Since 1998, Mikey Pedroza has been dedicated to the understanding and preservation of classical American Jazz dances such as, Charleston, Lindy Hop, Balboa, Slow Drag (Blues) and Solo Jazz. Hailing from Orange County, California, he passionately developed his own perfect blend of powerful movement and classic grace with a hard edged and playful style which is evident each time he steps onto the floor. Such dedication and originality has earned him numerous awards at national dance competitions as well as opened avenues for teaching and performing.
The same passion and energy Mikey exudes on the floor, he brings to students around the world. And as an instructor, he encourages his students to be self-expressive and creative while establishing a strong understanding of connection, lead/follow technique, frame, body awareness and mechanics. By building a good technical base, students are then free to develop their own personalized style with confidence. Mikey hopes that by sharing his love and knowledge of these dances with others, that they too will find joy in this classical American art form.
I am a first-generation American born to Colombian immigrants in Orange County, California. My parents certainly had their hands full with a rambunctious child like me; they called me “Monkey” because I had a seemingly never ending supply of energy as I ran about the house like a mad man. Thankfully though, I was surrounded by a large family steeped in Latin American culture where food, laughter, music and dancing accompanied every gathering and provided me with an outlet to radiate my energy.
When I was 12, my older brother began going out to Memories, a swing dance club in Anaheim, California. He enrolled in weekly lessons and would return that night to excitedly share with me what he had been learning – I didn’t know until later that the odd jumble of kicks and drops he showed me was Charleston. Learning a new skill was exhilarating rather than frightening for me, and a week later, I was also enrolled in dance lessons at a local rec center. At first, I took lessons in swing, salsa and ballroom and competed in local junior ballroom competitions with my partner Cassandra. But when I was called upon to dance the jive, I couldn’t take it anymore and I broke out into sweet sweet Lindy Hop. Ballroom just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.
For the next few years, I resorted to sneaking into swing dance clubs throughout Southern California and performing with a teenage dance troupe – The Jr. Jitterbugs – at Knott’s Berry Farm, Big Bear Lake, Disneyland and the National Jitterbug Championships. Then, in 2004, I finally had an opportunity to attend the biggest and most renowned swing dance event in the world – Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden. For two weeks I immersed myself in a 24/7 celebration of all things jazz with Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa and Solo Jazz classes, music, performances, laughter, excitement and of course – social dancing. In this Mecca to dancers from around the world, I discovered that Jazz or Swing dancing was not just something one does as a hobby or to pass the time, but rather, it is a culture that informs who we are as people. From that point on, I was determined to learn, understand and share as much as I could about thus uniquely American art form.
In 2005, I met Nikki Marvin when we were paired up for a Jack and Jill competition at the Sugar Foot Stomp in Los Angeles. Something special clicked between our similar heights, shared styles and infectious passion for swing dancing. And although we had never danced together, we won that contest! Since we were both from Orange County, we decided to practice together and social dance (a lot) to prepare for more competitions, performances, and possibly teach classes in the future. These past five years, Nikki and I have travelled the world teaching and performing to spread our love of American jazz dances and we continue to dance by the creed, “Social dance like you are performing!” That’s just what you’ll see every time we hit the floor.
After more than fifteen years, I am even more dedicated and enthusiastic about dancing than I was as an adolescent. I continue to learn, set goals and push myself to improve as I pass along my joy and knowledge to others. When I am not out social dancing, you might find me competing or teaching at both local and international workshops, performing with Nikki, on my own or with any number of dance troupes such as the Atomic Cherry Bombs and Hot Club Stomp.
Mikey Pedroza is a powerhouse of a dancer in the world of swing, having competed, performed and taught American Jazz dances (Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Slow Drag, Blues, and Authentic Jazz) throughout the United States and the world. Earning international acclaim for his impeccable style and technical precision. His classes focus on developing individual style and a confident connection through proper lead/follow techniques, rhythm, and body awareness. His vigor for the dance can only be overshadowed by the joy and self-confidence Mikey inspires in his students.