About Portland Swing Project
We love swing dancing and want to show you what it's all about. We dance, teach, perform, bring live swing music into venues all over Portland, and DJ some of the best music ever created from the 1920s to today.
When we talk about Swing Dancing, we’re talking about dances that have evolved since the 1920s. The Swing family includes Charleston, Balboa, Shag, and Solo Jazz Dance, but at the heart of swing dancing is Lindy Hop.
Lindy Hop is a Black American dance that evolved in Harlem, New York in the 1920s and 30s as a fusion of many dances that were popular during that time. Lindy Hop’s original dancers were swinging out at the Savoy Ballroom to music from Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and many others. Check out this clip of some of the original Lindy Hoppers here:
Luckily for us, thousands of people all over the world have discovered the joy of Lindy Hop and the dance continues to grow today. Check out this clip of some excellent dancers today:
We love dancing to some of the best music ever created. We love the feeling of walking into a room full of dancers and filling the night with four-minute dance partner connections. We love being part of history by sustaining a dance that meant so much to its creators, and continues to inspire us today. We envision a Portland where bands are well-supported, dancers are swinging out hard to hot jazz, and everyone’s just a little bit happier. So come check it out!
Portland Swing Project Instructors
After attending her first swing dance in 2007 here in Portland, Gillian was hooked. She set out to learn as much as she could about the music and dances of the 1920s-40s, and traveled often to dance, learn, and wear out shoes at an impressive rate. Since moving back home to Maine, she’s working to build a vibrant swing dance community in Portland through weekly classes, workshops, and events. Her favorite things about dancing (in no particular order) include incredible music, connecting on the dance floor with people from all over the world, and the insatiable desire to learn more.
Gillian can also be found building things in her woodshop, struggling to get into her winter wetsuit for a morning surf, chasing her 3-year-old Rosa, and absolutely loving life in Maine.
Jen has been dancing since the age of 4, when she remembers being rewarded with popcorn for doing turns across the floor at dance class. Years of tap, ballet, and jazz classes followed, topped off by teaching tap to college students for three years at Rutgers. After a decade-long hiatus, she triumphantly returned to dancing when she discovered Lindy Hop in NYC at Sandra Cameron Dance Center and Dance Manhattan. Instantly hooked, she's been learning and goofing off with her husband, Ray, at dance events ever since. She's excited to share the fun of this dance with you, and will still dance for food.
Becca grew up participating in the Irish dance scene in Boston. She continued dancing into college, where she began teaching and choreographing Irish dance performances. After moving to Portland and becoming a public school teacher, she found herself looking for a new regular dance practice, eventually finding Portland Swing Project in the fall of 2016. She was instantly hooked, trying to learn as much as possible about the movement patterns and partnered momentum (and really practicing letting go of upright Irish dance posture). She soon found herself completely immersed in the Portland dance scene as well as traveling out of town for workshops and social dances. Becca appreciates any opportunity to combine her love of teaching theory with dancing.
Kento took his first rhythmic dance classes as a child, but they quickly became overshadowed by the allure of soccer and baseball. Over a decade later, he was astonished by how much he loved his first Portland Swing Project class in 2016. He immediately found himself obsessively practicing the shapes, forms, and patterns he was learning in class. Since then, he’s participated in as many local dances and classes as possible. He now regularly spends evenings either dancing, looking up dance videos from events around the world, or reading extremely dry books about the history of jazz music and dance. He’s excited to help teach in Portland, and is always excited to dance with people of all levels of experience and dance backgrounds.
Portland Swing Project Guest Instructors
Stefan Durham and Bethany Powell
Stefan and Bethany first started swing dancing together in 2001, and have never since regretted it. Attracted by the aliveness and improvisational nature of swing - especially the original swing dance, known as "Lindy Hop" - they eventually became involved in the “scene,” both local and national, gaining skill as social dancers, choreographers, and performers. Over their 20 year dance career Stefan and Bethany have been invited to teach and perform at such events as the International Lindy Hop Championships in DC, Lindyfest in Houston, Camp Jitterbug in Seattle, the Frankie Manning Birthday Celebration in New York, and Herrang Dance Camp in Sweden.
They love how swing dancing brings people together to play with one another. They love seeing students reconnect to the joy of using their bodies in a creative, improvised, cooperative endeavor. They love how swing dancing offers challenges and rewards both for total beginners and for veteran dancers alike. And they love how it feels to be in a room filled with people enjoying dancing to great music!
Bradley has been enjoying swing dancing for over twenty years. He strives to continuously grow as a dancer learning from old clips and modern masters alike. There is joy and comedy in Lindy Hop that he celebrates, and he hopes to inspire his students to discover the wonderful journey of jazz dancing.