Benji Schwimmer

Benji Schwimmer
Born Benjamin Daniel Schwimmer
(1984-01-18) January 18, 1984
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Occupation Dancer, choreographer, actor
Years active 2006–present
Television So You Think You Can Dance
Parent(s) Buddy Schwimmer (father)
Relatives Lacey Schwimmer (sister)
Heidi Groskreutz (cousin)

Benjamin "Benji" Daniel Schwimmer (born January 18, 1984)[1] is an American professional dancer, choreographer and actor. On August 16, 2006 he was announced 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. He co-starred in the 2010 film Leading Ladies.

Schwimmer 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), and is the songwriter, producer, and vocalist for pop-rock band The Weekend Forecast, who are signed with Executive Music Group.

Early life

Schwimmer 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.[2] 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. 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.[3]

Schwimmer and his 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.[4] Schwimmer put dancing on hold 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.


2006: So You Think You Can Dance

After returning to the United States from Mexico, Schwimmer learned that his girlfriend had broken up with him. He stated on the show that he had learned about this when he saw that his name was not on her wedding invitation, and he promptly returned to dancing. He was shown a video of the performance of Nick Lazzarini, the 2005 winner of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), and decided that he would audition for the 2006 season of the show, eventually placing among top 10 finalists. Schwimmer and his first dance partner, Donyelle Jones, successfully competed through the entire first part of the season without ever being in the bottom three. Both made it to the top four. Schwimmer was named the winner on August 16, 2006. The prizes for winning the competition included a car, a one-year contract to perform in Celine Dion's Las Vegas show, and $100,000 USD. However, in an interview for Seattle Times, Schwimmer stated that he had turned down the Dion contract.{{}}

The following year, Schwimmer was invited to perform on the opening of season three and to become the first SYTYCD alumnus to choreograph on the show. His west-coast swing choreography of a high-octane number, "The Rockafeller Skank," brought both the audience and the judges to their feet. Executive producer and head judge, Nigel Lythgoe, said that the piece finally invoked the magic that was lacking in the new season. The swing piece became a crowd favorite on the national tour in 2007.{{}}

2007–present: Later work

In 2006, Schwimmer danced on Fox's New Year's Eve show and talked about their instructional dance DVD. The next year, he played the role of the "Candyman" in Christina Aguilera's music video of the same name.

When SYTYCD season three auditions began, Schwimmer partnered with his sister Lacey during her audition in Los Angeles. He also danced on the first results show; at the end, he dropped his pants to reveal American-flag briefs. Benji was also tapped to be a correspondent reporter for the show Reality Remix on the FOX Reality Network.

In 2008, Schwimmer reclaimed his titles as both US and World Swing Champion with a new partner, Kellese Key,[5] after being semi-retired from competitive dancing. He was invited as a guest performer and choreographer for "Evolutions of Dance 2009" in Provo, Utah. Schwimmer also appeared in the independent film, Love N' Dancing, starring Amy Smart.[6] He was the cover story in a 10-page spread in "Dancer Magazine", January 9 issue, which featured his own photography[7] Schwimmer also costarred in the comedy "Leading Ladies".[8]

Paula Abdul hired Schwimmer as her creative director and choreographer for her final performance on American Idol and for her opening show for VH1's Divas:Live '09. He also danced alongside her in both performances.

Working with his father, he choreographed [9] the short program of American figure skater Jeremy Abbott, which was first performed at the 2011 Cup of China.

Personal life

Schwimmer is openly gay. He left the LDS 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.[10][11][12]



  1. Schwimmer's profile at Fox website Archived July 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Video of July 2006 Access Hollywood segment
  3. "Redlands dancer swings and becomes a star - San Bernardino County Sun". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  4. See the Showcase section:
  5. 2008 US Open Showcase Winners: Archived September 7, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "Love 'N Dancing Full Cast & Crew". Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  7. "Benji Meets World", Dancer Magazine Issue January 2009 Archived March 31, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. "Leading Ladies :: Official Movie Site". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  9. " News". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  10. Shana Naomi Krochmal (2012-06-18). "Benji Schwimmer's Naked Truth". Out Magazine. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  11. Lyndsey Parker (2012-06-04). "'SYTYCD' Champ Benji Schwimmer Comes Out as Gay in Fascinating Interview". Reality Rocks (New) - Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  12. "Mormon Dance Champion Benji Schwimmer". Mormon Stories Podcast. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  13. "2001 U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  14. "US Open awards". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  15. "2002 list of US Open Swing Dance winners". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  16. "2002 U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  17. "US Open Swing Dance, 2005 division winners". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  18. "US Open Swing Dance, 2009 division winners". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  19. "2011 U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships Winners". Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  20. Archived from the original on 2014-11-27. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. Archived from the original on 2014-12-03. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Benji Schwimmer.
Preceded by
Nick Lazzarini
Winner of So You Think You Can Dance
Succeeded by
Sabra Johnson
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