Sara Cherny- Board - 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 its place as the world's premier blues dance event.
Jen Delk- Board - Finance
Jen specializes in getting things done. This means keeping an eye on the people and the money. She joined the SHOUT! team in 2010 as volunteer coordinator (she was summoned from lindyhop organizer retirement) and became a member of the board in 2014. Since joining the board, Jen has been more involved in creating new content on race and culture.
Outside of being a SHOUT! organizer she enjoys mentoring new organizers, attending niche dance events, reading, long walks, sunsets, and night swiming
Naomi Choodnovskiy- Board - Operations Lead
Naomi first joined the BluesSHOUT staff in 2011 as the volunteer coordinator in Boston and became a member of the board in 2016. While her role continues to grow and evolve, her key skills include getting you from point A to point B, keeper of the keys, trader of all jacks, late-night venue whisperer, triage damage control, 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 a dance organizer since 2007, and has worked on myriad local Minneapolis projects including her crowning achievement, North Star Blues. She joined the Shout! team in 2016 to help with various administrative tasks. She cares deeply about this event, this community, and the history of the music & dances we're doing.
Kelsy Stone- Competition Coordinator
Jasmine Eisner- Housing and Food Coordinator
In 2014 Jasmine went to her first big blues dance event, BluesSHOUT!. She fell in love with Chicago and the blues dance community and promptly moved to Chicago and started attending as many blues dance weekends around the country as she could. Jasmine gets over excited about spreadsheets and has a knack for fitting everything (or everyone) exactly where they need to be. One of her favorite parts of going to dance weekends is staying with or hosting other awesome dancers so she is overjoyed to be joining the SHOUT! team as the housing coordinator.
Amanda Kueper- Master of Ceremonies
Amanda is thrilled to be joining the bluesSHOUT! team for the third year, and looks forward to once again being entrusted with the microphone (muahahaha, you FOOLS!) She lives in the Twin Cities, Minnesota with her husband, Ricky, and their pet vegetable garden.
Sarah Lokay- Operations - Volunteer Coordinator
Sarah Lokay was introduced to dancing in 2010, and hasn’t stopped since. Her passion for her community and love of the music 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 holds a position on the board for CUBE (Chicago Underground Blues Experience), wrangles volunteers for bluesSHOUT!, and teaches alongside her peers at multiple venues in Chicago. She's excited to rejoin the bluesSHOUT! Team for 2018, and provide the best experience she can to a community she's proud to be a part of!
Andi Hansen- Operations
Andi Hansen may be from Grand Rapids, Michigan, but she counts Chicago as her scene-away-from-home. She's been organizing, teaching, and DJing in Grand Rapids almost as long as she's been dancing; there's not much better than contributing to something you love, and she's passionate about helping other people find the same joy in dance as she does. Starting out as a volunteer at bluesSHOUT! a few years ago as a driver-of-humans, the team soon discovered that Andi was, well, pretty handy. She's excited to be an official member of staff this year!
Laura Chieko- Operations
Laura started dance organizing in 2015 and hasn’t looked back since. She ran Blues Dance New York for three years and she has assisted in small roles with major events such as Blues Muse and Signifyin’ Blues. Her passion for growing and supporting other organizers is a consistent thread in all of her events, plus she has run four separate events bringing organizers together from across the county. An educator by trade, Laura has been teaching for over a decade with experience in middle-school STEM education, university-level introductory science, and dance classrooms big to small. Laura will be bringing in her pedagogical knowledge to bolster bluesSHOUT! 2019, she couldn’t be more honored to join the team!
Ben Hejkal- Photographer
Based in Minneapolis, Ben has been dancing and photographing dance for 11 years. Easy-going and unobtrusive, he loves capturing candid moments full of movement and expression. This will be Ben's 9th year photographing BluesSHOUT! and he's looking forward to seeing you there!
Bob Lloyd- Audio Visual
Bob is honored to join the coordinating team as sound coordinator for a third 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!
Gustavo Martin- Videographer
Gustavo Martin is a Chicago based freelance director and all-around media maker. His short films have screened at a multitude of film festivals around the world. His short film Dirty Laundry (2013) was awarded Best Short Film at the Laugh or Die Comedy Film Festival in Chicago and was shown at Chicago’s Movies in the Park as part of a local filmmakers showcase. When not focusing on personal projects, Gustavo works in the Locations department of various films, TV shows and commercials that shoot in the greater Chicago area. Most recently, his credits include the feature film Widows (coming to theaters Fall 2018) and the TV show Chicago Med.
An avid dancer himself, Gustavo is active in the Chicago Lindy hop & blues dancing scenes. He discovered his passion for dance four years ago when he was invited to a swing dancing event and witnessed some amazing moves on the dance floor - he caught the bug immediately! In his upcoming short film, Saudade, he plans to blend his passions for dance and cinema. This project will include many dancers and musicians from Chicago’s blues community. In the meantime, he’s super-jazzed and honored to be the BluesSHOUT! 2018 official videographer and can’t wait to capture some fantastic performances and memorable moments at this year’s event!
Canada Pennet- Operations Team
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.
Shawn Lavelle- Board - 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!