Nick Williams has embodied the passion and spirit of swing dancing ever since his first lesson in 1998. His in-depth understanding of Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Collegiate Shag stem from studying with the original dancers. His successes include World Lindy Hop Champion, U.S. Open Swing Dance Champion, American Lindy Hop Champion, National Jitterbug Champion, International Lindy Hop Champion, Ultimate Lindy Hop Champion, American Classic Balboa Champion and California Balboa/Swing Champion. He is also an accomplished choreographer and has been featured on the hit television show So You Think You Can Dance? As an instructor, he is known for his ability to break down movements and technique to create a fun and light-hearted learning environment.In 2004, Nick was honored to be recognized by the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame.
Kelly, from Knoxville, TN, has been dancing as long as she can remember. As a child she took ballet and jazz, but she was especially drawn to modern dance. At age 11, Kelly joined the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. She was with the modern dance company for 6 years, performing around the globe including Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Kelly attended the University of Tennessee from 1997-2001, during which time she was a member of the UT Dance Company. She was also a dancer and choreographer for Circle Modern Dance Company. In 2003, Kelly moved to New York City where she continued her modern dance career performing with Von Ussar Danceworks and MAD About Dance.
And it was also in New York that Kelly discovered her love for balboa and lindy hop. She holds repeat victories at the Balboa Rendezvous for 2006, 2007, and 2010. She is the 2008 ABW American Balboa Classic Champion and the 2012 ABW Showcase Champion. She has won the Balboa Strictly Divisions at ILHC and the European Swing Dance Championships as well. Kelly's love for swing dancing and teaching has taken her all over the United States and across the world, including Canada, Europe, Korea, and Australia.
Laura Keat began her swing dance career in Denver when she joined the award-winning Lindy Hop performance team 23 Skidoo! She immediately developed a passion for the art of swing dancing. Ever the disciplined student and skilled competitor, Laura began winning national titles and gaining recognition as a championship lindy hop follow with an independent style and point of view. She loves dancing with a wide variety of leads with diverse styles and ideas to challenge and broaden her own abilities as a follow. And as an instructor, she brings a fresh perspective towards developing each student’s technical foundation and individual style. For Laura, every dance is a chance to put smiles on peoples’ faces with an entertaining performance which shares and inspires the joy and excitement for swing dancing.
Jeremy Otth amassed a great amount of knowledge on the historic essence of vintage swing dances from many of the original jitterbugs and swing dancers. Along with his seemingly inexhaustible amount of energy, Jeremy’s natural talent and dedication led him to accumulate championship titles at many acclaimed dance competitions such as the International Lindy Hop Championships, National Jitterbug Championships, American Classic Balboa Championships and the US Open Swing Dance Championships. Jeremy is now able to share that breadth of knowledge and passion for these classic partner dances by entertaining and educating feet from Southern California to around the world.
Since 1998, Matt has been honing his dance skills; starting with East Coast, he quickly moved into Lindy Hop and other Swing-era dances–with a very short detour into Ballroom. He’s studied with top Lindy Hop and Balboa contemporaries as well being influenced by the original greats (Frankie Manning, Dean Collins, Maxie Dorf and Willy Desatoff).
From 2007 through 2011, he was one of the lead instructors for Get Hep Swing (assisting the incomparable Valerie Salstrom) and helped choreograph Hustle and award winning Swing routines. He strives to bring solid fundamentals and just-the-right amount of connection to Lindy Hop and Balboa, while creating room for musicality and playfulness. In 2011, he relocated to his home town of Austin where he’s enjoyed teaching Lindy Hop and Balboa for Four on the Floor, and is a contributing instructor for BalAustin. He’s happy to be wrangling the talented group of DJs Austin is lucky enough to have at the Swing Syndicate.
Nationally and internationally, Matt has been an instructor at Boogie By The Bay, the Eastern Balboa Championships, Dance Renaissance, and the Canadian Balboa Championships. He competes regularly in Balboa, consistently making the finals and has several placements at ABW, EBC, CBC, ILHC, and Camp Hollywood.
He was also a stand-in for Kevin Bacon in Footloose.*
*Recreating the famous dance scene in a skit. C’mon, he’s not that old.
Known for bringing a little math and science into the ballroom (don’t worry, just a little), Jen began tap dancing in pre-school and continued dancing and later teaching through high school. After putting aside dance to focus on chemistry in college, Jen was happy to return to dance during graduate school–-this time the partnered swing dances of Lindy Hop and Balboa. During that time, Jen began teaching and promoting, co-running beloved Philly events such as the Saturday Night Fish Fry, Philly Bal Night, and Bal Jam ’08. She now calls New York City home and enjoys teaching locally at You Should Be Dancing! and dancing at White Heat among other favorites.
Jen teaches and competes in Balboa on the international stage, having won the All Balboa Weekend J&J five times (0.500 batting average this last decade :)) She has also won or placed in various strictly competitions at the All Balboa Weekend, California Balboa Classic, Camp Hollywood, and the Eastern Balboa Championships (R.I.P.) and teaches around the world. In addition to competing and teaching, Jen also enjoys performing. (What can you say? She’s an only child.) She can be seen dancing real fast in NYC’s own AmazeBals as well as at private events. Jen’s favorites have been smack dab in the middle of the Museum of Natural History, right under the giant blue whale, and of course Lincoln Center!
As a teacher, Jen tries to balance her straight-forward manner and high expectations with lots of love, humor, and support for her students. She’s known for being able to teach truly multi-level classes where everyone is challenged to push their best a little farther. Never forgetting to address both follows and leads, Jen blends a clear, technical presentation with the musicality and spirit that make swing dancing so enjoyable.
David Frutos and Kim Clever
Irina started swing dancing at the age of fifteen and was immediately hooked after attending her first social dance. Over the course of the next few years, under the close guidance of some fantastic local dancers and many, many hours spent practicing and social dancing, Irina exceeded normal expectations of a beginner and was already teaching by the end of her first year. She is absolutely in love with Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Shag and is constantly pushing herself to try and achieve new heights with her dancing. Irina is thrilled to be partnering with the legendary "Sailor" Mike Mizgalski with whom she placed 2nd in their first Shag competition together at the National Jitterbug Championships.
It all started in 1998 with a girl, The Derby in Hollywood, a pair of 501 jeans and a bowling shirt. After spending the night at the bar refilling his glass watching that girl spin around the dance floor like a beautiful top, Mike vowed to learn this “swing dance” and impress the hell out of that girl if it killed him. After 5 frustrating months of classes he was about ready quit when he saw a couple dancing this thing called “Collegiate Shag”, he was hooked, and practiced for hours in front of his VCR watching a grainy copy of the Artie Shaw soundie of Lady Be Good trying to get it. He did. The next year he won his first trophy at the prestigious Camp Hollywood shag contest. Since then Mike has received trophies in that contest eight times, winning it twice! He reunited with “the girl” years later and after their dance, she responded “holy crap you’re good!”…VICTORY! Now, celebrating his 19th year of swing dancing he’s beyond thrilled to bring his expertise in Collegiate Shag to Hot Rhythm Holiday, and along with his partner Irina Amzashvili can’t wait share this dance we love!
Bill and Shannon Butler
In the midst of the Neo Swing craze Bill caught Shannon’s eye, they danced all night and never looked back. Since then, Bill diversified his repertoire to span over 65 years of popular dance, focusing on 1930s-50s dances. He brings speed and athleticism to the dance floor and when teaching uses his strong communication skills to help everyone learn to dance. Shannon, a third-generation swing dancer, was inspired by watching her jitterbug grandparents, and learned mid-century dances from her mom. Shannon trained, taught, and performed with a dance historian. She learned from swing giants including Betty Wood, Norma Miller, Frankie Manning and was honored to share a stage with the Nicholas Brothers. Shannon and Bill have taught their authentic styling and signature moves across the United States and overseas. Back in Minnesota, they host a long running weekly swing night featuring live music. Welcoming all, they are proud to have grown their dance community from the ground up.
Joe and Tabitha Robinson
Tabitha Robinson and Joseph Robinson began their dance partnership in Orlando, Florida in 2001. Together they began to further their knowledge and fundamentals in Lindy Hop, Collegiate Shag, Balboa and Charleston. Their focus is mainly on the basics, maintaining the authenticity of the original dances, and being creative within that structure. Shortly after their partnering they began competing and then teaching. They most recently placed 1st in the Strictly Shag Division and their dance team placed 4th in the Team Division at Camp Hollywood 2016. They have also performed for special events, including a PBS special for the Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Fest and for the Governor of Marlyand Convention. They love the dances and teaching others as well as continuing to further advance their own dance and partnership techniques.
Nial Bruce and Annabelle Hale
Annabelle and Nial are from Melbourne, Australia. They fell in love with Shag after they took their first lessons years ago. Ever since they've been working hard to build the Shag scene in Australia and teach frequently around their home country. They've won competitions both in Australia and abroad. Most recently they placed 3rd in Camp Hollywood's Shag division. They are passionate about Shag and place emphases on dancing Shag socially.
Watch Nial and Annabelle competing here (third couple on the right).
Ryan Martin’s love of Jazz music initially inspired him to start swing dancing in 1997. Since that time the music and dance of the swing era have become two of the primary preoccupations in his life. He has been dancing and teaching various swing dances off-and-on for the last twenty years. And in the last nine years he has expanded his involvement by studying the history of these dances. Ryan has travelled around the country collecting interviews with dancers from the original Swing era and completed a feature length documentary on one swing dance in particular, the Shag. He is a co-founder of the Hot Rhythm Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote and sustain the Jazz music and dance forms that originated in early part of the twentieth century. Today Ryan also travels to teach the Collegiate Shag both domestically and abroad.
Jennifer learned her first rock steps a long, long time ago from Valerie Salstrom and Joel Plys in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. After a foray into West Coast Swing and sparkly clothes, Jennifer returned to Balboa and Lindy Hop and began dancing competitively in 2010. When she's not traveling to events, competing, teaching Balboa classes in Austin, or coaching the Capitol City Feetwarmers (Matt and Jen's dance team), you can find her helping others organize dance events and volunteering for The Austin Swing Syndicate. This woman is all about #community.