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About Me

I grew up dancing to the tunes of the Swing era from a very early age.  My grandmother was a flapper in the 20's and, when I was young, taught me the Charleston.  My mother taught me what she called the Big Apple or Jitterbug.  Dancing in the kitchen while cooking was a norm in my home.  Later I received a well-rounded training in various dance forms such as Flamenco, Jazz, Ballroom, and Modern.  But when I found Frankie it was like coming home, and for the last 20 years I have specialized in the Lindy Hop, the father of all swing dances.

 

The Lindy Hop blossomed out of the Harlem Renaissance in the late 1920’s in response to the hot new Jazz and early Big Band sounds of the era. Then re-emerged in the 1980's due to the re-discovery of Frankie Manning, the most significant innovator, choreographer, and father of Swing Dance of the 1930's.  I studied with Frankie extensively, and starting in 1994 he invited me to teach and perform with him.  Lindy is one of my great passions; it is pure joy. I have been very fortunate to have known Frankie and learn from him the original steps, authentic styling, and exuberance of this dance.  It is my pleasure to perform & teach it to others.

 

I have created a private film archive of the Golden Jazz Era Dances from filming the original dancers of the era and various master teachers over the last twenty years. I teach through my dance studios The Joint is Jumpin!  and as a guest teacher internationally.

frankie&denisesmall

Denise Elaine Conquest Steele - Resume

Vernacular Jazz, Charleston, Lindy Hop Swing Dance Teacher, choreographer, historian. Specializing in dances of the early Jazz & swing eras – foundational to the last 100 years of Theatre arts.

 

For the last 25 years I have been teaching Swing era dances at various universities and through my studios The Joint is Jumpin! Dance Studios.  In 1993 I began training and partnering with the legendary Frankie Manning, the father of swing dance, teaching and performing with him annually until his passing in 2009.  On the average I organized 6 workshops a year bringing in legendary teachers to teach and perform with my students, there by also creating a unique video library documenting authentic vintage dances from the early Jazz and Swing eras - performed by their original creators.  This has become an invaluable educational reference.

 

I have a zeal and passion for passing on the original steps, styling, and history of the exciting vernacular dances of the 20s – 50s that have influenced the theatre arts for last 100 years. This historical foundation is inspirational to the next generation of dancers, as they seek to find expression of their own creative voice - to speak into this present era.  As adjunct faculty my university classes range from beginning to performance levels, including choreography for the theatre.  My expertise is in Lindy Hop, Charleston, Vernacular Jazz,  Big & Little Apple, Swing Blues, Collegiate Shag, various Rock n Roll specialty dances like the Twist, and ballroom dances such as Salsa, Tango and Fox Trot.

 

From 1994 to the present I have worked as adjunct faculty, guest teacher and studio director teaching historical swing and jazz dances both locally and internationally. Some highlights are below:

 

- I have enjoyed being a guest teacher and adjunct faculty at various universities: Portland State University, Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and George Fox.

 

- For over 10 years I traveled to Europe to teach and perform with Frankie Manning, legendary father of Swing Dance.  I organized 2 - 6 workshops a year hosting and teaching with guest teachers such as: Chazz Young, Betty Wood, Lance Benishek, Lennart Westerlund, etc.  I also brought Erik & Silvia Robeson, and The Rhythm Hot Shots to the area.

 

- I worked for the Oregon Festival of American Music for several years creating a program for and running two week dance camps culminating in a 45 minute theatre song and dance show.

 

- I directed and choreographed a performance dance troupe in Oregon for many years, competing and performing at many events including at the Portland Moda Center in front of over 10,000 people.

 

- Crystal Ballroom, Portland Oregon:  For 3 years I was the resident Swing Instructor and performer at the Crystal.  I exclusively performed and taught a 2 hour lesson to 300 - 800 people every Sunday for Swing Sundays. These events presented all the great Swing bands of the new era: Bill Elliot, Casey MacGill, Indigo Swing, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Cherry Poppin Daddies, Lavey Smith, Pink Martini, etc.

 

- I was invited to teach in Herrang, Sweden the premier swing dance camp in the world for 3 weeks. I had up to 200 students in my Swing Blues classes and received a tremendous response to my style of teaching and style of Blues. I was also invited to show my artwork in their new gallery: Le Petite Louvre. The show focused on Frankie Manning & Josephine Baker.

 

Finally, for more than 15 years I have taught regularly through my own studios "The Joint is Jumpin'!" Swing Dance Studios in various cities in Oregon.

 

Thank you for your interest,

 

Denise Steele