Audra Lawlor

Resident Instructor

Audra has been an instructor at Big City Swing since 2007.  She teaches swing, balboa, lindy hop and wedding dance. She is known for enthusiasm and patience while teaching.  Students have remarked on her ability to assess their movement and break complex dance concepts into smaller understandable steps, all while making the classroom environment fun.

Andrew Twiss

Senior Instructor

Andrew has been teaching and performing with Big City Swing since it was founded in 1997. Andrew’s keen sense of connection and incredible creativity has awarded him an international reputation as a fantastic dancer. Andrew is also a performance team coach.

Bob Bednarz

Resident Instructor

Bob began dancing in 2004. In referencing is his own swing dancing education, Bob is most focused on perfecting basic fundamentals that have a strong impact on your dancing. He balances that perfectly with a relaxed and encouraging teaching style that ensures students progress with confidence. In addition, he is one of Chicago’s premier jazz DJs. Nicknamed “DJ Thor,” he always “brings the thunder”.

Bradley Smith

Resident Instructor

Bradley has been loving the Lindy Hop and solo vernacular jazz dancing since 1998. He travels, learns, teaches, competes, and dances as often as he can. With his understanding of technique, historical context, and just plain goofiness, Bradley shares with his students the not-so-secrets of Lindy Hop.

Erin Riley

Resident Instructor

Erin Riley has been an avid swing dancer since she took her first lesson at Big City Swing back in 2012. Since then she’s traveled to swing dance festivals around the country to take workshops and hone her skills. In her free time Erin dances with the Chicago Triple-step Authority, an award winning Lindy Hop team; sings with her jazz band, Shorty and the Sugar Pushers; and is a flapper with Chicago’s Galaxie Girls – a Charleston, tap, and chorus girl troupe. She can’t get enough swing, and loves to share her passion with her students.

Jenna Stworzyjanek

Senior Instructor

In 2003, Jenna discovered Lindy Hop. The combination of athleticism and artistry along with the intoxicating appeal of jazz music was enough to get her hooked for life. A BCS instructor since 2005, she has developed a reputation for her insight, patience, and ability to instill confidence in her students.  As a national competitor, Jenna has earned several 1st place trophies. Jenna has also had the extreme privilege to recreate Norma Miller’s role the famous Hellzapoppin’ at The Jump Session Show in Seattle.

John Holmstrom

Senior Instructor

John fell in love with swing dancing in Chicago in 2005. He has since traveled the country learning, teaching, competing, and dancing. He joined Big City Swing in 2010 where his focus on technique and creativity help his students master this incredibly fun dance called Lindy Hop!

Jonathan Beato

Resident “Alhambra” Instructor

Jonathan discovered the joy of swing dancing and Lindy Hop in 2007 after a chance encounter on a Colorado brewery tour. Ending up at a dance night at Denver’s Mercury Cafe, he spent most of that evening with an awed grin on his face, enjoying the music, wondering “How do they do that?!?” Upon returning to Chicago, he soon found Big City Swing.  Now, Jonathan is thrilled to help others find their own answers – while keeping that spirit of joy and wonder – at BCS.

Julee Mertz

Senior Instructor and Founder of Big City Swing

In addition to numerous TV and film credits, Julee Mertz toured with “Swing! The Original Broadway Musical”, was a featured instructor for national and international workshops, and produced “Ready to Lindy Hop”, a three volume instructional video series available nationwide. Her most beloved accomplishment is creating Big City Swing, Chicago’s destination Swing and Lindy Hop. You can read more about Julee on her Founder’s Page.

Lindsay Longstreth

Resident Instructor

Lindsay discovered swing dancing in 2002 in her hometown of Knoxville, TN and has since then traveled the country for Lindy HOp. She truly enjoys performing, be it solo jazz or flying high during the recreation of vintage choreography.  In her own classes, Lindsay focuses on quality of movement, technique, self-expression, and most of all, fun!  Although Lindy Hop is the love of her feet, Charleston, Solo Jazz, and Balboa show up for the party too.

Luke Holladay

Resident Instructor

Luke has been dancing swing for over seven years and is very happy to have found his dance home at Big City Swing. He enjoys the many challenges of teaching and performing, and plans to be a lindyhopper for the rest of his life.

Megan Markowski

Teaching Assistant

Megan was determined to add swing dancing to her repertoire after watching dancers at the 1940s ball in Denver, Colorado. Since then, she has dived head first into learning and mastering Lindy Hop. When she isn’t dancing, Megan is making appearances at events as a 1940s pinup. She is thrilled to have found her swing family at Big City Swing.

Melissa Rutherfoord

Resident Instructor

Melissa was introduced to lindy hop in 1997 in her hometown of Phoenix, AZ. She moved to Tucson in 2001 and briefly joined the University of Arizona’s swing dance club, the SwingCats. She took a hiatus from dancing and moved to Chicago to establish her career as a theatrical scenic artist. She rediscovered her love for lindy hop in 2010 through Big City Swing and has danced nonstop ever since. Instructing since 2012, she is grateful to have the opportunity to share her love of lindy hop with those discovering it for the first time, as well as those finding their way back.

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