Camp Hollywood, Lindy on the Rocks, and Great Lakes Balboa Escape.

Sydney's dedication and love for swing dance are evident in all that she does, and she is excited to share her passion with others. She looks forward to the opportunity to teach and inspire fellow dancers at the upcoming workshop weekend.

The Conner Sisters

Ashley Cohen Conner and Sydney Abel, known as The Conner Sisters, are from Phoenix, Arizona and have been dancing for 18 years, focusing on swing for the past 8 years. They have traveled all over the country to attend, compete, and teach at various swing dance events. Both love to incorporate switch-leads in their routines and think it is important to learn both roles in dancing.

They have placed first at the California Swing Dance Championships (CSDC) in 2016 and 2017 and third at the International Lindy Hop Championships (ILHC) in 2017. Back home, Ashley and Sydney have run numerous events, including Third Thursday, Sweet Soul Sunday, Swingin' OnStage, and Hump Day Swing. Since receiving accolades as juniors, the sisters have given back to the community in multiple ways. 

Ashley has worked as the volunteer and DJ coordinator for BadAZ Balboa, SWINGdepenDANCE, and the Phoenix Lindy Exchange. She has also collaborated with multiple swing leaders on events and has acted as a DJ for Third Friday Soul Night, Arizona Lindy Hop Society, Swing Dance Vegas, The Kats Korner, Downbeat Vintage Swing Society, L.A. Jitterbug, Salt City Special, Arizona Swing Cats, and more. She is also acting as the main organizer for Summer Swing Fest 2023! 

Sydney has since worked with CalBal, ILHC, Hot Rhythm Holiday, Intercollegiate Swing Battle, Lindy on the Rocks, and Balorado. Her long list of hats include Contest Coordinator, Registration Manager, and Youth Program Administrative Director.

Ashley and Sydney are excited to come back and teach together this summer for the first time in over 4 years!