Instructors

Damon Stone

Damon Stone 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 numerous 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 and has been interviewed as a dance historian in documentary, radio, and newspaper. Damon has been a featured instructor at camps, festivals, and workshops across five continents.

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 important and high-profile events in the US and abroad, including but not limited to: bluesSHOUT!, The Experiment, Muse, Hearken the Blues, and BluesGeek–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.

Krystal Wilkerson

Krystal loves living in Huntsville, Alabama, although she is originally from southern Ohio. She has an uncanny energy and enthusiasm for blues music and dancing, and can often be seen at events all over. She’s been partner dancing various styles since 2007; Blues stole her heart, however, in 2010, and has never let go. She has taught all over the world, ranging from small community-focused events all the way up to Large-Scale International events including Korea Blues Camp, Blues Geek, and the Blues Experiment. She has a fervor for both competing and judging and enjoys geeking out on strategies for both. She brings her passion for connection into all of her dancing and instruction. Her love of the dance is contagious, and she believes in injecting fun into all of her classes.

Adam Wilkerson

Adam is proud to call Huntsville, Alabama home, but he’s originally from Mississippi. He’s been partner dancing since 2004, starting in Ballroom, Latin street dances, and Lindy Hop, 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 instruction and setlists. He strongly believes in teaching the context and history of the music and the dance, focusing on research in the Mississippi Delta in his spare time. His analytical approach to connection and value for intuition in dance provides a unique classroom environment that promotes self-awareness and improvement beyond the classroom. He believes in learning through experience and experimentation, so expect a LOT of getting up and dancing in his classes. ​

Sarah Lokay

Sarah has always been on the move–from soccer and martial arts to a love of dance that came later in life. Sarah found blues dancing in 2010, and it has since captivated and held a dear place in their heart. Known for their passion and comfy close embrace connection, their focus on partnership and self expression creates the core of their dancing and forms the way they approache practice and learning. Packing dry humor with clear analysis and visual breakdowns, their teaching aims to share the joy of movement, and to encourage strong, fun dances out on the floor. Sarah has competed in events such as the Northstar Blues 2018 Invitational Idiom Strictly, the bluesSHOUT! 2018 All Star M&M, and the Sweet Molasses 2017 M&M, and has performed choreography at both Sweet Molasses Blues and bluesSHOUT! as well. When they’re not traveling for dance, they can be found organizing on the Bluetopia, bluesSHOUT!, and CUBE boards in Chicago, giving back to the events that helped shape their own love of dance.

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 three years: BluesSHOUT 2015 Open Strictly (Chicago, IL), Southbound Invitational MnM (2017), Snowbound Blues 2016 All-Star JnJ (Rochester NY), Austin Blues Party 2017 BYOP (Austin, TX), and Sweet Molasses Blues 2016 Advanced JnJ (Boston, MA).

Kenneth Shipp

Kenneth Shipp hails from St. Louis, MO as an instructor who grew up dancing hip hop and breakdancing before jumping into blues. He has spent the past few years passionately studying the family of blues idioms, incorporating his nerdy personality along the way. 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. With every class and practice, he’ll encourage you to approach social dancing with coolness, relaxation, or in other words “Chill The F$%& Out.” When he’s not dancing, you can likely find him ranting about the latest blockbuster movie, game, or nerd convention.

Dominic Hanna

Dominic is an up and coming blues dance instructor, and he’s thrilled to embark on this journey with you! He has been dancing blues for about 3 years but has been dancing in his bathroom mirror for as long as he can remember! He is originally from The Bahama Islands, and the Caribbean style music he grew up listening/dancing to has an unmistakable influence on his style. He enjoys the depth and richness of the stories told through blues music, and the strong characteristic sound of the music itself. Dominic is best known for his fluid leg movements, whole-body multi-rhythm techniques, musicality and creative subtlety in his solo and partnered dancing. He draws inspiration from his 5 years of freestyle roller-skating, grooving to hip hop, house and R&B.

Dominic brings excitement and a calm, genuine enthusiasm to every class session! His love for personal expression and unique partnership dynamics shines through in his teaching as he encourages students to explore ways to take practical ownership of their movements. He regularly taught blues classes in his previous home scene in Huntsville, AL and has long enjoyed participating in bi-weekly practica with peers and mentors, workshopping every aspect of his blues dancing with his blues family. Dominic is a structural engineer and approaches the construction of dance/partnership mechanics from this perspective, so expect entertaining metaphors in his classes!

Laney Barhaugh

Laney started dancing foxtrot, polka, waltz and schotttische in a church-turned-gym in rural Montana at the ripe old age of 6. She’s since moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and teaches blues dance locally, nationally, and internationally. Known for her effervescent presence and upbeat teaching style, Laney has been dancing blues for over a decade. She prioritizes empowering you, providing historical context, and keeping class creative and fun. Her primary goal is to help you find confidence and joy moving your body to blues and jazz.

She would also like to remind you that it’s a dance class, and you will probably sweat.

Julie Brown

Julie’s expressive dancing and dynamic connection are known throughout the blues dancing world. With a background in theatre and solo dance, and an undying desire for continued learning, she is best known for her solo movement, choreography, aesthetics, and killer follower expression.

A hard-working competitor, Julie has won or placed in many national competitions, including Mile High Blues Idiom Solo Riffin’ 2018 (1st place), bluesSHOUT! 2018 All Star Strictly (2nd place), Snowbound Blues Expert Mix & Match 2018 (1st place), and more.

As a teacher, Julie is clear, thoughtful, and earnest. From advanced Struttin’ variations to beginner-friendly intros to lead-follow dynamics, Julie carefully crafts her classes and tailors her material to fit the crowd at hand. Julie has taught blues dancing in San Francisco, Seoul, Austin, Boston, London, Chicago, Zurich, and many places in between. She also teaches regularly in her home-base of Boston. For dance videos, pictures, and more info, check out https://dancewithjulie.wordpress.com

Mel Leduc

Mélisande’s relationship with dancing started with Lindy Hop in 1998, but it was true love at first dance when a Boston exchange introduced her to Blues. Over decades of dancing, Mel has accumulated hundreds of frequent dancer miles attending blues events across the United States and Canada. With skills forged in the fires of competition, Mel’s recent accomplishments include 2nd place in the advanced M&M at Sweet Molasses Blues 2019 and 1st place in the Open Strictly at bluesSHOUT! 2019. And yet, never satisfied with just her current achievements, Mel continuously strives to deepen her understanding of blues and push her connection with the music, her partner, and her body movement to excellence. She is just as passionate about sharing all she discovers with others. She loves to help students on their own dance journeys and to see the joy of dancing sparkle in their eyes. It’s what has kept Mel teaching, coaching and organizing blues events since 2012… and she has no plans to stop preaching the blues any time soon!

Mike Sonder

Mike Sonder combines his knowledge of music, functional anatomy, physics, and a plethora of dance forms to create classes that are uniquely insightful, inspiring, energetic, and challenging. Mike strives to put himself in his students’ shoes so that he can convey material as intuitively and thoroughly as possible. He loves seeing students’ eyes light up when they understand a concept or feel a movement work naturally in their body for the first time.
Mike has taught in 19 countries and counting. He currently teaches Lindy Hop, solo jazz, Balboa, and well over 30 Blues idioms. Mike has not only placed in and won respected competitions across multiple genres but also thrown down hard in unofficial late night dance-offs.
Mike lives and breathes dance. He is constantly honing his skills and developing new ideas. If you run into him at a grocery store, on public transit, in a museum, or on a mountain top, you’ll probably catch him dancing.