We've invited some of the top blues instructors in the world to help you explore blues movement, partner connection, the roots of blues dancing, and what blues dancing is really about.
Interested in private lessons with these awesome instructors? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set it up.
Damon Stone (Saint Paul, MN) — 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, a Chicago native born and raised. After nearly a decade of learning at the heels of his elders, he 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 Mississppi 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 dance 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.
Heidi Fite (San Francisco, CA) — Heidi began dancing and teaching the Blues in St. Louis in 1999 and has been dancing, teaching and performing ever since. An early promoter of Blues dancing, she began the first national Blues dance workshop (Cheap Thrills), which has since transformed into the nation’s largest Blues dance workshop and competition weekend (bluesSHOUT!). She now lives in San Francisco and travels the world teaching Blues dancing as a living tradition, with a rich history and an exciting future. From private lessons and 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 her focus on the underlying principles and fundamentals allows her to break down the most difficult concepts and moves so they are 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. More important, her classes will put some serious "boom boom boom" and "aw haw haw haw" in your dancing.
Shawn Hershey & Amanda Gruhl (Boston, MA) — Amanda has been dancing since age five. Experienced in dance instruction, choreography, performance, and show production, she has taught blues dance, lindy hop, jazz, ballet, tap, contemporary, sacred dance, and hip hop. She has also had instruction in other dance forms such as Argentine tango, flamenco, modern dance, popping/breaking, and ballroom dance. Amanda has been dancing, choreographing, and competing in blues dance since 2000, and teaching blues dance nationally since 2003 with Ogden Sawyer. Shawn Hershey came from an extensive music background, studying classical trumpet performance at the Eastman School of Music, so when he started lindy hopping in the late 1990s with the Lindybaby studio, he quickly got hooked! He has studied extensively at camps and workshops with nationally renowned instructors and started teaching swing and lindy hop in Boston around 2002 with various partners. Shawn began teaching and performing lindy hop internationally with his sister, Betina Hershey. Since Shawn and Amanda joined forces in 2005, they have collectively won or placed in half a dozen national blues competitions, and have taught and performed together at workshops and events around North America, including Austin Blues Party, Down Home Blues, the Fusion Exchange, and BluesSHOUT! Their style of blending lindy hop, ballroom, blues, and Argentine tango into their dancing is both beautiful and powerful, and earns them praise wherever they go. Currently, Amanda and Shawn teach with a collective of Boston dance instructors at New School Swing in Charlestown, MA and Blues Union in Somerville, MA, and Shawn runs two successful swing bands, The Fried Bananas and the Shawn Hershey Quartet.
Byron Alley — One of Canada's best-known blues and swing dancers, Byron's been dancing to blues music since he was a toddler. He grew up in a family where the sounds of Robert Johnson, Taj Mahal and his dad's own blues guitar playing were a big part of his childhood soundtrack. Byron's collection of competition-related shiny stuff also includes a bunch of podium placements in blues at the national level starting in 2004, including winning 2010's blues division at the Canadian Swing Championships. He's also collected awards for Lindy Hop, WCS and Balboa at CSC, ULHS, BTP, and many other acronyms. He's taught across Canada and in a number of cities in the US, coaching many dancers to their first national titles, and for the last few years has focused a lot on training teachers. Read more.
Natalia Rueda (Ottawa, ON) — A full-time dance teacher, Natalia is recognized as one of Canada's top instructors for solo and partnered blues dancing. A native of Colombia, Natalia grew up dancing Salsa and Merengue as well as lesser-known Afro-Latin dances--such as Mapalé, a dance originally from Angola. As she puts it, "I never went to a party where people didn't know how to partner dance until I came to Canada!" Growing up in a culture where partnered social dancing is a part of everyday life, combined with her background in Afro-Latin dances, has given her particular insights into blues dancing and Lindy Hop, dances that share similar roots. Known for her uncanny eye for movement and detail, Natalia is passionate about helping dancers improve their quality of movement while focusing on the fundamental spirit of social dancing that she grew up enjoying. Natalia has been coaching various swing, Charleston and blues dance teams since 2006, and currently holds the position of Artistic Director at Swing Dynamite. Her collection of competition awards includes a number of national first place awards in Blues dancing (partnered and solo) as well as Lindy Hop, Balboa, and West Coast Swing. Read more.