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Benji Schwimmer was the August 16, 2006, winner of So You Think You Can Dance, Season 2, broadcast on Fox network. He was born in Newport Beach, California, on January 18, 1984. A resident of Redlands, California, Schwimmer had been dancing since he was a child, but had suspended his dance training and performance to serve a full-time, two-year mission to Mexico for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes casually called the Mormon Church. Schwimmer was born into a dancing family. His father is well-known swing dancer Buddy Schwimmer, his sister, Lacy, was one of four finalists for season 3, and his frequent dance partner is his cousin, Heidi Groskreutz. His dance specialty is west coast swing. He and his cousin Heidi are U.S. Open Showcase Swing champions in West Coast Swing style.
As part of his prize for winning So You Think You Can Dance, Schwimmer won a year's contract performing with Celine Dion in Las Vegas. He turned down the opportunity, stating that he didn't want to stay in Vegas for a year.
Schwimmer has created his own charity organization, called D.E.M.A.N.D.-- Dancers Everywhere Making a Needed Difference, for orphans in southern Mexico. The organization also provides healthcare for dancers with HIV/AIDS and other illness.
Schwimmer is a co-owner of 5678 Dance Studio in Redlands, California. He currently works in the entertainment industry as a choreographer, actor, dancer and writer. He is the creative director for Paula Abdul and is currently producing and starring in the film " Debonair ", slated for release in late 2010. Benji also will be co-starring in the comedy " Leading Ladies " for a 2010 release.
In 2007 Benji and Heidi produced and promoted West Coast Swing DVDs, and Benji appeared in Christina Aguilera's music video "Candyman" with his sister, Lacey. Benji played the role of the "Candyman" and was seen dancing with Christina. That same year he went to locations all over the world including Oslo, Norway, Singapore, Toronto, Ottawa, and China. On some rare occasions, he went to events with other members of his family including Heidi, Lacey, and his father, Buddy. He taught at many conventions from coast to coast that featured a number of different dance styles, including West Coast Swing. He also taught at a multitude of dance studios across the nation. He performed in other dance styles like SWAZZ (swing/jazz). He also returned to SYTYCD as a coreographer and performer. By late summer, Benji & Heidi as well as some of the biggest names in West Coast Swing were in Albuquerque, New Mexico, filming Love N' Dancing.
In 2008, Schwimmer coreographed again for SYTYCD in the U.S. and Canada. After being semi-retired, he reclaimed his titles as both US and World Swing Champion with new partner, Kellese Key. In 2009 he continued to pursue dance through competitions, teaching at various conventions and schools around the world. Benji, along with his partner, Torri Smith performed as featured dancers on season 8 of " Dancing With The Stars " to the music of Demi Lovato's " La La Land ". Benji wrapped filming the comedy Leading Ladies as a co-star. He wrote a screenplay titled " Debonair ", slated to begin filming in Chicago early 2010, in which he will co-star and choreograph. Benji has been cast in the indie comedy, " On Hold " slated for filming in spring 2010.
By 2011 Benji had made his same-sex attraction public. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, same-sex attraction is not considered a sin, but breaking the Law of Chastity is. Schwimmer kept the Law of Chastity as he struggled to determine God's plan for him. Gay members of the LDS Church have several options. One is to live a celibate life, which is also the only option for single heterosexuals in the Church who never find a marriage partner, and for divorcees and widowed members who do not remarry. Another choice is to marry an active, committed member of the Church of the opposite sex. Many gay Mormons do this successfully. Benji chose to have his name removed from the records of the Church to be free to establish a gay relationship. Schwimmer's stated goal is to find a same-sex companion, hopefully marry, and raise children. Since he has removed his name from the records of the LDS Church, normally, we would remove this article from Mormon Wiki. For the time being, we will leave this article up, expressing compassion for Benji, his goodness, his strong testimony that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Book of Mormon is true, his love for the Mormon temple, his sensitivity to the Holy Ghost, his desire to live according to God's will, his dedicated service as a former Mormon missionary. The hope is that he will find his way back into God's kingdom on earth once again. His journey is far from over.
- An introduction to basic Mormon beliefs and practices
- Wikipedia Article
- So You Think You Can Dance Bio
- VIDEO--Benji and Heidi, 2001 US Open Swing Dance Championship
- VIDEO--Benji and Heidi--Showcase Division 2005 US Open Swing Dance Championships
- VIDEO--Benji dancing for Christina Aguilera's Candyman music video
- Meridian Magazine Article on Benji Schwimmer
- Benji and Heidi
- 5678 Dance Studios
- An interview with Benji wherein he talks about his spiritual side