BluesMuse Instructors

17 December 2013

Blues Muse 2017 Instructors

— Update 8/22/17 — Our Guest Instructors are now up! Take a look at their bios, and our main instructors for the weekend to get a feel for the talent that is going to take your dancing to the next level at Blues Muse this year!

Muses
Kelsy Stone
Oakland, CA, USA
Kelsy Stone

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 Nocturne Blues--serving as faculty, mentor, competition coordinator, and judge.

Kelsy's critical eye and love of deep technique are tempered by her love of "dad jokes," getting lost in the music, and embracing of the ridiculous. She shows her appreciation of African American culture by speaking of the history of Blues idiom dance and taking her craft seriously, but never herself. She believes every mistake is an opportunity to learn, every class an opportunity to challenge, and every dance an opportunity to pay respect to those who came before.

Photo Credit: Ben Hejkal



Here is a video of Kelsy dancing!

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Philippe Wilson
San Francisco, CA, USA
Philippe Wilson

Recently referred to as Blues Dance’s “best kept secret lead”, Philippe is all about listening to the music and his partner, and interpreting both with exquisite flair. He combines precise leads with musical integrity, creating a dynamic dance that feels ooey-gooey in all the right ways. Although Philippe has rocked some competitions (1st place Blues Shout Pro-Am, 1st place Blues Muse J&J), his first and true love is social dancing. Philippe learned to dance and teach in Austin, TX, where you can dance to live music nearly 8 nights a week. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he’s designing very cool things for very cool mobile devices (i.e. he’s fluent in geek speak).



Here is a video of Philippe dancing!

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Mike Legenthal
Boston, MA, USA
Mike Legenthal

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. She brings both vibrant energy and technical precision to the classroom, and strives to make every social dance the best experience possible. Mike’s teaching history is extensive; having taught at a range of events from residencies to international workshops to private trainings, she brings preparation and flexibility to every class. A typical class could involve students morphing into robot penguins or seaweed, standing on one foot with their eyes closed, or analyzing chord changes- all in the pursuit of better dancing. Regardless of the material, her classes always include a mix of abstract and concrete topics, plenty of levity, and challenging homework to help students improve long after class has ended.

Photo Credit: Devon Rowland



Here is a video of Mike dancing!

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Dan Legenthal
Boston, MA, USA
Dan Legenthal

Dan Legenthal lives in Boston, MA, working on as many vernacular jazz and blues dances as he can. His passion extends to both the social floor and competition. When not competing, he teaches at events like Korea Blues Camp (South Korea), Hot Blues In Toulouse (France), and The Blues Experiment (USA).

Drawing from his degree in Classical Guitar, Dan has unique insight into how to practice and develop one’s skills, and uses that knowledge to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment. Since dance is experiential, Dan likes to prioritize doing, and treats learning like a sequence of experiments where you can learn as much from failures as from success. This philosophy is anchored on clear, precise language, and a belief that every student is capable of developing their own skill by patient, intentional practice.

Photo Credit: Devon Rowland



Here is a video of Dan dancing!

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Rachel Stirling
Portland, OR, USA
Rachel Stirling

It was Pittsburgh, 2003 when Rachel got her first taste of blues dancing, shortly after getting hooked on lindy hop. She fell in love with the intimate connection between your partner and the music and all that hip movement. As her blues dancing has grown, she continues to marvel at the unlimited possibilities of self-expression and movement. She delights in sharing that joy through teaching, djing, performing, and kicking so much ass in competitions.

When teaching dance, Rachel loves putting her Penn State degree in education to good use. Known for her incredible patience and ability to explain and demonstrate concepts in a variety of ways, she strives to get those "Aha!" moments. Rooted in strong fundamentals and clean technique, her lessons enjoy finding fun ways to sneak that focus into peoples' dancing. As a regional and national instructor, dj, and scene organizer, Rachel is spreading her love of Blues from coast to coast. For dance videos, pictures, and more info, check out http://www.redstirling.com.

Photo Credit: Devon Rowland



Here is a video of Rachel dancing!

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Tim O'Neill
Downey, CA, USA
Tim O'Neill

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!

Photo Credit: Devon Rowland



Here is a video of Tim dancing!

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Jenny Sowden
New York City, NY, USA
Jenny Sowden

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.

Photo Credit: Allison Bishop



Here is a video of Jenny dancing!

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Dan Repsch
Montreal, QC, CA
Dan Repsch

Dan is immersed in the music and the movement. He constantly travels 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 the continent and locally on a weekly basis, and has dabbled in organizing for events and local dances. In the end, Dan is most excited to push his dancing and to see his students break through their boundaries.

Photo Credit: Braden Nesin



Here is a video of Dan dancing!

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Special Guest Teachers
Elijah Wald
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Elijah Wald

In the early 1980s Elijah began writing on roots and world music for the Boston Globe, publishing over a thousand pieces before he left in 2000, and his work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. His dozen previous books include Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues; How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music; Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas; and The Mayor of MacDougal Street, a memoir with Dave Van Ronk that inspired the Coen Brothers' movie Inside Llewyn Davis. He has won a Grammy Award for his album notes to The Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Box, for which he was also nominated as a producer, and his books have won many awards, including an ASCAP-Deems Taylor award and an honorable mention for the American Musicological Society's Otto Kinkeldey award. He has an interdisciplinary PhD in ethnomusicology and sociolinguistics, and taught for several years in the musicology department at UCLA. He is currently based near Philadelphia, wrinting, traveling to speaking engagements around the US and abroad, and performing in a duo with his wife, clarinetist Sandrine Sheon.

Check out this write-up and demo of Darktown Strutter's Ball on his Songobiography Blog.



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Red LaBonte
New York City, NY, USA
Red LaBonteSarah 'Red' LaBonte is once again gracing Blues Muse with her talent for taking care of bodies! She'll be teaching you how to take care of yourself so that you can dance all night long- and for many years!

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Sarah Lokay & Ross Blythe
Chicago, IL, USA
Sarah Lokay & Ross Blythe

From an athletic background of soccer and martial arts, Sarah began dancing in 2010, and has been smitten with it since. With a passion for the community and a joy found in the music, her focus on strong partner connection and mutual expression creates the center of her dancing and forms the way she approaches practice and learning. Packing warm humor with clear analysis and breakdowns, her teaching aims to share the joy of movement, and to encourage fun, strong partnered dances out on the floor. Sarah has finaled in events such as the Austin Blues Party 2016 Big Damn Social Jack & Jill, the the Winter Blues 2016 Solo Competition, the BluesSHOUT! 2016 Open Strictly, and has taken 3rd in the Steel City Blues 2016 Solo Riffin' Competition, as well as Austin Blues Party 2016 BYOP, and 1st in the Austin Blues Party 2017 BYOP with her partner, Ross Blythe.

Sarah has taught both Blues and Lindy Hop at venues throughout the Midwest, and, when not traveling to compete, learn, or teach, can be found working with both the Bluetopia and CUBE event boards as an organizer and instructor in Chicago.

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 two years: BluesSHOUT 2015 Open Strictly (Chicago, IL), North Star Blues 2016 JnJ (Minneapolis, MN), Austin Blues Party 2016 Social JnJ (Austin, TX), Snowbound Blues 2016 All Star Strictly, and Sweet Molasses Blues 2016 Advanced JnJ (Boston, MA).

Photo Credit: Devon Rowland Photography



Here is a video of Sarah Lokay & dancing!

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Krystal & Adam Wilkerson
Huntsville, AL, USA
Krystal & Adam Wilkerson

Krystal has an uncanny energy and enthusiasm for blues music and dancing, and can often be seen at events all over the southeast and, indeed, the country, closing down late nights, frequently dancing until dawn. She's been partner dancing in various styles since 2007; Blues stole her heart, however, in 2010, and has never let go. She's a fierce competitor, making finals at multiple national blues dance competitions, and brings her fervor for connection into all of her dancing and instruction.

Adam's been dancing in a variety of styles since 2004, but he followed Krystal into blues in 2010, and it's been his primary focus ever since. He's passionate about social dancing and blues music, and loves to explore all different blues styles in his setlists and instruction. Adam's also danced at events all over the country and in Australia, and DJ'd throughout the Eastern US. His analytical approach to connection and value for intuition in dance provides a unique classroom environment.

Krystal and Adam both still dance various swing styles (mostly balboa and lindy hop), and spend a lot of their free time hiking with their greyhounds and rock climbing. They've been teaching swing and blues since 2009, but have been focusing on blues instruction since 2014. They teach at the weekly meetings of Thursday Night Swing in Huntsville, both with each other and with other instructors in the area, and they host a biweekly blues group practicum at their home. Krystal's passion for the dance is apparent in her teaching style: upbeat, personal, encouraging, and energetic. Adam's experience teaching math makes his style more analytical and minutiae-oriented. Together, they balance out as an effective partnership, keen to instruct any group, and their collective passion for the dance is evident in their classes.

Photo Credit: Brad Nathanson



Here is a video of Krystal & dancing!

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Chelsea June Adams
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Chelsea June Adams

Chelsea Adams' love of dance started at a young age, and she's studied ballet, tap, jazz, standard and latin ballroom, among other dances. Her love of blues dancing led her to travel the nation in search of specialized training, historical information, and of course, great social dancing. Enthralled by the history behind blues music and idiom dances, she moved her hobby into her academic career. Pursuing her PhD in English at UNLV, Chelsea focuses her studies on blues music and black dances in African American and transnational literature. She regularly writes about minority culture representation in literature, presents her research at academic conferences around the nation, and is currently curating an exhibit on music and sound for the Marjorie Barrick Museum in Las Vegas. She also runs the Blues and Jazz Dance Book Club, believing that blues history is for everyone, not just the academic types, and that it can improve blues dancers' skill levels. If you're interested in geeking out about blues history, she's the gal to talk to! Learn more about the Blues and Jazz Dance Book Club at bluesjazzbookclub.com.

Photo Credit: Emily DeWan



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Riley Karbon
Saint Paul, MN, USA
Riley Karbon

Riley Karbon has been partner dancing - Salsa, Lindy, and Blues - for over twelve years with an intentional focus on Blues for the last five. Hailing from the nicest scene around, Minneapolis, she loves playful connections and convincing even the newest of dancers to solo. Her Minnesota Nice extends to competitions as you will often hear her yelling support for competitors during prelims and finals. A fierce competitor herself, in just the past year she's won at Korea Blues Dance Camp and Mile High Blues, placed at BluesQuake, and finaled at BluesSHOUT and MezzJelly.

When not dancing, Riley is a professional fundraiser, life coach, and doula which means she knows a thing or two about encouragement and building confidence in others. She knows that being comfortable in your own dancing skin is just as important as skills and technique work for solid growth and improvement.

Riley believes that your unique style is what makes your dancing shine, and she's ready to prove it to ya!

Photo Credit: Ben Hejkal



Here is a video of Riley dancing!

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