Sara Cherny- Director
Sara began blues dancing in 2001 in St. Louis, and has been on the leading edge of the blues dance community since then. She first became involved in cat herding ... ahem, event organization in 2003 with STLBX and Cheap Thrills All Blues Weekend, and her latest achievement is the formation of Big City Blues Studio, providing blues classes and events in the city of Chicago. Sara is passionate about helping the traditional forms of blues dance persist across generations, and is proud that bluesSHOUT! has earned it's place as the world's premier blues dance event.
Jen Delk- Finance
Jen specializes in getting things done. This means keeping an eye on the people and the money. She's been doing it for the last six years. Each year the roll got bigger and bigger, to the point where she had to employ minions to help overlook both the people and the money. Outside of being a SHOUT! organizer she enjoys reading, NPR, and binge watching TED talks.
Shawn Lavelle- Logistics and Technology
Slowly transitioning into a family man, Shawn is an expert at juggling events. Based out of Minneapolis, MN, Shawn is co-owner of Rhythm Junction, LLC with his wife Chelsea. Together with their son Kalen, they host a weekly Lindy Hop dance on Monday nights. They coordinate with an independent subsidary, Collectively Blue, to host an engaged series of Blues Dance events in the Twin Cities region that range from House Parties and Lessons to quarterly workshops and theNorth Star Blues Exchange. In addition to NSB, RJ, and CB, Shawn is an active board member and host of Midwest Lindyfestas well as LindyCON. Having hosted literally dozens of events, Shawn is excited to bring his attention to detail and breadth of experience to BluesSHOUT!
Naomi Choodnovskiy- Operations Lead
Naomi first joined the BluesSHOUT staff 5 years ago as the volunteer coordinator in Boston and has continued ever since. While her role continues to grow and evolve, her key skills include triage damage control, keeper of the keys, trader of all jacks, late-night venue whisperer, and emergency getaway-car driver. When not managing dancers in Chicago, Naomi teaches high school science in NYC.
Laney Barhaugh- Human Relations
Laney has been dancing since 2005, and started running her college swing club in 2007. Thus began the journey that led her to organizing North Star Blues, myriad local workshops, weekly classes in Minneapolis, and now helping out as Human Relations for bluesSHOUT!
Kelsey Ballance- Master of Ceremonies
Dispatching her duties with undeniable energy but questionable humor, Kelsey Ballance has quickly earned a reputation as a mistress of ceremonies. As an MC, she's been called "amazing," "baller," "fantastic," and "hilarious," and may be the only MC in world history who's been asked by an audience to keep talking and give an encore. Her fourth time at bluesSHOUT!, Kelsey has also emceed Sweet Molasses Blues and 6 years of the Steel City Blues Festival, where she also served as one of the head organizers. She is determined that you know what is up, your competitions run smoothly, and that you experience such an explosion of fabulousness throughout your weekend that you never want to leave. Kelsey assuages her deep-seated terror that no one else finds her funny by wearing a nametag and carrying a clipboard at all times.
Sarah Lokay- Operations
Sarah Lokay was introduced to dancing in 2010, and hasn’t stopped since. Her passion for her community led her to a leadership role on the board of her college club, then further as a part of the Bluetopia organizing team in her home city of Chicago. She also has held a position as board member for CUBE (Chicago Underground Blues Experience) in 2013 and 2014, joined the staff for bluesSHOUT! In 2016, and teaches alongside her peers at Big City Blues. She's excited to rejoin the bluesSHOUT! Team for 2017, and provide the best experience she can to a community she's proud to be a part of.
Bob Lloyd- Audio Visual
Bob is honored to join the coordinating team as sound coordinator for a second year! He joined the swing scene in 2006 and plunged into all things swing, helping start such events as PB & J, BULX, and ISLX. His love of Blues is only matched by his love of theatre where he got his start as a sound engineer and designer over 15 years ago. He has had the fortune of mixing for musicians at the Harris Theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Art Institute, Steppenwolf Theatre, and countless other venues and is a proud associate of Chicago High School for the Arts. Bob is looking forward to working with the bluesSHOUT team to make this bluesSHOUT even more memorable than the last!
Rachel Gribben- Housing Coordinator
Rachel is thrilled to be joining this year’s bluesSHOUT! team. Rachel’s dancing journey began in 2008, and she hit the ground running! She has held positions as an organizer for events such as Cbus, Rocktober, and CUBE, and currently organizes Swing Dancing at Fizz in Chicago. In the rare moments Rachel isn't dancing, she can be found playing fiddle in local pubs, knitting, and eating ALL the potatoes.
Lauren Phillips- Housing Coordinator
Lauren originally started learning Lindy and balboa in Minneapolis in 2011. It wasn't until she got to Chicago where she started getting into blues. Lauren has been on staff at a number of events since finding her love of dance, most recently as an organizer for Chicago's premiere weekly Monday night swing dance, Fizz, as well as CUBE 16 and Great Lakes Balboa. She wants you to know that she is Professional cat napper, embroiderer, and lover of Excel.
Andy Lee- Videographer
Andy has been dancing blues for 8 years in Los Angeles, and within that time has taken on roles as photographer, videographer, podcaster, venue organizer, dj, and competitive dancer. He’s the sole proprietor of the website Blues Dance World, where he hosts monthly blues dancing podcasts and post videos of national blues dance competitions. His hope for Blues Dance World is to encapsulate a bit of the subculture that is blues dancing, and grow the dance scene into mainstream awareness.
Rosalyn Darling- Food Coordinator
Rose Darling fell in love with blues dancing in 2013 and hasn't stopped moving her feet since, traveling near and far for exchanges and workshops. When she isn't getting sweet and sassy on the dance floor, you can find Rose doing the one thing she loves more than dancing - food! As a research and development chef, Rose finds joy in discovering delicious dishes and sharing it with others. She looks forward to adding to everyone's great time at bluesSHOUT! with a tasty morsel or two.
Ben Hejkal- Photographer
Based in Minneapolis, Ben has been dancing and photographing dance for 10 years. Easy-going and unobtrusive, he loves capturing candid moments full of movement and expression. This will be Ben's 7th year photographing BluesSHOUT!, and he's looking forward to seeing you there!
Melanie Bert- Photographer
Mélanie Bert hails from the exotic land of Paris, France, where she started her career in photography. She has a very vast experience ranging from interior design to top fashion magazines and choreographers and dancers such as Amalia Salle and Arnaud Boursain. She has recently been photographing burlesque performances here in Chicago and is excited to expand her photographic talents with BluesSHOUT!
Gerry Hundt- Live Music Coordinator
Now in his 19th year as a professional musician, Gerry's vocation has taken him across the United States and to 13 countries abroad. He's thrilled to bring Chicago's finest musicians to bluesSHOUT! 2017 and hopes you enjoy their music as much as he digs playing for dancers.
Canada Pennet- System Support
Since traveling the world and dancing for the past six years, Canada is best known for getting to know everyone. Whether he's floating around the floor, behind the front desk, on the microphone, or working behind the scenes, he always makes sure that everyone is running smooth, and that everyone is having the best time...even if some things need smoothing, you'd never know. Ready to step up and do everything and anything, Canada is all too ready and honoured to add his experience to BluesSHOUT!, and still be taught a thing or two.