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Tyrone Winfield, better known as “Ty Skippy” was a renowned stepper who was said to have the “fastest feet in the land,” has passed away at the age of 61.
His wife and dance partner, Celeste, says his feet would glide across the floor like James Brown. The two were a fierce steppin’ team. They won several trophies for their smooth swing dance moves. Some years, the couple won $20,000 in prizes.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports,
They’d draw extended applause for fluid turns that seemed to involve telepathic communication between the partners.
A promoter of steppin’ events and photojournalist, Ken Bedford, says it looked like the couple performed on skates they were so fluid with their movement.
Winfield was in high demand across the nation, not just for performances but lessons, as well. He and his wife met when they were just kids in West Pullman. Celeste says she never had a partner like him. The two were in sync.
The stepper attended Carver Area High School. There Winfield was involved in basketball and singing. Additionally, he played guitar and drums.
“He told me he saw one of his brothers dancing, and he took off from there,. Dancing was his life.” Celeste Sutton-Winfield said.
Sutton-Winfield learned how to turn fluently by dancing in the dirt with her sister. When she was 15, Celeste beat Winfield in a contest organized by Sam Chatman, the Chicago DJ who is credited with coining the term “steppin’.” His wife states that the stepper “popped twp splits” during the competition, so she “popped four splits.”
He was a student at Prairie View A&M College. He painted, did carpentry, warehouse work, and furnace repair throughout the years. Nevertheless, he did not stop perfecting his craft of steppin’. He was excellent at freestyle with splits and flips. The couple danced at a variety of night clubs including the Dungeon and CopHerBox II.
Pete Frazier, who organizes the “World’s Largest Steppers’ Contest” at the Tinley Park Convention Center, states steppin’ emphasizes smooth footwork and graceful turns.
It evolved from the Lindy hop, ballroom dancing and the “bopping” of earlier generations.
Last year, the dance couple was honored at the event as legendary steppers.
According to his wife, after having children, Winfield proposed multiple times. She claims to have at least 12 engagement rings. However, she says she outgrew the club scene before he did.
The couple studied the Bible together and decided to get married in February of last year.
Mr. Winfield is survived by his children Chan-nel, Tina, Tyrone, Prince, Celeste, Tiara, Tyri, Wynter, Tygi, and London; sisters Juanita, Justine, and Debbie, and brothers Stan and Calvin “Cubby.”
Last month, the stepper died of cardiac arrest at his home in East Chicago, Indiana.
Written by Jeanette Vietti
Chicago Sun-Times: Tyrone ‘Ty Skippy’ Winfield, renowned stepper with the ‘fastest feet in the land,’ dead at 61; by Maureen O’Donnell
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