Founder and director of Sugar Swing and the Sugar Foot Ballroom and lindy hopping since 2002, Birkley has made a career out of dance instruction. He is an accomplished dancer of Lindy Hop, Solo Jazz, Balboa, Slow Drags, and Charleston, and studies Tap on the side. Having taught countless classes since 2004, including teaching dance workshops across Canada, he has become very passionate about sharing the roots and soul of vernacular jazz & swing: it is a rhythmic art full of joy and self expresssion. When he’s not working with students, Birkley directs the 12-person and 20-person performance teams Mad Cat Swing and Mad Kittens, helping to cultivate the most advanced dancers in Edmonton. In his spare time, he studies old dance clips and collects music for deejaying. In the classroom, you’ll find Birkley to be a very effective instructor – he is personable, chooses great concepts to learn, enjoys delivering technique, keeps his students entertained, and provides the class with clear directions.
Krystal has been addicted to Lindy Hop ever since she first stepped two left feet into Sugar Swing at 19 years old. Now a devoted social dancer, instructor, coach, performer and choreographer, Krystal values inclusivity, positivity and and damn good jazz. She travels to dance events far and wide, competes (and sometimes wins!), but her true passion lies in building the community right here in Edmonton. Besides being a jazz dancer, Krystal is also a video editor, artist, and an especially gifted napper.
Originally hailing from Southwestern Ontario, Turlough developed his Lindy Hop, Charleston and Solo Jazz primarily in Montreal, Quebec. Turlough taught at Ecole de Danse Swing Cat’s Corner in Montreal for the last two years, building a reputation of encouragement, positivity, and generosity with a healthy balance of hard work, commitment and a whole lot of fun. Over the last few years, Turlough has made his mark on many dance scenes on the East Coast such as Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Kitchener/Waterloo, Rochester, Baltimore, New York City, and many others from teaching, competing and social dancing. A staff of Cat’s Corner in Montreal, Turlough regularly picked the brains of ULHS champions, international instructors, and teacher trainers, including extensive training from Sweden’s Lennart Westerlund. Turlough is one of the most passionate and hardest working Lindy Hoppers around, he loves a good social dance, a good craft beer, and a good Star Wars marathon.
Sydney found Lindy Hop in Edmonton at the age of 18 and it was love at first sight. It became an overwhelming passion, and she became heavily involved with the local and global swing dance community. While she took classes and workshops wherever she could, Sydney found herself learning most of the dance on the social floor. It’s made her a keen observer of the dance, and she’s often studying dance clips when not on her feet. Sydney is now a busy Lindy instructor who loves building relationships with her students. Her love for the dance has taken her to workshops and events in New York, Seattle, and Southern Italy where she has taken classes and inspiration from some of the world’s best Lindy Hoppers. Sydney’s philosophy is to embrace the rhythm language of swing, and to connect with the roots of the dance to help her express herself and her experiences.
Gary is the dancer who shies away from the spotlight in our swing dance community, but is at the same time well-respected as one of the best leads in Edmonton. Known for his exceptional clarity and connection as a leader, Gary knows how to move his body, give clear direction to his dance partners, and knows how the dance works. With that in mind, Gary has been instructing with Sugar Swing since 2010 and has become a permanent fixture in our teaching staff. Look for him every week instructing and social dancing at Sugar Swing!
Tanzi discovered Lindy Hop in 2011. After a few years she caught the Balboa bug and has travelled within Canada and the U.S. to learn from a variety of talented instructors. She has been involved in organizing Sugar Swing’s monthly Balboa Formal since its inception, and in 2015 she began working as one of the club’s weekly Balboa instructors. She feels privileged to share her love of Balboa with other dancers and is continually enriched by learning and having fun together.
Jenna is a pioneer in the Canadian tap dance scene, recently graduating from the University of Alberta’s music program, with her tap shoes as her primary instrument. Her style is focused on musicality, as the music is what inspires her movement. Jenna regularly plays shows with local musicians in theEdmonton area, and is constantly finding new inspiration from each artist she collaborates with. Most recently, Jenna has been invited as a faculty member of various international tap festivals, such as RIFF (Dallas Texas), and 2015 Vancouver International Tap Festival. She also had the opportunity to open for a number of international recording artists, including Snoop Dogg, Mya Harrison, and Chris Dave and the Drumhedz. Along with teaching tap at local dance studios and work shops at public schools, she has had the chance to work with, and take classes from, some of of tap’s greatest artists. She is always looking forward to opportunities to learn as much as she can, from which she can strengthen herself both as a dancer and a person.
Jamie Ausmus is one of Edmonton’s talented tap dancers. She roams the world studying tap from the masters and organizes performances in other parts of Canada and the US. She was also a familiar face with the company Breaking Barres, the name under which she hosted tap workshops alongside her business partner, Barbara Vargas – another familiar face in the Sugar Swing family. She is our tap instructor and is indeed awesome at both teaching and dancing!