Julie Brown- Boston
Julie’s expressive dancing and joyful, playful connection are known throughout the blues dancing world. With a background in theatre, improv comedy, and solo dance, she is best known for her solo movement, artistic choreography, and killer follower expression.
A hard-working competitor, Julie has won many national competitions, including Nocturne Blues 2015 Challenge Strictly and Open Jack & Jill, Winter Blues 2015 Invitational Jack & Jill, Snowbound Blues 2015 Solo Blues, bluesSHOUT 2014 All Jack & Jill, and many more.
As a teacher, Julie is clear, thoughtful, and varying degrees of goofy. From in-depth analyses of arm movement, to beginner-friendly intros to lead-follow conversation, Julie carefully crafts her classes and continuously tailors her material to fit the crowd at hand. Julie has taught blues in San Francisco, Seoul, Austin, Boston, London, Chicago, Zurich, and many places in between. She also teaches regularly in her home-base of Boston. For dance videos, pictures, and more info, check out https://dancewithjulie.wordpress.com.
Heidi Fite- San Francisco
Heidi began dancing and teaching Blues dances in St. Louis in 1999. She has been dancing, teaching and performing ever since. An early promoter of Blues dancing, she founded the first national Blues dance workshop (Cheap Thrills), which has since transformed into the nation's largest Blues dance workshop and competition weekend (bluesSHOUT!).
Now busy raising a family of four daughters, Heidi no longer runs bluesSHOUT!, but she continues to travel the world teaching Blues dance as a living tradition, with a rich history and an exciting future. From local classes to international workshops to historical research and documentation of the dance, she is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Blues dancing.
Her classes are inspiring and challenging, but Heidi's focus on the underlying principles and fundamentals of the dance allows her to break down the most difficult concepts and moves, making them easy to understand and incorporate. Heidi is able to communicate and instill in her students a love of dance and a dedication to the learning process. Most importantly, her classes will put some serious 'boom boom boom' and 'aw haw haw haw' in your dancing.
Timothy O'Neill- Los Angeles
Tim O’Neill started dancing in 1997 and couldn’t stop! He has studied and taught Blues, Lindy, Ballroom, and Argentine Tango and even wrote two theses for an MA in Sociology on social dynamics and body language observed in dance venues. Since 2009 he has trained or taught at over fifty events and has thirteen Blues competition titles to his name from the biggest events in the US. Tim believes the best way to dance is to have fun, and learning dance enhances that ability. When taking Tim’s classes expect to laugh, have fun, be entertained, and learn—a lot. And be sure to ask him to dance!
Jenny Sowden- New York
Jenny Sowden is an award winning, full-time, international dance instructor based in New York City where she is the managing director of Brooklyn Swings and nycBABBLE.com. Jenny has been training in dance for over twenty-five years and teaching for over twenty, with a BA in Dance and Theater from San Diego State University. She has studied 34 different styles of movement including Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, West African, Capoeira, Aikido, Tango, Salsa, Lindy hop, Balboa, and Blues. Her background influences her teaching and general style through musicality, variety, expression and an understanding of body mechanics. Jenny believes the dance floor is a ‘World of Yes,’ where by constantly accepting and being inspired by what happens, creates an amazing place to be. We then take classes in a ‘World of Intention’ to expand our ‘World of Yes.’ Find out more at JennySowden.com.
Ruth Evelyn- Boston
Ruth Evelyn skipped into her first dance class more than 25 years ago, and has since been dancing as many styles as she can get her feet on.
Ruth’s 15+ years as a dance instructor have taken her on teaching adventures across the US, Canada, Europe and Southeast Asia. She has continually developed both her teaching and her dancing skills. Ruth is known for her ability to craft explanations that fit students’ learning styles. She brings a vibrant mixture of deep technical knowledge, passion for movement, and silly fun that students can’t help but connect with.
In addition to training in blues, lindy, Argentine tango, modern, ballet and many other dance forms, Ruth is certified in Franklin Method, an increasingly popular body somatics method. She has a long-standing love affair with close-embrace connection, has sneakily swung out in the Louvre, and is curating a fine collection of fishtail variations.
Daniel Repsch- Montreal
Dan is immersed in the music and the movement. He constantly travels internationally to continue learning, happily sharing his ideas along the way. In his teaching, Dan’s enthusiastic approach brings a focus on innovation, connection, and attention to your partner. Dan is also a veteran DJ, spinning for events across 4 continents and DJing everything from international events to local dances on a weekly basis. He’s also organized both locally and for international events as their Head DJ, including BluesSHOUT! and The Blues Experiment. In the end, Dan is most excited to work hard at improving the dance and to see his students break through their boundaries.
Damon Stone- Minneapolis
Damon has been dancing his entire life, starting with vernacular Jazz/Blues first taught to him at the tender age of six by his grandmother. After nearly a decade of learning at the heels of his elders, he went on and eventually studied a score of different dance forms. In 1995 he came full circle to focus primarily on the history and styles of Swing and Blues as his family danced them, with a special focus on the Southern styles from the Mississippi Delta region. He has studied the development of vernacular Jazz/Blues dance across the United States, learning from a number of the original dancers. He is largely regarded as one of the foremost authorities on Blues idiom dance and has been interviewed as a dance historian in documentary and for radio. Damon has been a featured instructor at camps, festivals, and workshops across four continents.
Dan Legenthal- Boston
Mike Legenthal- Boston
Mike is a passionate aficionado of jazz and blues dances, known all over the world for her friendliness, teaching skills, beautiful following, and expressive dancing. A full time blues and jazz instructor since 2007, she has been honored to teach at international events like BluesShout, Berlin Blues Explosion, and Blues Muse. Some of her past awards included placing in invitational/champion/all-star competitions at events like BluesShout, Bambloozled and Snowbound Blues, but the award she treasures most is the Keith Shapiro Memorial Award for community contribution. She brings both vibrant energy and technical precision to the classroom, and strives to make every social dance the best experience possible. Mike’s ultimate goal as a teacher is to help her students fall in love with the music and the movement of blues dance, and to help them develop themselves into better movers, thinkers, and partners in pursuit of that love. She is honored to help run Blues Muse and The Blues Experiment. http://www.MiketheGirl.com
Mike Grosser- Boston
Mike reluctantly started social dancing in college when a couple of his friends persuaded him to do some ballroom east coast swing in their dorm social lounge. In the many years since then, dance has steadily taken over Mike’s life. He has danced until sunrise more times than he remembers, trained in a wide variety of dance forms, and taught around the US, Canada, and Europe.
As an instructor, Mike strives to put himself in his students’ shoes so that he can explain techniques as intuitively and thoroughly as possible. He loves seeing students’ eyes light up when they understand a concept or feel a movement work naturally in their body for the first time.
Mike is constantly honing his skills. If you run into him at grocery store, on public transit, in a museum, or on a mountain top, you’ll probably catch him dancing.
Nick DeWitt- Austin
Nick's dancing is simple but musical, understated but empowering to his follow, chill with an edge of humor…..and a constant foundational grounding in the blues idiom. He teaches blues dance as a vernacular style with historical context peppered throughout and a sizable side of humor. His classes tend to focus on blues elements including idiom dances and variants (especially struttin'), musicality, improvisation, and conversational dance.
Nick enjoys competing at blues events to keep his skills sharp and demonstrate his vision of the dance; his successes in 2016 alone include 1st place at the Strictly competitions of Nocturne and North Star Blues, and 2nd place at the North Star JnJ and the Mile High Blues Strictly.
Grace Jones-Taylor- Austin
Grace’s rhythmic, playful movement took the blues scene by storm. Entering the scene in 2011 with a movement background in dressage and bareback riding, she fell in love with the blues, began her intensive and ongoing training, and burst into national finals and organizing regularly by 2013. Known for her innovative exploration within the blues idiom and contrast between jank and elegance, Grace seems to live within the music.
Regularly bringing her wealth of knowledge to students across the country, Grace's teaching emphasizes collaborative learning, developing personal expression within the idiom, and a follow-focused pedagogy. Her flexibility in classroom management allows her to adapt lessons on the fly to provide the best possible learning experience for her students. An invaluable resource to students and organizers alike, Grace is accessible and professional both inside and outside of the classroom.
When she's not teaching, Grace travels nationwide to compete in blues. Her accomplishments just in 2016 include 1st place wins at Nocturne’s Strictly, J&J, and Solo Tribute Challenge (New York, NY), North Star’s Strictly and J&J (Minneapolis, MN), and Steel City’s Solo Riffin’ Competition (Pittsburgh, PA). Find out more and watch her dance at www.gracedances.com.
Christopher Wells- Tempe, AZ
Christopher Wells is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute School of Music and Managing Editor of the Journal of Jazz Studies. He received his PhD in 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where his dissertation on drummer/bandleader Chick Webb and swing music in Harlem during the Great Depression received the Society for American Music’s Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award and UNC’s Glen Haydon Award for an Outstanding Dissertation in Musicology. He has also received Videmus’s Edgar A. Toppin Award for Outstanding Research in African American Music and a Morroe Berger/Benny Carter Jazz Research Fellowship from the Institute of Jazz Studies. A social jazz dancer for over a decade, Dr. Wells is currently writing a book about the history of jazz music’s ever-shifting relationship with popular dance and has a chapter in the recently published Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity.
Chelsea June Adams- Henderson, NV
Chelsea Adams’ love of dance started at a young age, and she’s studied ballet, tap, jazz, and standard and latin ballroom, among other dances. Her love of blues social dancing led her to travel the nation in search of specialized training, historical information, and of course, great social dancing. Loving blues and the history behind it, she moved her hobby into her academic career, where she first kindled her interest in racial studies in literature and media. From there, she continued pursuing her interest in African American studies as she attained her MA in English at Weber State University, writing her thesis on blues music and representation of the blues artist in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As she pursues her PhD at UNLV, she continues to train as an African Americanist and to study blues. She’s presented information on the blues and the blues artist in literature at major academic conferences around the US, including the South Atlantic Modern Language Association’s 87 th conference, the Multiethnic Literature of the United States’ 30 th conference, and most recently, An August Occasion: A National Conference on the Life and Legacy of August Wilson.