SwingFest 2020 - Teachers
We've brought together some of London's most experienced and knowledgable teachers - professionals who will take your dancing to the next level!
Lindy hop and The Swing Debates
Angela was born and raised in Hackney, in London's East End. She has a background in music and dance, which was encouraged by her musical family. At the age of 6, with her guitar, she led the church choir.
Hailing from the first generation of lockers, poppers and breakdancers, Angela discovered Lindy Hop in 1991 at Jitterbugs (one of the only two dedicated swing dance clubs at the time), her love of jazz music and dance propelling her to search for the roots of street-dance - Vernacular Jazz (jazz dance which has its roots in dances from early African cultures i.e. Tap, Charleston, Lindy hop, Shag, Salsa, Hip Hop etc.)
Over the last 25 years, she has taught and performed at dance and music festivals worldwide. However, keeping true to her vocation as a community worker, she regularly takes part in local events, street parties, etc..
As a teacher, her emphasis is on social dancing; as a dancer, this is manifested by her renowned energy and improvisational skills on the dance floor. Influenced by the style of the "Old School", she incarnates today and is keen to retain the true spirit of Lindy hop: taking pleasure with a dash of humour.
Among Angela's current projects: Teacher-Training (seminars and talks); The Shed at Chisenhale Dance Space, London; Madrinha (Godmother/Patron) to Maputo Afro Swing, Mozambique since 2012.
In May 2014 came the highlight of her career when she performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. During that time, she also fulfilled her role as Madrinha to Hodi Dance Company, on their dance exchange in Harlem and Brooklyn.
Photo: Gordon Ayres
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.
Lindy hop and beginners swing dance classes
Romayne is a professional dancer working as a teacher, facilitator and performer in the UK and internationally. She was born in Coventry, taking her first steps into dance at a young age and eventually going on to study a BA (hons) in Contemporary Dance at Bath Spa University.
After completing her degree, she joined Spare Tyre on their internship programme – gaining valuable experience as a facilitator whilst creating multi-sensory theatre alongside adults with learning disabilities. Romayne then began teaching dance classes in care homes, schools, SEN schools and in various other environments with adults and children with additional needs.
Romayne’s long-time love of swing music naturally lead her to teaching and performing swing dance. She assists swing dance classes at City Academy with dance partner Holly France. In 2016 Romayne took over Swingland Brixton from Ciana and Oli Deans. Since then Romayne is a regular collaborator with Sugarpush Vintage Dance as a teacher, performer and recently curating and producing several bespoke swing dance retreats internationally. You can catch Romayne teaching weekly swing dance classes and workshops for Sugarpush and for Swingland.
Romayne is passionate about using dance to combat social isolation and create classes that are fun, inclusive and enhance well-being.
Wilderness festival, Harrods, The Royal Academy, Countryfile Live, British Olympic Ice skating Team, Laban Theatre, Sadlers Wells, Lillian Baylis Studio, Google HQ, New Diorama Theatre, Redbridge Drama Centre & Waterman’s Arts Centre, Monzo, Soho House, Soho House Istanbul, Rich Mix, Midsummer Murders.
Lindy hop, 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
Lindy hop and Balboa
Paul Crook has been a Lindy hop, Balboa and Shag teacher on the swing dance scene for the past 20 years. He won the UK Lindy hop Championships - held at Notre Dame hall in London’s Leicester Square - in his first year as a dancer, dancing with Judith Hammer - and then went on to compete with Natasha Hall, eventually winning again a couple of years later. Paul and Natasha became a well-known teaching duo working both nationally and internationally. They also became finalists in the BBCs Strictly Dance Fever dancing live on prime-time television every Saturday night.
Nowadays Paul is probably best known for teaching Balboa and Hollywood style Lindy hop.
Authentic Jazz Dance, Black Bottom and Shim Sham
Christine has been a passionate lindy hopper since 1994. Shortly after being introduced to the dance she was invited to join the Jitterbug Jammers Dance Troupe. She then went on to join the Lindy Circle Performance Group, choreographing and teaching as well as performing. She provided a creative stylistic lead for the group whilst Artistic Director 2005-2006. She provided a creative lead for the Ragtagglers lindy hop group and collaborated with her former students to generate the Revelettes women’s jazz troupe performances.
Christine has taught African-American vernacular jazz (1920s-1940s styles) and Savoy Style lindy hop as a guest teacher at numerous events in London and beyond, including classes at Kelly’s Dance Studio, Surrey Swing Scene, the 500 Club, Wild Times, Chiswick Arts Festival, Shoreditch Spa, BB’s Friday Night Club and Club Christine’s. More recently she taught at Jumpin’ at the Woodside, Gloucester. She has taught Lindy hop with her dance partner Ronnie Slide for over 15 years.
As part of the Lindy Circle Performance Group she came 1st in the team competition at the 2002 UK Open Lindy Hop Championships (London Swing Dance Society). Known as an inspirational free-style “follower”, Christine also won Best Jill (“follower”) that year. She was a finalist in the Big Apple Challenge and won 2nd Place in the Solo Blues Challenge (“peoples choice”), at the Studio Hop Jazz Roots Festival, Toulouse, summer 2010. She choreographed and coached the Ragtagglers for the 2011 London Jitterbug Championships (Swing Patrol) where they won 2nd Place in the Team division. The Revelettes won second runner up at the same event.
Christine provides intensive one to one training in solo jazz, blues and partner lindy hop – such private sessions aim to finesse students’ dancing by focusing on ‘groundedness’, posture, poise, asymmetry, dancing with the whole body and ‘feeling’ the music.
Christine is passionate about putting the Africa back into African-American vernacular dance.
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.