Friday Live Jazz, Club Dancing Class, and DJed Blues Dance

If you're in town on Friday, come to a live Jazz band ($5 at the door - not part of a pass) at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Stay for a Club Dancing Class taught by Damon and Kelsy Stone. This unique class will pull from solo and partnered jazz and blues movement and dances and help you feel confident and comfortable exploring spaces other than your local blues dance.  Simultaneously, there will be an intro to blues dancing class (no experience or partner required) taught by Adam and Krystal Wilkerson. After these classes, there will be some time to practice your new moves during a social dance DJed by Damon Stone. 

Saturday Workshop Instructors

Damon and Kelsy Stone

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 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 and for radio. Damon has been a featured instructor at camps, festivals, and workshops across five continents.


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 high-profile events in the US, including but not limited to: bluesSHOUT!, The Experiment, and Nocturne Blues--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.

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 teaches blues classes in his 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!

Grey Ruffin

Grey found blues dancing long ago when dancing with his grandfather as a child. At university he found others doing a dance similar to what he knew, and clung to the familiar music. Grey is internationally known for innovative classes, deep cultural context, an intuitive learning style and leaving students with a lingering feeling they have been changed beyond just dance. He loves to challenge students physically but also intellectually and emotionally, with his experience based teaching. 

Personally he is striving towards elevating his technical skills and playfulness while dancing and brings that into his classes hoping to lead by example and show that we can always be learning. Grey organizes one of the largest dances in the USA and writes obsidiantea.com, a site with helpful resources. Combine all this with his skill as a dancer, being known for musicality and performance, Grey, has cultivated unique respect as an All Star division competitor in the USA.

He also loves cats, tea, dancing with new people. Ask him to dance!

Adam and Krystal Wilkerson

 We've been partner dancing since 2004, and focusing on Blues since 2010. We've taught styles from swing to ballroom, but blues has really stolen our hearts, and we'd love to come share our passion for it with you! We've had the good fortune to teach at a wide variety of national and regional events, and we even organize one ourselves every year in our hometown of Huntsville, Alabama!  

We both still dance various swing styles (mostly balboa and lindy hop), and spend a lot of our free time hiking with our greyhounds and rock climbing. We’ve been teaching swing and blues since 2009, but have been focusing on blues instruction since 2014. Krystal’s passion for the dance is apparent in her teaching style: upbeat, personal, encouraging, and energetic. Adam’s experience teaching math makes his style more analytical and minutiae-oriented. Together, we feel that we balance out as an effective partnership, keen to instruct any group, and our collective passion for the dance is evident in our classes. ​ We're passionate about teaching not only techniques of blues dance, but also in grounding that work in history. We start with the music and work from there in our lessons, but we also really enjoy digging deep on precise techniques. We love teaching Ballroomin', but we've got a real passion for Southern Blues, so Struttin' and Piedmont have a huge place in our hearts. Adam is from Mississippi originally, after all.  

We're also passionate about people finding their own dance within Blues. We encourage doing so, while framing it as best we can in the hardships that the music and dance was borne from, both locally and when we travel. Locally, we host a biweekly practicum at our place where we work with dancers from our home scene on developing their own dance. They come from backgrounds ranging from dancing to hip-hop and Reggae to Lindy Hop, and we learn a lot from them as well.   

Community is a key part to dancing.  

On philosophy: We believe that blues dancing starts first with the music. There's rich, long history there, and those that make the music are to thank for this dance and our opportunity to express it in our bodies. At the same time, we believe in learning through experience and experimentation, so expect a LOT of getting up and dancing in our classes.   

Although we dance a lot of freestyle, we specialize in Blues Idiom dancing and have developed curricula around several idioms. We love community, and view this dance community as a family. Additionally, if people are interested in learning about running events with specific focii, or in starting up a practicum, we'd love to geek out about that, as well!  

Evening Dance featuring David Cole Blues Band

 

If hearing the blues doesn't make you stand up and holler, then you've never heard David "Git" Cole play the blues.  A favorite of the D.C. Blues Society, this native Washingtonian brings the full range of his experience as one of the area's most versatile musicians to his expression of the blues, arguably America's foremost musical and storytelling art form.  Combining his skills as an ace guitarist with soulful vocals and an engaging personality, Cole deploys his talents as a musician and educator to elevate the blues to its rightful place among America's cultural treasures. 

"He's a musican's musician," says saxophonist and educator Davey Yarborough, who praises Cole's "attention to stylistic detail."  Paul Carr, a master of the sax who shares with Cole a musical biography that spans the genres of blues, jazz, r&b and rock 'n' roll, says of Cole, "There's a whole party goin' on inside his guitar case."  

Sunday Hand Dancing

D.C. Swing

If you've never tried Hand Dancing now is the perfect opportunity. On Sunday, November 18, we will be offering four hours of classes, taught by a large group of talented instructors from a local Hand Dance studio, to give you all the skills you will need to have a great time at the social dance that follows. 

Hand dancing, also known as "D.C. hand dancing" or "D.C. swing", is a form of swing dance that can be traced as far back as the 1920s, from Lindy Hop, to Jitterbug and to the 50s when Washington, D.C. developed its own version and named it Hand Dance. It is characterized by gliding footwork and continuous hand conection/communication between the partners, hence its name. It fell out of favor during the disco era, but in the 80s, Hand Dance resurfaced in the Washington dance community.

In 1993, the Smithsonian Institution recognized Hand Dance as an American Art Form, and the Smithsonian exhibit led to the establishment of the National Hand Dance Association.

In 1999 it was formally recognized as the official dance of D.C. by the city council. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_dancing)


The group we will be learning from is The Love II Dance II Academy, which was founded in May 2008 by Rodney K. Wilson, a dance artist specializing in

DC Hand Dance which is a form of Swing. He also has a passion for the endless variety of dance genres from

around the world. Later Rodney connected with other dance enthusiast Barbara Brown and Paige “Cenee”

Ogle, and the three embarked on a journey to bring their local communities an eclectic mix of dance, line dance and Bop as our motto is….”The First Principle of GOD is Love…Let US show you…”

“To watch us Dance is to hear our Hearts Speak” -Native American Proverb


In the decade that followed, the Academy has grown to become one of the Rising Star providers of adult and

youth dance programs in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area with our studio/class located in Cheverly,

Maryland, along with a satellite location in N.E. Washington, DC. Our reach may have grown over the years,

but our mission remains the same as it was on day one: Bring the love of GOD through dance diversity, to

the diversity of the world! Since the founding of our class in 2008, our goal has been to provide our

communities with the comprehensive dance styles offered in class, including technique, choreography,

performance, and fitness.

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Take My Hand Blues

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St SW, Washington, District of Columbia 20024, United States