Workshops

Workshops take place Saturday and Sunday. (But not too early – we’re night owls, too.) Classes are divided into four themes: a Foundations theme to cover the basics, a Technique & Styles theme to hone skills and learn new types of blues dance, our Make It Sing! theme to take your dancing to the next level, and our Anything Goes! classes to add further variety to what you can learn.

You are not restricted to any one theme, and can take any class from each and any theme as you please, which gives you the freedom to work on what you need based on your abilities and interests. All of our workshops are conveniently located in adjacent rooms in a single building, and Carnegie Mellon is close to many local eateries, so finding lunch is quick and easy.

Registering for the full-weekend pass grants access to all the classes. If you can’t make the whole weekend we will be offering one-day passes (classes only) for $40 or individual drop-ins for $12. Our beginner dance lessons before the Friday and Saturday main dances are not considered workshops, and are open to anyone attending the dance.

SCBF also hosts a blues clinic Saturday afternoon, where instructors give individuals feedback on their dancing. If you don’t have a full weekend pass, you can still attend the blues clinic, for the drop-in price of $12. When you’re not getting feedback, you can practice alone or with a partner, or just treat it as a bonus social dance. It’s a great chance to learn more and practice your skills. Don’t miss it!

To promote the best learning environment, we ask that you arrive on time to workshops. Latecomers will not be admitted into a workshop any later than 15 minutes after the scheduled start time. Give yourself a few extra minutes to get to classes so that you don’t miss a minute of sweet, juicy knowledge!


Theme Descriptions

Foundations
Focusing on the core aspects of blues dance, these classes are for those with a year or less of blues experience, as well as for more experienced dancers looking to revisit and refine their understanding of essential blues technique.

Technique and Styles
These classes are intended for intermediate and advanced dancers with experience in blues, and focus on building vocabulary and refining skills. This track features classes on the physical aspects of technique and partnership, as well as classes about some of the sub-styles of blues dance that stem from the diversity of blues music.

Make It Sing!
These classes are intended for intermediate and advanced dancers with experience in blues. These classes are about putting cherries on top of your dance with musicality, play, and dynamic partnership.

Anything Goes!
The name says it all – these classes could be anything and everything, and are our way of bringing something new to Steel City Blues. Classes vary in difficulty, but all are intended for those who have had at least some previous experience in blues. If you are unsure if you’re ready for a particular class, talk to the instructor who will be teaching it.

Our Challenge courses are for dedicated dancers who already exhibit precise technique, intelligent partnering, and expressive musicality. Instructors gear the complexity of these classes to the top 15% of dancers at Steel City, and will not adjust their teaching to those who struggle with the material. There will be no rotation during these classes, so participants must Bring Their Own Partner (BYOP). If you’re unsure about if you’re appropriate for a Challenge-level class, talk to one of our weekend or clinic instructors.


2017 Saturday Workshops
Times
FOUNDATIONS
RANGOS 1
TECHNIQUE & STYLES
RANGOS 2
MAKE IT SING!
RANGOS 3
ANYTHING GOES!
AEROBICS ROOM
11:30am

12:30pm
Foundations
Building Better Blues
Jenny & Dan
Technique & Styles
Close Embrace or Advanced Hugging for Blues Dancers
Guest Star: Joey Science
Make It Sing!
Self-Assessment
Julie & Tim
Anything Goes!
12:45pm

1:45pm
Foundations
Meditation on the Rubber Band
Flouer & Philippe
Technique & Styles
CHALLENGE: Drag Blues, Legenthal Style
Mike & Dan
Make It Sing!
Swoops & Turns
Jenny & Dan
Anything Goes!
Dancing to Difficult Music
Guest Star: Laney Barhaugh
LUNCH BREAK: 1:45-3:00pm
3:00pm

4:00pm
Foundations
Lag
Julie & Tim
Technique & Styles
In, To, And, On, The
Flouer & Philippe
Make It Sing!
Side Pass Madness
Mike & Dan
Anything Goes!
Struttin’ Steadicam
Guest Stars: Grace & Ross
Instructor Demo: 4:10-4:15
4:15pm

5:15pm
BLUES CLINIC: Open Jack n’ Jill check-in begins at 5:00.
Anything Goes!
Open Practice
OPEN JACK N’ JILL PRELIMS: 5:15-5:45pm
2017 Sunday Workshops
Times
FOUNDATIONS
RANGOS 1
TECHNIQUE & STYLES
RANGOS 2
MAKE IT SING!
RANGOS 3
ANYTHING GOES!
AEROBICS ROOM
11:30am

12:30pm
Foundations
All the Bits
Mike & Dan
Technique & Styles
Inspired Ballroomin’
Guest Stars: Grace & Ross
Make It Sing!
Theme & Variation
Flouer & Philippe
Anything Goes!
12:45pm

1:45pm
Foundations
Lead/Follow Microscope
Flouer & Philippe
Technique & Styles
Delta Rhythms
Jenny & Dan
Make It Sing!
CHALLENGE: Partner Conversations During Momentum
Julie & Tim
Anything Goes!
Fancy Rhythms
Mike & Dan
LUNCH BREAK: 1:45-3:00pm
3:00pm

4:00pm
Foundations
Leading for Followers
Jenny Sowden
Technique & Styles
Active v. Passive Movement
Julie & Tim
Make It Sing!
Flash, but Totally Not Trash
Mike & Dan
Anything Goes!
Following for Leaders
Dan Repsch
4:15pm

5:15pm
Foundations
End Game
Jenny & Dan
Technique & Styles
These Feet Are Made for Walking (and Dancing!)
Flouer & Philippe
Make It Sing!
Advanced Recipe for the Blues
Julie & Tim
Anything Goes!

2017 Saturday Workshop Descriptions
Building Better BluesJenny & Dan
Saturday 11:30am – 12:30pm
This is an all-levels class that works from the ground up. We’ll start with the foundations and fine-tune those all-important details, including posture, pulse and other elements that create blues aesthetic. No matter where you are in your dancing, you’ll take something new away from this class.
Close Embrace or Advanced Hugging for Blues DancersGuest Star: Joey Science
Saturday 11:30 – 12:30pm
You thought you knew how to hug before, but it’s time to bring your technique to 11. We’ll work on getting into and out of close embrace, and feeling comfortable with traveling and improvising within our bodies.
Self-AssessmentJulie & Tim
Saturday 11:30 – 12:30pm
This isn’t really a class. We really aren’t going to teach anything. But you will learn a whole lot. Through a series of tests we will explore your strengths and weaknesses together in a rapid-fire grueling, no nonsense setting. Show up ready.
Meditation on the Rubber BandFlouer & Philippe
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Stretch, Release, Compression, Elasticity. We are always moving, never quite static. Imagine a world where your whole being is connected to your partner through just a few finger tips. What if we said that it wasn’t magic, but that it was actually possible? It just takes practice, patience, and the ability to deeply tune into your partner.
CHALLENGE: Drag Blues, Legenthal StyleMike & Dan
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Are you ready to really dig into the nitty gritty technique of drag blues? Not for the weak, this class is about the fundamental ways that we manage balance and weight transfer in drag blues, and it is not easy! With a lot of practice, though, it’s incredibly rewarding, so come dig into the details with us!
Swoops & TurnsJenny & Dan
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Add a whoa-swoop and wow-turn to your dance! Through some flashy vocabulary, we’ll learn the techniques that smoothly create these movements in your dance.
Dancing to Difficult MusicGuest Star: Laney Barhaugh
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
There’s a lot of blues music out there that was created as dance music, but is difficult for the current community to dance to – specifically piedmont, country, and delta blues. This class will explore mental and physical tools to address particular elements of difficulty in these genres.
LagJulie & Tim
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Lag is a rhythmic technique for all blues dancers (solo and partnered), as well as a partnered technique followers can use to play with the feel and rhythmic dynamics of the dance. In this class, we’ll start from the base of rhythmic lag, then learn different techniques followers can use to create different types of partnered lag, and then see how this can inspire & create different opportunities for leaders.
In, To, And, On, TheFlouer & Philippe
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Transitions, transitions, transitions! By now, you have some pretty sophisticated vocabulary in your arsenal from the previous class. It’s time to start expressing yourself in full sentences & maybe even paragraphs. We’ll talk in depth about how to fit moves together for ultimate blues fluency.
Side Pass MadnessMike & Dan
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Side passes are way cool, but we don’t them used a lot, so we’re bringin ‘em back! The simple structure of side passes makes them an ideal move for embellishment, footwork variations, and more. By the end of this class, you’ll be mad about side passes.
Struttin’ SteadicamGuest Stars: Grace & Ross
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Bonafide struttin’ powerhouses, Grace and Ross let their feet fly when they dance. Struttin’ allows for both partners to explore rhythm and footwork independently while, like a sine/cosine graph, coming back together for shining partnered moments. In this class, we’ll explore a few different variations and techniques for leads and follows, inspired by the idea of a ‘steadicam.’

2017 Sunday Workshop Descriptions
All the BitsMike & Dan
Sunday 11:30am – 12:30pm
If you want to become a great partner dancer, you have to first become a great dancer. Mastery of dance comes from mastering control over your body, which means spending lots of time learning to control every body part precisely. This class will cover technique, exercises, and drills to help you become a master of moving all of your bits.
Inspired Ballroomin’Guest Stars: Grace & Ross
Sunday 11:30am – 12:30pm
One of the subtler elements of ballroomin’ blues is its emphasis on the negotiation between lead and follow in shaping and directional changes. We’ll provide a few examples of either partner initiating specific changes and then we’ll open it up, pushing the limits of ballroomin’ connection while staying grounded in the dance.
Theme & VariationFlouer & Philippe
Sunday 11:30am – 12:30pm
Taking your dance to the next level may mean moving away from simply accomplishing a string of pretty fun moves, to a cohesive movement journey that takes you and your partner smoothly from one full idea to the next. We’ll introduce this concept and give you lots of ideas and practice on implementing it in your dance.
Lead/Follow MicroscopeFlouer & Philippe
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
It’s time to get out your magnifying glasses, opera glasses, and monocles to take a good look at what is really going on inside of our lead/follow dynamic. Inside the artistry and basic shapes there is a rich world full of subtlety and precision that can take our dancing from feeling “pretty good” to “amazing!”
Delta RhythmsJenny & Dan
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
The rhythms in Delta blues are as rich as the river itself! In this class we’ll dive right in and dance several distinct rhythms that fit within this style. We’ll start by feeling how a rhythm can layer into the music, then show how that can be converted into fun basics that will add a certain depth to your dances.
CHALLENGE: Partner Conversations During MomentumJulie & Tim
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Keeping communication open while using momentum is key to creating an enjoyable connection and experience for both lead and follow. Without this the lead might be forcing too much of the move or the follow might concede too much of the dance. Explore how followers can style and shape during momentum, and how leaders can lead specifics of momentum more clearly or more open and adapt to followers.
Fancy RhythmsMike & Dan
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Rhythm is a fundamental building block for blues and jazz music, and studying rhythms as musicians do is essential for really understanding the dances that were born from that music. This class is all about getting a deeper understanding of rhythm as a general concept, as well as digging deeper into specific rhythms that are idiomatic to blues, including polyrhythms and polymeters. We’ll be spending a lot of time doing movement drills and playing rhythm games, and then integrating those ideas into our partner dancing.
Leading for FollowersJenny Sowden
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
With a following skill background this is a great Leading 101 class as you’re starting out but you’re not starting from nothing. Prerequisite: must feel confident in your following skill and have taken many classes as a follow.
Active v. Passive MovementJulie & Tim
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
This is the missing ingredient for many intermediate dancers: an understanding and control of active and passive movement. Walking is sometimes called controlled falling. Well, we’re not doing that. Learn one more reason why the blues posture is useful and how to make it work for you, improving your precision and your connection.
Flash, but Totally Not TrashMike & Dan
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
We’re going to come right out and say it: we hate the term “flash and trash”. No matter how flashy your dancing is, it should always have substance! During this class we’ll show you some of our favorite flashy moves that are sure to please both an audience and your partner.
Following for LeadersDan Repsch
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
This class is for those with a background primarily in leading, and are interested in learning to follow. We’ll focus on the key fundamentals and use our knowledge of leading to better understand both roles.
End GameJenny & Dan
Sunday 4:15 – 5:15pm
There are many ways to end a dance, and this is all about finding them. We’ll explore a number of choices for that last moment, each with its own personality and purpose. There’ll be a range of ideas, from solid moves to abstract concepts. Start a dance and now end it like you mean it.
These Feet Are Made for Walking (and Dancing!)Flouer & Philippe
Sunday 4:15 – 5:15pm
This class is all about how we use our feet…those multidimensional, intricate appendages attached to the bottoms of our legs. We use them for balance, control, slowing down & speeding up, and pretty much everything else! Join us in this technical exploration of what makes us bipeds get around.
Advanced Recipe for the BluesJulie & Tim
Sunday 4:15 – 5:15pm
If you’re already familiar with concepts like lag, grounding, and pulse, come with us as we delve deeper into the blues aesthetic, and look at some other, more advanced aspects and concepts.