How it all began......
Back in September 2011, Bahia Ma'ani and Richard Turner started a small Lindy Hop class in Queen's Student's Union, teaching a one hour class at beginner level. A couple of years later, Bahia's husband Adib joined, shortly followed by Sharon.
Four years on from that original class, Swing Belfast now cater to 3 ability levels, provide classes 4 nights a week, and run monthly social dances. They also collaborate with their partners Dance Until You Drop, who host larger events throughout the year.
Bahia has been exposed to the performing arts her whole life, and was lucky enough to attend the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School, to take dance classes at Gervais Dance School and to attend a performing arts summer camp, Project 2050. She has been involved in musicals, dance classes and performances, in dance styles ranging from Hip-Hop, Breakdancing, Jazz, Ballet, Modern and more. In 2004 she attended a three week intensive course of swing dancing. This is when she fell in love with Lindy Hop.
Her Lindy claim to fame is dancing with Lindy's own founding father, the legendary, Frankie Manning.
In September 2011 she started teaching with Swing Belfast and is overjoyed to see the Swing Belfast community blossom into what it is today.
Adib Ma'ani Hessari
Iranian by blood, Thai by birth, Austrian by nationality and Northern Irish by choice, Adib Ma’ani-Hessari started his relationship with dance at the age of 10. He joined ‘Diversity Dance Theatre’, a Bahá’í inspired Dance Workshop in Vienna (1990 - 1993), performing in front of large audiences on subjects of Racism, Gender Inequality and Drug Abuse. This became the starting point for subsequent projects and performance opportunities in other countries, including Belgium, Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the UK and a gap year in South Africa (which included over 140 performances). Having developed a “knack” for teaching and choreography, he decided to pursue Dance as a career, which led him to study for a BA (hons) in Dance Choreography at Northumbria University (2003 - 2006). After returning to Northern Ireland he began teaching and choreographing with a number of organisations including Dance United NI, ArtsEkta and Youth Action’s Rainbow Factory (2006 – present). Adib currently teaches contemporary dance, physical theatre, hip hop, a variety of world dances and, since attending classes in 2011, has become passionate about Lindy Hop and Swing Dancing.
In 2012, with the encouragement of his lovely wife, Bahia, Adib joined the Swing Belfast team, where he now teaches regular Lindy Hop classes and performs demos at parties, festivals and other events.
Richard has had a long standing passion for old black and white movies, particularly those which feature dancing, and it was this which first inspired him to dance. At the time Richard thought it was jive which was being performed so beautifully on the silver screen.
In search of that skill, Richard attended many different Jive classes until he realised those classic movies were actually featuring a dance called Lindy Hop. Despite searching Belfast for a Lindy Hop class, Richard came to more dead ends.
So he got together with friends and together they researched this wonderful dance through old movies, DVD's and eventually found Lindy Hop workshops in Galway and Dublin.
After a year of research and practicing at home, Richard took his first steps in running Lindy Hop events and classes in Belfast. Already an accomplished salsa teacher, this style switch came naturally to Richard.
Three years later Richard met Bahia and together they started up classes as Swing Belfast, after a giving a show case performance at a salsa event. Eight years on, Richard's passion for Swing dancing and especially Lindy Hop is as strong as ever!
After dancing modern jive for a few years Sharon discovered Lindy Hop online, while searching for dance videos. What she saw was to change the direction of her dance career, and propel her into the world of Lindy Hop and Swing dancing.
With a background in figure skating (Northern Ireland Champion & Ulster Champion, and numerous titles from the UK) Sharon made an easy transition to the new dance styles which inspired her.
She has a real understanding of body movement and spin technique, which she applies to all elements of her dance style.
Sharon has been teaching with Swing Belfast for nearly 3 years and recently had the pleasure of teaching along side Scott Cupit from London Swing Patrol.
Adam Milligan and Anna McLister
Adam and Anna are Swing Belfast's newest dynamic duo, having been dancing together for about a year.
They both started Lindy Hop at the same time, and have an infectious passion for swing dancing, that is obvious from the moment you meet them. They just love dare devil aerials, which are both exciting and fun to watch.
As well as being part of the performance team, Adam and Anna competed for the first time at the London Swing Festival, and now both help teach in Swing Belfast classes.
Carolyn Timpany started swing dancing 4 years ago, after seeing that first performance by Richard and Bahia at a salsa event. She continues to dance both styles, but swing is now her firm favourite. Though she doesn't teach, she is an active member of the Swing Belfast team, providing marketing and event management services. She is also a founding partner of Dance Until You Drop, Swing Belfast's event affiliate.