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 over 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. Benji is the Creative Director for the Us Open Congress since inception 3 years ago. 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 & Tatiana have been partners since 2000, and are 11-Time US Open Classic Division Champions, as well as each holding 20 US Open Titles across divisions. They also are multiple Grand National Champions, 7-time NASDE Champions, and are the most winning dance couple in West Coast Swing. Their TV and movie appearances include “30 Seconds to Fame”, “Star Search”, “Good Morning America”, “The Polar Express”, and “Love N’ Dancing” to name a few. They have earned a great reputation teaching all over the world as Certified Teachers for the Golden State Dance Teachers Association.  Their latest endeavor, JT Swing Teams, has created a new global community of dancers working together on a common goal to improve through choreography and gain exposure for West Coast Swing.

Toni Basil

Singer    Dancer    Actress    Choreographer    Judge    Film Director

A multiple Emmy Award and Grammy Award nominee, She has choreography and directorial credits on over 50 videos and has choreographed and co directed concerts for Tina Turner, David Bowie, Bette Midler, David Lee Roth, Mick Jagger as well as many others.

In 2008 received Hip Hop International’s highest award “Living Legend of Hip Hop.” One of the 7 original lockers; “the group that changed the face of dance.”

Emmy award for a commercial featuring MC Hammer. She has worked on an incredible range of television programming and numerous Music Awards shows.

Toni’s feature film credits include choreography for such classics as American Graffiti, and Legally Blonde. Her subtle choreographic hand was visible throughout Tom Hanks directorial debut; That Thing You Do. Toni has acted in numerous films including, Easy Rider, and Five Easy Pieces.

Double platinum record for her smash single Mickey and a Gold Album for 1981’s Word Of Mouth and holds the same from the UK, Canada and Australia. Billboard magazine’s #1 song for the month of December, 1982, Mickey was installed in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as one of the groundbreaking singles of the 1980s.

Classically trained dancer, with expertise in world dance and partnering Afro/Cuban, Tango, Flamenco, Salsa, east coast and west coast swing. From judging street dance events internationally to being a trending viral video, Toni has always being on the cutting edge of pop culture, and shows no sign of stopping.
Check this out…
https://www.bttoronto.ca/videos/toni-basil-still-breaks-it-down-to-hey-mickey/

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.

Kyle Redd and 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 onto the floor. They have performed 24 West Coast Swing Routines all over the world and are constantly driving to evolve their 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.

Yusuf Nasir

DANCER, CHOREOGRAPHER, INSTRUCTOR

Yusuf Nasir’s love for dance is infectious and can be felt far and wide. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Yusuf began dancing at age seven at Studio J in Berkeley, California, under the direction of Kris Bell. He is a graduate of the San Francisco School of the Arts, and attendee of the Ailey School in New York. A highly versatile dancer, choreographer, and instructor, his credits span through Film, Television, and Stage.
Dance credits include: Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Neil Patrick Harris, Ceelo- Green, Wayne Brady, Donny and Marie Osmond Live in Las Vegas, Ray Charles Live – B’way Tryout, Dancing with the Stars, MTV Video Music Awards, Spike TV Video Game Awards, Festival di San Remo, Mark Feuerstein and many more! In addition, he has appeared in not one but five national commercials. Now moving into directing and choreography and made TOP 5 contestant in the second season of the television choreography competition show “Every Single Step” Produced by Nigel Lythgoe and Brian Friedman. From that show, he was selected to be contributing choreographer for Jackie Chung World Tour, Directed by Emmy-award winning choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon (Nappytabs).

Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor of Dance at the American Music and Dramatic Arts College and Conservatory Los Angeles and the newest edition to the Joffrey West Ballet School. Past studios: Edge Performing Arts Center, Millennium Dance Complex, Chapkis Dance.

Heidi Burns

Heidi (Groskreutz) Burns holds six US Open Swing Dance Championship titles from Showcase to Cabaret and on and has enjoyed competing and participating in the US Open since the young age of 7! She was a top finalist in “So You Think You Can Dance,” performing in two of the most successful Emmy award- winning dances and has been featured on every major American television network as either a choreographer, featured dancer, and talent scout for ABC.  She has coached and continues to train the top International Latin Dance couples in the world including the World Champions from the Youth to the Professional categories!!! Traveling the world teaching Swing, Latin, and other styles of dance has allowed her to fulfill her passion in pushing the limits and boundaries of both her world-class pupils and the art of dance itself.  Her most prized titles however are that of Wife and Mother. She is thrilled and honored to be a part of the US Open this year!

Matt Auclair

Matt Auclair is a 6 time US Open winner!  His first US Open was in 1991. Matt Auclair began dancing at the tender age of 8, and, after much poking and prodding from his family, did he agree to try it, but only because he realized just how much attention his old brothers, Jeff and Tim, were getting from the ladies.  Matt’s dance career started as a family affair, he learned from his parents, brothers and close family friends….they traded moves and taught each other.  He learned from those who had been doing it the best, for the longest, and those that taught him always donated their time to pass on this wonderful dance to future generations. Matt, with his perseverence and competitive nature, went on to compete in the country’s most prestigeous competitions.  Matt has competed and won with several dance partners, including Sherry Lawson, Meagan McKechan, Michelle Kile, and his wife Crystal.  As a Junior dancer, Matt won the Junior division, the US Open 4 times, 1 time in Cabaret, and won his first ever adult division in Champions’ Strictly Swing with MaryAnn Nunez the first time he was ever allowed to dance up!  Matt is also the youngest person ever to be inducted into the DALLAS DANCE Hall of FAME.  In addition to competitions, Matt had the opportunity to travel abroad with a dance company from New York called “Swing Dance America.”  They traveled as a group putting on shows in Australia and in Tokyo, Japan, where he danced for 7 ambassadors from various countries.

Laureen Baldovi

Laureen is a 4-time UCWDC World’s Masters Division (Country Dance Professional Division) Champion (1995-1998) and has won 8 U.S. Open Swing titles in multiple divisions which include, Classic (1995), Superstar (1996 & 1997), Showtime Invitational (1998), Teams (1993, 1994 & 1996), and Showcase (2003) Divisions.

In 1999, a life-changing opportunity crossed her path, so she left California and moved to New York City to be a Principal Dancer in a Broadway musical show called Swing!

The California Swing Dance Hall of Fame awarded Laureen the Nova Star in 1998, the Rising Star in 2002, and the Shining Star in 2016.  In 2014, she was inducted into the World Swing Dance Council’s Hall of Fame.

In January, 2015, the UCWDC (United Country Western Dance Council) inducted Laureen into their Legends of Country Dance category, and in 2016, they inducted her into their Hall of Fame.

She currently resides in San Diego, CA teaching group classes and private lessons out of Starlight Dance Studio.

Kellese Key

Kellese Key is a 10-Time US Open Champion with 5 amazing partners (in order); Barry Jones, Brent Key, Michael Norris, Benji Schwimmer and Tommy Brodie. Texas based, West Coast Swing and Shag Champion,  international dance instructor with over 30 years experience in dance. Kellese Key is the founder of Swank Dance Fitness and is one of the most caring people in the world.  She is here to help everyone feel GOOD about their self and to help them gain CONFIDENCE in their self through DANCE-FITNESS!!  Even better, SWANK, her “dance-fitness” program, secretly “gifts” you her favorite dance on earth, West Coast Swing!!

Robert Cordoba

 Robert Cordoba, US OPEN Certified Judge and Swing Content Judge. Robert holds 7 U.S. Open titles, he is a member of the “Super 7″ – dancers who won BOTH the Showcase and the Classic Divisions at the U.S. Open and the first person to win 3 consecutive US Open titles, a U.S. Open Social Dancer award, 4 consecutive N.A.S.D.E. titles. Robert also has 4 Grand National titles,  a Dallas D.A.N.C.E. Hall of Famer as well as a World Swing Dance Hall of Famer, multiple J&J and Strictly Swing titles, awarded “U.S. Open Social Dancer” and was voted best Classic Swing Dancer by Dance Action magazine. Has judged every major event including the Grand Nationals and U.S.Open multi times. Over 30 years of dancing, teaching, performing, choreographing and judging experience. Robert Cordoba has been dancing, teaching, performing, choreographing and judging for over thirty years. He started competing in International Latin at the age of sixteen when he was a member of two U.S. International Latin American formation teams (placing 5th and taking the bronze medal at the World Ballroom Formation Team Championships). He was a top U.S Amateur competitor at events throughout the US, until he switched to West Coast Swing in 1990. Within two years he won his first U.S. Open title.
Robert Cordoba has judged every major event including the Grand Nationals and U.S. Open multiple times. He has been the head judge, MC and DJ at events throughout the Europe and the South Pacific. He is among the first group of professionals to help get the West Coast Swing scene started in New York; has been teaching throughout Europe since the late 90′s (helping to establish WC Swing in Europe); and was one of the first Americans to introduce WC Swing to the South Pacific back in 2000.

Torri Zzaoui

Torri Zzaoui is from Murrieta, CA and is no stranger to the US Open, since she has competed every year since 1999. She began in the Young America and Young Adult divisions, and continued into the Classic and Showcase divisions where she was the first person to win both the divisions in 2010.

Maxime and Torri travel almost every weekend all around the world sharing their love for this dance, and really want to bring a fun atmosphere to all of their classes!

Questions? Contact:

info@usopenswing.com
800-537-8937