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BETSY BAYTOS BIO

Born & raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Betsy was the only girl in a brood with 3 talented brothers. Her love of animals and artistic nature blossomed when a sudden move to the country and a small town called Greenford, surrounded by corn fields, cows, old barns, and her own horse Smoky, presented unlimited adventures. A permanent resident in ‘Betsy World’, she was off picking blackberries, riding bareback through wheat fields, swimming or catching crawfish and frogs. Her mother, a ballroom instructor kept up the dance classes, shuttling Betsy & her brothers in a frenzy of recitals while her father, a contractor, pursued his dream of building a 26 acre resort and Camp Shangri-La became a reality.

Betsy loved performing as much as drawing and after one year as the bottom rung of the cheerleading pyramid, focused on dancing. Born with an unusual limberness and comedic flair, and dabbling in community theater, Betsy knew it was time to leave the nest and in 1975, flew straight to the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California. It wasn’t long before Betsy was dancing’ up a storm with a 30 piece all male banjo band at a local pizza parlor, all the while pursuing her new career as a fine artist.

With no prior knowledge of animation and in her first semester at art school, Betsy submitted a portfolio of sketches to the Walt Disney Animation Studios, and found herself in an interview with famed animator Eric Larson. One week later, she was on her way to Burbank, California to begin her first two months as an animation trainee. Eric liked her spirit and she was hired full-time, matched with an animator suitable to her personality, the great Cliff Nordberg, to begin work on her first animated feature, ‘The Rescuers’.  Betsy thrived at Disney, dancing with the ‘Firehouse Five’ outside the commissary at lunchtime, while honing her skills in animation. She was soon sent to tour nationally around the country promoting animated feature films and teaching animation workshops, a career spanning over 30 years.  

While working at Disney, Betsy studied dance under Vaudevillian Jon Zerby, and noticing her flexibility, introduced her to Eccentric Dance and her first silly walk, thus igniting a lifelong passion. Betsy began researching in earnest, searching for mentors in this esoteric field. On leave from Disney, Betsy found them in a Vaudeville Burlesque show ‘Baggy Pants & Co.’, developing an Eccentric solo act, and Jim Henson’s Muppet Show in London, performing the ‘Betsy Bird’, created specifically as a vehicle for her Eccentric movement.

Now back in California, Betsy soon uprooted herself once more for the Big Apple and while working for Disney there, was featured in Broadway’s ‘Stardust’, dancing Eccentric with her full sized puppet partner Maurice. The show closed and Betsy made the decision to produce a Documentary on Eccentric Dance and interview all those relating to the subject, which is now near completion.

Betsy now lives in Glendale, California with her rescued felines: Hopi, Roxy & Pip and a never ending flock of finches at the feeder.  She continues to design product for herself and an array of clients and continues to work for the Disney Animation Studios. Betsy utilizes her Eccentric language and animation background to teach ‘character movement’ for animation studios, universities and dance companies across the globe. She works endlessly to fulfill her dream for a tree house art studio, a small farm and one day, another horse to call her own.

Sinbad