Benjamin "Benji" Daniel Schwimmer (born on January 18, 1984) is an American professional dancer, choreographer and actor. On August 16, 2006 he was crowned "America's Favorite Dancer", as the winner of the second season of So You Think You Can Dance and has choreographed for both the U.S. and the international versions of the show. Benji artistically directs for LeAnn Rimes and Paula Abdul. He co-starred in the 2010 film Leading Ladies.
Benji is known for his versatility in mixing the arts of solo dance and partnering. He works for the non-profit group, Dancers Everywhere Making a Needed Difference (D.E.M.A.N.D). Benji is the songwriter, producer, and vocalist for pop-rock band The Weekend Forecast, who are signed with Executive Music Group.
Benji was born on January 18, 1984 in Newport Beach, California, and grew up in a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) household in Moreno Valley, California. He is the son of choreographer and West Coast Swing dancer Buddy Schwimmer. His mother, Laurie Schwimmer, and sister, Lacey Schwimmer, are also west-coast swing dancers.
He started competing when he was five years old. Some of his early experiences included singing and dancing in "Sunshine Magic", a children's troupe, that was later renamed "Newport Beach Showtime." His aunt, Vicki Groskreutz, was the choreographer, and he and cousin Heidi regularly showcased their swing talents at various shopping malls, theme parks, and fairs. He attended Landmark Middle school in Moreno Valley, in his eighth grade year the head of the televised morning announcements. He attended high school in both Moreno Valley (Valley View) and Redlands but then transferred to independent study because of his pursuit of dance. He finished his studies early, and then taught dance for one semester at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa.
Benji and his older cousin, Heidi Groskreutz, (the fourth finalist on the same season of So You Think You Can Dance), are also U.S. Open Showcase Swing champions in west-coast style. Schwimmer left the dancing scene at the top of his game to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. He returned afterwards to the dance circuit. He founded D.E.M.A.N.D., a non-profit organization that helps the less fortunate and provides health care for dancers with HIV/AIDS and other illness, and is a co-owner of 5678 Dance Studio in Redlands.
Benji is also openly gay. He resigned from the church in 2011 due in part to the church's position on not allowing homosexuals to work with youth. He came out publicly in 2012 after struggling with his homosexuality for a number of years. The catalyst for his decision was the death by suicide of three gay friends.
Swing Dancing (The American Dance Floor) by Tamara Stevens
Hardcover: 227 pages
Publisher: Greenwood (April 7, 2011)
Amazon: Swing Dancing
From its unlikely origins in the African slave trade, one of the saddest chapters of American history, swing dance emerged as a celebration of the soul. Swing is now recognized around the globe as a joyous partnered dance, uniquely Afro-American in origin and an American treasure.
This book examines how the original swing style of the 1920s, the Lindy Hop, branched out and evolved with the changing dynamics of popular culture, paralleling the development of the nation. Swing Dancing covers the dance through the years of minstrelsy, the jazz age, the big band era, bebop, and the decline of partnered dancing in the 1960s. Swing experts and instructors Tamara and Erin Stevens have combined a compelling historic examination of swing dance with an assortment of riveting personal interviews and photographic documentation to create a comprehensive reference book on this important art form.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Persistent Voices
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