Kenny Nelson’s journey as an instructor, dancer, scene organizer, and mentor could be summed up as constantly evolving. When a student recently asked him about how he came to provide students agency in the classroom, he couldn’t tidily answer this person but he knew that his itinerant teacher experiences paved the foundation for his current teaching pedagogy.
Back in 2011, Kenny said yes to an extraordinary opportunity to live in Porto, Portugal and be the primary male instructor for classes in Porto and Lisbon. This led him to teaching across four different continents; partnering with 50+ different people teaching blues, airsteps, Lindy Hop, west coast swing, balboa, and solo vernacular dance; directly training and mentoring dancers that are now leaders in their respective communities; and helping start 1929 Studios in Melbourne and Big Mama Swing in Madrid.
These responsibilities made him want to leave communities better than when he arrived, with dancers that could be independent practitioners once he left, and dance communities that would require little to no “fixing” when someone better inevitably arrived.
These days, Kenny is finding himself stepping more and more into the mentor role, desiring to provide resources and educational moments for people to improve or enhance/discover their passions. Based in Denver, Colorado, he runs Swingin’ Denver, an organization known for bringing swing dancing into the public eye; collaborating with people and places; breathing new life into spaces; and enhancing the dance experience through great instruction and excellent music.
As far as his aerial bonafides, he’s the reigning Underground Jitterbug Champion with Delilah, was recruited with Delilah for their airstep prowess for America’s Musical Journey and Montreal Swing Riot’s vintage team, and an aerial expert witness. With his varied dance background coupled with years training parkour and crossfit, Kenny takes a holistic approach when coaching, studying, and performing airsteps.