Instructors

Irina Amzashvili

Irina Amzashvili (Photo by Jerry Almonte)

Photo by Jerry Almonte

Dancing in all forms has been a lifelong passion for Irina (she/her). In 2009, at the age of 15, she stumbled upon Swing dancing and it took only one night of social dancing for her to fall head over heels in love with it. Though Lindy Hop was her gateway into the world of Swing, Irina's passion quickly expanded to include Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and solo jazz. She is proud to have spent her formative years of dancing in Southern California, home to some of the best Swing dancers, teachers, and music in the world. Irina has since received numerous accolades from events such as Camp Hollywood, The International Lindy Hop Championships, and Lindy Focus and has taught these dances all across the U.S., Asia, Europe, and Australia. Additionally, she is honored to have been inducted into the Camp Hollywood Hall of Fame in 2019 and the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2022.

Irina's teaching style can best be described as patient and encouraging. Her goal is to guide her students through building solid foundations while inspiring individuality in personal movement, as well as helping build confidence through dance.

Anthony Chen

Anthony Chen

Anthony's (he/him) first ingress into the performing arts was at age 8 when his parents convinced him to learn and perform Chinese lion dances. Naturally, he then stumbled upon breakdancing during a national speech and debate tournament in middle school, and he had his first foray into swing dancing at age 16 alongside other young interns from a research laboratory. Since then, he has trained in other dance styles including West Coast Swing and various modern street dances, but most of all he enjoys using this background to expand upon his technique and creativity in Lindy Hop. On the social dance floor he is known to be playful, musical, creative, and clear.

He holds first place titles from events such as International Lindy Hop Championships, Montreal Swing Riot, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, Lindy Focus, and Lindyfest and Lone Star Championships. His love of both leading and following, combined with his professional background in education, make the classes that he teaches both clear and intuitive. He is an active scene builder in his community and founded Salt City Swing, a non-profit in Utah where he teaches locally.

Dee Daniels Locke

Dee started Swing Dancing at the age of four with her Dad in the basement, wearing her Mom’s heels and her favorite plaid skirt. With a hiatus into hip-hop during her school years, she was called back to Lindy Hop, and co-founded her college swing dance club. She has became an influential member of the Minneapolis scene. For over a decade she’s shared her love of Lindy Hop with dancers young and old, teaching and dancing nationally at swing dance events.

Dee loves feeling free on the dance floor and advocates for self-expression and individual creativity as the true spirit of Lindy Hop and Vernacular Jazz. She dances for joy, and in either partnered or solo dancing, searches for presence in each moment. She loves responding to the music and partner, priding herself on making each dance unique to the musical experience and partner, creating an authentic dance conversation.

She has taught, performed, and choreographed nationally and internationally, but mostly she wants to have a good dance. You should ask her, she follows and leads and wants to dance with you.

Matt Richey

Matt Richey has been dancing Lindy Hop and Balboa since the tender age of 11. His dance career started with a performance team, including dancing on cruise ships and at Disneyland. In 2004 Matt attended Camp Hollywood for the first time (he hasn’t missed a year since) and he quickly fell in love with what swing dancing can offer; not just Lindy Hop but all swing.

He won his first local competition at age 14 hosted by Nevada County Swing Society and was asked to dance for the local TV station to promote NCSS.

Since then he traveled all over the world learning from some of the world’s best dancers such as Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Jean Veloz, Sugar Sullivan and Chazz Young, and many others.

One of Matt’s accomplishments he is most proud of is the Juniors program he started in Nevada County, CA. Matt has gone around to teach at countless schools to spread the love of dance. Over the 7 years he ran the program he brought juniors to competitions and events in California and also brought teens to compete at the International Lindy Hop Championships 3 years in a row. His students brought home the 1st place award in the Junior Jitterbug Showcase at ILHC in 2018.

Over the years, Matt has won hundreds of titles in multiple styles of swing, including West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop and Balboa. He is becoming the most recognized crossover dancer in the circuit as well as being a familiar face on the social dance floor everywhere! In 2018 Matt was inducted to the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame. As much as Matt loves swing dancing, he loves teaching and sharing his love for dancing and music just as much! He currently teaches adults and kids in several local schools and studios in Orange County.

He is known for fun loving energy, musicality, showmanship and performance.

Kim Bernatchez

Kim (she/her), a Montreal-based dancer, has fostered her passion for jazz dances for over a decade. With a deep-rooted affection for close embrace and slow dancing, she naturally gravitated towards slow balboa. For Kim, the allure lies in the profound connection with her partner and the music, cherishing the captivating synergy that emerges when every voice is heard.

In her teaching approach, Kim prioritizes empowering individuals to discover their unique expression within the dance, and she values fostering a collaborative environment where everyone's voice is valued and shared.

Cara DeGrandpré

Photo by Samantha Kunz photography

In 2013, Cara (she/her) stumbled upon the captivating world of swing dancing, igniting a passion that has since shaped her journey. Since becoming a balboa dancer in 2014, she has been actively engaged in the vibrant dance scene of Montreal, Canada.

Her involvement over the years has been multifaceted, spanning from teaching and mentoring to event organizing and founding/coaching troupes, notably Bal Gals from 2017 to 2020. Cara is one of the organizers of Apéros Balboa Montréal and a founding member of Campus Balboa, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering balboa growth and excellence. Additionally, she teaches weekly at Cat's Corner Swing Dance School.

Her extensive training at Cat’s Corner, recent certification in psychosocial intervention, and current work as a community center facilitator deeply influence her classroom approach. With a steadfast focus on comfort, safety, and creativity, Cara's teaching philosophy places empowerment at its core. She notably embraces the pedagogical use of "sound effects" in her lessons, considering it a tool for enhancing learning experiences. Her ultimate goal is to nurture dancers on their individual paths, enabling them to cultivate their love for dancing.

In the realm of Slow Balboa, Cara's achievements stand as a testament to her skill and dedication. Alongside Kim Bernatchez, she clinched the runner-up spot for Bal Love in Prague (2023) and secured finalist positions in New York Bal Week (2023). She has also excelled at events like the Chicago Great Lakes Balboa Escape, winning 1st place in 2018 and being a finalist in 2019. Her teaching endeavors have taken her to exciting events such as Toronto Bal Weekend, GLBE, Bal Moment Quebec & Montreal, along with classes in Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, and various local classes, enriching the dance community with her expertise.

A self-professed night owl, Cara thrives on the energy of caffeine and the power of hugs, infusing her interactions with infectious enthusiasm and warmth. After all, it takes a little extra fuel to keep that fancy footwork going until the break of dawn!