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Rhonwyn Baker

I was born on Galveston Island (yes, a true BOI) but moved to Del Rio for later school years for lifetime friendships and high school experiences. I am therefore a product of both surf and sand and cactus and sand. This is undoubtedly where I developed my grit. 

My bachelor's degree in Education was earned at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. I came to Houston to teach following school, and earned my Master's in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Houston. Marriage and raising two daughters found me in Fort Bend County where I continue to live today. I teach Reading/English to sixth graders during the school year for Needville ISD. I have a single daughter in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and a married daughter whose family has settled in San Antonio.

I began a new life as a single woman in 2000 and began to visit SSQQ in 2001. It was 2003 when Rick Archer asked if I would be his assistant for Sunday classes which were both Western and American Tango at the time; and the rest, as they say, is history. I currently teach the Western cycle classes on Sunday afternoons as well as the occasional Crash Course. I love watching the new students who continue classes and go on to higher levels to become so accomplished.

Steve Casko

I was born in NYC and grew up there; came to Houston to attend U of H in ‘86 with a Mechanical Engineering Scholarship and wound up staying. Currently working for a local government agency.

I decided I'd been in Texas for 15 years and hadn't learned how to dance yet. It was time to take the plunge and try to blend in. I started at the studio in August of 2003 with a class in Beginning Two Step/Polka. I currently teach Two Step and polka and have been through Waltz, Cha Cha, Whip, a little bit of Salsa, a tiny bit of Bachata, and I'm in Argentine Tango now.

I became an instructor like I suspect it did with most people. Someone gave up instructing to pursue a real life and Rick was desperate and grabbed the first person he could find. He asked me if I would “fill in ‘til he could find someone.” It’s been about four years now.

Not married, still struggling through teaching with the "assistance" of my lead assistant Jamie, who tells me what to tell everyone to do and I just repeat it at a much higher volume.

Laura Graber

I was born in Buffalo, New York and lived there until April 1996 when I moved to Houston for better job opportunities, affordable housing and warm weather!  I received a BS degree in Biology from the University at Buffalo and have been working at Environmental Chemistry, Inc., a small environmental testing lab since December 1996.

Years ago, a friend and co-worker at the time mentioned she had taken a few dance classes at SSQQ and I said I had thought it would be fun to take some classes.  Well, procrastinator that I am, I never looked into it and time passed.  After my divorce and several years of being a hermit, the topic of dance classes came up with a friend and she said she would sign up with me.  We took that first class in February of 2004 and I have been at SSQQ ever since.  After about a year of classes, Ben Liles asked me if I would help in his western classes, and that is where you can find me on Wednesdays at the studio (when I don't get stuck working late).  I also help Linda Cook on Fridays which gets me to the studio at least two nights a week.  Dancing is a great way to relax and get away from stressful days at work and there are always things to learn!

 
 

Jackie Chang

I was born in Malaysia and moved to U.S. in 1980.  The only reason why I got to come to the U.S. to complete my university education was the fact that my sister lives in the U.S.  Education is a very important component of the Asian lifestyle.  In fact, I am the lucky one in my family to have received a university education, as it is very expensive.  I first moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, as that was where my sister and her family lived since 1969.  I remember my first experience of cold weather (and that would have been about 75 degrees Fahrenheit!) in Little Rock.  I was all bundled up like an Eskimo whilst everyone else was traipsing around in shorts enjoying the "cool” weather!

So, Houston in 1981 was a big blessing… not such cold weather… it was more like home at least in the summer time.  It still gets too cold sometimes in the wintertime.  Attended University of Houston, graduated in 1984 Summa Cum Laude.  I sent out about 10 resumes (as opposed to 200 resumes) and started my first job at Touche Ross in 1984.  Wow, going from broke to making some money was an interesting experience!

I have always loved dancing – growing up, and siblings being much older than I, I got to participate in many of their dance parties.  You know the baby-sitting concept.  My mom would allow my older sisters to go out if they will take me along… so adult-sitting was invented in my family.

The first chance I got to get some formal dance lessons was in the mid-90s.  I signed up at a dance studio on the west side of town and became a dancing fool for a long 8 months.  All of these were ballroom dance – foxtrot, swing, cha-cha, waltz, tango, rhumba, salsa, and the merengue.  I tried the Whip at another studio, but just could not get it right!  Go figure, these were all private lessons with weekend special extravaganza and it got to be very expensive.  So, I quit for that reason.  Then years later, a friend introduced me to SSQQ and I danced almost every day for about 1 year.  I took every dance class there was and then quit for about 5 years.  WHY??  I got married to my work again. 

My professional background is accountant / real estate agent.  I am self-employed now so I do have lots of flexibility in arranging work time and play time.  I could never go back to a regular nine to five job.

Later, my personal/business coach convinced me that I needed some fun in my spare time (what is that?) and so I came back to SSQQ in 2006 and became the dance fool again… then I met Jack, and the rest is history.

Becky Bratton

Becky is a native Houstonian. She is one of five children and believes that she inherited her love of dancing from her mother. In 1967, she graduated from Lamar High School and then attended the University of Houston. She graduated in 1971 with a BS in Health and Physical Education, and again with a Masters Degree in 1974.

She began dancing at the studio in October of 2005; after her first year, Rick asked her to help him teach his East Coast Swing class. She assists Rick in both East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing and Dakota in Western Swing. She estimates that she participates in 5 to 6 classes a week. She also takes private lessons in Ballroom with Dakota.

Becky is divorced with two sons, Robert (age 27) and Mark (age 29.) Her hobbies include B&W photography and she has been taking classes at the Glassell Art School for about six years. Besides her love for dance, she also writes poetry and reads a book as often as she can.

Tom & Jo Tucker

 
 

Sonja Strathearn

I was born in California but went to live in Australia with my parents when I was 3 years old (my dad was Australian and my mum American). I went to Art college in Brisbane, Queensland, and then taught high school art for a few years, one of those years on an island in the Torres Strait called Thursday Island.  I always wanted to be an artist and I still have that passion for drawing and painting. I hope to have more time to paint as my twins start kindergarten this year
(horray!)

The eldest of 6 kids, I loved having a big family, and when I married my husband Lane, we both decided that we wanted the joy of a big family also. Lane loves kids and is a developmental pediatrician, who is mainly doing research now. People are often shocked that we have 7 children.   Our eldest daughter Lana is 16, Olivia 15, Adam soon to be 14, Camilla 10, Jacob 7 and then our Texan surprise twins Sam and Sophia 5 years old. I never even imagined that I would live in Houston, Texas, yet here we are, and I love it!  Lane is enjoying his research opportunities at Baylor College of Medicine so it looks like we will stay. 

I have always loved dancing, and Lane and I would do “our thing” which was a combination of his made up steps, a sort of step and pivot type of slow dance, that we did for years whenever there was a chance to dance.  When we came to Houston in 2001, it took us a while to discover SSQQ.  We started out learning salsa in Jill’s class in 2002, but during our intermediate month, I discovered I was pregnant with twins and felt too sick to keep going.  We slowly progressed in salsa a month here and there over the next few years, as time permitted with the responsibilities of a large family.

It has been difficult to get out the door most times (like moving heaven and earth)  Dancing, for me is an outlet away from the demands of motherhood and it has been so fun to learn to dance with my husband.  As our older kids were able to babysit, in time we learnt more salsa, some swing, ballroom and argentine tango.  I want to learn it all!!!

Right now I am assisting Noe in teaching argentine tango and I really enjoy it.  Argentine tango is elegant, passionate and while technically challenging, it is a wonderful way to express creativity. I also love to salsa, and Lane and I are in hot demand teaching our teenagers and their friends to dance salsa from our church.

Noe Rosas

Noe and his twin brother Ulyses almost live at SSQQ, and there is a very good chance that almost everyone knows them!  Noe started learning salsa with his brother Ulyeses in  Linda Cook’s class in 2004.  After taking all the salsa classes, Noe went on to learn west and east coast swing, country and western and argentine tango.  Noe wishes he had discovered dancing much earlier, and has a great desire to learn all the dances and share what he knows with others.  Noe was born in Mexico and came to Houston as a teenager.  He works by day in residential construction, but loves to learn and teach dance by night.  Noe and Sonja teach argentine tango at SSQQ on Thursdays and are excited to bring this style of dance to the studio. As one friend commented: “Noe is great at salsa, but I think argentine tango is HIS dance!”

 (see picture above w
Sonja Strathearn)

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