Instructors 2017-10-13T09:45:42+00:00

MEET OUR
INSTRUCTORS

Kelly • Mickey • Kate • David • Olga • Andreas
Heather • Javier • Jennifer • Matt • David

(scroll for detailed bios)

Kelly Arsenault

Kelly, from Knoxville, TN, has been dancing as long as she can remember. As a child she took ballet and jazz, but she was especially drawn to modern dance. At age 11, Kelly joined the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. She was with the modern dance company for 6 years, performing around the globe including Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Kelly attended the University of Tennessee from 1997-2001, during which time she was a member of the UT Dance Company. She was also a dancer and choreographer for Circle Modern Dance Company. In 2003, Kelly moved to New York City where she continued her modern dance career performing with Von Ussar Danceworks and MAD About Dance. When she met Mickey in 2004, she discovered her love for balboa and lindy hop; and so began their amazing friendship and partnership.

Mickey Fortanasce

Mickey began swing dancing in Los Angeles in ’99. A year later he was teaching local swing classes at NYU. After graduating he worked with local teams in New York including Varsity Swing and Hop Swing and a Jump and later started running his weekly dance White Heat (something he’s been meaning to start up again).

Mickey and Kelly Arsenault have been dancing and competing since about 2005. During this time, their innovation and showmanship, coupled with their love of dance history and theory, have led them to become internationally recognized teachers and competitors in both Lindy Hop and Balboa. Together their winnings include repeat victories at the Balboa Redezvous for 2006, 2007 and 2010. They are 2008 ABW American Balboa Classic Champions as well as winners of the 2010 ILHC and ESDC Balboa Strictly division. Mickey and Kelly have taught extensively in the US, Canada, Europe, Korea, and Australia.

Kate Hedin

Following in the path of her great ancestor, Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, Kate has traveled to the greatest unknown regions of following and footwork. Aside from a love of classically inspired Lindy Hop, she is most known for her unique and elegant style of Balboa.

The result is an impressive resume. Kate holds championship titles in almost every major competition, including the American Classic Balboa Championships, the International Lindy Hop Championships, the Euro Balboa Cup, and more. She is also a highly sought-after competition judge. In 2012, she released two highly praised DVDs specifically for Balboa followers on technique and aesthetics. As a teacher, Kate is known and loved for her logic-based language, her unique methods of teaching technique, and, overall, never leaving student followers disappointed.

She is proud to have held, along with her friends at Get Hep Swing in Cleveland, the Guinness World Record for longest dance party ever (52 hours, 3 minutes). Her fashion is admired by many, her lines desired as far as the Orient. She also does trapeze.

David Rehm

David Rehm is a geek-turned-professional-dancer specializing exclusively in the partnered swing dances, Lindy and Balboa, and widely considered one of the top Balboa dancers and instructors in the world. He is regularly featured teaching and judging at the most prestigious events dedicated to those dances throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In addition to numerous awards, in 2006 David captured both the American and European Balboa titles (with different partners) by winning the American Classic Balboa Championship and the Euro Bal Cup. He is also the creator of The Experiment, “the world’s most intimate and intensive Balboa workshop”, as well as the founder of the Northeast Balboa Corridor (NEBC) project. David is best known for his ability to capture both broad thematic abstractions and technical details all in the form of conceptual principles.

Heather Ballew

Heather Ballew has always been drawn to music and movement.  For two years she taught ballroom, latin, and swing dancing at World of Dance in Denver.  A regular competitor at events around the country, Heather has performed and competed with Denver’s champion swing dance troupe, 23 Skidoo, and has been an instructor at Beantown Summer Camp, Balboa Rendezvous, Rock That Swing, and Provence Swing Festival.  She holds titles from Camp Jitterbug, International Lindy Hop Championships, Camp Hollywood, All Balboa Weekend, and Canadian Swing Championships, but her proudest dance achievement to date has been organizing and growing a group of mighty fine dancers in her hometown.  She is known for her personal investment in her students’ success and is a popular instructor in greater Denver for Lindy Hop, Blues, and Balboa.

Javier Skeets Johnson

is a rocket scientist by trade, and he brings a powerful analytical sense which joins the mechanics of dance and the soul of expression. He is well versed in all the swing dances, but specializes in Balboa and soul. As an international swing dance instructor, he’s traveled around the world sharing his joy of teaching and his passion for jazz dances. He was the founding member of Lindy Circle (now Hartford Underground) back in 2007. He wanted to create a space where folks could get down and have some serious fun.

Jennifer Barnett

Known for bringing a little math and science into the ballroom (don’t worry, just a little), Jen began tap dancing in pre-school and continued dancing and later teaching through high school. After putting aside dance to focus on chemistry in college, Jen was happy to return to dance during graduate school–-this time the partnered swing dances of Lindy Hop and Balboa. During that time, Jen began teaching and promoting, co-running beloved Philly events such as the Saturday Night Fish Fry, Philly Bal Night, and Bal Jam ’08. She now calls New York City home and enjoys teaching locally at You Should Be Dancing! and dancing at White Heat among other favorites.

Jen teaches and competes in Balboa on the international stage, having won the All Balboa Weekend J&J five times (0.500 batting average this last decade :)) She has also won or placed in various strictly competitions at the All Balboa Weekend, California Balboa Classic, Camp Hollywood, and the Eastern Balboa Championships (R.I.P.) and teaches around the world. In addition to competing and teaching, Jen also enjoys performing. (What can you say? She’s an only child.) She can be seen dancing real fast in NYC’s own AmazeBals as well as at private events. Jen’s favorites have been smack dab in the middle of the Museum of Natural History, right under the giant blue whale, and of course Lincoln Center!

As a teacher, Jen tries to balance her straight-forward manner and high expectations with lots of love, humor, and support for her students. She’s known for being able to teach truly multi-level classes where everyone is challenged to push their best a little farther. Never forgetting to address both follows and leads, Jen blends a clear, technical presentation with the musicality and spirit that make swing dancing so enjoyable.

Matt Mitchell

Since 1998, Matt has been honing his dance skills; starting with East Coast, he quickly moved into Lindy Hop and other Swing-era dances–with a very short detour into Ballroom. He’s studied with top Lindy Hop and Balboa contemporaries as well being influenced by the original greats (Frankie Manning, Dean Collins, Maxie Dorf and Willy Desatoff).

From 2007 through 2011, he was one of the lead instructors for Get Hep Swing (assisting the incomparable Valerie Salstrom) and helped choreograph Hustle and award winning Swing routines. He strives to bring solid fundamentals and just-the-right amount of connection to Lindy Hop and Balboa, while creating room for musicality and playfulness. In 2011, he relocated to his home town of Austin where he’s enjoyed teaching Lindy Hop and Balboa for Four on the Floor, and is a contributing instructor for BalAustin. He’s happy to be wrangling the talented group of DJs Austin is lucky enough to have at the Swing Syndicate.

Nationally and internationally, Matt has been an instructor at Boogie By The Bay, the Eastern Balboa Championships, Dance Renaissance, and the Canadian Balboa Championships. He competes regularly in Balboa, consistently making the finals and has several placements at ABW, EBC, CBC, ILHC, and Camp Hollywood.

He was also a stand-in for Kevin Bacon in Footloose.*​​

*Recreating the famous dance scene in a skit. C’mon, he’s not that old.

Olga Marina

Olga was born into a family of teachers (language and music) and since early years has been an energetic live wire – studying music, doing athletics, martial arts, and gymnastics. In 2007, she was introduced to Lindy Hop and this is where the real passion story begins. She got hooked on dance and started to explore more of the dance world by getting into Blues and later Balboa. She has been actively traveling the globe in pursuit of more opportunities to dance, learn, and compete. Later she began to share her love for Swing music and dance through teaching. In her classes, Olga pays a lot of attention to getting students interested and involved by giving challenging and fun tasks, working both on technique and musicality, and infecting them even more with the passion for dancing.

Andreas Olsson

Andreas Olsson lives in Stockholm, Sweden. He grew up on the wrestling mat, fighting other little boys in leotards. He won most of the time since he’s always given 100% in everything that he does. He also played the violin in an orchestra during his childhood. You might not think classical music and wrestling has much in common with Swing dancing, but it has definitely contributed to him becoming the unpredictable, creative, musical and interesting dancer he is today.

Andreas was introduced to Lindy Hop in 2001 and a few years later to Balboa. Andreas teaches dance because he loves to see students learn and improve. As Andreas sees it, teaching is inspiring since it offers a possibility to contribute to the ever-changing dance style and scene.
Andreas claims to be the unchallenged record holder (so far!) of most hours spent on social swing dance floors in Stockholm. He is an energizer bunny, and only takes a break to change into another colorful tie.

He has been placed in a number of prestigious competitions in both Lindy Hop and Balboa around the world with a number of well known swing dancers. He is also a history lover and one of the very few marine archaeologists in the world. Ask him about the ”Vasaship” or ”Vikingships”.

David Deenik

From day one, Dave’s journey learning swing dance and Lindy hop began by traveling all over the Midwest and even across the country learning from the best instructors the international scene has to offer. Dave started teaching for his hometown scene Naptown Stomp in 2013. In and out of the classroom he loves to explore where and when momentum can be created in the dance and how partners can capitalize on it.

Dave is also a big fan and promoter of St. Louis Shag and is considered to be one of the strongest shag dancers in the Midwest. You may have seen him in shag competitions and performances at events like The Nevermore Jazz Ball, Southern Swing Challenge, Lindy Focus, and more. Ask him to dance wherever you find him!