The Naked Truth: Real Talk about West Coast Swing-logo

The Naked Truth: Real Talk about West Coast Swing

Arts & Culture Podcasts

A weekly podcast where host Eric Jacobson discusses West Coast Swing, our dance community, and the impact they both have on all of us personally.


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A weekly podcast where host Eric Jacobson discusses West Coast Swing, our dance community, and the impact they both have on all of us personally.




COVID-19: Event Directors Respond

The current public health crisis has caused the cancellation of weekend dance events, but it is also causing changes to the way event directors plan for and design their events. To better understand the thinking and decision-making of event directors, Eric sat down with three of them. First, Eric chatted with Lauren Wood, Event Director of All Star SwingJam, which was one of the first events to cancel in March. They talked about Lauren's decision to cancel and her thoughts about changes for the future. Next, Eric spoke with Dirk Haage, Event Director for the Bavarian Open, Berlin Swing Revolution, and Municorn Swing, about how he's planning for his events in the future. And finally, Eric sat down with Andy Bouman, co-Event Director for Boogie by the Bay, which attracts dancers from around the world. They discussed Andy's current thoughts about this year's event and his considerations for the event in the future. Take a look inside the planning and the considerations that event directors are undertaking in this time of crisis. footnotesAll Star Swing JamThe Bavarian OpenBerlin Swing RevolutionMunicorn SwingBoogie by the Bay


COVID-19: More Professionals Respond

At a time when dance professionals are unable to do in person what they do best - dance, perform, and teach others - our champions have been forced to think about how to sustain their livelihoods. Eric spoke with two professionals who are using Patreon to share their art and their wisdom and stay connected to our community. First, Eric spoke with Alyssa Glanville, who shared her emotional response to the outbreak as well as her approach to providing her followers with an inside look at her process. She also discussed how she's spending her time and how she's pursuing another line of work to survive this pandemic. Then he spoke with Christopher Dumond about how the outbreak has impacted his personal life and his academic life, and how Chris is using Patreon to take an inside look at his own dancing and share his love of sound editing. Both of them are taking creative, thoughtful approaches to their involvement in our dance community, so take a listen and learn more! footnotesAlyssa Marie GlanvilleAlyssa's PatreonChristopher DumondChris's Patreon


COVID-19: Emotional Well-Being with Dr. Divy Ravindranath

The current public health crisis has left many of us with a whole mix of emotions, sometimes all in one day. We are experiencing a global shift in our day-to-day lives, our understanding of the world, and our thoughts about the future - not to mention the uncertainty of both what is happening now and what is yet to come. To help us grapple with our thoughts and feelings during this stressful time, Eric invited Dr. Divy Ravindranath back to the show. They talked about Divy's experience during this time, and how people are responding to the pandemic. Divy described this event as one of many different stresses but also of loss, and he explained how people may be going through the various stages of grief. He mentioned how this is an unprecedented time with a great deal of uncertainty, and he shared some strategies for dealing with the anxiety that comes with that. And they discussed how people can take care of themselves, what society can do to support people who are having a difficult time, and how dancers can manage their relationship with dance during this time. To leave you on a positive note, they end with a reflection of some of the good that is happening now and some optimism for the future. footnotesThat Discomfort You're Feeling Is Grief (Harvard Business Review)On Grief & Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss ( Transitions: Making the Most of Change ( Making Sense of Life's Changes (


COVID-19: Update from Dr. John Blaska

When the outbreak first took off in the United States, Eric sat down with Dr. John Blaska to discuss what we knew then about the virus and its spread. Several weeks later, Eric and Dr. Blaska chat again about the public health crisis and what we have learned since then. In this discussion, Eric asks John about his own experience during the crisis, and what he is seeing in the populations he treats through his clinic. They also talk about the issue of testing - the extent of testing, the importance of testing, and the need for more. They chatted about the different information coming out of the news, where more information is needed, and how people can be smart consumers of the news. And they explored what it will take - and how long it might take - for dancing to resume. Finally, John offered some hope and an opportunity for all of you listeners. So listen to this interview and stay informed and safe.


COVID-19: Personal and Community Impacts

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread around the world, we are getting more information and perspective about the severity of the problem and what it will take to resolve it. In this episode, Eric shares his own experience - his situation, his feelings about the outbreak, his relationship with dance - and he shares his own reflections on how this may affect our dance community. He talks about a timeline for a return to social dancing and to weekend events (warning: it isn't optimistic), and he discusses the changes he hopes we will see in our community moving forward. Then he sits down with friend of the show Tom Paderna to hear his feelings and experience, and his thoughts on how this will affect local and regional dancing in the short- and long-term. He discusses the risks and personal considerations of social dancing, and reflects on how our community has dealt with situations like 9/11 and the economic recession of 2008. Tom brings his perspective as a dancer and as a psychologist, looking at how this situation will affect us all as fellow human beings and as a community. And he leaves us all with a message of hope while we continue to live through this public health crisis. footnotesThe 4 plans to end social distancing, explained (Vox)


COVID-19: Professionals Respond

The current public health crisis has transformed our way of life, from our daily lives and work to our dancing and dance community. In this first special episode on the outbreak and how it is transforming our community, Eric speaks with some dance professionals about how they are feeling, how they are adapting to the current circumstances, and what they think the future might hold for our dance world. First, he spoke with Chantelle Pianetta about her reaction when things started shutting down in the San Francisco Bay Area, and how she started online beginner ballet classes. Next, he spoke with Cameo Cross McHenry and Tashina Beckmann King about they put together Global Westie Connection, a weekend of online workshops with the best of the best. And finally, Eric sat down with Courtney Adair and Sean McKeever to discuss how they are reacting to the outbreak and leveraging online media platforms to stay connected with their students around the globe. Hear more about the experiences of these champions - and be sure to check out the footnotes to take advantage of the great learning opportunities they are offering! footnotesSubmit your own story for an upcoming episodeChantelle Pianetta on WestieProGlobal Westie Connection - A Virtual SummitMovement+Lab on InstagramMovement+Lab on PatreonOnline West Coast Swing OpportunitiesVirtual Westie


Catriona Wiles

We all go through ups and downs in our dance journeys, but sometimes the right thing for someone to do is to step away from the dance. At the start of this year, Catriona Wiles - champion dancer, teacher, event director, and emcee - decided to end her career in West Coast Swing. To better understand her decision, and the arc of her journey, Eric sat down with her for an honest, heartfelt, and forthcoming discussion. She talked about her start in West Coast Swing, how the dance started in the United Kingdom, and how she became a community leader in England. She shared the story of how she and Paul Warden started their partnership, how they choreographed routines, and why their partnership ended. She also shared her thoughts on the scene in Europe and what she hopes for the community. Finally, she explained why she's decided to retire from West Coast Swing, how she's feeling now that she's made the announcement, and what she hopes to do with her free time. It's a very authentic, revealing conversation that highlights some of the challenges of being immersed in our community. footnotesWest Coast Swing UKCatriona's announcement on FacebookPaul Warden & Catriona Wiles - US Open Classic Division 2008


Special Report: Coronavirus

With a new disease, COVID-19, spreading rapidly around the globe, social and physically interactive activities like partner dancing become higher risk for transmission of the illness. More people are being infected, and more are likely to get sick in the months ahead, so it is important that we as dancers do our best to minimize our risk of exposure - and to minimize the risk of transmission to others. To better understand the virus and what we can do to protect ourselves, Eric sat down with Dr. John Blaska, a heath care professional based in Minneapolis. John explained the science of the disease, how it spreads, and how to protect ourselves from it. Since John is also a dancer, he was able to talk about how dancers and event directors can respond to the situation and minimize the risks of exposure and transmission. Then Eric chatted with Brandi Guild, who shared her own concerns about attending a major dance event before going on a family vacation, working as a dance instructor, and potentially exposing those who may be more vulnerable in our community. Her perspective provides some considerations for casual dancers and professionals alike, so we can make better decisions for ourselves and those around us. Hopefully this episode provides some good information and perspectives so we can all protect ourselves and our community from a rapidly spreading illness. footnotesWorld Health Organization (WHO) Advice for the PublicWorld Health Organization (WHO) Q&A on CoronavirusCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Coronavirus Disease 2019Dr. John Blaska's Hygiene Tips for DancersCDC Interim Guidance for Large Community Events Coronavirus 2019 Outbreak Map from Johns Hopkins UniversityLast Week Tonight with John Oliver: Coronavirus (YouTube)


Kelly Casanova (Part 2)

In the second part of this conversation with Kelly, the conversation first shifts to a discussion of degendering competitions. Eric and Kelly share their own experiences competing in Novice in their non-traditional roles, and their views on the limitations in the current WSDC rules. Eric then asked Kelly about judging swing content at the Open this year, and she shared how she came up with the swing content app and worked to prepare for the Open. She also talked about the dancing at the Open, why she's hopeful for the future, and how people can and should get involved in providing feedback. Throughout it all, Kelly is thoughtful, kind, and balanced. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, this conversation provides some good perspective and insights. footnotesKelly CasanovaUS Open Swing Content Judges Process & Procedures (PDF)US Open Swing Content Definitions (PDF)Perspectives on degendering competitions: Kelly Casanova (blog)Perspectives on degendering competitions: Editorial (blog)


Kelly Casanova (Part 1)

We are so fortunate to have people in our dance community who have not only have accomplished so much but continue to give of themselves to better our dance and our community. Kelly Casanova is one of those generous souls, and Eric was fortunate enough to sit down to learn from her years of experience as a competitor, teacher, and judge. In the first part of this conversation, Eric asked her about her beginnings in the swing world and what the scene was like at that time. They chatted about the Bay Area community and how it changed over time. Kelly also shared her experiences winning the Classic division and Jack & Jill division at the Open, and she revealed why she stopped competing. Then they discussed the event she created, Swing Break, and why it didn't last long, which led to a deeper discussion of what this dance is really about. Kelly is knowledgeable, insightful, and very authentic, and she offers a lot of wisdom and food for thought. footnotesKelly Casanova


Learning and Teaching with Kris Swearingen

Everyone of us who dances West Coast Swing had to learn how to do this dance at some point. To get good at the dance, we need to continue to learn and develop new skills. And along the way, we need teachers who impart knowledge and nurture our abilities. Learning and teaching are such an essential part of what we do as dancers, and they can shape both our understanding of the dance and how we do it. To learn more about learning, Eric sat down with Kris Swearingen, Champion-level dancer and middle school English teacher, to talk about how people learn and how to teach. They chatted about Kris's background and experience as an educator. They discussed a framework for understanding how people learn as well as how people differ in their learning abilities. Kris shared how he develops his students in the classroom and how he applies similar techniques to teaching dance. Eric asked Kris what he would like to see from teachers in our West Coast Swing community, and they ended with a conversation about how people can be better students of the dance. Whether you're a student of the dance, a teacher, or just curious about how humans work, this conversation will enlighten and give you a new perspective. footnotesBloom's Taxonomy - Vanderbilt University Center for TeachingMindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck ("Mind Over Matter: Attitude and Mindset" on (blog)A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley ( Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey ( How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (


Annie Hirsch

On February 7, 2015, The Next Generation Swing Dance Club hosted a fireside chat with the First Lady of Swing, Annie Hirsch. Taking place at Allegro Ballroom in Emeryville, California, the one-hour conversation was moderated by our friend, Tom Paderna, and featured special guest Kelly Casanova. Five years later, Eric is thrilled to share this rare interview with Annie, where she discussed her own experiences in swing. She talked about learning from her brother, her time as a contestant liaison, and why she created the points system. She shared stories about her partner Jack Carey, how they met, and some of their experiences dancing together. And she talked about what, in her view, makes swing dancing swing. Annie shared her experience with humor, wisdom, and lots of heart. So take a listen and learn more about the dance and this legend of swing! footnotesThe Next Generation Swing Dance ClubInside the WCS Studio: A Day with AnniePhotos from the event


Larisa Tingle

Champion dancer, DJ, dance studio owner, architect, musician, vocalist, and all-around awesome person - there are lots of ways to describe Larisa Tingle. So it's no wonder that Eric was thrilled to finally sit down with her to talk about a whole bunch of topics. They talked about her start in West Coast Swing, her background in music, and her experience preparing to compete at the Open. Larisa told her story of moving up through the ranks to become a Champion-level dancer, and what she believes it takes to earn your spot at the top. She also shared her thoughts on the new WSDC pathway from All Star to Champion, and why she thinks it may not be a good idea. They also discussed her start as a DJ, and how she approaches DJing for both social dancing and competition. Larisa was open, thoughtful, and humble and shared lots of her own reflections and insights. Take a listen and learn from one of the best! footnotesTony Schubert & Larisa Tingle - Classic Division, US Open 2019


Aging and Ageism

As our community has grown in recent years, it has attracted many younger dancers - a demographic shift that has altered the dynamic of our scene. The previous generation of dancers is getting older in an increasingly younger scene, and in addition to facing changes in their own bodies, they often find themselves facing changes in their relationship with the dance. To better understand what it's like to age and mature in our dance community, Eric sat down with two good friends - Tom Paderna (a previous guest of the show) and Gail Jacobson (not related to Eric) - to chat about their stories and experiences. They shared some of their physical limitations and how those affect their social dancing and competitive experiences. They talked about how the community has changed over the years and how their own roles have changed as a result. They chatted about ageism in both social dancing and competition, and they discussed the Masters division and some proposed changes to that division. And finally they shared some thoughts on how we all can create a community that is more welcoming and inclusive of older dancers. Take a listen and broaden your own understanding of what your fellow dancers are experiencing. footnotesMastery of SwingImplicit Assessment Test


Torri & Maxime Zzaoui

In the last couple of years, there has been a renewed interest in dancing to classic swing music, in large part due to two dancers whose improvisational demos have gone viral on social media. Torri and Maxime Zzaoui embody grace, elegance, and the beauty of swing, and their videos capture their musicality, their playfulness, and their love of the dance. Eric sat down with these two talented, kind, funny, and down-to-earth champions to discuss their backgrounds, their success, and their personal stories. Torri shared her experiences working with Brennar and Benji, and winning Classic and Showcase at the Open in the same year. Maxime talked about his training, why France has some incredible dancing, and his own teaching philosophy. They shared the story behind the now-famous dance at WOTP (where they danced to "Nice 'N' Easy" by Frank Sinatra) and what they think about how popular it was. They also spoke candidly about how they develop themselves, the brand they've created, and how their brand sets others' expectations. And of course, they told the story of how they met, became a couple, and formed their partnership. Listen to this heartwarming conversation with two of the most beloved, charming, and amazing dancers and people. footnotesMaxime and TorriTorri Smith & Brennar Goree - Classic Division, US Open 2010Torri Smith & Benji Schwimmer - Showcase Division, US Open 2010Maxime Zzaoui & Virginie Perga - Classic Division, US Open 2012Maxime & Torri Zzaoui - WOTP 2018Maxime & Torri Zzaoui - Norway Westie Fest 2017Maxime & Torri Zzaoui - Budafest 2019Maxime & Torri Zzaoui - Budafest 2020


Personal Development with Courtney Adair

The new year is a time for reflection, taking stock, and thinking about what's ahead. So for this first episode of the year, Eric sat down with Courtney Adair to talk about her own challenges, growth, and self-development. It was a very personal and honest discussion, and she was very open and real. She talked about her first experience with meditation, why it impacted her so greatly, and how in some ways it led her to dance. She discussed her appreciation of yoga, her journey to get certified as a yoga instructor, and how yoga influenced her as a dancer and teacher. Courtney shared some of her personal struggles, how she learned to embrace some aspects of herself, and how she supports others on their personal journeys, particularly women in our community. Full of wisdom and insights, this is a great conversation to get you thinking about your own personal development in the year ahead. footnotesCourtney Adair and Sean McKeeverThe War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven PressfieldChoreo CampWestie Goddess Retreat


The Open 2019

We're back! Sort of. I was planning on relaunching the show in January but how could we not do an episode about the most prestigious event in our dance world? The Open is the most prominent stage for our dance - a showcase of some of our greatest talent and a look at the state of our dance today. So I sat down with a friend of the show, Christopher Dumond, to chat about the Open, what happened there, and what it all means for our dance. We talked about his own experience competing there, the other routines in Classic and Showcase, the judging and results, and yes, we chatted about swing content. We also discussed some of the other aspects of the Open, from the opening ceremonies ("God Bless the USA"?) to the presentations (congrats, Jordan and Tatiana!) to the post-division interviews (oy vey...). So settle in and enjoy this special, super-sized episode about one special, super-sized event.



Many of us at one time or another have known the feeling of being "on the outside." Whether it's in our local community or at weekend conventions, it can be hard to find a group of friends to hang out with - and it can be even harder when there are others who seem to have it all. In this episode, we chat about our own experiences being outsiders. We start with a discussion of the "cool kids," our own feelings about not being one of the "cool kids," and what it's like to be "drifters" instead. We chat about our social anxieties, how our upbringing has shaped who we are, and how social media influences our experiences in the dance world. We also look at how being on top isn't all it's cracked up to be and how being on top isn't the be-all end-all of social dancing. This conversation is for anyone who's ever felt alone, out-of-place, or like an outsider in our dance community (...and also those who haven't). footnotesLast Child in the Woods - Richard LouvThe Mind-Gut Connection - Emeran Mayer


The Naked Wine Coast Truth: Live from Boogie by the Bay 2019

We love a good conversation with friends. So for our latest live show at Boogie by the Bay, we teamed up with the hosts of "Wine Coast Swing," Brandi Guild and Robert Royston, to chat, laugh, and drink wine! In this episode, we talk about Boogie by the Bay and what makes it special. We talk about the challenges of dealing with rejection and defeat. We discuss how Robert, Brandi, and Deborah have stayed relevant for so long. And we invited Dr. Martha Stark to come chat for a bit about her work on neuroplasticity and intentionality. This one is full of personal stories, vulnerability, and lots of camaraderie. footnotes Wine Coast Swing Those Who Can Do, Can't Teach by Adam Grant


Live from Bridgetown Swing 2019

We always have a great time when we get together with our audience, and our latest live show was no exception. We sat down with the fun and funny Christopher Dumond to chat about his background in dance, his rise to the champion level, and his own ups and downs in the dance world. He shared his experience with - and his passion for - music and audio production and how it has influenced his dancing. And he shared his views of the changes the US Open is making to judging this year, as well as his thoughts on routines in general. Then, we invited an audience member to play a game where we learned even more about Chris. Listen and enjoy! footnotes Christopher Dumond