Jerry Lai

Jerry discovered his love for partner dancing through ballroom dancing while studying at Cornell University. After six years of competition, one of his dance partners introduced him to Brazilian Zouk in 2015. He began training with Aline Cleto in New York and became a member of her performance team in 2016. He spent much his free time outside of his architecture career attending congresses around the world and diversifying his dance training with as many different teachers as possible. He began teaching in late 2017 with the encouragement of Mayo Alanen, one of the top professional ballroom dancers in the world. Since then, Jerry has had hundreds of students, including two former Dancing with the Stars finalists. He has been invited to teach at Congresses and Intensives all over the US, Canada, and Europe. His students are winners and finalists of the biggest BZDC Jack and Jills in the world. He continues traveling to train all over the world with the top professionals in the field. His top influences include Brenda & Anderson, William & Paloma, and Aline Cleto. He is part of the Zouk Needs You teacher team by Val and Vanessa. He believes in social dancing as a effective form of therapy, driven by comfort, empathy, and co-creation. He is currently touring around the world to teach his intensive weekender called "Deconstructing Zouk", a deep technical exploration on the physics and mechanics behind Brazilian Zouk. Jerry moved from New York to Los Angeles in June 2018, becoming a full time instructor, and continues to share his love and knowledge of Brazilian Zouk in his new home.

Devon Near-Hill

DEVON Near-Hill is a teaching and performing artist currently based in Northern California. Her movement background includes bellydance, ballet, salsa, and modern dance. Devon fell in love with lambada and Brazilian Zouk five years ago and has since been exploring its depths. As an advocate for understanding the roots of a dance, she made the pilgrimage to Rio De Janeiro to perform with Renata Pecanha’s company and complete her teacher training program, learned from Braz Dos Santos in his 50-hr teacher training in Key West, trained and toured with Mestre Gilson Damasco, and deeply immersed herself in the school Renata Pecanha USA directed by Cristi and Clinton. She won first place in the first ever lambada competition at New York City Zouk Festival and second place in the LA Zouk Festival Semipro US Zouk Open competition as the first female lead to ever compete. In 2018, Devon produced & hosted LA’s only Lambada & Zouk (at the time) social, ENERGIA. That same year she began collaborating with Jerry Lai to continue expanding his pedagogy, Deconstructing Zouk with the goal of creating versatile and connected dancers. To cultivate freedom of movement and safety in social dance for followers, Devon also created The Efficient Follow curriculum. Together Devon & Jerry went on tour to teach both programs in London, Washington DC, Warsaw, Paris, and are now teaching online! Devon recently became certified as a Judge for the Brazilian Zouk Council and scored her first intermediate competition in January. Devon’s goal is to use information from many modalities to nurture well-rounded and informed dancers who move from the inside out. She is so excited to share with you!