Meet Your Team
An internationally acclaimed dance instructor and choreographer, Jo Thompson Szymanski has made quite an impact on dance floors worldwide. Having taught line and couple’s dance for 30 years, Jo holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Dance. She was voted International Line Dance Instructor of the Year for five years in a row at the UK Crystal Boot Line Dance Awards and was honored with being one of the first two people to be inducted into the Line Dance Hall of Fame. Jo, a former Miss Texas and top ten finalist at Miss America, hosted her own instructional television show, Dance Line on The Nashville Network (TNN).
In addition to line dancing, Jo’s teaching and dancing experience spans the fields of Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Country, Swing, Salsa, Ballroom, Square Dancing, Round Dancing, Clogging, and Latin. Demand for Jo’s teaching has taken her to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, The Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and all over the United States and Europe. Jo resides in Colorado with her husband, Tim, and their daughter Anna.
No matter where she teaches, Joanne Brady is remembered for her instruction, her humor and her infectious energy! While passing her class, you’ll probably hear, “Yes, Joanne!” coming from the mouths of eager, enthusiastic students; so, it’s no wonder Joanne has earned herself a star in the dance instructors’ hall of fame! She has been nominated for numerous awards and has had many of her dances published in magazines around the world.
Over the years Joanne has won several awards. She won two (2) prestigious awards at the first Dancer’s Choice Awards in Las Vegas, 2005. Joanne was nominated and won both the Female Instructor of the Year and Female Personality of the Year awards. And again in 2006 she won Female Personality. In November of 2007 she once again won Female Instructor of the Year and Female Personality of the Year. Since this was the third year for winning Female personality, she also was entered into the Hall of Fame Dancer’s Choice Awards. These were humbling experiences for Joanne mostly because all the votes were from the “Dancers”, in Joanne’s opinion the dancers are the glue that holds the dance community together.
Joanne began teaching 30 years ago, after taking private lessons. She recruited dancers for a weekly TV show “The Country Video Dance Show” in Wilmington, DE and the rest is history! She has choreographed countless dances and has traveled, extensively, throughout the world. She says her most interesting places to teach have been France, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and at the Millennium Dome in England for 24,000 people where 5,000 of them were dancers!
Even with all her traveling, Joanne still has time to teach 8 dance classes and 1 Moving to Music Exercise Class a week in Delaware. Five of the line dance classes are geared toward beginners & “Active Adults” in local senior centers. She also works at 2 local assisted livings once a week. Joanne, her husband Bob and a committee of 8 hold a fund raising 2 day workshop in Delaware every March called the Diamond State Line Dance Event.
Joanne is now retired (from the daily work force) but worked for 16 years teaching moderately to severely handicapped students and worked another 18 years as an administrative secretary in school transportation. Joanne says she is an avid reader (mostly in airports) where she spends much of her time, now, traveling to teach and judge. She’s grateful for a wonderful husband (Bob) of 45 years who supports her teaching and traveling! Sometimes he even travels with her.
Don’t miss taking a class from this comedic dynamo! You’ll be glad you did!
Some words about Jill from Dance with a Cure:
Jill Babinec is from Youngstown, Ohio and started country dancing in 1989. Dancing Line and 2 Step in a local country bar. She dabbled in teaching line and partners a bit before having to go off to further her degree in 1993, and in 1997 graduated from Case Western Reserve School of Dentistry with a DDS degree. So with dance shoes on one end and drill and forceps on the other end she is a force to be reckoned with (hehe). Oh yeah, and adding upon that her Martial Arts training in which she has received her black belt.
Jill got familiar with the UCWDC dancing circuit around the year 2000 and in the past several years branched out djing mainly Line. Among those circuit dances and other big events, she has thoroughly enjoyed all the wonderful dancers she has met, taught, and played for along the way.
Her worldwide choreography collaborations include Jo Thompson Szymanski, Joey Warren & Will Craig, Judy McDonald, Joanne Brady, Junior Willis, Scott Schrank The Amatos, Juliet Hauser and Debi Pancoast, Rona Kaye & Rosie Multari. She has also choreographed a few by herself.
She received the DANCER OF THE YEAR award 2009 at the Las Vegas Dance Event in Nov. Favorite DJ at the Windy City Mania in 2015, 2016,and 2017.
"Most of all (I) want to thank all the dancers for their love and friendships, support, and dance requests. For all the laughs on and off the dance floor, you are why I do what I do."
Dance for a Cure is a line workshop and dance benefit for breast cancer research. Organized by Jill Babinec and Julie Ellis, the event continues to draw dancers from all over the United States and Canada. This delightful event has been blessed with friendly dancers, internationally known choreographers, over-the-top entertainment, Julie’s delicious lunch and of course Jill’s personal and professional talents.
Megan Barsuglia is returning to Palm Springs Winter Break - she’s taught for us, assisted at registration, led floor splits, helped with dance demos, was the support DJ in 2020, and our main DJ for 2023.
For 2024, Megan is BACK as your MAIN DJ!
Megan started line dancing in 2014, and she quickly added on choreography and teaching in 2017, followed by competing in UCWDC Novice Solo Line Dance in 2018. Megan has also regularly joined Christopher Gonzalez on Line Dance Podcast, allowing her opportunities to discuss line dance with instructors, choreographers, event directors, and dancers.
Bracken is very honored and thankful that Michael Barr and Michele Burton entrusted her to continue this unique, Southern California dancers' favorite. She is overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone in the dance family that supports and works to make this event such a great time for all!
Jen Michele won the Beginner/Improver Division of the PSWB 2024 Choreography Contest with her dance "Baby, All I Need is You," guaranteeing her a teaching slot on Sunday at PSWB 2024!
Brenda Shatto won the Open Division of the PSWB 2024 Choreography Contest with her dance "Spirits and Demons," guaranteeing her a teaching slot on Saturday at PSWB 2024!
Peggy has greeted the Palm Springs dancers every year, and we are so happy she will continue being that wonderful, smiling, always happy to see you ambassador for the 2024 Palm Springs Winter Break.
Rhonda Sparling Shotts
Rhonda is a highly experienced event planner and dancer! We are so very lucky to have her help with a myriad of tasks behind the scenes. Some of you might not even notice how much she has helped with Palm Springs Winter Break in the past - she's THAT GOOD!
The Palm Springs Winter Break would not be the event it is today without the many, many volunteers and helpful flamingos that donate their time and energy both before and during the event each year. THANK YOU to all who have volunteered before, and if you are interested in volunteering for 2024, please reach out.