SwingFest 2023 - Teachers
As always for SwingFest, we've brought together some of London's most experienced and knowledgable teachers - professionals who will take your dancing to the next level!
Balboa, Authentic Jazz Dance and Charleston
Nikki Santilli is Authentic Jazz Dance tutor at Morley College London and holds her own classes in Wimbledon and Archway. She teaches solo and partnered styles from Ragtime to Lindy Hop, specialising in Balboa and 1920s-40s Solo Jazz. She runs Paper Moon and Moonshine, live music social dances.
Nikki has performed on stage at The Cadogan Hall in London with the Jazz Repertory Company and on television in The Tracy Ullman Show. She wrote and choreographed the stage shows, Journey Through Jazz (Arts Depot, 2009, 2010) Tales From the Jazz Age (Youth Music Theatre, 2016) and Velma & Johnny (2018). Nikki is currently developing Dream Dancing, with vocalist Natalia Amy Douglas and creating new projects for her own troupe, "Talk of the Town".
Photo: Michael Kayvan Bazergan
Liza has been dancing since the age of three, with many years specialising in the jazz dances of Harlem.
Trained in old-school Lindy Hop and Charleston by both original dancers from the 1930s and the leading lights of the swing revival, Liza studied closely under world swing dance masters including Frankie Manning, Chazz Young, Chester Whitmore, Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas. She teaches authentic swing dances, in a historical context, combining good technique with personalised styling and flair, that emphases responding to the music.
A former UK Lindy Hop champion, she has performed and choreographed for many venues and events, as well as dancing on some of the best loved TV shows, in films, music videos and for private events. Liza performed Charleston with the Sophisticated Ladies dance group as part of the People’s Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One, for the Help for Heroes charity at the Chelsea Hospital and at major dance events around the UK. She was also privileged to dance an original tap choreography by Miriam Nelson, a star of vintage Hollywood musicals, in front of both Miriam and the legendary Fayard Nicholas.
Liza teaches students good basic technique that forms the basis for variations and developing their own individual style, with enjoyment and a tailored approach at the heart of her classes.
Martin Ellis has been dancing Lindy hop and other swing styles since the early 1990s, and has been teaching regularly since 1998.
Martin began performing in the mid-1990s as a member of London-based Lindy hop performance group the Jitterbug Jammers and then moved on to the Illinois Jackets where he studied under world-renowned Lindy hopper Ryan Francois, also travelling extensively to learn from the finest exponents of Lindy hop, including original dancers like Frankie Manning. Martin was a founding member of the group which later became the Lindy Circle. He has also performed with the Cotton Clubbers, and with Zoots and Spangles.
Since then Martin has choreographed and performed many Lindy hop and jazz dance numbers for competitions, Cabarets and demonstrations, latterly choreographing and directing Lindy hop performance company, Fireflies (formerly Attic Cats).
Martin has always been a social dancer at heart - and in 1998 he set up his dance school Swingland as a vehicle to teach and promote swing dancing, principally in the London area. Swingland has had a major impact on the current swing dance scene in London and, having taught people from many parts of the world, Martin's influence now stretches far and wide. He has travelled regularly and retains a keen interest in the development of the dance and also its preservation in its original form.
The Savoy Ball and SwingFest are also Martin's creations - both of which are ultimately a labour of love - drawing on his passion for live music, and the style and romance of the swing era - and his desire to create truly unique and authentic events.
Kim has over 19 years of teaching experience teaching a wide variety of dance styles (from Ballet, Tap, and Jazz, to Ballroom and Latin, Lindy Hop, and Balboa) to people of every age.
Kim has been dancing Lindy hop since the 1990s, and has been teaching regularly with Martin at Swingland's weekly C Jam club, workshops, and private classes.
Claire Miller is a tap dance performer, choreographer and educator from London, UK. She is the founder and director of London Tap Academy and it passionate about authentic jazz dance education for children and adults.
Claire performs improvised work with live Jazz music and can be seen at various Jazz Festivals, Jams and Lindy Hop events across London and the UK. Her credits include Love Supreme Jazz Festival, the Royal Albert Hall Elgar Room, and the London Southbank Centre as well as regular performances at the London Tap Jam and the SOFF music jam.
In 2016-17 she was part of Tapestry Dance Company in Austin Tx where, under the direction of Acia Gray, she performed in productions of ‘Just Tap’ and ‘Of Mice and Music: A Jazz Nutcracker’. She is an alumnus of the Jacob’s Pillow Tap Dance Programme (2021), directed by Michelle Dorrance, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Derick K Grant, and has studied with dancers such as Josette Wiggan, Heather Cornell and Roxane Butterfly.
Claire is interested in the historical context of tap dance and its connection to ‘vernacular’ jazz dances such as Charleston, Jazz and Lindy Hop. She also likes to make short dance films.