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About Mike & Mary
Mike and Mary began dancing in 1999 and quickly discovered their true love was the original swing dances of the 1930’s and 40’s swing-era: Lindy Hop and Balboa. How did we get started in swing dancing? First for Mike, he wanted to fulfill a promise to Mary (and a lifelong personal desire) to learn to dance. And secondly, Mike wanted to dance to the great music he had heard growing up. As a youngster, Mike often listened to “oldies” radio stations, which in those days consisted of a fair amount of big band and jump blues genres of music. Mike is especially partial to the music of the Big Band/WWII Swing-era (as evidenced by his collection of over 10,000 swing-era songs!) and sees the Hepcats promotion of Lindy Hop and Balboa as another way to honor veterans from that era.
Mary’s musical theatre background and love of swing-era music, movies, fashion and clothes (especially shoes!) is the catalyst for her creativity, not only as an instructor and on the social dance floor, but as a choreographer for the Rhythm Cats Lindy Hop performance group, and the “Razz Ma Tazz”, a 1920’s Charleston “Flapper Girls” performance group.Back to 1999.
Unable to find any instruction in Lindy Hop or Balboa in the Lexington area, Mike & Mary began to teach themselves, view vintage films and movies, and attend regional and national level workshops and competitions. By attending Lindy Hop and Balboa events all over the U.S., they have taken lessons and learned from many of the best instructors (and some of the original swing dancers!) in the Lindy Hop / Balboa swing dance community. They also offer a unique perspective for newer/beginner swing dancers as they have witnessed the development and growth of the “modern” era of swing dancing, at the local, regional and national level.
Mike & Mary have been instrumental in establishing and developing the Lindy Hop and Balboa swing dance scene in Lexington and central Kentucky, and 2015 marks the 14th year they’ve been promoting Lindy Hop and Balboa. They consider it a privilege and an honor to contribute to the great tradition of the dances and music of the swing-era.
Lindy Hop and Balboa have a rich history and culture and Mike & Mary believe that an understanding and appreciation for that history and culture is important for Lindy Hoppers and Balboa swing dancers. As the saying goes “If you don’t care where you’re going, any road will get you there.” So they strive to not only teach and promote Lindy Hop and Balboa, but also educate and preserve the great dances of the swing-era.
Mike & Mary have taught swing dancing for over 16 years and are the most knowledgeable and experienced swing dance instructors in the Lexington/central Kentucky area. Not only have they taught literally thousands of people to dance, they’ve taught at numerous local and regional swing dance workshops and events. Their teaching style is based on learning, laughter and fun!
They believe that solid fundamentals in movement, connection and technique are key in partnered swing dancing. They break down individual steps and patterns in an easy, step-by-step manner that allows each student to not only learn the move, but also understand how it works.
If you’re a beginner, Mike & Mary’s teaching style will provide you that initial solid foundation and self-confidence so you can shine on the dance floor! You’ll also develop the skills necessary to continue to learn more intermediate and advanced steps and patterns. For swing dancers with more experience, Mike & Mary can help you take your dancing to the next level, to include learning more complicated material, developing musicality in your dancing, and even preparing for competitions.
It’s a journey, not a destination!
Mike & Mary don’t just “dabble” in swing dancing: they love the dances and they study the dances. They believe that learning to swing dance is a journey, not a destination. They often travel to out of town swing dance workshop events such as the All Balboa Weekend, Camp Hollywood and the International Lindy Hop Championships to take classes, private lessons and compete to further hone their skills. They also encourage Lindy Hoppers and Balboa swing dancers to participate in competition activities as a way to they improve their skill level.
As far as competitions, Mike & Mary believe that competition type activities (of course, friendly and fun competitions) are beneficial to helping improve any Lindy Hop/Balboa swing dancer. One of the best ways for an individual to take their swing dancing to the next level is to participate in a performance group, in jam circles, in a couples or jack & jill contest, etc. These activities get the competitive juices flowing and are often the catalyst for individual improvement. We also believe that competition type activities, especially performance group activities, are one of the signs of a healthy and growing swing dance scene.
Mike & Mary have competed in more competitions then they can remember! And they’ve been fortunate to have placed and even won their fair share of competitions. Some of the more memorable competitions include the All Balboa Weekend, Cleveland, OH; Camp Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA; the All Balboa Camp Detroit; SwingIn, Indianapolis, IN; the American Lindy Hop Championships, Chicago, IL; the Dayton Swing Smackdown; and of course lots and lots of competitions at numerous local and regional events.
Mike & Mary are passionate about sharing all the great things about swing dancing, and swing music! Check out our web site for information on classes, private lessons and dance events. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 859-420-2426, or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need any information. And don’t forget to sign up for the Hepcats Newsletter to stay Hep to the Jive!
What other people say about Mike & Mary
o “You REALLY made the event special. A special thank you for all your support and all you do for KJRO!” Miles Osland, University of Kentucky (UK) School of Music, co-director of the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra (KJRO), Swingin’ at Sunset event, Keeneland Race Course, October 2009.
o “Swingin’ on Short was amazing! Thank you for everything you do, and for organizing that event. You both are such great people with great hearts.” B.S., June 2013.
o “Thank you for all the great instruction that you guys have given us over the years. The dance scene down here couldn’t exist without you two, and for that we are very grateful”. T.S., May 2009.
o “Thank you for sharing your love, talent and knowledge with the students….Many of our students have said the class was already a highlight of their semester. We had a blast!” S.T., Oct. 2014.
o “What you two are doing is fun, fun, fun! And we like it. Keep it up!” C.K., September 2011.
o “I’m writing to thank you both for all of your encouragement and helping me become a swing dancer. I am so proud to be a part of the swing dance community along with the Rhythm Cats.” O.R., June 2009.
o “Thank you for the effort that you put into teaching and promoting Lindy Hop. You guys do a fantastic job. Thank you for hosting the battle of the “Big Bands” last Saturday evening – a fabulous time was had by all.” H.C., April 2012.
o “I’ve been to several Hepcats events, and had a blast! Thanks for putting on all of this great stuff for us!” A.D., January 2011.
o “You guys ‘stole’ the show! I don’t know if you could hear the calls from the audience and their hand-clapping – but they really ‘dug’ you guys! We hope you will be back next year!” A.E., event organizer on the Rhythm Cats performance at the Lyric Theater, April 2011.
o “You all did fantastic, and I got so many great compliments on your performance. I hope we can work with you again in the future!” C.M., event organizer for the Mr. University of Kentucky (UK) Pageant, October 2011.
o “I wanted to thank you all for all your hard work putting the weekend events together. I had a really good time and learned a whole lot.” L.C., January 2012.
o “Hey Mike, we don’t need any of those national instructors…..we got you guys!” J.B., December 2009.
o “In Recognition of Your Untiring and Selfless Contributions to the Lexington Swing Dance Community.” Hepcats 2009-2010 Performance Groups, the Rhytm Cats and Razz Ma Tazz, May 2010.
o “Thank you both from me and many others as we enjoy the work of swing dance. It’s a neat part of the good life!” T.E., December 2011.
o “Thank you for working with me and the Student Activities Board (SAB) for our dance program. I personally had a blast and received great feedback from other participants.” C.H., SAB Program Event Manager, November 2007.
o “Appreciate all you do to keep the dance alive & kicking.” V.H., October 2011.
o “Thank you both so much for coming ad working with us. This is going to be such a neat section of our show.” J.J., July 2017
o “Thank you for being a part of the Class Reunion. All the guests loved your dancing and the music was perfect for them.” G.B., University of Kentucky (UK) Class of 1958 Golden Reunion, October 2008.
o “Thank you for providing excellent instruction and a fun atmosphere during the Hepcats lessons.” H.C., March 2012.
o “I can’t thank you enough for the terrific evening you spent with us! Everyone had such a great time. You truly inspired all of us.” C.T., SCAPA Arts Facilitator, February 2010.
o “Thanks for keeping swing dancing alive in Lexington and providing high quality dance events. Your efforts are really appreciated!” B.C., June 2008.
Mike & Mary’s promotion of Lindy Hop and Balboa
Mike & Mary have been instrumental in establishing and developing the Lindy Hop and Balboa swing dance scene in Lexington and central Kentucky, and 2017 marks the 16th year they’ve been promoting Lindy Hop and Balboa. They consider it a privilege and an honor to contribute to the great tradition of the dances and music of the swing-era. They strongly believe awareness of and an appreciation for the swing-era as a historical and cultural asset is important for the Lindy Hop and Balboa dancer. In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been!
Some of the highlights of the past 14 years that come to mind:
o Teaching the original swing-era dances, Lindy Hop and Balboa, to literally thousands of people. It’s a real joy to see the moment when the “light comes on” for a new student; or when a “step, step, rock step” swing dancer takes the challenge to become a Lindy Hopper; or when someone discovers the unique and dynamic nature of Balboa!
o Providing swing dances in Lexington at venues where people can dance to the great music of the swing era.
o Collaborating with the University of Kentucky (UK) School of Music to provide music for big band swing dances from authentic swing-era arrangements. One of two ensembles provide the music for these events: (a) the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra (KJRO), consisting of the finest and most talented faculty, alumni and musicians from Kentucky area colleges and universities; or (b) the UK Jazz Ensemble (UKJE), consisting of the most talented students in the award winning and nationally recognized UK Jazz Studies Program. The dancers obviously benefit from these events, but so do the musicians as they get a chance to see authentic Lindy Hop and Balboa danced to the great music they play. Not many (if any) communities the size of Lexington have swing dances with such talented big band orchestra’s providing authentic, swing-era music!
o The establishment of Lindy Hop performance groups to elevate the level of swing dancing in Lexington and central Kentucky. These performance groups have experienced success at regional and national level competitions and events. And most of those dancers got their start with Mike & Mary and the Hepcats!
o Collaborating with other organizations in Lexington/central Kentucky to bring high quality swing dance events to Lexington, i.e. Swingin’ on Short, Lexington’s annual street dance. Mike & Mary have assisted with this event for the past 14 years. Mike is responsible for selecting the band that provides the music, and Mary is one of the judges for the dance contest.
o Sponsoring one day and weekend workshops, some featuring national and regional level Lindy Hop and Balboa instructors.
Once again, thank you for your support of Mike & Mary and the Hepcats, and see you out on the dance floor!
Mike & Mary
Mike’s military career
Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Mike Richardson enlisted in the US Army in July 1973. After his discharge in 1976, he attended the University of Kentucky and received
his commission in 1980 as a second lieutenant through the ROTC program in the military intelligence branch.
During his 26 years of military service, he served in various command and staff assignments, to include assignments with the 82d Airborne Division; 1st Cavalry Division; 66th Military Intelligence Group; 205th Military Intelligence Brigade; US Army Armor School; US Army Headquarters, Europe; and the US Army Cadet Command.
He served in various stateside and overseas locations, to include Fort Jackson, SC; Ft. Devens, MA; Ft. Bragg, NC; Ft. Knox, KY; Ft. Benning, GA; Washington, DC; the Presidio of Monterey, California; Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Ft. Carson, CO; Okinawa, Japan; Munich, Germany; Darmstadt, Germany; Operation Desert Shield and Desert Strom in Iraq; and Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia. /
He completed a variety of military schools, to include Airborne and Jumpmaster school; Air Assault School; graduate school at the Joint Military Intelligence College; German Language School at the Defense Language Institute; and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
His favorite memories of the military involve the many dedicated soldiers he had the privilege and pleasure to serve with; and the many fond memories of military life and travels with his family: Mary, Mike, Mark and Julia.
After retirement from the military in 1999, Mike decided to fulfill a personal lifelong desire, and a longstanding promise to his wife Mary, to learn to dance. Since 2001, Mike and Mary have been
instrumental in organizing and promoting swing dance events in the Lexington, KY area. Mike is especially partial to the Big Band/WWII Swing-era, and sees the Hepcats promotion of Lindy Hop and Balboa as another way to honor veterans from that era.
And in keeping with this theme of military service, here are some photos of other family members that are serving or have served in the military:
o Our son Mike, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army.
o Mary’s dad, Melvin R. Dizney, service in the US Navy during the Korean War.
o Mike’s dad, Gordon Richardson, service in the US Army and US Army Air Corps during World War II in the Pacific Theater and in post-war Germany occupation. Perhaps we’ll find a picture of him in uniform one day.
o Samuel Oscar Dizney, Mary’s grandfather, service in the US Army during World War I with the 110th Infantry Regiment. He was a POW, wounded and captured at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry in 1918. Perhaps we’ll find a picture of him in uniform one day.
o Kenneth (Bill) Dizney, Mary’s uncle, service in the US Army-Air Corps.
o Kirsten Richardson, daughter-in-law, currently serving in the Army National Guard.
More to follow……