Regular Instructors

Hep Jen & Ken Watanabe

Hep Jen and Ken Watanabe at the Verdi Club, Jan 2017

Hep Jen has been teaching Lindy Hop full-time since 1997.  Originally from Seattle, she moved to San Francisco in 2004 and quickly established herself in the Bay Area’s Lindy Hop scene.  Jen has been running the Lindy Hop classes at the Verdi Club since 2005, is currently the head instructor at Lindy in the Park, and has also taught at Cat’s Corner, UCSF, Page Street Studio, and the Rent Party.  In addition, Hep Jen is a Lindy Hop choreographer, DJ, and performer, recently performing in Kim Nalley’s original musical play “Ella: The American Dream”, and choreographing for the CCSF Hot Bloods Lindy Hop performance troupe.

Hep Jen, Frankie Manning, Ken Watanabe at Lake Merritt Dance Center, Feb 2006

Ken is the head organizer and co-founder of San Francisco’s world-famous Lindy in the Park, running weekly since 1996.  He started teaching Lindy Hop in 1998 and has been teaching classes with Hep Jen since 2004, currently at Lindy in the Park, in the past at Cat’s Corner, UCSF, Page Street Studio, and the Rent Party, and now at the Verdi Club.  Ken has also taught at the 9:20 Special, the DoghouseAshkenaz, and the Allegro Ballroom, as well as workshops in Japan and Spain.

Jenna Chalmers & Jeff Kroll

Jenna Chalmers has been teaching and performing dance since 1993.  Originally an Irish Ceili teacher, Jenna switched her focus to the Lindy Hop just before the rebirth of the swing craze.  She has performed with The Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Manhattan Transfer, and Harry Connick Jr.  Jenna runs the popular Camp Swing in Mendocino with Shufina English and has been the choreographer for performance groups like Bay City Boogie, Le CanCan Bijou, and The Decobelles.  As an award-winning Collegiate Shag dancer, Jenna taught internationally before switching her focus to her current passion, Balboa.

Jeff started teaching Balboa in 2003, ran a weekly Balboa-focused venue in Oakland from 2006 to 2013, and has taught weekly classes at the Verdi Club from 2006 to the present.  Jeff has performed, taught, judged competitions, and DJ’ed at events all over the country and internationally.  Although he has accumulated titles and trophies from competitions over the years, he prefers instead the social aspects of dancing and teaching.

Guest Instructors

Catrine Ljunggren

Award-winning international instructor and performer Catrine Ljunggren learned Lindy Hop directly from Frankie Manning and Al Minns, two legendary dancers from the birthplace of Lindy Hop, Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom.  She is also well-versed in other jazz forms and dances from the swing era: tap, Charleston, Black Bottom, and Cake Walk.  Catrine’s authentic styling and vast knowledge, together with her zany personality, always make for classes that are both fun and educational!

Rebecca Shannon

Rebecca is known for her friendly, fun-filled classes and her love of all things swing.  Knowledgeable in Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Blues, and Collegiate Shag, she has taught, performed, and competed throughout the Bay Area and beyond and is currently the teaching partner of David Blood at City College of San Francisco.  She also performs with, and does choreography for, the City College performance troupe, the Hot Bloods.

Autumn LaVarta

Autumn LaVarta has been teaching swing dancing in San Francisco since 2005.  He was the organizer for the Friday Night Swing dance party and has taught at several different events over the years, including the Metronome Dance Center, Cheryl Burke Dance Studio, Rent Party, Cats Corner, Tuesday Night Jump, and, most recently, Woodchopper’s Ball.  He also teaches Salsa and Tango, and occasionally DJs at local swing dance events.

Cooper Buffa & Marco Buffa

This husband and wife dancing duo learned Boogie Woogie, a dance form that is largely abandoned in America, while living in Europe.  Marco has been learning and practicing Boogie Woogie for 5+ years and for multiple years has competed in the Italian National Boogie Woogie Competition.  Cooper learned Boogie Woogie from Marco and danced in show groups in Florence, Italy for the past two years.  Their passion for old Rock’n’ Roll hits and swing dancing come together perfectly with the dance style of Boogie Woogie.

Carissa Koo & Tor Helmer

Carissa and Tor are a dedicated partnership committed to spreading the love of Balboa in the Bay Area.  They love to teach Balboa in a manner that is both fun and easy to understand–with a heavy emphasis on connecting to your partner and conveying the music.  They believe very strongly in mastering the basics and having a good understanding of the fundamental aspects of the dance.

Carissa and Tor have competed and traveled around the world doing Balboa and would love nothing more than to share what they have learned with their students.

Michael Marangio & Kristin Wojkowski

Michael specializes in vintage dances, mainly of the “Swing Era.”  Dances include Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, St. Louis Shag, Big Apple, Shim Sham, Charleston, and Balboa.  Michael has been swing dancing since 1985 and teaching since 1995.  Inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2008, Michael is known for his ability to break down steps and making it easy to learn to dance.

A friendly face around the San Francisco swing dance scene, Kristin has taught at Cat’s Corner, Mission Mondays, Tuesday Night Jump, and Ashkenaz.  She loves to perform and has entertained audiences along with the San Francisco Jitterbugs and with Nathan Dias’ Swing or Nothing dance troupe.  Kristin’s vibrant energy will help put a hop in your step and a smile on your face!