No one has contributed more to Swing and Jitterbug in Australia than
than Lee Neilsen. As a dancer innovator and choroegrapher, Lee has no peer.
Lee has been throughout the years a recontour and 'Ambassador of Swing and
Jitterbug', spreading her style to everyone she meets and helps. Lee is
unflagging in her energy and vitality. Lee was born on the 18th December 1922
and still dances, teaches and promotes her own personal time capsule of
Australian dance after all these years.
As one of Australia's greatest dancers was Lee Neilsen, who with her partner
Milton Mitchell, won the Australian National Dance Championships in 1947 and
remained undefeated for the next 10 years. Later Lee was to partner Barry
Frawley they continued to dance and tour Australia as champions well into the
60's, in all Lee Nielson was National champion for an incredible 17 consecutive
years! Six O'Clock Rock went to air on February 28 1959 and yes, Lee and her
partner Milton did the original opening graphics with two dancers superimposed
over a clock with the hands of the clock set to six.
Lee said her first big opportunity came when she danced on Bill McColl's Jazz
Concerts at the Sydney Town Hall. Lee then went on to dance at the Sydney Stadium,
Festival Hall in Melbourne and Cloudlands in Brisbane. At these venues she supported
such great acts as Johnny Mathis, Della Rees, Sammy Davis Jnr, Guy Mitchell, and
world renowned bands of the time. Lee also supported performers such as, Stan Kenton,
Lionel Hampton and Trini Lopez at the Leichhardt Stadium. At the Trocadero Lee
performed with Ted Heath's Band and did a great specially number with Gene Krupa and
Artie Shaw called Sing, Sing, Sing. Lee also performed this number for thousands of
Amercian Servicemen on board the largest aircraft carrier in the world at that time,
the USS Saratoga. Lee then went on to club work, such as, Andre's, with the Shirley
Bassey Show at Chequer's. Lee also performed at the Roosevelt, Celebrity and at Sammy
Lee's Diamond Horseshoe, supporting exciting acts such as Billy Ekstine, and Billy
Daniels. At the Rushcutters Bay Stadium, on the Lee Gordon Shows, Lee was a support
act with Stan Freberg, Earl Grant and The Platters. Lee danced at the Rex Hotel, the
Cross with Buddy Rich. Lee performed on the first edition of Six O'Clock Rock show at
Channel Two for Peter Page and the opening show for Channel Nine Brian Henderson's
Bandstand, the Keith Walshe Show, Sydney Tonight with Bobby Limb and Dawn Lake.
Lee Neilsen in this photograph with Ron Faturos and the Mayor of Sydney Alderman Doug
Southerland was a 63 year-old grandmother of five and Jitterbugger extraordinaire, was
performing to promote a revival of the original jazz concerts held in Sydney July 1984.
"Jitterbugging has always been here," Lee said snapping her fingers together. " A lot of
kids do it, but call it the Jive. It's much the same thing and I love it!" Lee still snaps
her fingers today with the same energy and style as always.