Arte Philips - Hustle / Disco WCS + Salsa

Arte Philips -
by Ron Bess

Immortal - Arte Phillips

with a background in ballroom this early hustle pioneer has garnered many dance achievements. An early member of the Disco Dance Stars, Arte partnered with Lisa Nunziella, Maria Torres, Sharon Savoy to win various titles including: US Ballroom Championship, Dance Fever and Star Search. A Broadway dancer, choreographer, competitor and performer, Arte continues to Wow audiences all over the US with his creativity and dance skills. He serves on many staffs and is sought after for his coaching skils. He was recognized by both the World Hustle Dance Championships and Disco America with the "Life Time Achievement Awards".

Borrowed from Arte's Site - - Great Info there

Immortal - Arte Phillips

The dancers dancer, Arte was admired by all. He had an innate talent that can't be taught. A contagious smile, full of charisma, that was immeasurable. It is virtually impossible to have a discussion of hustle dancing, without his name coming up. The hustle world has lost a favorite son. 
Arte Phillips was hustle.
His dance roots go back to the mid 70's when he helped develop many of the fundamental hustle steps utilized today.  From his early days as a member of the "Disco Dance Stars", partnering with Lisa Nunziella, representing New York proudly on "Dance Fever" with Maria Torres, competing on "Star Search" with Sharon Savoy, performing for Prince Renier of Monaco with Nelly Cotto and then on to Broadway,  he was unique, every dance step of the way.  He experienced so many highlights that others can only dream about. Arte was a leader in life. He loved to be out front, the wind in his face when riding his motorcycle, as president of the "International Hustle Dance Associate" or when choreographing a show. The pride he displayed escorting the great adagio master Francois Szony, out onto the stage for his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1999 World Disco Classic and when performing live on national television for  the "Miss American Pageant" along with Sharon Savoy.  
A fashion connoisseur, he was the James Dean, the John Lennon of our hustle world.
We love him.

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With a dance arsenal bursting from its seams, he could glide across the dance floor with speed and delicate precision. A beautiful dancer inside and out,  he had Hollywood good looks and skills on the dance floor that were exemplary. He covered all the bases, choreography, adagio, performer, competitor, adjudicator and teacher. He was honored over the years by his peers receiving the very first  "Eddie Vega Award" at "Hustle USA", the Life Time achievement awards from both "Discoamerica Dance Championships" and the "World Hustle Dance Championships", and the prestigious "Gypsy Award" on Broadway.  
Confirmation in greatness comes from you. He always had the largest attendance at his workshops across the country, because you loved him. For the last 6 years he was voted by his students, peers and friends as the best dancer and/or teacher in "DanceTalk's Annual Readers Choice Awards". Confirmed by you.  
He had leadership qualities that revealed his love of fashion, for dancing, performing, teaching and compassion for his fellow human beings.  I remember his passionate express when he embraced Gladys Torres, I remember the look on Ginger DiMaio's face when he held her close at "Ginger's Wish". He relit their flames.
We will miss his entertaining shows at Discoamerica, his wit, the humor, his incredible dance skills on the floor whether leading or following (everyone was in awe), his informative workshops, his knowledge at making learning fun, his sincere friendship and nonjudgmental out look towards others.
Arte was more then just dancing.
I had an extensive conversation with Arte,  just a few weeks gone by, as he shared with me his personal memories of Eddie Vega.  Arte idolized him.  He described how caring, loving Eddie was, "Eddie would virtually give the coat off his back to a complete stranger". He shared how Eddie  would dance with anyone and happily share his knowledge on dance. "Eddie , to me he was the most incredible,  influential, and the sharing dancer in the Hustle world that I have ever met. He "talent wise" was the Baryshnikov of the Hustle," explained Arte. This was Arte's mentor and companion.   Careful analysis reveals that Arte, the student,  had surpassed those important lessons. He emulated Eddie through admirable eyes , and  Arte's life had become all that he adored about Eddie: Loving, caring, putting others first and being a friend.

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Arte was a teacher, he taught us lessons on how to shine on the dance floor, but the critical lessons were taught outside the classroom. How he treated us and his fellow dancers. The impact he has had on all of us. The times he spent dancing with senior citizens or speaking encouraging words to my children. He made the time. These are the lessons that best describe the character and the size of his heart.  When Arte danced at socials, in the clubs, he loved to be front and center....but for those who knew him,  understand best,  it wasn't for him, it was for all of us. 
What Arte had,  which set him apart,  was an internal glowing light. This light reflected and lit your brain and  lit your heart. He simply made you feel good, loving life and lighting up your spirit for dance. He did this for Gladys and Ginger and countless others. 
I was told that Arte passed away quietly,  in his sleep. His heart had failed. When a man gives so much of himself to others, gives so much love,  gives so much time,  we wonder,  did he save enough for himself.
For the last 15 years, I have had the distinct pleasure of introducing Arte at dozens of dance socials, award ceremonies and national dance competitions.  For the last time,  I would like to say,
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together for  Mr. Arte Phillips"  
Thank you for all the letters, poems, IMs,  videos, pictures and thoughtful wishes we have received. We are overwhelmed, a true testament to the love and respect dancers have for Arte. 
Please enjoy the loving letters below. Regretfully, we are limited on space and can't post them all at this time.  
A photo tribute to Arte Phillips can be seen at Fred's website.
Please visit the Hustle Lounge to view the score of letters that have come in. You may post your own thoughts and comments.
Enjoy these youtube videos of dance champion Arte Phillips performing on the nationally televised "Star Search" with the beautiful Sharon Savoy.  

More Vintage Pictures Here

Letters for Arte 
Dear Ron,
Thank you so much for your support. It has helped to know that you have loved Arte and what he was about. Please let everyone know that there will be a Memorial Party in honor of Arte (near his birthday Feb 13) in late January 09.  Arte's family wants everyone to come celebrate with Arte.  I will be sending the details to all soon. 
Love, Peace and Unity for Arte,
Beth Darchi
Hey Ron 
Sorry to be talking to you under these circumstances.
My condolences to the Sniederman Family.
I am, and always will be honored and privileged to have had such a wonderful, beautiful, friend in my life.  He was a phenomenal, extraordinary person.  Arti was (One of a kind) with amazing talent and personality.  His Love for dance and people was sincere and divine. It's no wonder that he's had such an impact in my life and the lives of many. My memories of him will never be forgotten, he's fulfilled my life with joy and laughter as well as many experiences and opportunities to last a lifetime that will never be forgotten.  Arti had a heart of gold which he shared with many people in his life.  I will always cherish his Memory, Love and Friendship.  His laughter will always linger in my heart. Truly a sad and unexpected lost, but his memory will never be lost in my heart. I Love you Arti Philips, you were an inspiration to many. Peace Be with You my Friend. 
Always' your Friend,
Nelly Pacatun Cotto (NYC)
Hello Ron, thank you for thinking of me I heard about Arte the day before yesterday. I am truly sorry. He was a very special person in my brothers life while they were partners and after they broke up they were very, very close friends.
Best regards,
Smiley Vega  (Eddie Vega's older sister)
hey ron

it is unbelievably shocking and sad about arte
only shows how fragile life is
Dear Ron, 
With so many memories of Arte going back so very many years, where does one begin? Roseland, Alexis, Darians, Fred Astaire, Infernos ... just to name a few.  From contests, shows, a place to dance every night and Arte with his larger than life smile and laugh was as amazing then as it was for all the rest of days afterwards.  I remember when Arte first started dancing ... it wasn't just hustle. Arte tried anything and everything and whatever he touched was amazing.
Eddie Vega, Arte Philips, Ricky Quintana, Maria Torres were always dancing for fun, but they entertained everyone anywhere. Yes, back then Arte was the 'white boy who could dance', as Bobby Morales reminded everyone.  My colleague, the recipient of  The 2007 World Hustle Hall of Fame Award, Entertainer, Choreographer, and most of all friend. You will always be on our minds, always in our hearts, always on the dance floor and never forgotten.,
God Has Blessed You and He has blessed us for knowing you ~ 
Diane K Nardone  (World Hustle Dance Championships)
The loss of Arte is stunning.  I'm surprised how emotionally his loss has affected me.  I cried when I got the email and tears are in my eyes as I write this.  He was one of the greatest dancers I've known, my favorite instructor and a friend to all. The loss of Arte is like the loss of John F. Kennedy, he was a beloved leader who gave us hope for a better tomorrow along with the direction and confidence on how to get there.  Then, abruptly, he was taken from us, far before his time, far before his work was done, leaving us all suffering this great loss. 
May Arte rest in peace. 
Sincerely, Dave Lach  (Grand Rapids MI) 
Hi Ron,
As many others, I was devastated by the news of Arte's passing away. Philadelphia got to know him better over the last couple of years as he became a regular. We enjoyed that. He is one of our stars of hustle. I feel bad for all those that enjoyed him but I feel worse for the next generation that will never get to experience him. I do wonder how it is that the others entertainers are given a high level of regard then dance. With all he has accomplished, will I see a write up in Time Magazine?  Entertainment weekly? Newsweek?  local news reports?  I thank you Ron not just for covering the life of a creative being like Artie but for all the countless reports you have shared with us. May Arte rest in peace.
Doris  (Phila)
My heart felt condolences to Arte's family. I have fond memories of him when he first started out with Floyd Chilsolm's team.
Luis Rivera  (Disco Dance Dimensions)
Dear Ron,
I am really sad to hear that Arte passed away. He always made me laugh, and was a joy to dance with. I will miss him.
God Bless,
Ricky Quintana  (Disco Dance Stars)
Hi Ron, 
I was so saddened to hear of the passing of Arte Phillips. He not only was a talented dancer, he was a gentleman as well. I was one of the "dancers"  that got to dance with him.  He never said no to anyone, no matter what level they were at.  I was lucky enough to be his "dance dummy" at one of his workshops.  At the end of the workshop he said to me..."Susan, let's show them what we had rehearsed."  of course we hadn't rehearsed anything....I said to him that I had been rehearsing with him in my dancing fantasies for 15 years.  His response was genuine and sincere.  It was the highlight of my weekend.   I loved every minute that I had on the dance floor with him.  I will never forget how much fun he was to watch on the dancefloor.
I'll miss him terribly, like so many others. The dancing world is mourning the loss of a great dancer and a great guy!
Susan C (Long Island)

Hi Ron:
 By now, you’ve probably heard the very sad news that Arte Phillips passed away.  Simone Assboeck announced this very sad news at the Hustle Jam party at Stepping Out.  A memorial fund has been started by Simone at Stepping Out.  Arte Phillips was simply the best of the best, and his passing has shocked the hustle community to its very foundations. I personally saw Arte dancing at Stepping Out the previous Wednesday, wearing a red t-shirt with Coca Cola in Hebrew (from a recent trip to Israel)......  Little could I have believed he would no longer be with us by the following week.  Arte was an incredible and gifted dancer. He was a constant source of inspiration for me.....  He will be greatly missed.
 Very sadly,
 David Slater  (New York)
Dear Ron,
I taught ballroom dancing, I fell in love with this dance and my partner, Pat Taverna and I began competing anywhere we could around the City. It was our “first place” win at Club Regines, in NYC that became the defining moment in my dance life. That’s how I first met Arte. We were approached by the producer of a new Dance troupe, called the Disco Dance Stars and asked if we would like to join. Recruited for the team, at about the same time, was a fairly young and very talented couple, Lisa Nunziella and Arte Phillips. After weeks of practice and rehearsals it was off to perform in the Holy Land. Arte was the “kid” always joking and clowning around. I remember him excited with the newness of his surrounds, always inquisitive and exploring. He was always thinking of different moves, ways to dance an old step, Always “on”. I never saw him get moody or cross with anyone, (and when you work so closely with the same people day in and day out, stuck on a bus for hours at a time cramped, tired and hungry, you had every right to get a little touchy). Not Arte.  We were kept over an extra week by the Tel Aviv Sheraton Hotel to do nothing more than dance in their Disco at night and be a draw for the tourists and locals. I was paid to dance with Arte. What fun! People would clear the dance floor to watch us and we made up the routines as we went. That’s when I first became aware of Arte’s ability to dance and feel the music so beautifully. He would later come to say “it’s not about the steps”. He was so right.  29 years ago he danced with the same joy that we all have seen and experienced at one time or another today. We all  have experienced that feeling of the room lighting up because Arte has just arrived. That “Wow” factor which anyone blessed to have danced with him knew first hand. After not seeing him for  27 years, not only did he  recognize me, but remembered my real name. That is the true testament to who this person was. Yes, he was one of the most gifted dancers we will ever have the privilege to know, but more than that, he was a man who looked outside of himself. He cared about others. He made sure that you knew that you mattered. And we mattered to him. I will never forget those wonderful moments watching Arte dance at Michael's, I will treasure them. I only had to say his name and his face would light up. His eyes would radiate such joy when he knew that his friends were watching and enjoying him “feel the music”.  (Thank you Arte for letting me “feel the music” with you.)
That was breath to him. He loved us too!  “To know that even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived, this is to have succeeded”. Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The humble in spirit will retain honor” Proverbs 29:23
Arte your life was a huge success. Arte we honor you and  love you always.
Evie Hoover  ( Disco Dance Stars)  
Arte- our inspiration, our ambassador, our most creative, beautiful dancer, teacher, coach, choreographer, entertainer, competitor, NY boy, loving son and brother, dear friend, kindred soul. The dance community has sadly lost one of it's icons. I looked it up. Icon, an object of extreme and uncritical devotion. Everyone loved Arte, including me. When he was in the room dancing, there was no other place to be. The room was illuminated with his energy, smile, physical style and spirit.  It is not difficult to describe Arte- unique, rare, one of a kind, positive, handsome, friendly, charismatic, sexy, smart, super cool, life of the party, one God's most special creations. They say that God often takes the very special ones for himself too early. Arte - one of the most creative and musical people I have ever had the honor of knowing and calling my friend and it was my privilege he referred to me as family.  Many of us lost a dear friend who had such a magnetic personality, we just wanted to be where he was. Arte made everything more interesting and fun. He made you think, laugh, be creative, be free, be silly...he made you want to be more.  He was a sensitive man and he found many subjects interesting and could converse about them for hours. And then there was dancing. God did that man love to dance! He had an immense passion for dance as a creative and physical way for people to express themselves and music. Arte loved all kinds of dancing but he especially loved the hustle. We would have many long discussions about our hopes and efforts of getting young people interested in hustle dancing. We agreed that encouraging them to dance to the music of their generation would be one of the ways to insure it's place in the future. He would always say to me, "I getcha, you're preachin to the choir." It was important to him. His students were devoted to him and his work was proudly seen in their performances and shows he choreographed for dance events. I remember seeing Arte compete 'back in the day' and he was one of our superstars. Then one night I remember sitting in a Broadway Theatre for a performance of Victor Victoria and there was Arte in one of the opening dance numbers. I was pleasantly surprised and proud to know him as one of 1st generation street hustle dancers done good. Another time I was watching a TV show and he was dancing on one of the awards shows. But, he will be remembered most by what he gave to us on the social dance floor, always showing us by example to have fun, express ourselves and the music, be creative and get out of that box! His energy had no limits and he loved to entertain. I have been asked if I will cancel my dances but instead we will honor Arte's life in the way he loved the most, by dancing! We will be dancing in celebration of Arte at the 92nd Street Y next Saturday, Nov 22nd. I encourage everyone to wear an 'Arte' hat. Bring your pictures and thoughts of Arte and we will have a wall to display them in honor of him. We will have performances inspired by Arte. Arte gave us and taught us many things and now he is teaching us that life is fragile and we must take care of ourselves and each other, appreciate each other and enjoy each and every day.  Yes, the thought of how much we will miss him is painful but in so many ways, how he has touched us has left a permanent mark in our lives forever and every time there is hustle dancing, he will be with us and his spirit will live on.  Dance on, Arte!
With much love, gratitude and respect,
Lori Brizzi  (New York Hustle Congress)
'No Day But Today'
To Everyone
The dance community lost one of it original members/founders & creators. - As you looked at Arte - the smile/ the joy of doing what he loved to do strikes the viewer right in the face. Back in April 2007 - I asked Arte if it was ok to put his "Star Search" performances up onto You Tube and he said of course. Here is a link to the You Tube box  - with some other Gems found on the web - there is also a short bio from Ron Bess there.
As I was trying to compose this I realized I could not both write & have any Clips of Arte playing in the background - because as you can guess - I totally forgot where my trend of thought was going. - It was always brought back to his "Smile - His Love of the Dance". Here is a link to Arte's Site -
It is strange, organizing with Alan Paris, Tuesday night to bring Arte up in December - and finding out - Thursday he has danced on. Karen Lupo would always comment how, she always loved watching him dance @ the events because - time stood still and the moment took over. There was so much joy as he danced, I pray that he is happy & at Peace. and The Beat goes on - for Arte as the ideas and limitations of his earthly body have just been erased - I see him, in my mind - with one of of his hats on, looking up - and saying, one word with that Smile of his - "WOW"
Your friends,
Mark & Karen  (Dance Zone)
 Hi Ron,
The passing of Arte is devastating.  I found comfort in these words. Could you share  with your readers a poem that others may find some comfort in these words. I think Arte would like it.
Thanks, Mary K. (Pa)
I am the wind
I am the rain
I am the sunlight
through your window pane
I am the leaf
turning brown in the fall
I am the faintest whisper
on the breeze when you call
I am the snowflake
that kisses your cheek
I am the child in the park
playing Hide "n" Go Seek
I am the scent of the flowers
that fills the Spring air
I am all around you
I'm everywhere
I'll always be with you
from this moment on
I'm in your every dance
I'm in your every song
You see, when we move on
we never truly die
We become one with nature
we unify
Take care my precious one
on my passing don't dwell
Remember the love
we shared together
See you again someday
All is Well
Taken from

Hi Ron,
I received a phone call from Star Search asking me to come on the show and compete. It was a wonderful offer but I turned them down saying I needed to find the right partner. Star Search responded by saying to just come on the show as soon as I found one. I immediately thought of Arte Phillips, and even though we had never really met, we new of each other being dancers in the New York dance scene. Arte was the perfect choice with his boyish Hollywood Brad Pitt looks, his incredible speed and versatility as a dancer. He of course, said yes, and we quickly went to work as we had to create at least five routines for the show. The shows format had changed: instead of dancing one number per week, we had to compete Monday morning, then Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning, Tuesday afternoon, and so on, until you ultimately lost. We had approximately two months to pull a partnership together.  Dancing with Arte was like dancing at 78 rpm’s- every lift, dance step and transition was fast- but it was the perfect formula for Star Search as we had only 90 seconds in which to show our stuff. Dancing on Star Search together was truly exciting. We did very well and won enough times to make it into the final rounds. This next part of the story was very hard on both of us. When the finals ended in a tie, the vote was supposed to go to the bused in section of the audience.  We were told by the producers that unfortunately all the ballots had been pre- filed out by our competitor’s friends. Since the show had already been taped there was nothing they could do about it. We lost, without ever really knowing who should have won that night.  We went onto dance in the Miss America pageant the next two years in a row. We also performed together in Peter Maxwell’s ballroom dance company which toured the Hawaiian Islands .  I was surprised when we were both asked which number we enjoyed the most that we both picked the piece that was most out of our own comfort zone and element. I loved the Prince number, “She’s a Dream” and “Diamonds”- as it was more jazzy and sexy. Arte chose “Night and Day” which was very lyrical and had an old Hollywood ballroom style – which we performed in a long black dress and tuxedo. What I will remember most is Arte’s nonstop infectious energy. He livened up each and every rehearsal, performance and event with his fun loving, upbeat personality.  When he danced he lived on the edge and it was always very exciting, daring and risky. He lived how he danced. Anyone who has ever met or known him will miss him.  I already do. 
Sharon Savoy  (Virginia) 
My most powerful memory of Artie was when he and Lisa won the title for the USBC in Hustle at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. They did what  Augie and Margo did for the Mambo 20 years before them.  I can’t describe how  proud I was of the fact  that they were  representing  “our” dance, “the hustle”.  I wasn’t the only one that got goose bumps watching them win that competition. The whole grand ballroom was on its feet screaming and cheering in excitement. This moment was my most memorable and to me. This was Artie me at his best.  He was still young, raw and hungry. What he and Lisa had finally done was make the conservative  “strictly ballroom” world stand up and take notice of the newest dance on the block.  The Hustle was not to be considered a passing trend any longer. Hustle was setting the trends and their performance confirmed that!.. They put Hustle on the map that weekend! Many thought Hustle was a street dance that was going to fade away.…That night Artie proved them all wrong. Hustle had finally come into its own. From that moment on Hustle  and Artie earned the respect of the whole dance community.  Artie helped it break through to the other side… 
For the rest of my years I will always remember  Artie,….., Monday nights at DanceSport , always in front of the DJ booth, dancing full-out with his many friends .
He danced full throttle right to the end . What more could a dancer want?
It’s really hard to believe that he has left us so abruptly. But his spirit of dance will continue to live on in the people that he touched and inspired!  We will all miss him! Each in our own way.
~Paul Pellicoro (Dancesport NYC)
Dear Ron,
I met Arte Phillips at the Poor Peters Parlor dance contest years and years ago in Long Island, and I couldn't believe how good a dancer he was. I asked all my friends and aquaintances WHO was THAT GUY? I was told that this guy came from  Queens and was THE MAN. Since then I have seen him everywhere from Roseland to the Ice Palace, Alexis, Phil Blacks Studio, every borough, new jersey,upstate, the catskills, cruise ships, Madison Square Garden, Ipanema, Boombomakow, the Latin Quarter,  Cat Club,  Starship, Infinity, Plato's Retreat, The Electric Circus,  The Hop, Yakity Yak, Fred Astair's,   The Lemon Tree, Elephas, Seconds, Kisses, Act 111, Fudgies, The Milky Way, Darions, Dance studio, Scandals, Fantasy Island ,  2001 Odyssey,  The Golden Dove, Pastels,  Penthouse, Uncle Sams, Harpers, The Winners Circle, Jupiters, Metro 700, Fokus, Feathers,  Channel 80, Zachary's, FKA Penrods, Decamerons, Chaz, The Bijou,  Long Island exchange AKA the Savoy, Regines, Les Poulets, ....The Limelight, Palladium, Funhouse, Melons, Broadway 48, Adams Apple, Lamaganette, Tatou, name a few
Before you knew it before during and after TV, Broadway, Dance Feveer, Star Search, He started dancing all over the United States and then the world. I will never forget when I asked him to dance at KIKKERS bar a tiny corner neighborhood bar in QUEENS in a dance contest that I was running and he showed up and danced wearing Red and Gold with Maria Torres, they brought the house down! There was a congregation of Rock people that hated the Hustle, hated DISCO hated my contest, They lost their collective minds after they saw their routine to My Sweet Summer suite by the Love Unlimeted Orchestra. I will never ever ever forget the impact that that night made  on me and  just as I have been in such awe of his accomplishments seeing him perform in so many different stages, dance floors and venues this really hit home harder. May he rest in piece...... Let him dance in the heavens and look down on us- there will be countless people that will never forget what he brought and will continue to bring to the dance world. My request to everyone that has kids that do the Hustle or not, talk about Arte Phillips,  share pictures, share the Dvd's and videos of what he has done and try to pass on the great things that he has done perhaps people could immortalize him as we do Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, ....and all the greats of our lives so our children's children know....
BOBBY O (Tampa)
Hi Ron:
    After reading your article  Immortal -  Arte Phillips   I had to stop and shed a few tears.  You chaptered Arte.  After I moved away I only heard about what he was doing but never got to connect.  You my friend have made it possible for people like me who have moved out of the NY area to still remain in-touch. 
For that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
George Velazquez (Georgia)
Dear Ron,
Beloved Arte Phillips
My deepest condolences to his Family.
I was so saddened to hear of the passing of Arte Phillips.
This is a great loss for the dance community.  He mesmerized the world with his dancing. He was caring and kind. A classy, gracious and true gentleman. Arte was such an inspiration to me and I miss him terribly. I will always remember his everlasting smile and will cherish his Memory, Love and Friendship.  
It has been an honor
May Arte rest in peace
Donna J Boyle (Disco America )

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