BluesQuake 2017 Instructors

Mike Legenthal & Dan Legenthal

Damon Stone & Heidi Fite

Rachel Stirling & Andrew Smith


Mike 2.jpg

Mike Legenthal (aka Mike the Girl), Boston MA

Mike's true loves in life are teaching, dancing, following, and music. There's no order, because for her, these things are intrinsically linked. In addition to national events like Lindy Focus and Enter the Blues, Mike has taught at countless regional events in Lindy, Blues, and Balboa, as well as traveling all over the country to teach and perform. She performed in an all-girls Charleston troupe at Camp Jitterbug's Jump Session Show in 2007, and in the all-girl blues troupe, the Hoodoo Ladies, at events from DC to BluesShout in St. Louis. Additionally, she has taught at events ranging from one-month artists residencies to international training camps.

Mike combines an intuitive understanding of connection with an analytical speaking style to give her students technique, but also strives to challenge and inspire her students to push themselves further into the music. She aims to help leaders create artistic compositions that are clearly led; she wants follows to have the ability to be a completely literal follow, and the inspiration and freedom to be an imaginative and dynamic contributor. In the classroom or on the social floor, she seeks a connection that involves active communication from both partners, to make a dance together.

Dan 1.jpg

Dan Legenthal, Boston MA

Dan and Mike Legenthal first danced together in 2009, and have been dancing and teaching together at events all over the country.  One of their regular, and favorite, gigs is teaching at the Augusta Heritage Festival in Elkins, WV every summer, working to bridge the gap between musicians and dancers.  Dan is an up-and-coming dance star with several first-place wins under his belt, as well as a degree in classical music performance, while Mike brings an extensive social dance expertise, and a few championships of her own, creating a knowledgeable, musical pairing.  

A typical class with Mike and Dan might focus on creating concrete exercises for abstract concepts, or on creating versatility and adaptability in your dancing.


MIKE & DAN CLASSES

Turns, Turns, Turns (Saturday, 11:30am, Colossal! [2])
If you've ever wanted to be good at leading/following/doing turns and spins, then this class is made for you.  We'll dive deep into turning technique and how to keep things within the blues aesthetic.  Be prepared for lots of time doing drills and experimenting.

The Sound Board (Saturday, 12:45pm, Dino-Mite! [4])
Developing dance skill is about more than acquiring new moves and skills.  It's also about getting comfortable playing with the knobs and sliders on the "sound board".  This class will show you how making small fundamental changes (like your default amount of rotation) can have a profound impact on your aesthetic and partnering.

Embrace the Close Embrace (Saturday, 3:15pm, Sharp! [1])
Whether you're just starting out or a seasoned veteran, dancing in close embrace is both challenging and rewarding.  This class will be all about making your close embrace comfortable and dynamic.  We'll start from the beginning, so no prior experience is necessary!

Foot Rhythms and Slides (Saturday, 4:30pm, Rex-Cellent! [3])
As Blues dancers we spend a lot of time thinking about certain body parts: hips, rib cage, shoulders, etc.  However, our feet don't often get the same amount of thought that our other bits and pieces get.  This class aims to change all of that. By the end of class you'll be obsessed with cool foot rhythms and slides.

Choreography Challenge (Sunday, 11:30am, Colossal! [2])
Hard stuff, solo stuff, and other good stuff, too.  This choreo isn't just another sequence to memorize, but instead will give you a chance to peek inside our creative process and how we think about musicality, blues aesthetic, flash, performance, and everything else!

History of Blues / Muddy Waters Through Time (Sunday, 12:45pm, All-Levels)
This class is an exploration of the evolution of blues music.  We'll trace Muddy Waters's career from Mississippi to Chicago to demonstrate how blues music evolved as musicians from the southeast traveled north and west.  This class will include talking and listening to music, and most importantly lots of time dancing.

Tailor Made (Master's Class) (Sunday, 3:15pm, Rex-Cellent! [3])
This class is a chance to get specific feedback on your dancing, and an opportunity to develop your "dance eyes".  We think that one of the best ways to improve your dancing is to work with other dancers, and for that reason love master's style classes.  In a nutshell: you'll both give and get direct feedback in a guided environment.

Cherry on Top (Sunday, 4:30pm, Sharp! [1])

You've had a full weekend of learning, time to cap it off with a little something special.  We'll teach you some of our favorite ways to add a splash of dynamic flash to your dancing.


Heidi 1.jpg

Heidi Fite, Oakland CA

Bio coming soon!

DAMON STONE, San Francisco CA

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. 

Originally from the East Bay, BluesQuake is excited to have Damon back as a local instructor.

HEIDI & DAMON CLASSES

Slow Dancing: to the EXTREME!!! (Saturday, 11:30am, Rex-Cellent! [3])
Dancing at the medium tempos is easy, dancing at the extremes is hard. Everyone recognizes the skill and endurance it takes to dance fast but dancing slow is often thought to be easy, simple, what you do when you can't dance fast. This class will focus on tempos and movements that will test your balance, rely on a killer sense of rhythm, and all the while staying under 100 bpm.

Down Home Blues (Saturday, 12:45pm, Sharp! [1])
The oldest traced "Blues Dance" is the Slow Drag. This versatile one-step was done across the country to every form of Blues music, but really developed into a gritty, down-home favorite of isolations and improvisation in the deep South. Learn the rare Delta-style that started it all. Beginners will get a firm grasp of traditional Slow Drag and what may be one of the best foundations for Blues, and advanced dancers will get to challenge themselves with the polyrhythm of this deceptively simple dance. Caution, teachers not responsible for exploding heads!

A Living Tradition (Saturday, 3:15pm, All-Levels)
DISCUSSION: Blues is not just a collection of stagnant dances that died out in the 60's, but a tradition born from the 19th Century and still danced today in communities across America, and now embraced by a new generation of dancers around the world. We'll take a look at how these dances looked as far back as a century ago and what changes they went through as they changed geographic areas and the music they danced to changed.

Bring the Party (Saturday, 4:30pm, Colossal! [2])
Blues music was the party music of its day and the various blues idiom dances dominated the house parties, jook joints, and basement socials. This class will focus on the social side of blues dancing, not just how to do a set of moves, but create moves and dances in your own blues style without ever losing that fun one on one interaction that creates the unforgettable environment of a roomful of people all having a good time together.

Technique Intensive (Sunday, 11:30am, Rex-Cellent! [3])
This class is exactly what it sounds like.

Breakaways (Sunday, 12:45pm, Sharp! [1])
This class will focus on how to flow back and forth between partnered and non-partnered moves keeping the feel and connection established even when there is no physical contact.

Fast Blues (Sunday, 3:15pm, Colossal! [2])
Blues is not just for slow songs! You’ll learn how to use the Blues movements and Blues aesthetic that you've learned in previous classes so that you can keep on dancin' when the tempos are rising.

From Kintae to Krump: the Black Aesthetic of Cool and Hot (Sunday, 4:30pm, All-Levels)
DISCUSSION: This class will discuss and discover through solo and partnered movement the values of the Black communities that created Swing, Blues, and Jazz dance and how it brought together technique and artistry to influence not just contemporary American dance but our ideas of what is hot and cool.


Rachel 1.jpg

Rachel Stirling, Portland OR

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 enjoys 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.

Andrew 1.jpg

Andrew Smith, Seattle WA

Teaching internationally for over a decade, Andrew still wears the same pair of dance shoes he bought after falling in love with social dance at the end of high school. In classes around the world, he draws upon his experience in social, vernacular, and classical dances to inspire and challenge his students. He brings a balanced focus to technique, body mechanics, spirit, and creativity and strives to create a positive, safe learning environment. Andrew continues to hone his skills through competitions and wins at events around the country, including Mean Old Blues, Rose City Blues (twice), and Portland Blues Experience (thrice). In his spare time, Andrew is a software engineer and holds a Master's degree in Sustainable Design and Construction from Stanford University. He enjoys hugs, yoga, and dark chocolate. Visit www.AndrewSmithDance.com for more info.

Getting into Character, Rachel Stirling (Saturday, 11:30am, Sharp! [1])
In this class you'll learn specific solo movements to facilitate working on musicality and bringing characters and feelings into your dancing. We'll use a simple routine to work on bringing dynamics into our dancing and change basic moves just by putting a different feeling behind it.

Dance Variance (Saturday, 12:45pm, Rex-Cellent! [3])
Adaptability is one we think all dancers should work on. Leaders will learn how to have more dynamic range in how they lead moves: how to read partners and then adjust and adapt to fit them. Followers will learn how to ask for variance from their partner: how to express musicality or comfort level with adjustments in tone, energy, or stretch. Discover the magic sauce that inspires connected inspired dances with anyone.

Groove Me (Satuday, 3:15pm, Colossal! [2])
Get ready to groove that body with a class of soulful and funky blues. Never get lost again when the beat gets janky and learn how to wow your partner when a smooth slow jam comes on.  We’ll show you how to find a natural body movement that fits perfectly to a range of soulful tunes.

Lose Yourself to Dance (Competition Focus) (Saturday, 4:30pm, All-Levels)
Get up and throw down: here we look at how to unleash your creative spirit and leave it all on the dance floor - first solo, then with a partner. Check your ego at the door, open your heart, and share with the world how you Dance; it’s time to bring it.

Dance Engineering: The Mechanics of Efficient Movement, Andrew Smith (Sunday, 11:30am, Sharp! [1])
Applicable to dancers in any style, we get to investigate how we move our bodies. This class covers body mechanics and asks, "How can we do that more effortlessly?" Come be liberated by fluid, natural movement, release the excess tone, and let the joy step in.

Conversational Dancing (Sunday, 12:45pm, Rex-Cellent! [3])
Blues allows for a lot of self-expression, so how do we both express in a conversation without derailing each other? Here we will discover how to create a dialogue within the lead-follow structure that allows both partners to contribute equally. We will explore tricksy questions such as, “Can a follow create movement without becoming the lead?” Come join us for some dynamic back-and-forth with your partner to inspire movement and play. Intermediate level and above.

Flow with Tricks and Take Risks (Sunday, 3:15pm, Dino-Mite! [4])
The tricky part about tricks is to make them fit in the context of a dance. This class demystifies how to think about bringing tricks into your everyday dancing, making them less like tricks and more like pushing your dancing in new ways. Feel free to bring a dance partner or group and opt out of general rotation.

Zen & the Art of Delta Blues (Sunday, 4:30pm, Colossal! [2])

There's something beautiful and entrancing about the simplicity and cadence of country blues. Delta blues, as well as Piedmont and Hill Country blues, can be challenging to dance to when there's often minimal instrumentation and no drum beat. This class will show you how to get lost in the steady groove of the music and embrace simplicity, subtlety, and repetition in solo and partnered movement.