Several dance instructors at Northwest Dance Network teach our series classes and workshops. In beginning-level series classes, these instructors have help from teaching assistants, who can dance both lead and follow roles and provide class participants with personal guidance as needed. (Information on how to become a TA is available for anyone interested.)
In addition to the dance instructors listed below, a number of other individuals also teach at Northwest Dance events, including the one-hour dance lessons before our dances. Please check individual dances for information on who is teaching pre-dance lessons.
Guy Caridi has been dancing since 1988, performing and choreographing since 1991, and teaching since 1993. He is a founding member of Seattle’s Savoy Swing Club and with his dance partner, Nancy Fry, the first couple from the Pacific Northwest to teach Lindy Hop and Balboa. He has taught and performed internationally and is well known for his respectful, sensitive, and humorous teaching style. Guy has been artistic director of the Savoy Swing Club Performance Troupe for over fourteen years. In 1999, Guy and Nancy took home trophies in the Lindy Hop and Team divisions at the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships in southern California. In total, four of five routines choreographed by Guy were place-winners.
Guy has produced many dance events and shows in Seattle, including “What Is This Thing Called Swing” with The Rhythm Hot Shots from Sweden, “Swingin’ Then, Swingin’ Now!” with the legendary Norma Miller, and the annual Pacific Northwest Lindy Hop Championships (1999-2006).
Guy’s choreography credits for local theaters and schools include State Fair, Oklahoma!, Wizard of Oz, Charleston!, Kilroy Was Here, Music Man, Oliver!, Peter Pan, Anne of Green Gables, Urinetown, Robin Hood: the Legend Continues, The Fantasticks, Beauty and the Beast, A Rock ‘n Roll Midsummer Night’s Dream, Suessical the Musical, High Button Shoes, The Sound of Music, Godspell, and Into the Woods. He also choreographed and was a featured dancer in the 2011 movie Camilla Dickinson.
Sean (Gator Boy) Donovan
Sean Donovan brings great passion, joy, and excitement to dance and to teaching. Positive and playful, Sean is a creative and effective communicator who focuses on the essence of dance and its power to delight and transform us. Dancing and teaching since 1999, both nationally and in Seattle, Sean has been on staff with Northwest Dance since 2004. In addition to swing (his first love) and zydeco (a passion that prompted numerous learning expeditions to Louisiana and Texas), Sean revels in teaching blues, waltz, Whiskey River jitterbug, country two-step, and cha cha. Emphasizing solid basics, fluid movement, and elemental connection—to ourselves, the music, and our partner—Sean seeks to facilitate dancing ecstasy! More information on Sean at Gator Boy Productions.
Sending her daughter off to college in 2001 left Cathy looking for entertainment and a way to make new friends. The search led to her first dance class (Samba) and a large dance family. Along the way she has learned social dance skills in Country, Swing, Latin and Ballroom.
One of Cathy’s first instructors, Doug Henry of InStep Dance in Tacoma, WA, invited her to partner with him and was instrumental in her introduction to teaching. The rest they say is history. Over the last 11 years she has had the pleasure of teaching in the Tacoma, Tukwila, Auburn and Seattle areas. “I am excited to be back on staff with the team at Northwest Dance. We’re gonna have some fun!”
Nancy Fry discovered her passion for dance in 1981 and has been dancing ever since. Over the years she has participated in a large variety of partner dances, and enjoys it all. She began teaching Lindy Hop and swing-related jazz movement classes in 1994 with Seattle’s Savoy Swing Club, for which she was a founding member. At the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships in 1999, she and her dance partner, Guy Caridi, placed in both events in which they competed.
Nancy’s joy on the dance floor is in connecting with her partner, and she believes that this connection is where the magic in partner dancing is to be found. Nancy began teaching swing and waltz with Northwest Dance in 2004, and is happy to be part of this great team. Her teaching focuses on that special connection between partners—helping her students develop the ability to communicate and move together, to lead and follow, while having fun.
Lara is from Niterói (Rio de Janeiro state) but learned how to dance Forró in the various forró parties during her time living in São José dos Campos (São Paulo state) where she went to college. Though she studied (and still studies) other Brazilian social dances such as Samba de Gafieira, Bolero and Brazilian Zouk, her favorite is, and always will be, Forró. Lara started teaching in São José dos Campos at her university and even taught it for one year when she was living in South Korea. Shortly after arriving in Seattle, she was hoping to fine tune her Forro from other instructors only to find out that she was actually the most knowledgeable dance instructor (in Seattle) for this style of dance. Lara dances and teaches as a lead and follow and she often teaches at Forro festivals in the U.S.
Reinier Valdes and Daniela Gallardo of La Clave Cubana
Reinier (Rey) Valdes is the founder of La Clave Cubana and along with Daniela Gallardo, are the Co-Directors of their studio located in Seattle. Rey was born in Habana, Cuba and Daniela, from Mexico. Both have discovered a passion for dancing at an early age. Rey started dancing at the young age of 13 and was immediately recruited and showcase throughout Cuba. At 18, he graduated from the Cuban School of Dance as a dance instructor specializing in popular dances like Salsa, Son, Cha Cha, Mambo and Rumba. His dancing talents led him to Brazil where he started his own performance group called “Influencia Latina.”
Daniela Gallardo’s love for music and dance also started at an early age. She created her first choreography at age 15 and has been dancing Salsa for over 10 years. The mission of La Clave Cubana is to share the transforming energy of dance through the real essence of Cuban Salsa. “We believe dance should be for everyone who is looking to improve their mental, physical or even social lives and that is why we devote ourselves to pass along the joy of Salsa to anyone, no matter what age you are or what experience you may have.” Agua!