Teddy Kern has been involved with dancing since age 4, from tap, jazz, ballroom and all types of swing dancing, from Lindy to WCS. She is known for her smooth swing style and as a master teacher and choreographer.
Choreographer/Director of musicals, opera and cabaret, including for Broadway, Off-Broadway and avant-garde NY theatre
Choreographer for numerous operas, and teacher of Master classes for training young singers, including Santa Fe Opera, Kansas City Lyric Opera, Eastman Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Hawaii Opera Theater and Chautauqua Opera.
Choreography represented in the Dance Archives of the Library and Museum of Performing Arts in Lincoln Center
Former faculty member of Dance Division of Baruch College, Butler School of Dance, Westside Dance Project, Julliard School’s American Opera Center, Eastman School of Music Opera Division, Institute for Social Dance Studies
Member of Dance Masters of America and Professional Dancer Teachers Association
Co-creator for American Swing Dance Teachers Guild, a non-profit organization established to provide group insurance for teachers, standardized contracts and other legal protections (a fledging “union,” an idea before its time)
Current Executive Board member of New York’s Women in the Arts and Media Coalition and the League of Professional Theater Women; former founding Board member of New York Swing Dance Society
Living Legends of Dance inductee 2004
World Swing Dance Council Hall of Fame
Feather Award for “Most Popular Teacher on the East Coast” 1993
Publisher of numerous articles on social dance, performance and exercise, and social dance history
“Teddy Kern brought the first west coast swing instructors to the east coast…and has helped the dance grow in New York for over 30 years!”
Teddy started swing dancing as a teenager in the 1950s in Tulsa, OK where Jitterbug swing was popular. She and her friends became obsessed with the Philly style while watching American Bandstand on TV. She was a tap and jazz instructor starting at age 14, and added ballroom and swing as an Arthur Murray instructor in Kansas City. Teddy loved the local swing style, influenced by both east and west coast swing, and the blues music played in Kansas City clubs; she taught that smooth, classy style to the Arthur Murray faculty. She continued to teach ballroom and swing throughout college and graduate schools in Kansas, California and New York.
Teddy choreographed musicals, operas and cabaret shows; owned dance studios from coast to coast; judged ballroom and swing competitions; and coached professionals for over fifty years. While she won contests in high school, she never wanted to compete as an adult – only to teach and choreograph. She says it still thrills her to create choreography or see someone “find their legs.”
“We started Dance Manhattan with Mario Robau and Debbie Ramsey Boz as the first west coast swing dance teachers on the east coast. Subsequently, almost every US Open champion came to New York to teach west coast swing for us as guest artists. It was an extraordinary, evolutionary time for swing dancing in New York. We taught, coached, inspired and trained hundreds of students and dozens of teachers over the years, and we had the most amazing swing dancers and teachers in New York City of every style of swing.” Co-owner and Artistic Director of Dance Manhattan, Teddy continued to teach and choreograph at Dance Manhattan, the premier ballroom, swing and Latin studio, until it closed in 2014 after 26 years. She is presently on the faculty of You Should Be Dancing (YSBD) dance studio.
Teddy was co-creator of Boogie Dance Productions, which ran the first swing dance weekends to combine east and west coast dance style in the early 1990s. That evolved into the American Swing Dance Championship (ASDC), the first national dance competition to include both east and west coast dancers, music, competitions and teachers. Teddy is grateful for the support from the WCS and Shag legends who helped promote and build their dream.
Teddy holds a Masters degree (M.S.) in Occupational Therapy from the University of Kansas and a Masters degree (M.S.) in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of California. She has co-authored three textbooks in her field of specialization (low vision and blindness) and has worked, taught, lectured and published in this domain for over forty years.