Lisa "Lee" (Kersten) Webb of Fullerton, along with her dance partner Essex Lina of Riverside, are among five couples from the entire state to be named finalists for the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame!
What began as purely a hobby of social dancing resulted in career changes for both, and now they are being recognized for their impact and contribution to the dance world. Through their lessons, performances, and extensive community service, Essex and Lee have turned an immeasurable number of people on to the art and fun of swing dancing.
Essex and Lee met in the late 1990s and have been dance partners ever since. In 2001 they began teaching at the newly relocated Memories Ballroom in Uptown Whittier, where they faced the challenge of building the local swing scene from the ground up. Today they teach more than 100 students every Monday night (three levels of swing), and on Thursday nights they teach two speciality series and a performance class.
This duo has a uniquely warm, welcoming and patient style of instruction. "The magic combination is Essex's clear and purposeful teaching paired with Lee's energetic and supportive spirit: together they create a learning atmosphere where you grow, where you feel that you belong, and most of all, where you have fun," said student Lupine Reppert.
Many lives have been changed and many lifelong relationships have begun in the classes. More than a dozen couples (that they know of) have gotten married after meeting in their classes.
In addition to classes, Essex and Lee also lead the Memories Swing Team, perhaps the most active swing dance troupe in the nation. The team has performed consistently for the last 12 years at venues such as Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, county fairs, in musicals, music videos, and on television. This has introduced thousands more to the world of swing and has given hundreds the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform. The team, whose members have ranged in age from 16 to 66, has been invited to perform at the newly expanded Disney California Adventure on August 19.
Essex and Lee have also had a close relationship with their community. They have performed at countless charitable events, donated over $10,000 in dance lessons, participated in local parades, civic celebrations, veterans events and senior homes. They also chair the Los Angeles County Fair Senior Ballroom Competition every year, and for the past 11 years, they have honored the men and women of our armed forces by chairing the annual "Salute to the Troops" event.
Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at an Award Gala in September.
Lee is a native Fullertonian and a graduate of Fullerton High School, Fullerton College and California State University Fullerton (B.A. 1992 and M.P.A. 1995).