Retired BLH/NSS Instructors

New School Swing was founded in 2010 by Shawn Hershey, Amanda Gruhl, and Nicole Zuckerman before it was merged into Boston Lindy Hop in 2015. Since that time, we have had many instructors who are no longer in the Boston area or are otherwise no longer teaching with us.  Check them out here!


 

Natalya Alissa

Natalya moved to NYC in 2014 to take a post doc at NYU.

Dancing has always been a big part of Natalya’s life, and she believes the world would be a better place if everyone danced a little more! Natalya was trained as a ballet dancer and taught and performed ballet and baroque dance professionally for 10 years. She also studied many other types of dance, including modern, jazz, flamenco, salsa and contact improv. In 2007, she discovered the swing dance scene when her coworker dragged her down the street to the swing night at a local jazz bar. Natalya immediately fell in love with the combination of artistic expression, amazing music, and wonderful people!

Natalya’s mother was a ballerina and her father was a musician, so in a moment of teenage rebellion she took up studying physics. Eventually, her interest in science became more than a bad habit and lead her to retire from ballet and move to Boston in 2009 to start a PhD in geophysics at Harvard University. She taught at New School Swing in Boston until 2014, when she finished her PhD and moved to New York City. When she’s not doing geophysics, you are likely to find her on the local social dance floor or travelling to national lindy hop and blues events to learn, dance, teach and compete. She is excited at every opportunity to share her passion for dance and movement with others.


Shana Worel

Although she’s a recent transplant to the Boston area, Shana has been teaching Lindy Hop, Balboa, and other swing dances since 1999. She ran a successful swing dance school in Boulder CO for 15 years and has taught hundreds of dance classes. She is well known for clear explanations and fun style, getting people to the next level the easiest way. She’s competed in a bajillion contests and has come away with plenty of awards, but her proudest achievements are her dance students that have gone on to become accomplished performers, competitors, and most importantly, social dancers. Shana is also a sought-after DJ, and has been featured at All Balboa Weekend, Lindy Focus, California Balboa Classic, Lindy on the Rocks, The Balboa Experiment, Rocky Mountain Balboa Blowout and many other events. She loves talking about music and helping new DJs learn, so ask her a question. Or ten. Or fifteen if they’re about Lionel Hampton. She's also a rocket scientist by day. But she'd rather talk about Lionel Hampton.


John Constantine

John Constantine has been Swing Dancing for over a decade. His first experience dancing was during high school when he was literally dragged to the local swing dance by his sister. That attitude quickly changed as he discovered Swing Dance would be a life long passion. During college John spent every month traveling, competing, and learning how to be a better dancer in cities across the South East. Moving to Boston and traveling in the North East has vastly altered John's personal style and technical skill. John is dedicated to mastering the craft of Lindy Hop and considers himself a life long learner. He is known as a high energy and expressive teacher. Technique is at the forefront of his mind but his classes always have more than a few jokes. Fun is the ultimate expression of swing dance and taking a lesson should not prevent you, or him, from having a great time!


Brian Pletcher

Brian started dancing Lindy Hop in 2000 at Middlebury College and has been hooked ever since. Currently, he teaches at Boston Swing Central and runs the Lindy Bomb Squad with is wife, Kellian Adams. The Lindy Bomb Squad is a group dedicated to spreading the joy of Lindy Hop through dancing in public spaces.



 


Gina Helfrich

Gina left Boston in early 2014 to take a job in Austin, Texas.

Gina Helfrich began dancing the Lindy Hop in 1999 with the Boston College Swing Kids and has continued swinging out joyfully since then. She has studied extensively with master Lindy Hoppers, including the legendary Frankie Manning (1914-2009). Over the years, she has explored many swing-era dances including Balboa, Charleston, and vernacular jazz. Gina is an accomplished teacher, competitor, and performer. She also likes to DJ.

Gina's teaching style focuses on the social dance floor and empowering her students to really "own" their dancing. She is especially committed to helping followers find their voice and confidence in the dance. Gina's skill at breaking down difficult concepts into easy-to-grasp pieces makes her a sought-after instructor, but most people come to her classes because of the awesome jokes. Most of all, she loves sharing the joy of jazz dance and swing music with others.

In addition to her extensive teaching experience, Gina has taken top prizes in a variety of swing dance competitions, including Lindy Hop, solo jazz, Balboa, and numerous Jack & Jill contests. Gina has choreographed and danced with a number of teams over the years and recently founded a jazz dance troupe called the Hot Damn Damsels. You can learn more about Gina at her website, www.dancewithgina.com


Nicole Zuckerman

Nicole founded New School Swing along with Amanda Gruhl and Shawn Hershey. She moved to San Francisco
Nicole's first foray into teaching Lindy Hop was in 2004, but her extensive and varied experience in other forms of dance began long before then. Nicole is acknowledged by her peers as being a fun and lighthearted dancer and a great communicator. Combined with her fine sense of musicality and whimsy, she thoughtfully articulates her theories on musicality and follow technique in an accessible manner for all students.

Nicole placed first in Novice Jack & Jill at Swingin' New England 2005, second in Open Jack & Jill at ALHC 2006, and was a finalist in Advanced Jack & Jill at Wicked Lindy Weekend in 2007.

Photo courtesy of Eli Pritykin.

Nicole and Adam LaMontagne performing their choreorgaphy to Dispossessin' Me at Blues Cafe 2010:


 


Jason Swihart

Jason has been swing dancing since 2006. A recent transplant from Boulder, Colorado, he was a frequent instructor in the Denver/Boulder area specializing in Balboa. As a dedicated social swing dancer, Jason is focused on lead-follow dynamics, musicality, and finesse. As an instructor, he strives to bring focus and clarity to his classes, while maintaining a balance between technique and moves. Jason has won or placed in numerous competitions nationally including at All Balboa Weekend, Lindy Focus, and Rocky Mountain Balboa blowout


Julie Brown

Julie is a lindy and blues instructor. For blues, Julie’s expressive dancing and joyful, playful connection are known throughout the country. With a background in performance and solo dance, she is best known for her solo blues, artistic choreography, and follower expression.

As a teacher, Julie presents material with a caring and often light-hearted tone. She carefully crafts her classes and continuously tailors her material to fit the crowd at hand. Julie teaches regularly in her hometown of Boston, and has taught workshops everywhere from California to London.

A hard-working competitor, Julie has also won many national blues competitions, including Enter the Blues 2013 Choreography Competition and Solo Competition, Mile High Blues 2012 Strictly and Jack & Jill, Enter the Blues 2012 Strictly and Choreography Competition, Emerald City Blues 2011 Strictly and Solo Cuttin, and many more.


Micki Balder

Micki Balder has rhythm, dancing, and who can ask for anything more? But seriously, Micki took her first swing lesson with the NYU Swing Society in 2005, initially hated it because it was too much fun (read: completely different from competitive collegiate ballroom), and then fell in love with it three years later after renouncing jive-and-ballroom-style-east-coast-swing-to-bad-pop-music in favor of lindy hop, jazz, and vintage culture. Micki is known for her obsessive dance habits, her ability to drop money on flights to dance events with no regard for her living expenses, and her sweet solo moves. She values an awesome pulse, killer swing outs, and mind-boggling syncopated footwork. Her dancing is clear and clean, with dirty, jazzy, and sassy styling. She is also especially skilled at rocking "that moment at a break where you and your partner both happen to do the same styling at the same time making you look like total pros." With her years of dance experience, her commitment to solid fundamentals, and infectious laughter, Micki brings smiles and skill(z) to everything she does, whether it's social dancing, competing, or teaching. If you travel to any national Lindy Hop event, say hi to her--she's probably there.


Alex Abdoulaev

Alex's unhealthy fascination with all things swing began in the spring of 2005, when a group of friends dragged him kicking and screaming to a dance in Towson, Maryland. From that point on, it was a downhill spiral of lessons, classes, and social dancing five to six nights a week. In late 2006, Alex joined Baltimore's premier performance troupe, the FlyCats, at the behest of his instructors Chiles Vandenbosche and Kristen LeChevet. In 2007, Alex moved to Boston, where he currently performs, teaches, DJs, and valiantly struggles against completing a 5-year Doctoral Program at Boston University.

Alex is predominantly interested in historically informed performances of jazz dance and music, particularly the small-combo recordings of Artie Shaw and the Gramercy Five. Alex has competed and placed 3rd in the Strictly division of Swingin' New England (2009), 1st in the Dirty Dozen in Providence, RI (2010), and made finals in the solo division of Stompology (2010). Alex also has a prodigious collection of swing and traditional jazz, and is in regular rotation in the Boston DJ circuit, and is a regular DJ for such organizations as Boston Swing Central and Monday Night Practice, and has DJed for such regional and national events as BIX (2010), Lindy Focus VIII (2009), and Beantown (2009, 2010).

For more information, see http://www.alexandreabdoulaev.com

Photo courtesy of Zac Wine.

ILHC 2012 Open Jack & Jill - Alexandre Abdoulaev & Lena Magnusson (2nd place)


Ogden Sawyer

Ogden’s experience with movement began studying martial arts at age nine. In 1997, he walked into a swing dance and was hooked. Over the last 12 years, he has studied various swing dances, ballroom dancing, African dance, Argentine tango, lindy hop, and blues dancing, and has been teaching lindy hop, connection, and musicality classes in the Boston area for the past 7 years.

Ogden and his main partner, Amanda Gruhl, have been dancing, choreographing, and competing in blues dance since 2000, and teaching blues dance since 2002. Their style of modern blues combines historic blues dance with modern concepts of strong connection, partnered improvisation, and elements from many of the different dance styles they have studied. This unique blend has given them a national reputation for inspiring and emotional partnered blues dancing.

Their teaching style communicates their passion for blues dancing, and encourages dancers of all levels to take chances and push their personal boundaries. Since 2003, they have been teaching at national events and workshops, including Blues Shout, Down Home Blues, Cheap Thrills, Red White and Blues, and Emerald City Blues Festival, and encouraging and supporting the recent growth and popularity of blues dance.

Ogden and Amanda performing at ALHC 2001:


Paul Mandel

Paul left Boston in 2013 to enter a masters program at Carnegie Mellon University.
Paul first started swing dancing in Santa Cruz, CA in 2005. After learning lindy hop in college from Sarah Spence Adams, he was dragged to a blues house party in 2006 and has been hooked ever since. Paul loves establishing a crystal clear connection with his follow and discovering their unique blend of musicality together.

Paul is based in Boston and teaches weekly classes and local workshops with national blues instructors Julie Brown and Amanda Gruhl. Paul has placed in several competitions, including second place in the Open Strictly at Blues Blaze 2009, third place in the Open Jack and Jill at Sweet Molasses Blues 2010, second place in the Jazz Jack and Jill at Enter the Blues 2010, and first place with Amanda Gruhl in the Choreography Competition at Enter the Blues 2010.

Paul and Anna Washenko winning 2nd Place in the Jazz J&J at Enter the Blues 2010:


Shawn Hershey

Shawn Hershey founded New School Swing with Nicole Zuckerman and Amanda Gruhl in 2010. He left for NYC in 2014 to follow Natalya and work in the Google NYC office. He continues to teach Blues dance nationally and internationally and attends both Lindy Hop and Blues events on a regular basis. Check out his website for his bio.

Email: shawn@newschoolswing.com


Chris Mayer

Chris is known in the Blues and Swing dance community for his musicality, creativity, and fun-loving spirit. A self-proclaimed Lindy Hop addict until he found Blues in 2006, Chris was drawn into dancing by its unique freedom of expression. Since then he has created a style of his own, with influences from Tango, Ballroom, and everything in between.

Chris loves the challenge and camaraderie of national Blues and Swing competitions — Give him any song and any partner, and he's going to have fun. He is adored by students everywhere from Hawaii to Heidelberg, and his teaching and dancing can be summed up best by this quote: "Technique? Check. Fun moves? Check. Playful attitude? Check!"


Megan Damon

Megan practically grew up with dance, having been started on a wholesome diet of tap, jazz, and ballet. In 2007, despite the vehement protestations of her friends and loved ones, Megan took her first class in Lindy Hop; Megan frequently likes to emphasize that she learned her first swingout directly from Frankie Manning, who instructed her to shake her “ba-boom” [sic.] as much as possible. Ever since then, Megan has been in and out of rehab, attempting unsuccessfully to beat her newly-formed addiction to all forms of swing dance. She has performed with Baltimore’s Fly Cats, Boston’s Wicked 9s, The Bees’ Knees of Boston, The Rockstep Lobtahs and was most recently an active performer and instructor of authentic jazz dance with New School Swing in Boston. Megan competes on a regular basis and won first place in the Open Strictly Lindy contest at the International Lindy Hop Championships in 2012. Megan now lives in Baltimore and enjoys dancing at the Mobtown Ballroom. Please go to http://megandamon.com/wordpress/dancer/ for more information.


Annabel Truesdell Quisao

Annabel is a self proclaimed social dancing addict who loves the communication and spontaneity fostered on the dance floor. In her teaching, she emphasizes connection, clarity, and technique, giving students the tools to inspire their partners and have fun and fulfilling dances. She loves spreading the joy of Lindy Hop.

A musician since she was 5 years old, Annabel always has had a special place in her heart for jazz and standards. After years of hearing her grandparents talk about dancing to the wonderful bands of the 1930s and 1940s, Annabel was quickly hooked on Lindy Hop when she was first exposed to it during the spring of 2003 at her undergraduate university, Colgate. She continued to fall in love with the dance at Penn State where she was also introduced to Balboa and Blues dancing, began traveling to workshops and competitions, and taught weekly classes. Since 2010, she has lived and taught in Memphis, Washington, DC., and currently, Boston.

Though first and foremost a social dancer, Annabel loves the challenge and excitement of competing. As a frequent presence in competition finals, she's collected some awards. Examples include 1st Place in the Fast Blues Strictly (with Daniel Repsch) at BluesShout 2011, 1st Place in the Open Lindy Hop Strictly (with John Paul Helveston) at the International Lindy Hop Championships 2011, and 2nd Place in the Amateur Jack and Jill at All Balboa Weekend 2013.


Liz Markle

Liz has been dancing lindy hop since 2000, and teaching since 2005. A self-proclaimed "connection junkie," she finds joy in shared movement, momentum, and playful inspiration. A dynamic, creative, and innovative instructor, she is known for leaping around enthusiastically when her students have 'aha' moments! She's also a fan of tricks and aerials, and loves learning and teaching the solid dance technique which makes powerful and musically expressive movements possible.

Although she competes periodically at local and national lindy and blues events, Liz focuses mostly on the joy of social dancing. She is currently dabbling in tango, hoping to become 'fluent' in several styles of dance eventually. When not dancing, she works as a therapist, teacher, and graduate student in counseling psychology. She hopes to be a friendly, available, and supportive teacher, and is interested in making our dance community as welcoming, friendly, and lively as possible!


Amanda Gruhl

Amanda has been dancing since age five. Experienced in dance instruction, choreography, performance, and show production, she has studied blues dance, lindy hop, jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical dance, sacred dance, and hip hop. She has also had instruction in other dance forms such as Argentine tango, flamenco, modern dance, popping/breaking, and ballroom dance.

Amanda and Ogden Sawyer have been dancing, choreographing, and competing in blues dance since 2000, and teaching blues dance since 2002. Their style of modern blues combines historic blues dance with modern concepts of strong connection, partnered improvisation, and elements from many of the different dance styles they have studied. This unique blend has given them a national reputation for inspiring and emotional partnered blues dancing. Their teaching style communicates their passion for blues dancing, and encourages dancers of all levels to take chances and push their personal boundaries.

Since 2003, they have been teaching at national events and workshops, including Blues Shout, Down Home Blues, Cheap Thrills, Red White and Blues, and Emerald City Blues Festival, and encouraging and supporting the recent growth and popularity of blues dance.

Amanda has also been teaching locally with Shawn Hershey since 2005 and they have since traveled and taught together at workshops and events around North America, including Austin Blues Party, Down Home Blues, From Montreal With Love, the Blues Blast Workshop Weekend in central PA, and Albany Smorgasboard. Their style of blending lindy hop, ballroom, blues, and Argentine tango into their dancing is both beautiful and powerful, and earns them praise wherever they go, most recently at the Emerald City Blues Festival, where they took 2nd place in the Strictly Competition.

Amanda and Shawn (in blue) performing with D'Shebam at BIX 2007:


Joe Rabinoff

Joe left Boston in 2014 to become a math professor in Atlanta.
Joe first started lindy hopping in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007, where he was taught by the great Carla Heiney at San Francisco's Swing Central. He loves fast music and thinks energetic dancing is an expression of the joy of being alive.

Joe focuses primarily on social dancing, although he has been known to compete in a Jack & Jill from time to time. He emphasizes connection and technique in his dancing. Joe completed Carla's teacher training program in late 2008 and has been teaching dance classes at various levels ever since.



 


Kate Feldman

Kate began her dance journey in the realm of ballet before deciding to leave a choreographed, solo dance for something partnered, improvised and quite silly. She started dancing at the University of Virginia swing club, going on to organize and teach there until graduation. Additionally, she was heavily influenced by classes at DC's Jam Cellar. Moving to Boston in 2011 for grad school led to an immediate involvement with New School Swing. Other than lindy and ballet, Kate's dance experience also includes blues, balboa, modern, jazz, and a smattering of other dance forms. She believes that the best dances are part technique, part musicality, and plenty of hilarity. Awards include Lindy 500 Open JnJ 2012 (1st), Hot Mess Team Comp 2012 & 2011 (1st), Followlogie Solo Blues 2012 (1st) and Lindy Focus Crossover JnJ 2009 (1st). You can see her dance in the following clip (in yellow).


Carl Herrmann

Carl Herrmann grew up in rural Illinois, and would like to report that it’s a good place to be from. In 2008, he started dancing in pursuit of a woman. Before too long, he was over her, but he hasn't been able to stop dancing. He is shocked that they have not made a romantic comedy about his life yet. He is known for his improvisational dancing, unique sense of style, and, most of all, his deep thoughts. He thinks about dancing as about momentum, communication, and fun. He loves rules - because they are fun to break.


Kellian Pletcher

Kellian Adams Pletcher is a sophisticated woman of consequence. mostly. Kellian's goal is to spread the gospel of lindy hop far and wide, to include all breathing humans into the fabulous world of swing and to dance with as many people as possible until her knees fall off. When she's not building games with Green Door Labs or training to become a kung fu master, Kellian spends her time with the Boston Lindy Bomb Squad, a lindy hop flash mob and its cousins, the Lindy Bomb Squad Special Ops (for tactical dance operations) and Lindy Bomb Squad JR (for tactical operations involving 12 year olds.)

Kellian has been dancing for over 10 years and is known respectably as "Yao bai nai nai" or "the grandmother of swing dance" in Shanghai for building one of the very first swing dance clubs in China. She highly recommends Mac Russian red lipstick and you should definitely ask her to dance. Definitely.