Panel Proposals

2019 Panels

Here is a sneak peek at the panels this year (see schedule for times).
If you are interested in submitting an idea for a panel, scroll down.

Explanatory Panels

The dance/music relationship – Kenneth Shipp
Jukin’ and Delta music – Adam Wilkerson
Ballroomin’ and Jazz music – Damon Stone

Lunch & Learns

Join us every day for lunch as we talk with the weekend’s musicians. Food passes are available for purchase BEFORE the event.

Friday-  Jacinta Branch-Griffin(Ms. Hy-C) of Ms. Hy-C and the Fresh Start

Saturday- Terry Harding, director of the National Blues Museum

Sunday- Alonzo Townsend, son of legendary STL blues pianist, Henry Townsend

Exploratory Panels

Friday Afternoon:

“The Souls of Trap Folks: Contradictions and Dualities of Black Experiences in Modern Hip Hop” – Vartan Khachaturov
Trap music shows the conflicts at the heart of being black in America through the juxtapositions of the profane and the holy, the humorous with the violent and murderous, lack of family and die hard loyalty.  Vartan will discuss these themes in the context of double consciousness, the history of hypocrisy in America of valuing black art without valuing black artists, and bring attention to how this legacy runs through to the modern day.  He will draw attention to how trap music lives and expresses these contradictions through many different forms, not just expressly political or conscious lyricism, but also through mixing contradictory tones, mixing content within the same album or often the same song, and how modern rappers embody a lack of trust and sometimes lack of hope that James Baldwin mentioned in his debate with William F Buckley: that the real danger wasn’t black folks rejecting the American narrative for MLK or Malcolm X, but rejecting them all in favor of raw anger and distrust.

Dancer. DJ.Organizer. Teacher. Since 2015, Vartan has been passionately in love with blues dancing, traveling all over the country while also being completely engrossed in the Denver scene. As a student of the blues he dives in to discover and understand as much as possible about blues culture, as well as black culture, especially current hip hop trends. His interests outside of dancing are power lifting, scotch, and his kitten Sophie.

Saturday Afternoon, Panel 1:

“Stones in My Passway: Hoodoo and the Blues” – Keith Beckman
The culture of hoodoo and related folk magic traditions in the African-American community was and is part of the constellation of influences that shaped blues. A number of these traditions have taken on new meanings in American vernacular only tangentially-related to their meaning with the culture of hoodoo (e.g. “mojo”, “jinx”), are entirely opaque to most modern audiences (e.g. “seventh son”, “goofer dust”), or are likely to be entirely misinterpreted, usually as sexual innuendos (“putting that thing on” someone, “hoochie coochie man”). Building awareness for this poorly-understood but ubiquitous component of the blues is important for dancers hoping to understand the larger context out of which blues grew, as well as the direct meanings expressed using hoodoo imagery.

Keith Beckman is a blues DJ and dancer from Augusta, GA. Keith began dancing in 2005 when he discovered Argentine tango and became an active member of the blues dance scene in 2010. In 2009, he began DJing in his local tango community and has been DJing for dance events throughout the Southeast since then. He first started DJing blues events in 2013. Keith says, “I’ve experienced the positive changes the scene has undergone in that time; and I select the music I play with an aim of promoting a higher level of dance and a greater cultural awareness among dancers. I focus on playing a majority of music by black artists, both classic and modern recordings. I seek out recordings that aren’t played often — or at all — in our scene; and share musical ideas with others as much as possible to broaden the catalogue we dance to.”

Saturday Afternoon, Panel 2:

“Magic, Superstition and the Devil” – Grey Armstrong

It’s hard to understand blues or black culture without understanding the cultures tie with the otherworldly. There is real meaning behind the story of Robert Johnson, songs like voodoo woman and born under a bad sign. Since blues takes a lot from gospel, there is still an element of acknowledging/giving yourself over to a higher power. In this case, it’s not God, but rather instruments of the devil. Not only can some of these beliefs be traced back to African roots but are been still seen today. These beliefs are woven in the fabric of black life and shape our world and music. The blues community needs to understand blues many faceted relationship to gospel and the church to really get a deeper understanding of the blues, its stories and people. It’s important for people to understand that there is a deep element of feeling behind blues and without that it’s just an imitation. It’s not enough to just go through the motions, but to BE moved, and be vulnerable in the face of great hardship.

Sunday Afternoon:

“Black & Tan Fantasy”- Dr. Christi Jay Wells
A half-century before Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” early short sound films (“soundies”) often featured a similar format: a short film with a plot driven by the expanded performance of a hit song. BluesGeek will feature a 1929 film critical to jazz & blues history: “Black & Tan Fantasy” featuring Duke Ellington. It was directed by Dudley Murphy and features a number of important black musicians and dancers of the late 1920s.

Dr. Christi Jay Wells, an internationally recognized expert in black music and dance culture of the 1920s and 1930s, will screen this film for us and provide in-depth historical information about “Black & Tan Fantasy” and the diverse 19th and early 20th century sacred and secular black musical traditions it emerges from. We will also learn about how to understand the film as an expression of and commentary upon black urban life at the height of the Harlem Renaissance.

Midnight moments

Blues is Sexy? – Grey Armstrong

Blues Culture and Event Goals – Heather Adkins


2019 Call for Panels

We are so excited to offer a wider range of panels at BluesGeek 2019, but we need your help! Panels are not only a mechanism for discussion, but they are a great place for dancers who have been doing research to shine.

If you are interested in submitting an idea for a panel, please read through the requirements below. DEADLINE APRIL 15

 Photo by Brad Nathanson Photo by Brad Nathanson

Types of panels

We are accepting proposals for two kinds of panels:

  1. Exploratory Panel (1 hour):
    Discussion of lyrical content and stories that comprise the Blues.

  2. Midnight Moment (15 minutes):
    Think of it like a Ted Talk – a brief but well-researched discussion on blues culture.

 Photo by Brad Nathanson Photo by Brad Nathanson


Please submit the following information to [] with the subject line “Panel Application”:

  1. Your name, contact information, and home dance scene.

  2. Which type of panel you are applying for (see Types of Panels section of this page).

  3. Title of Panel

  4. Summary of the panel and why the content would benefit the Blues community (250-500 words).

  5. List of supplies needed (e.g.projector and screen; sound equipment; etc.)

If your proposal does not meet the above criteria, it will not be considered.

 Photo by Brad Nathanson Photo by Brad Nathanson

What you get out of it

If we accept your proposal:

  1. The chance to have meaningful discussion with your dance community.

  2. Panelists are required to pay full tuition to the event; however, if your panel is chosen you will be offered the following reimbursement:

    $75.00 USD for a 1 hour panel

    $40.00 USD for a 15 minute panel