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.
Claire Carey started learning East Coast swing at age 7, and quickly realized dance was a place she could be totally herself. Soon in the repertoire were waltz, zydeco, blues, Lindy Hop, foxtrot, and nightclub two-step. At age 15, Claire started teaching with her mom, Lilli Ann Carey, and the duo became known for fun, creativity, and occasionally a priceless mom/daughter moment. Although Claire is a technician through and through, she always brings her abundant joy and idiosyncratic nature into the room.
While partner dancing was always a hobby, and teaching quickly became a passion, Claire didn’t become obsessed until she began learning West Coast swing. She knew immediately that she’d found her favorite dance, and five years later she’s as delighted as when she saw the first pass. Claire is very thankful to have had the opportunity to train with top level professionals in West Coast such as Jordan & Tatiana, Sean & Courtney, John & Alyssa, Robert Royston, Jim Minty, and her coach of many years, Katie Schneider. Her hard work has paid off with multiple first and second placements, and she looks forward to her next competitive events, and a Rising Star routine in the works!
Lilli Ann Carey
Lilli Ann Carey began partner dancing with Living Traditions in the 1990s and then went on to teach for them for several years before leaving to start her own company, Dance for Joy! Lilli Ann loves to dance almost anything, but focuses her teaching on waltz, West and East Coast swing, zydeco, foxtrot, one-step, blues, fusion, and a few vintage dance forms. Lilli Ann promotes dance through classes, workshops, and events through her company, Dance for Joy! and is excited to return to Northwest Dance this fall! She is known for producing larger scale events including the An Evening in Vienna Viennese Ball and also coordinates the highly successful Dancing ’til Dusk program for Seattle Parks and Recreation. Lilli Ann has taught in Vancouver BC, Juneau, Alaska, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta, in the Bay area, and in Portland. Her creativity, love of the connected and playful dance, and innovation has brought her national recognition and an ongoing and excited student base. You’ll often find her teaching with her daughter Claire.
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.
Scot began dancing on the country circuit 16 years ago and fast became one of the most sought-after leads on the dance floor. He has been dancing WCS for 12 years and started sharing his love of the dance through teaching 6 years ago. As a past president of the Seattle Swing Dance club, and current VP, he continues to grow the WCS community with outreach programs geared toward new dancers.
Wren’s extensive training began early with a childhood of competitive gymnastics. After gymnastics she devoted herself to various forms of dance before falling in love with West Coast Swing. She dances, teaches, competes and judges at local, national and international locations. As a member and former officer of the Seattle Swing Dance Club she helps to foster the local WCS community through social dancing spreading her passion for West Coast Swing to a growing community of dancers.