Instructors

 

Main Instructors:

Heidi Fite & Dexter Santos

Julie Brown & Dan Repsch

Grace Jones-Taylor & Nick DeWitt

Guest Instructors:

Forrest Rogers-Marcovitz & Laura Chieko

Kenneth Shipp & Laney Barhaugh

Ross Blythe & Sarah Lokay


Heidi Fite

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.


Dexter Santos

When Dexter Santos discovered Blues dancing in 2005, he found himself immediately drawn to the rhythms and sounds of the Blues. Something about the music – it’s emotional depth and range, the varied subjects and stories, the gut-wrenching and the hip-shaking, the gritty and the smooth – gave Dexter’s dancing new inspiration and direction. With a background in Ballroom dancing and Lindy Hop, Dexter has studied and collaborated with the best Blues dance teachers and dancers making him one of the most sought-after and admired teachers in the national and international scene.

As a teacher, Dexter aims to inspire dancers of all levels with the possibilities that Blues dancing has to offer while preserving its roots, identity, and art form. Dexter travels across the US and around the world spreading his passion and joy for Blues dancing through his fun, inspiring, and challenging classes. A particular class favorite often referred to as the “Shim Sham of Blues,” the Hound Dog routine (a solo Blues choreography danced to Big Mama Thornton’s song of the same title) has been taught to and performed with dancers in four continents.

Dexter has taught at nationally and internationally renowned exchanges and workshops such as bluesSHOUT (Chicago, IL), Austin Blues Party (Austin, TX), Down Home Blues Festival (San Francisco, CA), BamBLOOZled (Washington, D.C.), Rain City Blues (Seattle, WA), Steel City Blues Festival (Pittsburgh, PA), Mile High Blues Festival (Denver, CO), BamBLOOZled (Washington, DC), Toronto Blues Battle (Toronto, ON, Canada), Fallin’ In Blues (Grenoble, France), Korea Blues Camp (Seoul, So. Korea), Drag The Blues (Barcelona, Spain), Blues Baby Blues (London), and Black Swan Blues (Perth, WA, Australia) among many others.

When he’s not teaching or performing, you’ll find Dexter ‘cutting his teeth’ and refining his skills on the competition floor. Since the very first bluesSHOUT in St. Louis in 2007, Dexter has won first place in numerous Blues dancing competitions around the country and has won the title of Ballroomin’ Blues champion at bluesSHOUT 3 times (2007, 2008, and 2010). In an unprecedented feat, Dexter won all four partnered competitions at bluesSHOUT 2010 in Austin: Open Jack & Jill, Strictly Jook Joint, Strictly Ballroomin’, and Champions Division. For more information about Dexter, visit his website at dextersantos.com.


Julie Brown

Julie’s expressive dancing and joyful, playful connection are known throughout the country. With a background in performance and solo dance, she is best known for her solo blues, artistic choreography, and seamlessly integrating following with expression.

As a teacher, Julie presents material with a caring and light-hearted tone. She carefully crafts her classes and continuously tailors her material to fit the crowd at hand. Julie teaches regularly in her hometown of Boston, and has taught workshops everywhere from California to London.

A hard-working competitor, Julie has also won many national competitions, including bluesSHOUT 2014 All Star Jack & Jill, Steel City Blues 2014 Open Jack & Jill, Enter the Blues 2014 Strictly & Choreography Competition, and many more.

http://dancewithjulie.wordpress.com/


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.

 

 


Grace Jones-Taylor

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.

 

 


Nick DeWitt

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.


Guest Instructors


Forrest Rogers-Marcovitz

Forrest Rogers-Marcovitz is known for his SnakeHips and other unique individual dance stylings. In addition to dancing Swing and Blues for over a decade, Forrest studied ballet for eleven years, starting at age four. Along the way he has also dabbled in jazz, tap, tango, hip hop, West African dance, and capoeira. Based in Boston, Forrest spends his time working on robots and was the head organizer for the Steel City Blues Festival in Pittsburgh from 2011 until 2016. Outside of Boston, Forrest has traipsed across 6 continents, taught in 5 countries, won competitions at blues events around the world, including in Berlin, London, and Tel Aviv, and twice won the BluesShout All-Star Jack n’ Jill championship. A lively instructor, Forrest focuses on each student developing their own unique dance aesthetic.


Laura Chieko

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 from balboa to human anatomy to create classes accessible to a broad range of students.

Laura is also a tireless organizer. She obsesses over spreadsheets and her drug of choice is caffeine. She helps run Blues Dance New York in NYC and curates the Organizer Blues blog.


Kenneth Shipp


Kenneth Shipp 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.


Laney Barhaugh

Laney is a blues dance instructor, organizer, and DJ. She has been dancing Lindy Hop and blues for over 10 years, with some dabbling in tango and hip hop. She also loves lifting heavy things – it has given her confidence, better quality of movement, and has completely changed her dancing. She loves shaking her booty to any genre of music that encourages it. As a teacher, her goals are to integrate a little history and a little musicality into every lesson.

FYI, Laney is going to rock it as our Head DJ!

 


Ross Blythe

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).


Sarah Lokay

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 dances out on the floor. Sarah has finaled in events such as the Sweet Molasses 2017 M&M, the North Star 2017 Idiom M&M, Austin Blues Party 2016 Big Damn Social J&J, 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 the Bluetopia, bluesSHOUT!, and CUBE event boards as an organizer and instructor in Chicago.​