This is a new page still under construction
Wayne & Sharlot Bott
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann
Mary Ann Nunez
Lucky "PJ" Armstrong Smoot (Skippy's Daughter)
This Page is set aside for a few early pictures of some of our top
performing GSDTA Staff. Golden
State Dance Teachers Association would not be what it is today, without
the wonderful job of teaching that takes place when these great performers
present our GSDTA methods, vocabulary and attitudes, all over the world.
For now, I am adding pictures and a bit of historical information, in
order to credit those who have done such a fabulous job for GSDTA. Pictures
planned will include quite a few. For now, In Alphabetical order : Wayne &
Sharlot Bott - Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann - and Mary Ann Nunez -
||How many of you remember, as I
do - the picture on the left, that was on the flyer that informed the whole
world about our infamous TUESDAY night West Coast Swing Workshops in the
Downey Studio? They continued for over 2 years and made history among
the dancers that attended. Wayne & Sharlot, Jordan & Tatiana, Mary Ann
& I, taught each month, on alternating
weeks. Not one of us has that kind of time today. However, the time we spent on that endeavor will long be
remembered. New terminology was tested, New techniques were developed, and
students made discoveries. The ongoing evolvement of the Universal Unit
System(R) never ends.
I am going to write about how different
people, involved in GSDTA, have impacted the system, the development of
GSDTA, and my life in general. This should all be online by the end of 2008. It is
also important for everyone to know WHY, through all of my writings, I always use the proverbial "WE."
It's because nothing I have
ever accomplished could have been done alone.
| Picture taken at the
at Dance Dynamics Studio,
in preparation for his departure on
his first mission to Mexico in 2004.
An Open Letter to Benji from "Gramma Skippy"
CONGRATULATIONS young man - on winning the top award on
“So You Think You Can Dance?” I also watched you on the Kelly & Regis Show -
following the conclusion of the competition - and you were GREAT! You can be
proud that you had an entire dance community - world wide - cheering you on
through the whole competition. Heidi did a great job too.
There are a few of us around who turned back time as we watched the show - back
to when your father was the young “one man show” who kept us laughing and
applauding. I was watching you, Benji - but I was seeing your Dad out there.
Years ago when Buddy first started teachers training with GSDTA, he was just a
kid. (a skinny kid who loved to dance) He worked hard on all the dances, and
became quite good at teaching the Universal Unit System(R). He danced all of the
dances, and when he went in the service, Marilyn Curtiss, one of our GSDTA
teachers kept in touch, letting him know what went on at the studio. When
Buddy came back he soon became one of our top performers and starred in all of
our GSDTA shows. This was the era of the Golden West Ballroom, in Norwalk, CA - home
of the big bands - and also home of the biggest dance event of the year in 1976:
The Bicentennial New Years Eve Show was a sell-out and the show was repeated at
the Century Plaza Hotel. Your Dad was our resident comic, who not only did great
dance performances, but was always standing by to do a clever move or two across
the stage - to give the other dancers time to change costumes.
The finale of that show was the introduction of my
Is America?.” (Little did we know that a song I had written in 1976, would one
day be featured on Bob Barker’s TV show). I also got to sing it for
30,000 people on a football field, honoring California’s Governor Dukmejian.
The song will soon be on our website.
Benji - Time passed - and
although I saw your Dad from time to time, I had not met you and Lacey. I told
Buddy that I felt bad because I hadn’t met his kids. He assured me that Benji
knew who I was. He had told him about me and had shown him my picture. I was
his “Gramma Skippy.” The picture part should have been a clue. Benji - when I
finally met you, you were only about 5. (You had seen pictures from the
1970’s). You looked at your dad - and looked back at me - and said - “You’re
really OLD!” Buddy looked stunned - but we laughed ourselves silly. The truth
is - time marches on.
Through the years, we all watched you rise to star status - and I was very happy
to be able to host your going away party when you were heading off to your
mission in Mexico. (Picture above) In July, 2005, after returning from
your mission, we were all delighted to have you and Lacey perform, at our
Reunion Ball at the Marriott Hotel. It was a nostalgic moment for many of us -
some who dated back to the 1950s - 60s and 70s - up through the present. I was
also very proud to present you with the GSDTA “Service Above Self” Award. You
really earned it.
We are all in your corner
Benji - You have a very promising career
ahead of you. God Bless and Keep up the Good Work
Patricia Jean "LUCKY"
(PJ) Armstrong Smoot
1948 - 2006
We called her "Lucky"
because she weighed 7 pounds, eleven ounces when she was born and the doctor
said "Seven come eleven - Here's your little Lucky." The family still
calls her "Lucky." Lucky's husband Jim is the Dean of the Memphis Law School and
Lucky has been running her own company, "Point of Contact" - under the moniker
of "PJ Smoot" - Lucky won numerous competitions
with a variety of partners: Cliff Bigelow, John
Buckner, Mike Mikita, Larry Kern, Michael Walker and several others. Here
are a few pictures from the past. More will be added.
Lucky lost her 3 year battle with
cancer on Wednesday, Nov. 22nd. Her funeral was in Memphis at St. Marks
Cathedral on December 1st, 2006.
Birthday Dinner for Lucky w/ Daddy, Bob Armstrong
at the Moulon Rouge in Hollywood
Mike Mikita & Lucky win the World's
Lucky takes 1st place in Modern,
Fair Junior Dance Championship in New
Interpretive Dance - Long Beach
York City in 1961.
Lucky and Michael Walker performing on Truth or Consequences TV
Bob Barker interviews Lucky and Michael
Larry Kern with Lucky in competition
Lucky for Business Portrait
(Larry's memorial was held in Palm Springs
on Saturday, June 2nd, 2007).
This is a picture of "PJ" and her Dad
at her home in Memphis in 2006.
Patricia Jean Armstrong Smoot - 1948 - 2006
Patricia Jean (“PJ”) Armstrong Smoot was born on July 8, 1948, in Los Angeles,
CA, and died on November 22, 2006, at her home in Memphis, TN, with her
husband and family by her side. PJ grew up in Downey, CA, and graduated from
Downey High School in 1966. Mentored by her mother, professional dance
choreographer, Skippy Blair, PJ won the United States Junior Dance
Championship at the New York Worlds Fair at the age of 13 and went on to
become a dance instructor at age 17 and an adult champion in International
Dance, Latin and Swing.
PJ obtained her undergraduate degree in English at USC, where she met her
husband, James R. Smoot, the current Dean of the University of Memphis Law
School. She obtained her MBA at New York University while working for Price
Waterhouse and then commenced a 20 year career with International Paper in the
field of human resources, serving as both Director and Division Vice
Upon her retirement from International Paper, PJ founded The Point of Contact,
a business management consulting firm in Memphis and worked as an adjunct
professor at the University of Memphis School of Business. Her articles on
business management and leadership were featured in the Wall Street Journal,
Fortune Magazine, Business Intelligence and the HR Strategic Review. She was a
regular speaker at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and worked as a
consultant to numerous non- profit organizations, including the Memphis
Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee. She was the
President of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Capital Campaign
Committee for Playhouse on the Square and last year she was named as one of
“Fifty Women Who Make a Difference” by Memphis Women’s Magazine.
PJ’s legacy as a problem solver, a negotiator, an advisor and an
advocate of the least fortunate will be felt for many years to come. Memphis
will always be a special place for her California family because of the love
she had for the city and its people.
She is survived by her husband of 38 years, James R. Smoot; her parents,
Skippy Blair, PhD and the Honorable Robert W. Armstrong and Eleanor Armstrong;
sister, Cassandra Armstrong, brothers John Robert Armstrong, Robert Weaver
Armstrong, II, and Raymond Scott Armstrong, all of California.
Services were held on Friday, December 1st, 2006, at Grace St. Luke’s
Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
A "Celebration of Life" was held on Tuesday night, JULY 24th,
2007, from 7pm to 10pm at the Marriott Hotel in Norwalk, CA.
Email: Skippy@Skippyblair.com for information.
A Fond Farewell
to LYNN VOGEN
One of the earliest graduates of
Golden State Dance Teachers Association
Tribute to Lynn Vogen
and Buddy Schwimmer were with Lynn in her last hours. I was at home, but
with her in my heart. She passed away at 11pm on August 29, 2006.
Lynn’s death denotes the passing of an era for me. She was an integral
part of our GSDTA "Dance
troupe in the 1970’s. Lynn did an endless
variety of shows with us, with Buddy Schwimmer
dance partner. During those years, Lynn and Buddy were 2 young kids,
fresh out of teachers training and already a vital part of our teaching team in Dance
Camps, the Golden West Ballroom, and, of course, in the "Skippy Blair Studios."
Later, Lynn & Buddy
opened their own studio together. A few years later, Lynn opened her own
studio where she built her reputation for teaching children, and built a
legacy of young people who were trained to “Dance to Express - Not to Impress.”
It was at her
studio where Lance Shermoen became involved in a routine that would span 16
years. “Band Stand Boogie” was performed at each of Lynn’s shows and
Lance would dance with a different set of girls each year. I was thrilled
to be able to MC one of her earliest shows at the "Band Stand." Lynn wanted all of her girls to
experience the thrill of various lifts and drops that were sprinkled throughout the
jitterbug routine. Lance loved working with Lynn and her kids and never missed
a show in all those 16 years.
Lynn made dance history,
not only with her kids, but with her unique talent for teaching HUSTLE. She was quite the performer herself
in all areas of the dance. Doing "Classic" West Coast Swing, Lynn placed 2nd at the US OPEN with Larry
Kern in 1984 and 1987, and with Lance Shermoen in 1991. Far beyond performances,
will always be remembered for her love of color - music - fine cuisine - and
laughter. She will be missed by every single member of our close-knit “Dancing Family.”
Lynn not only
attended our last GSDTA Reunion in July, 2005 - but she also did all the
balloons and decorating to make it an even more memorable occasion. Lynn always
one of my favorite “kids.”
God Bless and
in Your care."
Skippy@skippyblair.com and we will keep you informed. Lance Shermoen
has posted a SPECIAL TRIBUTE to Lynn
- on Lynn's own website: www.LynnVogen.com
PICTURES below are from the GSDTA Archives.
These historical shots were from the "Mechanical Dolls"
routine performed by Lynn with Buddy Schwimmer, and assisted by Tony Peeden.
(Tony, also in his 50s, left us for Higher Ground just a few short years ago.)
The picture on the left is another
"historical" picture with Marilyn Curtiss and Lynn. They were both part of
the "Steam Heat" Routine that was performed with our GSDTA group over a 5 year
See additional pictures, gathered through
the years, on Lynn's own website:
www.LynnVogen.com (on or after the 10th of Sept. '06)
The outpouring of people who are shocked,
saddened and want to be in contact - is unreal. Lynn made a tremendous
impact on a lot of people. God is truly gaining a helper upstairs.
The TRIBUTE was
on Sunday, Sept. 17th 1pm to 4pm - at TOP CATS
in Placentia - 733 Dunn Way, Placentia, CA 92870. Memorial Service was