Congress Instructors and Presenters

Creative Director: Benji Schwimmer

A third generation swing dancer, Benji Schwimmer holds records in nearly every category of West Coast Swing and has been swing dancing for 30 years this month!

Having an extensive background in most dance styles, Benji’s training, coaching, lecturing and choreography is a sought-after tool to both the recreational dancer to the most elite of competitors.

Outside of swing, “America’s Favorite Dancer” is the artistic director for various live tv shows and recently wrapped an upcoming series set for release mid next year. When not dancing, he coaches and choreographs for some of the highest Olympic-level figure skaters in the world and is a recognized Olympic figure skating coach.

Instructors: Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollmann

Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann have been a successful partnership since 2000. They are 11-Time US Open Champions, 6-time NASDE Champions, and Multi-Grand National Champions, as well as dominating the Classic Division throughout the past 6 years.

At the UCWDC World’s event they were given the Star Award for the Couple with the Most Impact on Swing, and Jordan won Best Swing Choreographer. They have won Swing Couple of the Year for 5 years straight on the web site: www.usaswingdance.net

They Travel 47 out of 52 weekends per year, competing and teaching packed workshops and intensives all across the USA and Internationally. They are Certified Teachers in the Golden State Dance Teacher’s Association.

Robert Royston

Robert Royston’s professional career began on the competitive couples dance circuit in 1989. Quickly ascending the ranks, Robert successfully secured eight (8) “U.S. Open Swing Dance Championship titles,” six (6) different “World Country Dance Championship titles,” and two (2) “USA Grand National Championships Titles.” In addition, he holds national titles in Hustle, Salsa, and Cabaret. Inducted into the “California Swing Dance Hall of Fame” in 1999, Robert continued his rise as a dance legend becoming the youngest person inducted to the “UCWDC Country Dance Hall of Fame” in 2007. His inductions into the “World Swing Dance Hall of Fame” and the “Living Legends of Dance Society” in 2011 make him the only dancer ever inducted into all of these organizations. Robert’s exciting, high energy original work gained the attention of producers of the Broadway musical, “Swing!” This led to his appearance for 1-1/2 years in the 7 time Tony nominated musical as a principle dancer performing his own choreography. He later became the assistant choreographer for the first National Tour of the production. Royston’s work was highlighted in the production of “Gypsy of the Year on Broadway” at New York’s Palace Theatre, as well as “Destination Groove”, a Choreographer’s Showcase. His choreography again drew attention in the New York workshop production of “Urban Cowboy,” a production in which he also performed.

Deborah Szekely

Deborah Székely “say kay” started dancing when she was three years old. At the age of 10 she
performed at the famous Harvest Moon Ball with her Jr. company dance troupe, and at 16,
competed on “Star Search” with Tyce Diorio from “SYTYCD” She has been dancing and
competing ever since.

Formally trained in ballet, tap, and jazz since the age of 3 and teaching since the age of 15 at
Horizons Dance Centre. Deborah has also been trained at The Joffrey Ballet and Miss
Christine Neubert at Carnegie Hall. She was a summer dance scholarship winner at Theatre
Dance for two years owned by Lisa Danias, sister of famous Joffrey Ballet Dancer and the
Ballerina Starr Danias in the “Turning Point” movie.

During Deborah’s first year of med school she decided to follow her one true passion: dance.
She left med school and began teaching line dancing at the famous “Denim and Diamonds” in
NYC, and jazz at Dance Manhattan. She also waited tables to make ends meet in the tough
world of being a dancer in New York City.

In 1995 she was introduced to WCS. In 1996 She began Competing the swing circuit with Steve
Neeren. After a year of much success she was approached by then 3x US Open Swing Dance
Champion Robert Cordoba. In 1997 Deborah and Robert became partners for 15 years. In That
15 year span they together accumulated four more US Open Titles. two in Showcase and 2 in
Sophisticated and a US Open Jack and Jill win for Deborah. They won NASDE 4 years straight
from 1997-2000. Deborah was also voted favorite female dancer in 1997. in 2011 Deborah
Decided to pursue her West Coast Swing without a partner and is the top Female traveling on
her own teaching to this day.

Deborah has 8 Grand National Titles. She is a Dallas Dance and California Swing Dance Hall of
Famer. She was White Hatted In Calgary in j une 2014. In November of 2014 she was Inducted
into the National Living Legends of Dance.

Deborah Continues to travel the world spreading her love and knowledge of Dance and West
Coast Swing. Deborah also still competes In Jack and Jills and Strictly Swing in the Champions
division and consistently places in the top 5. She continues to work on her craft to make her a
better Dancer and Teacher.

Jim Tigges

Jim Tigges of Phoenix is serving the US Open SDC as Competitor Liaison. As the facilitator between the contestants and the Chief Judge & Event Promoter, he will be the conduit for any questions or issues from competitors regarding rules, format, schedule, conduct, contest issues, judging and results. He will represent the contestants in any violations/penalties meetings or any contest issues on the floor. With over 25 years of experience as a competitor, judge, computer scoreperson, event director, chief judge and a WSDC Executive Board member, Jim brings a broad understanding to all aspects of the competitions and a reasonable approach to any issues that may arise. With the US Open’s goal of providing the ultimate competition experience, he is honored to be ‘the voice’ for the competitors and encourages them to reach out to him with their questions or concerns.

Ken Haebich

Is it Is or Is It Ain’t Swing!

DeeJay/Competitor/Teacher Swing Music Education 

The US Open is excited to have Ken Haebich teach a DJ/Competitor/Teacher Swing Music Education Workshop at our Congress. This workshop will provide a technical explanation of how musicians make a song swing, or not. This information will provide education to dance couples when choosing music for competitive swing routines, teachers when selecting swing music for their classes and Swing DJs when selecting competition music for Jack & Jill and Strictly Swing contests.

Ken Haebich began his professional career in music at age 13 by playing bass in rock and blues bands. He earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees at Illinois State University where he studied with the distinguished composer Roque Cordero. After moving to Chicago in 1980 he joined the City Lights Orchestra, an organization specializing in providing music for corporate and fundraising events. As a freelance musician he has performed with a diverse group of entertainers including Ray Charles, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Berry, Garth Brooks, Ken Nordine, Barrett Deems, Khari Parker (drummer with Beyoncé), and many more. Every Friday in Chicago he leads a jazz trio that features Redd Holt (85 years old, original drummer with Ramsey Lewis), and Jim Ryan (pianist, Henry Mancini and Al Jarreau). Since 2001 he has held the position of Adjunct Professor of Music at Elmhurst College where his duties include teaching Jazz Studies, String Bass and Electric Bass, Composition, Rhythm Section Fundamentals; coaching Jazz Combos, and performing with the Jazz Ensemble. He has conducted and written music for the Elmhurst College Percussion Ensemble. In 2003 he revitalized the school’s Chamber Orchestra and was their Music Director and Conductor until 2009. Ken composed all the music for his band NUMBERS. As the co-founder of The Ken and Jim Show he has performed numerous improvisational concerts collaborating with widely disparate groups of artists including dancers, singers, instrumentalists, comedians and even auctioneers.

Ken is looking forward to leading a workshop dealing with aspects of swing music in contemporary dance music Topics scheduled to cover:

  • Brief swing music history
  • Technical instruction on what makes a song swing
  • An exercise to test songs for swing
  • How to identify swing in contemporary R&B, Blues, Hip Hop, and Pop music
  • The difference between hustle and swing music
  • How non-swing music effects swing contests and judging by Bill Cameron.

Kyle Redd & Sarah Vann Drake

KYLE AND SARAH ARE 5 TIME NASDE CHAMPIONS, HOLD 11 US OPEN TITLES AND ARE 8 TIME GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.

As a partnership, they have been teaching, competing, performing, judging and choreographing all over the world for 12 years. They are the only couple to hold a US Open Swing Dance Championship title in both the “Showcase” and “Classic” Divisions.

This innovative couple love what they do and it shows every time they step on the floor.

They have performed 24 West Coast Swing Routines all over the world and are constantly driving to evolve style while strengthening technique.

Kyle and Sarah are best known for their ability to teach their innovative style while preserving the fundamental roots of West Coast Swing.

John Lindo

After beginning in country-western dance in 1992, John Lindo quickly made his mark on the West Coast Swing circuit by garnering an astonishing number of awards and championships in Jack-and-Jills and Strictly Swings. Some of his First Place awards include the U.S. Open, Grand Nationals, Phoenix Champion of Champions. He is also sought after internationally for his experience and teaching, having travelled to five countries in the past year alone. John currently resides in New Jersey, and is an influential presence in the New York City West Coast Swing scene.

Yvonne Antonacci

Yvonne Antonacci has been dancing, teaching and judging since the 1990s. Although Yvonne was originally involved in jitterbug dancing, she quickly got involved with WCS when she saw it for the first time at the Phoenix dance convention.

She was so inspired by WCS that she started the first WCS club here in Chicago, and that club, the Chicago Rebels Swing Dance Club, still operates today. In addition to starting the club, Yvonne was also the heart and spirit behind bringing the first WCS dance convention to Chicago and that event was the original Chicago Classic, which was one of the original national events to join NASDE.

Yvonne, together with Barry Jones, were instrumental in bringing the “Rising Star” event from Dallas to Chicago, providing newer competitors with the opportunity to compete against their peers.

Yvonne has served as a Judge at many events on the NASDE circuit and continues to stay active here in the Chicago dance community.

Demery Leyva

Line dancing and two-step introduced Demery to the dance scene at the young age of 16. It was West Coast Swing however, that ignited the passion within. Being born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, he has helped to develop the local WCS community by providing weekly classes as well as teaching for the “Jacksonville West Coast Swing Club’s” monthly dances whenever possible.

Known for his fun and easy going workshops, Demery travels throughout Florida not only as an instructor, but as a Chief Judge.  Students and Colleagues come to him for private lessons, choreography, group classes, judging and event coordination.  His love of the dance can be seen on the dance floor as well as on the competition floor.

Bill Cameron

BILL CAMERON

  • 1997 US Open Swing Dance Champion
  • 1998 American Swing Dance Champion
  • 2 time American Lindy Hop blues champion
  • 2 time Canadian Swing Champs Blues Champion
  • US Open Judge
  • National Dance Dynamics Board Member
  • GSDTA Certification 1
  • Teacher and judge training from 5 different training programs
  • World Swing Dance Council Charter Member
  • NASDE Event Director
  • Cover story in Jitterbugmagazine
  • First Event Director to run a crossover J&J, NADC
  • First Event Director to offer a feedback program to dancers that did not make finals

Questions? Contact:

info@usopenswing.com
800-537-8937