There’s no doubt about it: Linda Dean is a legend in the ballroom dance industry. Her controversial appearance at Blackpool with partner Vernon Brock is still talked about - thirty years later. Linda has spent a lifetime dancing and, almost just as long, with Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Competing in a variety of styles all over the world, performing, coaching, and judging, Linda’s career is an inspiration to every dancer.
Learning ballet, tap, and jazz when she was five years old, Linda entered the world of ballroom dancing when she was twenty. At that time, staff members at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Philadelphia persuaded her to enter the studio’s training class. From that point on, it wasn’t long before she was on her way. With partner, George Hendrix, Linda competed in the first USDSC in 1971. Placing in the finals that year, Linda and George came back in 1972 to win both the Theatrical and American Style divisions.
In 1975, Linda began her partnership with Vernon Brock. Linda and Vernon won the USDSC’s International Latin division for the next four years. From 1975-1978, they represented the United States in the World Championships, making the finals for all four years.
And then came Blackpool. The stories are famous. Long cited as the most memorable Blackpool competition ever, Linda and Vernon’s attendance at Blackpool in 1976 made dance history. It all started when they were rehearsing. Everyone stopped and watched them practice, astounded by Linda and Vernon’s talent. When they didn’t make the finals, a near riot ensued with people in the audience stomping their feet and booing loudly. “We got more attention,” Linda recalls, “for not making the finals than the winners did.”
However it isn’t that competition that Linda remembers most fondly. In 1977, Linda and Vernon were invited to compete at The Duel Of The Giants at The Royal Albert Hall in London. A unique event no longer in existence, The Duel Of The Giants consisted of two high ranking couples competing against each other. The winner was determined by the audience. Linda and Vernon won the competition against a couple from South Africa.
Her partnership with Vernon ended in 1979. “The key to a successful partnership,” Linda advises, “is personality.” Although they practiced 5 days a week for 3-4 hours each day to prepare for their competitions, they never once argued, remaining consummate professionals and always respectful of one another.
They continued to do shows until 1984. Presently, she is an adjudicator at major United States and world championships. When judging, Linda looks for timing, characteristics of the dance, and control. She is pleased with the quality she sees in competitions now. “The standards are higher now.”
Linda also coaches and is a member of the Fred Astaire Dance Board. Currently based in Arizona, she has been with Fred Astaire Dance Studios all over the United States, including New York, Texas, New Orleans, and Florida. “I’ve met great dancers and great people at Fred Astaire,” she explains.
Throughout her award winning career, Linda has captivated the world with her style, technique, and pure talent. We are immensely proud to have someone of her caliber as part of our organization.