The Lindy Hop, Balboa, Blues, and Jazz Dance Camp and New Year's Party - Dec 26, 2019 to Jan 1, 2020
Dancing has always been a passion for Irina, her expression completely and boundlessly inspired by music. She began learning Lindy Hop in 2009 at the age of 15 and fell in love with it after her first night of social dancing. Shortly thereafter, her passion for Swing dancing expanded to include Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and solo Jazz. Since her start in Orange County, CA, Irina has taught these dances all across the U.S. as well as Europe, Asia, and Australia. As a teacher her goal is to patiently guide her students through building solid foundations and technique as well as inspiring individuality in personal movement. Irina's greatest joy as a teacher is to see her students progress with their dancing, no matter the increment. (photo by: https://www.instagram.com/j_s_almonte/)
Jenna has been a key member of the Lindy Focus team for years, and we’re proud to welcome her back to the teaching roster this year. She has attended, coordinated, and taught various workshops and exchanges all across the globe. Some of her favorite highlights are performing at Benaroya Hall in The Jump Session Show and teaching for Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing. Above all else she believes that learning to dance should be fun. With over 10 years of teaching/coaching experience, she loves finding new ways to connect with other dancers on the floor and in the classroom.
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. When she moved to NYC in 2003, she also discovered her love for Balboa and Lindy Hop.
Kelly has been dancing and competing in Balboa and Lindy since 2005, with titles at various events including Balboa Rendezvous, ILHC, ESDC, All Balboa Weekend, and the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown. She's taught extensively in the US, Canada, Europe, Korea, and Australia, and is very excited to be a part of the Lindy Focus team!
LaTasha “Tasha” Barnes is an artist, dancer, entrepreneur, and ambassador of culture. Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Tasha has enjoyed much of her life immersed in jazz, funk, soul, and R&B music and dance thanks to her DJ father and dancing family. Having turned that lifelong passion into cultural activism she serves towards achieving the mission of Urban Artistry, Inc to preserve the arts that represent the urban experience, as a directing member, performer and educator. She is celebrated for her musicality, athleticism, and joyful presence throughout all her dance forms which include: House, Hip Hop, Waacking, Vernacular Jazz, and Lindy Hop. Through her own expression and endeavors Tasha hopes to inspire fellow artists to cultivate an authentic sense of self in their creative expressions and daily lives.
Shani is a Balboa and Swing dancer from sunny southern California. She is best known for her fast, syncopated Balboa footwork and her soft connection – which has been said to feel like a ‘warm hug’. As an instructor, she strives to make dancing simple and effortless with a strong emphasis on combining foundational basics with the soft skills of connection mechanics and partnership to develop smooth flow and personal style.
For over 15 years, Shani has dedicated herself to learning, preserving and sharing her love for Balboa and other vernacular jazz dances. She began swing dancing 1998 before moving to Orange County where she discovered a vibrant vintage swing community well connected to their local ‘old timers’. She was immediately attracted to the fast footwork of Balboa and began frequenting the dance floors of first-generation dancers.
Shani is honored to have honed her social dance skills and footwork under the guidance of legendary dancers Willie Desatoff, Hal and Marge Takier, Bart Bartolo, Jack Carey and many others. And although she has competed, placed and won several major competitions, she mainly enjoys social dancing and inspiring others to love balboa and swing.
Nathan Bugh is known worldwide for his intimately rhythmic style of Lindy and vernacular jazz. He has showcased these styles in many iconic venues, such as Jazz At Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Apollo Theater, Jacob's Pillow, and the Guggenheim Museum. Active in the Lindy Hop scene since the late 1990's, Nathan has earned numerous first-place titles in Solo Jazz, Lindy Hop, Team, Invitational, Slow Dance, and Mix/Match divisions, at events like the International Lindy Hop Championships. He is also the choreographer of the 2015 ILHC winning team, "Yeah Man.” He is a principle dancer in the feature film, Rebel In The Rye, and in several music videos, including the Weepies, Be My Honey Pie. Other on-film credits include My Fair Wedding S.3 E.3 Great Gatsby Bride, Fox and Friends Christmas, and Ric Mysterie - Up All Night. In 2016 Nathan joined Caleb Teicher, for Meet Ella, a staged duet combining Lindy Hop, jazz, tap, individual and partnered improvisation. His subsequent work as a member of CT&Co, and later Wild Rhythm Dance Company, is helping to cement Lindy as a concert-dance style.
Hyunjung Choi is a swing dancer, instructor and choreographer. Having majored in Korean traditional dance and enjoyed various dances such as dance sport and ballet, she came across swing dance in 2005, and instantly became fascinated by the dance.
Since 2006, she has been teaching various lindy hop classes with new ideas, aiming for the growth of Korean swing dance scene, as well as competing internationally to acquire various titles.
She continues to show her unique character in workshops and events all around the world. She is a passionate dancer who strives to better express herself, and her delightful dancing gives positive energy to everyone who watches her dance.
Gaby Cook is a veteran lindy hopper of all stripes. For 15 years, she has been an active professional in the global lindy hop scene — teaching and performing for events such as Herräng Dance Camp, Lindy Focus, Paris Jazz Roots, Rock That Swing Festival, Stompology, Lindyfest and the IG hop Dance Residency in Vienna among others. In addition to her career as a teacher, she is also a choreographer and performer of lindy hop performance material. Currently she is artistic director for two New York dance based companies based in the language of Swing and Vernacular Jazz: Wild Rhythm Dance Company and Gatsby Entertainment. These two companies have presented feature performances on stages like Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Series, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, 92nd St Y, Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center, The Great Gatsby Party and many appearances at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center. Wild Rhythm is a current dance company in residence at Brooklyn College through the CUNY Dance Initiative program for the 2019-2020 season.
In the classroom, she is playful, informative and authentic. Through teaching dance, she seeks connect new audiences to the immensely rich history of swing-era dances. She prioritizes equality for leaders and followers within the classroom space — and has championed a movement first approach to teaching partnered dance content.
Swing dancer (Lindy Hop & Authentic Jazz), Clàudia Fonte explores and embraces all kinds of playful ways in her dancing. Her main source is Swing music. Furthermore, she likes to connect and communicate with the other dancers and get inspired by them in partner dancing, as well as in solo dancing.
Taking the classic rhythms and moves as the foundation she challenges herself to keep them alive through her own perspective and interpretation.
Even though swing dance has a great historical tradition she believes in its evolution and expansion; respecting but also transforming the roots she tries different ways and communication styles, like in the partner dance. The traditional roles established in Lindy Hop are subject to this lively and spirited approach, as well.
Where she really expresses herself and shows herself is solo dance. Improvising creates a fruitful and joyful environment to find new movements and to set creativity free while providing the dancer with a cheerful atmosphere. Authentic Jazz enables her to achieve and explore challenges proposed by Swing music. Essential to her approach is promoting solo dancing in the context of social dancing, as well. Dancefloor is where everything starts and where the magic happens.
Mickey began swing dancing in Los Angeles in '99. Mickey and Kelly Arsenault have been dancing and competing since about 2005. During this time, their innovation and showmanship, coupled with their love of dance history and theory, have led them to become internationally recognized teachers and competitors in both Lindy Hop and Balboa. Together their winnings include repeat victories at the Balboa Redezvous for 2006, 2007 and 2010. They are 2008 ABW American Balboa Classic Champions as well as winners of the 2010 ILHC and ESDC Balboa Strictly division. Mickey and Kelly have taught extensively in the US, Canada, Europe, Korea, and Australia.
Jo Hoffberg is a bigwig and longtime fixture of the Lindy Hop scene. She holds first place titles from the American Lindy Hop Championships, Canadian Swing Championships, International Lindy Hop Championships, European Swing Dance Championships, National Jitterbug Championships, Savoy Cup, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, and U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships. Since 2007, Jo has traveled the world spreading jazz culture through vintage partner dancing and has taught and performed in 25 countries across 5 continents. She teaches vernacular jazz, charleston, aerials, and lindy hop. She hosts intensives in Europe and North America, has produced an extensive online learning library (digital downloads and streaming), is a co-producer of Swing Break Mexico, the head judge at the Balkan Lindy Hop Championships, and runs an personalized Online Training Programs for competitors around the world. Induced into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2013, Jo is a passionate and avid dancer, instructor, and competitor.
Australian born, raised in China, and educated in the United States. Andrew started dancing in 2006 as part of a small lindy hop scene in Beijing. For someone who never danced before he thought it was pretty cool. That year the Harlem Hot Shots were on tour and happened to be in town performing, he saw the show and was inspired, making the pilgrimage to the Herrang Dance Camp in Sweden after dancing for only 2 months.
Known for a fluid style with a touch of rhythm, he is a proud member of the Brothers & Sisters in Rhythm an international crew of dancers from the land of Swingistan.
Andrew loves social dancing more than anything else, as a dancer he is known for his at times crazy energy on the floor, and as a teacher he loves discovering and sharing fun steps with everyone.
Peter Kertz began dancing the Lindy Hop in Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. The scene, filled with inspiring dancers and a rich history of swing dancing dating back to the 1930s, was enough for him to fall head over heels with the Lindy Hop. Following his love for the dance and the music, he began traveling the world, discovering the many of voices and styles that people are now bringing to make vibrant the scene today.
Although currently, Peter lives in Montpellier, France, he travels to teach and perform Lindy Hop around the world. His vision of the dance is as a language without words, bringing people together, connecting them both literally and figuratively across all walks of life.
For Peter, Lindy Hop is an embodiment of a musical form centered around freedom and expression. And as for teaching the dance, he draws from this, better connecting dancers with this music, as well as with one another.
Nikki grew up with a passion for early Jazz and Swing music and learning to dance was a natural progression. A 1st place win at the National Jitterbug Championships jump started her career and required her to compete at the Pro level. She started assisting her mentor and now husband, Shesha Marvin, with local classes and national workshops and learned quickly to be a clear and effective teacher. Her teaching style focuses on the things she loves the most about Lindy Hop: lead and follow, rhythm, musicality, and style. Nikki is a strong believer in dancing for the right reasons. Dance for yourself and no one else. She feels that we should look to others for inspiration and guidance, but form our own ideas about the dance.
Mikey Pedroza is a powerhouse of a dancer in the world of swing, having competed, performed and taught American Jazz dances (Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Slow Dancing (Blues), and Solo Jazz) throughout the United States and the world. Earning international acclaim for his impeccable style and technical precision. His classes focus on developing individual style and a confident connection through lead/follow techniques, creativity, rhythm, and body awareness. His vigor for the dance can only be overshadowed by the joy and self-confidence Mikey inspires in his students.
Laurel fell in love with swing music nearly three decades before she threw herself into the dance. Soon after her first lindy hop crash course Laurel was attending every event she could reach across the Midwest, jonesing for another dance to a live band.
Laurel’s background as a teacher and world traveler serves to fuel her passion for learning and teaching swing dance. She nerds out on putting educational theory into practice to better serve her dance students. Her passion for diversity on the social floor helps her encourage dancers to be themselves. Laurel’s goal is to help preserve lindy hop’s roots as a social street dance while re-translating partner roles for continued relevance in modern culture.
Michelle aims for her students to leave with a firm foundation in rhythm, momentum, and the fundamental shapes of swing dance. She emphasizes comfortable body movement and strong rhythm over the look of the steps. As a feel-good dancer, Michelle hopes to inspire others to get on the social floor no matter what their experience and to be unafraid to ask anyone, of any skill level, to dance. She also encourages dancers not to take themselves too seriously, and will back that up with antics and loud noises.
Damon has been dancing his entire life, starting with vernacular Jazz/Blues first taught to him at the tender age of six by his grandmother. After nearly a decade of learning at the heels of his elders, he went on and eventually studied a numerous dance forms until coming full circle in 1995 to focus primarily on the history and styles of Swing and Blues as his family danced them with a special focus on the Southern styles from the Mississippi Delta region. He has studied the development of vernacular Jazz/Blues dance across the United States learning from a number of the original dancers. He is largely regarded as one of the foremost authorities on Blues idiom dance and has been interviewed as a dance historian in documentary, radio, and newspaper. Damon has been a featured instructor at camps, festivals, and workshops across five continents.
Kelsy brings her lifetime of dance training, a passion for vernacular dance, and a sharp eye for technique to the Blues dance world. She has brought her joy and knowledge of blues idiom dances to some of the most important and high-profile events in the US and abroad, including but not limited to: bluesSHOUT!, The Experiment, Muse, Hearken the Blues, and BluesGeek--serving as faculty, mentor, competition coordinator, and judge.
Kelsy's critical eye and love of deep technique are tempered by her love of "dad jokes," getting lost in the music, and embracing of the ridiculous. She shows her appreciation of African American culture by speaking of the history of Blues idiom dance and taking her craft seriously, but never herself. She believes every mistake is an opportunity to learn, every class an opportunity to challenge, and every dance an opportunity to pay respect to those who came before.
Jon Tigert found swing dancing at the tender age of 15 and never looked back. Now, somewhat older than 15, Jon shares his knowledge of the dance all over the United States and the World. You may know him from his roles at events such as Lindy Focus, Lindy Fest, The Canadian Swing Dance Championships, The Chinese Lindy Hop Championships, Herrang Dance Camp, The International Lindy Hop Championships and many more. Known for his concise language, historical knowledge and and infinite supply of dad jokes, Jon's classes are immensely informative and entertaining. Beyond teaching, Jon is often seen behind the microphone as a well known MC and host, behind the computer as a DJ, or behind the drum kit playing and singing with various bands.
Elze Visnevskyte comes from a vibrant dance scene in Vilnius, Lithuania. Since she was a kid Elze has been exploring a variety of dances - from old Renaissance to traditional folk dances. She has also spent a lot of time acting in the theatre so she takes a part of it to her dancing and improvisation. Dance for her is much more than leading and following, it is essentially a conversation with a partner and with the music. She values creativity and playfulness and spreads it to her students. You can recognize Elze from her contagious energy and loud laugh.
Elze has been traveling and teaching Lindy Hop and Solo Jazz in various festivals and workshops abroad as well as growing her local dance community where she is one of the owners of What a Jazz dance studio.
Bobby White has taught Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Solo Jazz around the world for over a decade. He has won various championships in all, including an unprecedented three out of four years of winning All Balboa Weekends prestigious American Classic with Annabel Quisao. He is honored to teach at Lindy Focus with Shani Brown and LaTasha Barnes. His passion for the dances is rivaled only by his passion for teaching and swing dance pedagogy.
He is know for his storytelling talks and teaching based on science, culture, and sound-effects. He is the author of the renown swing dance blog Swungover* and the book Practice Swing: A Choose Your Own Adventure Guide to Getting Better at Swing Dancing. He is the founder of The Swung Furies and The Harvest Moon Hoppers, New York performance groups that specializes in taking inspiration from the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers.
Todd Yannacone is one of the most recognizable names on the swing dance circuit today. He has been a fixture on the international teaching scene since he was a teenager, and holds countless titles from such prominent competitions as - The International Lindy Hop Championships, The European Swing Dance Championships, The American Lindy Hop Championships, The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, The U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships, The National Jitterbug Championships, Lone Star Championships - to name a few. Todd is a California Swing Dance Hall of Fame inductee, and has been interviewed for Swing Dancer Magazine, "The Track" podcast, and various other publications. He has taught vernacular jazz, Balboa, Shag, Lindy Hop, Charleston, and other jazz era dances since he was 16 years old. His demand as an instructor, performer, and judge has taken him to 31 countries across five continents. He specializes in connection and musicality, which is apparent every time he steps on the dance floor. He has worked with dance and music legends alike - from Frankie Manning to Aretha Franklin - and is a member of the acclaimed dance troupe, the Silver Shadows.