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.
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.
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.
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.
Jeremy Otth amassed a great amount of knowledge on the historic essence of vintage swing dances from many of the original jitterbuggs 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.
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!
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.
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. He currently holds regular classes in Collegiate Shag at Four on the Floor dance studio in Austin, TX.
Jenn Lee is lucky to have Seattle, Washington as her home dance scene, although you can find her traveling all over the world for Balboa events. She grew up in rural North Dakota, playing the violin, oboe, and singing. She also earned a black belt in Shotokan karate. During school one of her friends took her to a swing dance, and she has loved dancing every since.
When not on the dance floor she is an Ophthalmologist by trade. She also loves hiking with her beloved dog in the Pacific Northwest and skiing on the steepest, highest mountains possible.
Jennifer holds 1st place titles from Lindy Focus, The Snowball, California Balboa Classic, All Balboa Weekend, the Eastern Balboa Championships, Montreal Dance Festival, and Lindy Fest. Her film titled “One Girl and Two Boys” featuring the Mint Julip Jazz Band won the Jazz Dance Film Festival. As an instructor, her focus is on creativity and partner communication. She is also known as an avid social dancer and is often one of the last dancers to leave the dance floor.
Augie Freeman is a Los Angeles based Balboa and Lindy Hop Instructor who’s passion and enthusiasm for swing has kept him dancing since 2003. His inspirations come from dance history, old clips, and time spent with original dancers. As an instructor, Augie's classes are centered around joyful love of movement, partner connected rhythm, and light-hearted fun. His dance adventures have taken him across the United States and to Europe. Among his modest accomplishments, Augie was inducted into California's Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2012 and has competed in many National and International level competitions including: ILHC, NJC, and the Lindy Hop World Cup. Although Augie loves to compete, his true passion is for social dancing and sharing his thoughts with others.
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. Her most recent achievement is winning the Open Couples contest at Music City Shuffle with her husband Matt. When she's not traveling to events, teaching Balboa classes in Austin, or coaching the Capitol City Feetwarmers (Matt and Jen's dance team), you can find her writing technical documentation for Apple and researching pickups for her fantasy football team.
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).
Amanda began swing dancing in 1995 and did her first swing-out a year later. After moving to Austin,Texas in 2014, she fell in love with Collegiate Shag and immediately began competing. She won the first Shag competition she ever entered (Hot Rhythm Holiday 2015) and has been competing regularly since. Most recently she took first place in the Open Strictly Shag division at the California Swing Dance Championships in Sacramento. Amanda loves spreading her love of Shag and other swing dances with new and experienced dancers alike. Currently, she teaches regular dance classes with Four on the Floor in Austin.