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 until coming full circle in 1995 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 is largely regarded as one of the foremost authorities on Blues idiom dance, a long time board member of the Northern California Lindy Society, member of the California Historical Jazz Dance Foundation, and has been interviewed as a dance historian in documentary and for radio.
Kelsy brings her lifetime of dance training, a passion for vernacular dance, and a sharp eye for technique to the Blues dance world. She has brought her joy and knowledge of blues idiom dances to some of the most high-profile events in the US, including but not limited to: bluesSHOUT!, The Experiment, and Blues Muse–serving as faculty, mentor, competition coordinator, and judge.
Julie’s expressive dancing and dynamic connection are known throughout the blues dancing world. With a background in theatre and solo dance, and an undying desire for continued learning, she is best known for her solo movement, choreography, aesthetics, and killer follower expression. As a teacher, Julie is clear, thoughtful, and earnest. From advanced Struttin’ variations to beginner-friendly intros to lead-follow dynamics, Julie carefully crafts her classes and tailors her material to fit the crowd at hand.
Laura Chieko loves to dance, even more than she loves shoes. Since 2006, Laura has trained in Lindy hop, balboa, and blues, and dabbled in a myriad of other dance styles. She is known for her grace, enchanting performance, and effortless following. Her musical training informs her intricate musicality and opinions on how clarinets should sound. Laura loves blues for its emphasis on connection and the rich diversity in its music which she seeks to celebrate on and off the dance floor. On that dance floor, she is best known for her poise, ability to rock the color orange, and occasionally winning things. An educator in dance halls and traditional classrooms, Laura is known for her sunny disposition, student engagement, and captivating exploration of tiny details. She pulls from her wide cross training to create classes accessible to a broad range of students. Learn more at laurachieko.com!
Clyde is a social dancer, teacher, DJ, competitor and performer from Washington DC with over fifteen years of partner dance and stage (dramas, musicals, operetta) experience and a lifetime of musical experience in a variety of forms. His intense study of partner dances began over a decade ago with West Coast Swing and he quickly discovered Blues, Tango, Lindy, Salsa and Fusion dancing from there. His natural curiosity and love for learning has driven him to study all of these forms in private lessons with nationally-recognized instructors, allowing him to quickly accelerate his learning. Clyde is most interested in being the best partner he can, and is passionate about both leading and following in all of the dance forms he has studied. He has placed and won in many Blues and West Coast Swing competitions over the years, in addition to performing various choreographed pieces, of which he has created with his partners.
Kenneth is a dance instructor from Nashville, TN who spent years dancing hip hop and break before jumping into blues idioms over the past 3 years. He loves to incorporate his nerdy personality into all his classes and strives for authenticity and honesty in his dancing. Kenneth’s life experiences inform his dancing and wants his students to walk away with a better historical and contextual understanding to exhibit it in their dances. Taking that same approach in competitions, he recently won the bluesSHOUT 2017 Open Strictly with Dawa Jung, Mile High Blues 2017 Open Solo and All-Star Follow’N’Lead with Cierra Ruffin to name a few.
Watching Joy Arico dance is like seeing music out on the floor. Joy dances like she has a gallon of moxy in her quart sized container and she knows just how to serve it. In 25 years of dancing Joy has loved cheerleading, West Coast Swing, Country Two-Step, Lindy Hop, as well as Balboa and Blues. Her exuberant love of dance is matched only by her attentiveness to technique and detail. Her number one goal in teaching is to share the LOVE of dance. Music should be the ultimate driving force of dance and she is focused on sharing ways to enhance the natural body response to music.
A favorite on the social floor for his rhythmic play and clear lead allowing for effortless follow expression, Ross inspires his partners and onlookers alike. His movement background in martial arts and sport fencing affords him a grounded strength and athletic balance, giving rise to precise, secure changes between shapes and directions. Ross was drawn to the blues idiom because of its emphasis on personal expression in relation to a partner and the breadth of tempo and style within blues music. As a teacher Ross builds layered classes to challenge all levels, balances technique with application, and chooses appropriate music to support each exercise. Met with overwhelming competitive success, Ross has placed 1st at a number of contests within the last three years: BluesSHOUT 2015 Open Strictly (Chicago, IL), Southbound Invitational MnM (2017), Snowbound Blues 2016 All-Star JnJ (Rochester NY), Austin Blues Party 2017 BYOP (Austin, TX), and Sweet Molasses Blues 2016 Advanced JnJ (Boston, MA).