Ken Sloan - 2013 Honoree
Born in Northern Ireland, Ken Sloan began dancing at the age of fourteen. Because he was enamored with a young lady who shared no interest in his enthusiasm for soccer, he promptly coerced eleven of his team members to join him in enrolling in a school of dance. That surely ought to win her! When the group arrived for their first lesson, they were told the only instruction available was by way of a Bronze Medal class. Unaware of the standards of ballroom dance, and to the amusement of the teacher, the boys figured that was okay for them. As it turned out, and to the dumbfounded teacher’s surprise, five of the lads, including Ken, finished the Bronze Medal class and continued on to Silver.
By this time, smitten with the art of ballroom dancing, Ken went into competition and soon became the youngest all-Ireland Amateur Champion. Traveling around Europe with the British team, he won every major amateur championship Ireland could come up with . But when the soccer coach said 'kick-ball or dance', he decided to go pro! This was a difficult choice for Ken to make for, along with his love for soccer, he had gained gallery recognition as a fine landscape artist.
But, aware that excellent dancing necessitates more time than either art or soccer will allow, he decided to give up the ball for the ballroom, and the brush for the brush step. He went on to study for his Professional Exams, passed with honors, and, shortly thereafter, took third in his first pro comp.
Meanwhile, pretty Sheila Webber, who had begun her dancing at age three and a half, was busy in the south of England performing tap, ballet and musical comedy to delighted British audiences. Undergoing painful spinal surgery at age fifteen, the recovery of which denied further strenuous gymnastics, dauntless Shelia made up her mind to get in to ballroom dancing instead. Her “show business” proficiency soon bought polished results. How did this famous couple get together, you ask? Not in Great Britain, as the story goes. In 1956, and after Sheila’s family moved to the United States, she opted to join them and immediately began her teaching career at the Arthur Murray Studios on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. There she became a Dance Director, Certified Judge, Choreographer and Coach for many of the stars who performed on the Arthur Murray Television Show. Out of the thirty three Arthur Murray Schools in southern California, Sheila brought high standards and detailed professionalism to many of them.
During this time, and for the following nine years, Sheila trained, coached and did the choreography for Bobby Burgess and Cissy King on the Lawrence Welk Show. She also choreographed the Battle of the Bands for the Hollywood Bowl and Hollywood Palladium, was assistant choreographer for a movie with Marie Osmond, and continued to study her own dancing all the while. Now professional, Ken also joined members of his family in San Francisco. He, too, applied for a teaching job at the Arthur Murray Studio. Starting in San Mateo, he soon became Dance Director, and subsequently won All American Professional Teachers Competition.
In 1961 Ken opened his own school in San Carlos where he trained juniors and amateurs for competition and formation dancing. In 1962 he ran his first Emerald Ball in San Mateo, and in 1964 he moved to Los Angeles to…(here it comes)…partner with Sheila Webber (then Sire). They opened a large school on Hollywood Boulevard where they taught and trained couples for competition and shows over the next eight years. They have remained independent studio operators ever since.
Together, Ken and Sheila have won the United States Ballroom Championships in 1974 and 75, were proclaimed the BiCentennial Champions, went on to win every major championship in both ballroom and Latin, and were inducted into “The Hall of Fame”. Between them, they hold thirteen Star Ball titles in ballroom and Latin, and have represented the United States in five World Championships in the United States and Europe. They have danced on numerous T.V. shows, “The Today Show” in New York and the Dinah Shore Show in Hollywood. Ken was the choreographer for the remake of the Valentino movie.
During all this time, the Emerald Ball continued to flourish and grow into a major championship event. The Sloan's brought in guest performers and teachers to increase the awareness of ballroom dancing as an art. All of the top dancers in the world have danced at the Emerald Ball and/or taught at Sloan and Sloan’s School of Dance. Ken was honored to judge the World Championships in New York at the famous Felt Forum, as he is recognized as a Top World and International judge, teacher and coach. Sheila is President of “The Terpsichore Society” as well as an examiner for the same, They have managed and directed independent dance schools for twenty-six years in a most proficient and professional manner. They were married twelve years ago and purchased the “Sloan and Sloan School” in Glandale at about the same time. Today, while the new directors prepare to carry on the high standards of the prestigious Emerald Ball, Mr. and Mrs. Sloan, who have retired from competing, plan to continue to travel, teach, coach, judge and perform any place in the world where the epitome of ballroom dance is needed, desired, respected, and studied. The GOLDEN YEARS would not have shone so brightly if not polished by the likes of “Sloan and Sloan”.
DBDC ~ A Legendary Celebration
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