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Sykes and her dance partner Jonathan Bixby started dancing together when she was fourteen years old. They were staff dancers for the television show Shebang during the 1960s. From 1981–1984, they studied with Dean Collins, who recommended Maxi Dorf for learning balboa. They were students of Dorf from 1984–1987.
She and Bixby represented the U.S. in the World Boogie Woogie Championships in Grenoble, France. She has been head judge for many national swing events as well as being a teacher on how to judge. Following the retirement of Bixby, Sykes taught in Santa Barbara, California, and at workshops around the world. In August 2008, she joined Nina Gilkenson and Tena Morales in founding the International Lindy Hop Championships.
Awards and honors
She is an inductee into the National Swing Dance Hall of Fame and the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame. She is a U.S. Open champion, was the NASDE top point winner, two time California Balboa Champion, took third place in the National Carolina Shag Dance Championships, and won many Strictly Swing and Jack & Jill dance contests through the U.S. in Lindy Hop, balboa, and West Coast Swing. She was twice voted Swing Dance Teacher of the Year and is a four-time Feather Award winner as Best Female Lindy Dancer in the U.S.