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 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, 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. Damon has been a featured instructor at camps, festivals, and workshops across five continents.
Heidi began dancing and teaching Blues dances in St. Louis in 1999 and 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 and 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.
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 19 years of partner dancing and 8 years of cheerleading, Joy has loved 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.
Dan Legenthal lives in Boston, where he is pursuing an MBA and an MS in Information Systems at Boston University. In his "spare" time, he runs New School Swing, a local swing dance studio, and travels to teach, compete, and work on his dancing. His passion for dance extends to all swing and blues dances.
Dan routinely teaches at events like Blues Muse, BluesSHOUT!, Hot Blues In Toulouse, and Berlin Blues Explosion. In a typical class, you can expect Dan to encourage students to take an active role in learning by improving their visual learning skills. He preaches that movement comes first, and by refining it one can develop excellent technique, partnership, and musicality. Drawing from his degree in Classical Guitar, Dan has unique insight into how to practice and develop skills, and uses that knowledge to create a dynamic, engaging learning environment.
Kelly Pavao is officially the Blues Muse. Based in Washington DC, she teaches locally and has taught in cities across the US (and Canada!) since 2009. Kelly has donned her heels (or flats) for many dance styles, such as Blues, Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, West Coast Swing, Waltz, and some African dancing at the local drum circle. Her favourite element about all types of dancing is the connection, and she is always striving to find ways for her students to be better able to connect with each other, the floor, and the music.
Nick teaches and dances blues as a vernacular style with historical context peppered throughout and a sizeable side of humour. His classes tend to revolve around authentic blues elements including musicality, improvisation, connection, solo movements, and conversational dance. Nick enjoys competing at blues events to keep his skills sharp; his recent successes include 2nd place in the Strictly competition at European Blues Invasion 2014 (London, UK), 1st place in the J&J competition at Nocturne Blues 2014 (NYC, NY), 2nd place in the Strictly competition at Bluesquake 2015 (Oakland, CA), and 1st place at the Strictly competition at Mile High Blues 2015 (Denver, CO).
Grace dabbled in belly dance and swing in the mid-2000's, but stopped dancing to pursue horseback riding 8 days a week. Her years of dressage and bareback riding provided her with priceless knowledge about body awareness, connection and partnership-tools which would later aid her as a dancer. In 2011, she rediscovered swing and then fell in love with the improvisation and collaborative dynamic of blues dancing.
Today, Grace teaches blues dancing at her home studio in Austin, and works to promote Blues dancing locally and regionally. She regularly teaches workshops across Texas and beyond with her partners Nick DeWitt and Tommy Schwegmann. Her teaching style is a combination of friendly, down-to-earth warmth and precise, technical breakdown. When she's not teaching, Grace travels to compete in blues. Her recent accomplishments include 1st place wins at Nocturne's Advanced J&J (NYC, NY) in 2013, Snowbound's J&J (Rochester, NY) in 2013, European Blues Invasion's J&J (London, UK) in 2014, and Mile High's Strictly and J&J (Denver, CO) in 2015.
For more information about Grace, visit her website.