WHAT IS SMOOTH & EZ
In 1992, Lawrence Bradford (also known as “Brad”) and a few other dedicated dancers established the Smooth & EZ Hand Dance Institute, which was located at the Solar Eclipse Night Club in Washington, DC. The main goal was to return the dance art form known as Hand Dance to every dance floor in the City. With that as his focus, and with an unbridled enthusiasm, he worked tirelessly to bring a renewed interest in, and excitement for, Hand Dance. In a very short period, through sheer force of will, Hand Dance begin to experience a renaissance. Old school Hand Dancers were invigorated by the renewed interest in their dance. Because of his infectious personality, a vision that allowed him to update and modify his approach to teaching, and an unrivaled dance ability, Brad was able to inspire an entirely new generation of Hand Dancers. From 1992 to present, Brad has taught over 10,000 students.
In 1995, Brad is credited with developing and implementing the only Instructor Certification Program (ICP) which to date has graduated more than 150 new instructors. More than seventy-five percent of all Hand Dance instructors currently operating in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area are graduates of the Smooth & EZ Instructor Certification Program which remains the only certifying entity in the area.
The rate of growth and success in the early years that Smooth & EZ experienced was phenomenal. In 1996, as the Smooth & EZ brand gained popularity and recognition, Brad began to train individual competitive dancers and he developed a professional dance team. Both have received significant recognition and accolades. In 1999, Brad in conjunction with Councilmember Edyie Whittington worked diligently to ensure that Hand Dance was declared the Official Dance of the District of Columbia by resolution of the City Council, and to this day Hand Dance remains the official Dance of Washington, DC.
To ensure that he maintains his Master Teacher Certification, Brad travels annually to California to receive continuing education in dance from Ms. Skippy Blair. Ms. Blair has been training champion dancers and teachers for over fifty years. She is the founder of the Golden State Dance Teachers Association and co-founder of the World Swing Dance Council and is also known as the Teacher of Teachers. With the knowledge he has gained from Ms. Blair, Brad has been able to share his instructional methods with dancers in the Salsa, Birdland, Bop, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, East and West Coast Swing, Texas Swing Out, Shag, Stepping, Line Dance and Lindy Hop communities and in 2001 Brad was inducted into the Shag Dance Hall of Fame.
For more than 28 years, Brad has been nothing short of prolific as a competitor hand dance instructor. As a competitor he has won numerous competitions and prestigious awards, such as, 1st place Team in the National Hand Dance Association’s Millennium Competition in 2000; 1st place in the Nationwide Black Swing Competition held in Atlanta; 1st place in the Boston Tea Party Club Challenge in 1999; 1st place in the American Swing Dance Championship Master’s Division in 1998; and 1st place in the first Washington, DC Citywide Hand Dance Championship in 1993. He has also trained, coached, and choreographed routines for a great many individuals and team competition award winners across a wide range of dance disciplines. As a matter of fact, because of Brad’s training, in 2002 the Smooth & EZ Dance Team was the first and only African American Team to win 1st Place at the Virginia State Open, a West Coast Swing Dance Competition.
Brad’s accolades are not limited to dance, he has also been named Coach of the Year in the District of Columbia Christian Youth Organization, and he has been inducted into the University of the District of Columbia’s Basketball hall of Fame.
When asked to name the greatest challenges he has had to face during his lifetime he said, “overcoming the thought that I would never walk again”, “earning a national dance teacher certification” and “establishing the Instructor Certification Program.”
Something else that holds a special place in his heart – is the youth! Brad has worked tirelessly to share his experience and dance skills with young people. While teaching at the Solar Eclipse he created a youth dance group that boasted a roster of dancers ranging in age from 8 to 18. That initial group of dancers became the envy of the dance world. And, to this day, several of those dancers have progressed to become performers and entertainers in their own right. In fact, several have won national and international competitions, and started dance classes of their own.
Brad often speaks about the future of Hand Dance in very positive terms. When queried about his legacy, he simply responded by saying, “I would like to be remembered for having played a role in sustaining Hand Dance on a local, national and international level.”
NHDA - FORMERLY THIRD VICE PRESIDENT RASHIONALE
While serving as the Third Vice President for the National Hand Dance Association (NHDA), Mr. Lawrence Bradford (Brad) brought not only the most experience in teaching but also the most success of teaching Hand Dance amongst the youth. He has been successfully teaching Hand Dance and related dances for over 28 years. He was also responsible for training and producing many of the certified Hand Dance instructors in the DMV.
He is dedicated to the advancement of Hand Dance and the expansion of the dance to youth and young adults. He also has young adults whom are internationally known in the hand dance/swing dance community.
As an instructor at one of our successful charter schools, Mr. Bradford developed plans to incorporate other charter and public schools. Mr. Bradford recognizes the strategic advantage of teaching preteen students which will help in ensuring the longevity of the dance we love.
Mr. Bradford also has the broadest group of affiliate schools also teaching youth as well as adults and he has formed an instructors association with the goal of unifying instruction not only in the DMV but also in other urban areas.
Mr. Bradford believes that Hand Dance deserves its place among all other urban dances and he will continue his efforts to work towards making that happen.