Damon Stone, Minneapolis
Damon has been dancing his entire life. Starting with vernacular jazz/blues he went on to Hip-Hop, and eventually studied over a dozen different dance styles until coming full circle focusing primarily on the history and styles of swing and blues, in 1995.
He has taught dance extensively on both coasts, and studied the development of vernacular jazz/blues dance regionally and nationally, traveling to New York, Chicago, Memphis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, St. Louis, and New Orleans. He has been interviewed as a jazz dance historian in documentary and for radio.
Damon has been a featured instructor at numerous swing camps and jazz festivals and workshops and camps across the U.S. and Canada. He is a member of the California Historical Jazz Dance Foundation, and a member of the Northern California Lindy Society.
Dexter Santos, San Francisco
Dexter Santos discovered Blues dancing in 2005 and has since been inspired by the soulful and expressive quality of Blues music. Whether he is teaching, performing, or social dancing, Dexter is very passionate in his interpretation of the Blues. One of the things that makes his dancing stand out is his musicality and the way he translates it on the dance floor.
As a teacher, Dexter’s passion comes from his desire to teach Blues dancing with respect to its roots, identity, to celebrate its art form, and more importantly, to inspire dancers of all levels with the possibilities that blues dancing has to offer. Together with Michelle Richter, Dexter teaches classes locally in San Francisco and has taught at national exchanges and workshops such as bluesSHOUT (Chicago, IL), Austin Blues Party (Austin, TX), Down Home Blues Festival (San Francisco, CA), and BamBLOOZled (Washington DC).
When not teaching, Dexter further refines his skills on the dance floor as a frequent competitor. At the recent bluesSHOUT 2010 in Austin, Dexter won all four partnered competitions: Open Jack & Jill, Strictly Jook Joint, Strictly Ballroomin’ (with Michelle Richter), and Champions Division. His other accomplishments include: 1st place at the 2007 & 2008 bluesSHOUT Strictly Ballroomin’ (with Michelle Richter), 1st place at the Emerald City Blues Festival 2008 Invitational Jack & Jill, 1st place at the Enter the Blues 2008 Jack & Jill, 1st place in the Down Home bluesSHOUT 2008 Invitational Jack & Jill Champions Division (with Michelle Richter).
Dexter is honored, excited, and looking forward to teaching again this year with Michelle at Down Home Blues Festival in San Francisco.
Heidi Fite, San Francisco
Heidi began dancing and teaching Lindy Hop and Blues with Charlie Fuller in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1999 and has been dancing, teaching, and performing ever since. She now lives in San Francisco, California, where she teaches weekly Lindy Hop and Blues classes, when not traveling on the weekend teaching Blues workshops.
Admired for her clear explanation of fundamentals, Heidi brings to all her classes and workshops not only a focus on solid techniques, but more important, a love of dance and a dedication to the learning process.
For more information about Heidi, check her out at www.blues-dance.com
Joe DeMers, Denver
Joe DeMers is a champion Blues and Lindy Hop instructor based in Denver, CO. He and his partner, Nelle DeMers, have toured the world from South Korea to France, Canada and all over the US. He loves to dance and is proud to be a dancer, performer, competitor, and instructor. He is soon to be the excited owner of Overstreet Dance Gallery in Littleton, CO; a club for the arts, music and dance. He is also a proponent of Frame Matching and the creator of ?PTED, a codified theory of connection in which the follows match the changes in posture, tone, and tension established by the leader, in order to follow energy and direction. For more information, check out his website at www.joeandnelle.com.
Julie Brown, Boston
Julie has been teaching, DJing, and competing in Blues since 2006. With a background in performance and solo dance, she is known for her energy, musicality, and style. Julie teaches regularly in Boston, and has also taught nationally at events such as Down Home Blues, Blues Blaze, and Blues Muse. She has placed in many national competitions, including 1st place BluesSHOUT 2009 Juke Joint, 1st place Mile High Blues 2010 Jack&Jill, 1st place Bambloozled 2010 Showcase, 2nd place BluesSHOUT 2010 Ballroomin’, and 3rd place BluesSHOUT 2010 Champions Jack&Jill.
Michelle Richter, San Francisco
Michelle Richter has been dancing for over 20 years and seriously studying dance for about 17 years. Her background in ballet and modern dance has inspired her to focus on technique combined with creative movement in her teaching style. She has studied the movement of the human body in many forms of dance, including African-Caribbean, Jazz, Contact Improvisation, Belly Dance, Hip Hop and various Ballroom styles. Michelle also enjoys performing and creating choreography. For the last 11 years, her main focus has been Lindy-Hop and Blues dancing. Her teaching focuses on connection, attitude and self-expression, proper body mechanics, and one-on-one attention. She finds that her profession as a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist, which gives her extensive knowledge of anatomy/physiology, compliments her dance instruction in a unique way.
With her teaching partner, Dexter Santos, Michelle teaches locally in San Francisco and at various national events. Together, they have both taught at Blues Rising (San Francisco), California Invasion (Seattle), Blues Shout (Chicago), Austin Blues Party (Austin), Down Home Blues (San Francisco), and Bambloozled (Washington D.C.).
- Blues Shout Invitational Jack and Jill Division Champion 2007, 2008
- Blues Shout Strictly Ballroom Blues Division Champion 2007, 2008, 2010 partner Dexter Santos
Mike Legett, Cincinnati
Mike (the Girl) Legett began dancing in 2001, and has since become one of the most respected dancers and instructors in the blues world. She teaches and performs from coast to coast, and is fortunate to be able to devote her full-time career to dancing. Her classes bring bring the history of the dance together with innovative creativity, and focus on solid technique and aesthetic- as well as having a good time. She aims to help leaders create artistic compositions that are clearly led; she wants follows to have the ability to be the completely literal follow, and the inspiration and freedom to be an imaginative and dynamic contributor.
Ria Debiase, Sacramento
Ria has been dancing lindy hop and Blues for five years. She has also studied Historical Jazz, Ballet, Gymnastics and Hip Hop. Her dancing style is energetic and musical, and she is comfortable being playful and funky as well as “busting it old school”.
Ria’s teaching style is clear and concise and she can break down complicated moves and concepts so they are easily understandable. She specializes in teaching the basics, communication through lead/follow technique, and connection. Ria’s mantle is full of local, regional, national and world trophies. Despite a healthy competitive attitude, Ria’s first love is social aspects of vernacular jazz and blues dances.
Tim O’Neill, Los Angeles
Tim O’Neill started dancing in 1997 and couldn’t stop. In Los Angeles he runs the Blues Kitchen teaching weekly classes and spends most of his weekends traveling the country teaching and loving Blues. Since 2009 he has trained or taught at over forty events and has ten competition titles to his name. He has studied and taught Lindy, Ballroom, and Argentine Tango and even wrote two theses for an MA in Sociology social dynamics and body language observed in dance venues. Tim believes the best way to dance is to have fun, and learning dance enhances that ability. When taking Tim’s classes expect to laugh, have fun, be entertained, and learn a lot. And be sure to ask him to dance!