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Rusty Frank: Tap Dancer, Lindy Hopper, Producer, Writer, and Dance Preservationist

"She's simply five degrees above spectacular"
Page Cavanaugh
Jazz Legend, 1922-2008

"[Rusty] is the world's go to person for the vintage dance scene - very knowledgable, and so adorable and approachable at the same time - she is my hero!"
Jane Guy
Owner, Glamour Puss Tap Academy, Melbourne Australia

Rusty Frank is a Tap Dancer and Lindy Hopper, producer, choreographer, writer, and dance preservationist. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book TAP! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories 1900-1955, the producer and choreographer of the stage revues "Swingin' The Century - The Big Band Show" and "Jazz Tap." Rusty is the producer of the one-hour television special in production, "TAP! Tempo of America" (recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant).

Since 1998, Rusty's "Lindy By The Sea" dance school (El Segundo, California) has been offering group and private classes in Swing Dance, Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and Charleston, and Rusty's "Rhythm Club" weekly swing dance in Playa Del Rey, California, is one of the few clubs in the nation featuring an evening of dancing to live bands.

HONORS

As a result of her on-going dance preservation work, Rusty Frank is the recipient of "The Tap Dance Preservation Award" from New York's American Tap Dance Foundation (2008), The Historic Preservation Award from The Art Deco Society of California (2002), The Soul of Shipley Award (1992), and Tradition In Tap's award for Outstanding Achievements and Significant Contribution to the Art and Tradition of Tap Dance (2007), Soul of Shipley Award from the National Association of Dance & Affiliated Artists (1992), and "Dance In Action" award for Contribution in Dance (1991).

In 2008, Rusty received the highest honor possible in the Swing Dance world when she was inducted into "The California Swing Dance Hall of Fame," where her name now resides among such luminaries as Jean Veloz, Hal Takier, Irene Thomas, and Ray Hirsch. (Rusty pictured with Jean Veloz holding their Hall of Fame pendants.)

Rusty has been a professional dancer since her college days, and has performed throughout the world and locally at such locales as Broadway's 42nd Street, The Hollywood Bowl, Disneyland, and the Derby.

DANCE PRESERVATIONIST

Rusty is part of the Smithsonian Institute's Jazz Oral History project, a contributing author in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Dance, the Danish National Encyclopedia, Jazz: The First Century, Discover Jazz, and The American National Biography.   Rusty has appeared in many dance documentaries, including the BBC's "Fascinating Rhythms - The Story of Tap," Warner Home Video's "Astaire-Rogers" Box Set documentary, and Bravo's "This Joint Is Jumpin'."

TAP DANCER

Rusty began her dancing career at the tender age of six, when she saw her first Shirley Temple movie ("I wanna do that!"). She started with tap dancing, studying with many of the great tap masters, including her mentor, Louis DaPron, as well as Fayard Nicholas, Brenda Bufalino, Steve Condos, Gene Nelson, Miriam Nelson, LaVaughn Robinson, Bob Scheerer, Lou Wills, Jr., Leonard Reed, Dorothy Toy, Katherine Hopkins Nicholas, and Jon Zerby. 

She has tap danced professionally over the years with The San Francisco Tap Troupe, Six Feet (Wayne Doba, Rodney Price), Pedal Extremities (Walter Freeman, Mark Mendonca, Michael Rainey), Tapology (Patti Meagher), The Rhythm Rascals (Walter Freeman), Mulligan and Whitmore "Tops in Taps" (Chester Whitmore), and The Rhythm Pals (Alfred Desio). In 1989, 1990, and 1991, Rusty produced, directed, and appeared in the sellout all-star tap revue "Jazz Tap"! featuring the Nicholas Brothers, Savion Glover, Jeni LeGon, Arthur Duncan, and Brenda Bufalino. 

Rusty had featured roles in many musical theatre productions, including "42nd Street," "Babes In Arms," "Dames at Sea," and "Stepping Out."

LINDY HOPPER

In 1996, Rusty added another great American dance to her repertoire -- Lindy Hop, also known as Jitterbug or Swing Dance when she saw The Jiving Lindy Hoppers ("I wanna do that!"). She moved to the United Kingdom for two years and partnered with world-renowned English Lindy Hopper Simon Selmon, together making numerous television, movie, radio, festival, and special event appearances. The highlight for the team included a fifty-one city European tour as the specialty dance act for the big band stage show "In The Mood - A Tribute to Glenn Miller."

Rusty returned to the United States in 1998, making her home in Southern California. She teamed up with Peter Flahiff, in the act "SWING SHIFT" from 1998-2002. They taught extensively throughout Southern California, including every Wednesday at The Rhythm Club (since 2001), and were guest teachers at The Satin Ballroom, and the world- famous Derby, in Hollywood, California. Rusty & Peter performed on national television, in films, at corporate themed events and private functions, at Disneyland, and Knotts Berry Farm.

In 2000, Rusty, together with composer, arranger, band leader Bill Elliott, produced the stage musical revue "Swingin' The Century - The Big Band Show" featuring the Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra and Rusty's performance team "The Jitterbugs".  The sell-out show was restaged in 2001. (For show info http://www.swingshow.com). 

In 2003, Rusty welcomed her new "Rhythm Pals", Ron Campbell and Giovanni Quintero, to the Lindy By The Sea teaching team. In 2014, Rusty welcomed Ted Stanley onboard.

In the world of Lindy Hop, Rusty counts amongst her teachers and inspirations:  Jean Veloz, Ray Phelps, Irene Thomas, Jewell McGowen, Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Louise Thwaite, The Rhythm Hot Shots, Betty Wood, and Barbara Rice and Sam Militello.

In 2003, Rusty teamed up with tap dancer Gregory Gast, and together they have performed at the Derby, the Los Angeles Jazz Sweet and Hot Festival, and at Rusty's own Rhythm Club. They have perfomed with the legendary swing artists Banu Gibson (New Orleans) and The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra.

Rusty is a highly sought after teacher of Tap, Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and Charleston at international dance camps, including the Herrang Dance Camp, Sweden; Boogie Baren's, Germany; Perth Hullabaloo, Australia, Dance Explosion, Norway; Russia's first Lindy Hop Festival, London Lindy Hop Festival, England; Mainz Dance Camp, Germany; International Tap Dance Camp, Finland; Tappin', in Scotland & SEAJam in Thailand, and special workshops in China, Norway, and Belgium; and nationally at Swing Camp Catalina, California; Harvest Moon Swing Out, California; Flying Home; Washington, DC; Detroit Tap Festival; the St. Louis Tap Festival; Tap City and Tradition In Tap, New York; The Groovie Movie Weekend, Washington D.C.: Swing Dance U.S. A., Florida, and The Roaring Twenties Street Jam, California; Tap for Joy, Washinton; Tap In, Berkeley, California..

Rusty has worked with many of the new swing bands, including Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra, The Jive Aces, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, The Esquires Orchestra, The Jonathan Stout Orchestra, Mora's Modern Rhythmists, The Campus Five, The Johnny Crawford Orchestra, Jumpin' Joz, to name a few.

Rusty has produced three major events in Los Angeles: Her "Decade of Dance" (celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her Lindy by the Sea school and Rusty's Rhythm Club dances), A Night at the Hollywood Canteen, and, along with Hilary Alexander, "A Tribute to the Groovie Movie."

One of Rusty's dreams came true, when she joined the legion of tap dancers to record. Rusty's taps and background singing can be found on the Jive Aces' "Singin' In The Rain."

Though not a dance competitor by nature, Rusty is quite proud of winning First Place in the "Intergenerational" competion at National Jitterbug Competition 2007. She and her partner were the youngest team to win in the 10-year history of the competition.

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Her choreography credits include productions on stage, film, and niteclubs. She choreographed swing dance sequences for the Fox television show "Quintuplets"'s episode "Swing Swing Swing."

Her associated choreographies to "Jeep Jockey Jump" and "Shout and Feel It"* have entered into the staples of swing dancer routines throughout the world along with the historic Shim Sham, Lindy Chorus, and California Routine.

Rusty is on the Board of Directors for The Profesional Dance Society (PDS) and a retired Board member of the Academy of Dance on Film.

Rusty owns and operates On Tap! through which she promotes dance productions, offers special dance workshops, presents historical programs, and markets dance supplies.  Rusty is the creator and producer of the "Tapping With The Masters" instructional tap dance DVD series, which includes "Leonard Reed's Shim Sham Shimmy" and "Eddie Brown's B.S. Chorus." She is also the producer of a line of instructional swing dance Lindy Hop DVDs, including "Lindy Hop Levels 1, 2, & 3", "The Track Series" (with Ron Campbell), and "Legends of Swing Jean Veloz & Ray Phelps." You may find information on her products at ON TAP.

"Steppin' Out -- Dancers Breaking Down The Color Line" is an educational program Rusty created in 2007. This dynamic program brings to life the important force for change that dancers from the 1910's-1940's brought about in breaking down the color barrier in the United States. The program features exciting historic dance clips, live dance performances of Tap Dance & Lindy Hop, and student participation. If you know of a school that might be interested in booking this program, or would like to learn more about it yoursef, click HERE.

In 2014, Rusty appeared as Rosie The Riveter in the Opening Ceremonies of the Rose Parade, watched by 400,000,000 people around the world. Who knew that was on her Bucket List; apparently so!

And, yes, Rusty has a lot of dance shoes!


 

Rusty Frank may be reached by phone at 310.606.5606,
or email: info@rustyfrank.com

 





* "Jeep Jockey Jump" was choreographed in 1998 by Rusty Frank, Sylvia Skylar, Erik Robison, and Peter Flahiff, and "Shout and Feel It" was choreographed in 1998 by Rusty Frank & Sylvia Skylar.

 

INTERVIEWS AND ARTICLES

In September 2014, Rusty is interviewed by SwingNation. The 1/2 hour show covers a gamut of topics in the swing dance world, past and present, local and international, and includes an interview. click HERE.

In February 2008, Rusty receives "DWDr Local Dance Hero Award." To read this delightful decree, click HERE.

In September 2004, Rusty was interviewed by Rahne Pistor for The Argonaut. Take a look HERE

In July 2004, Rusty was interviewed by Jeff Nichols of laswinginfo.com Take a look HERE

In April 2004, Rusty was interviewed by Australian's Perth Western Suburbs Newspaper. Take a look HERE

In April 2004, Rusty was interviewed on Australia's ABC radio. Take a look and a listen HERE

In December 2002, Rusty was voted L.A. "Lindy Hopper of the Month." If you would like to read the interview conducted by Sonia Alvarado for her website ( http://www.dancingla.homestead.com/) click HERE

In November 2000, Rusty was interviewed in Dance Magazine by Janine Gastineau, for an article entitled: "Swing's Social Spirit Woos Former Hoofer.(Rusty Frank now teaching swing dance)". To read this article, click HERE

In June 2011, Rusty appeared in an article on men's fashion in the Huffington Post. Take a look HERE

 

A SHORT CLIP ABOUT RUSTY