Smooth Dance Connection

West Coast Swing

Dance Instruction

James D Baker

Aurora, Colorado, USA

Laura Koch

Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Laura and Jim are West Coast Swing dancers. They currently teach dance classes in Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado, and private lessons by appointment. In addition to teaching, they are both avid social dancers and competitors. Collectively, they have won many awards both locally and on the national West Coast Swing circuit. They have competed in the unchoreographed Strictly Swing and Jack and Jill divisions. They have also created and danced choreographed routines in the Rising Star, Classic, and Sophisticated divisions. 
Jim's Bio ...
Jim received his first exposure to West Coast Swing (WCS) in 1997 while taking classes at a ballroom studio in the Cherry Creek area of Denver. This exposure excited an interest that took Jim to swing nights at the old Ollie's Roundup nightclub on Thursday nights. At that time this was where the Rocky Mountain Swing Dance Club held their dances. Jim eventually joined the club and began studying WCS.

Jim had studied music (trumpet) in junior high and high school. This new focus on dance seems to have awakened that artist interest, and in 2003 Jim left his software engineering position at Lockheed Martin Corp. to, among other things, pursue his interet in dance. Jim has studied, and continues to study under some of the best West Coast Swing dancers in the country. 

Having started dancing as an adult, Jim has endured the struggle of learning dance well past the years when we learn new material quickly. This experience may give Jim a different perspective on the learning process. Concerning learning to dance, Jim remembers the advice of Skippy Blair of the Golden State Dance Teachers Asssociation (GSDTA), "Find the muscles that make it work." Together with his own learning experience, this quote inspired Jim's definition of dance; mind over muscle in metered time. Operating under this paradigm, learning to dance challenges both mind and body to change in a physical, creative, and visually pleasing way.

Since leaving LMC, Jim has gained experience teaching WCS in both the private and class format with his dance partner, Laura Koch. He has a smooth WCS dance style that engages rolling count, body flight, muscle isolation, and fun musical interpretation. He contimues to study, and is passionate about teaching. He pushes himself and encourages his students to gain control of their muscles, make it smooth, and have fun.
Laura's Bio ...
Laura Koch has taught West Coast Swing in Fort Collins and Denver to groups and individuals since 2005. Laura has earned over 50 awards in West Coast Swing on both the national and the local levels. West Coast Swing dancing has taken Laura to many national events, trainings, movie filmings, and social dances across the country. She is seen as a dancer in the 2009 movie, Love'n'Dancing. Laura was honored to perform a West Coast Swing routine at the 2010 US Open of Swing with Manny Viarrial, Dee Becker and Jim Baker. She has studied under many champions and has taken much training with Skippy Blair, the godmother of West Coast Swing who gave West Coast Swing its name in the 1950s. In 2008, Laura passed the Golden State Dance Teacher Association (GSDTA)'s Teacher's Exam. Laura enjoys teaching people the technique and the fun of West Coast Swing. She brings playfullness and understanding to her students.

Laura Koch grew up dancing ballet, also dabbling in tap dancing and theatre. She performed in the New Orleans production of the Nutcracker. In high school, she danced international folk dancing, performing with the Storm Mountain Troopers. She also danced on stage as part of the chorus of the musical Cinderella. After high school, Laura enjoyed Contra Dancing at Club Tico in Fort Collins with the Friends of Traditional Dance. She also danced waltz, polka and swing with leaders from this community.

In 1997 on the rebound from a broken heart, Laura went to the Sundance where she was first introduced to West Coast Swing. She promptly began to study under Melissa Seib of Dance Colorado. Here, she learned Cha-Cha, NiteClub 2-Step, Country 2-Step, and West Coast Swing. Due to her preference for hip-hop/pop music and due to being openly encouraged in West Coast Swing to dance creatively in a way that matched the sounds in the music, Laura gradually went West Coast Swing crazy. While West Coast Swing consumes the vast majority of her dance time, Laura still occasionally takes Zumba, Body Jam and ballet classes which she finds helpful for her West Coast Swing dancing.

For some psychic, unexplainable reason, Laura was eyeing Jim as her potential dance partner back in 1999. They became dance partners in 2005.