Workshops

See the full weekend schedule.

Workshops take place Saturday and Sunday. (But not too early – we’re night owls, too.) Dance classes are divided into four themes: a Foundations theme to cover the basics, a Technique & Styles theme to hone skills and learn new types of Blues dance, and our Make It Sing! theme to take your dancing to the next level. Plus! We’ll have Cultural Seminars (and discussions) on Blues history and modern Blues culture on Saturday and an Anything Goes track on Sunday!

You are not restricted to any one theme, and can take any class from each and any theme as you please, which gives you the freedom to work on what you need based on your abilities and interests. All of our workshops are conveniently located in adjacent rooms in a single building, and Carnegie Mellon is close to many local eateries, so finding lunch is quick and easy. Au Bon Pain is even available just down the hall.

Registering for the full-weekend pass grants access to all the classes. Our beginner dance lessons before the Friday and Saturday main dances are not considered workshops, and are open to anyone attending the dance.

SCBF also hosts a Blues clinic Saturday afternoon, where instructors give individuals feedback on their dancing. If you don’t have a full weekend pass, you can still attend the Blues clinic, for a drop-in price. When you’re not getting feedback, you can practice alone or with a partner, or just treat it as a bonus social dance. It’s a great chance to learn more and practice your skills. Don’t miss it!

To promote the best learning environment, we ask that you arrive on time to workshops. Latecomers will not be admitted into a workshop any later than 15 minutes after the scheduled start time. Give yourself a few extra minutes to get to classes so that you don’t miss a minute of sweet, juicy knowledge!


Theme Descriptions

Foundations
Focusing on the core aspects of Blues dance, these classes are for those with a year or less of Blues experience, as well as for more experienced dancers looking to revisit and refine their understanding of essential Blues technique.

Technique and Styles
These classes are intended for intermediate and advanced dancers with experience in Blues, and focus on building vocabulary and refining skills. This track features classes on the physical aspects of technique and partnership, as well as classes about some of the sub-styles of Blues dance that stem from the diversity of Blues music.

Make It Sing!
These classes are intended for intermediate and advanced dancers with experience in Blues. These classes are about putting cherries on top of your dance with musicality, play, dynamic partnership, and competition concepts.

Cultural Seminars
We’re wrangling up some exciting speakers to address topics like Blues history, modern Blues culture, and inclusivity in Blues dancing.

Anything Goes
Anything goes classes are the ones that didn’t fit into any of the other tracks!


2019 Saturday Workshops
Times
FOUNDATIONS in RANGOS 1
TECHNIQUE & STYLES in RANGOS 2
MAKE IT SING! in RANGOS 3
CULTURAL SEMINARS in PETERS
11:30am – 12:30pm
Foundations
Dancing Close: Close Embrace Connection
Julie and Dan
Technique & Styles
Lengthen Your Idea
Jenny
Make It Sing!
Experimenting with Partnered Lag
Adam and Krystal
Cultural Seminars
Keeping Blues Alive
Guest Star:  Miss Freddye Stover
12:45pm – 1:45pm
Foundations
Savoy Walk from the Ground Up
Krystal and Adam
Technique & Styles
Slow Dancing
Nick and Grace
Make It Sing!
Getting in a Good Cut
Jenny
Cultural Seminars
Blues Community: Juke Joints & Parties
Guest Star:  Eugene Morgan
LUNCH BREAK: 1:45-3:00pm
3:00pm – 4:00pm
Foundations
Blues Aesthetic
Grace and Nick
Technique & Styles
Angularity and Asymmetry
Forrest and Laura
Make It Sing!
Learning Blues Language [with live music]
Dan and Julie
Cultural Seminar
Blues from A to Z
Head DJ:  Kenneth Shipp
Instructor Demo: 4:10-4:15
4:15pm

5:15pm
BLUES CLINIC: Open Jack n’ Jill check-in begins at 5:00.
Cultural Seminar
Open Practice
OPEN JACK N’ JILL PRELIMS: 5:15-5:45pm
2019 Sunday Workshops
Times
FOUNDATIONS in RANGOS 1
TECHNIQUE & STYLES in RANGOS 2
MAKE IT SING! in RANGOS 3
ANYTHING GOES in PETERS or the ACTIVITIES ROOM
11:30am – 12:30pm
Foundations
Pulse, Groove, Then Move
Jenny
Technique & Styles
Stress Testing Your Connection
Grace and Nick
Make It Sing!
Creativity in Ballroomin’
Laura and Forrest
Anything Goes
Nerdy Blues
Head DJ:  Kenneth Shipp
12:45pm – 1:45pm
Foundations
Slow it Down! Lag and Relaxation
Krystal and Adam
Technique & Styles
Off the Beaten Track
Dan and Julie
Make It Sing!
The Unspoken Word
Nick and Grace
Anything Goes
Scene & Community Leaders Discussion
Moderated by:  Laura Chieko
LUNCH BREAK: 1:45-3:00pm
3:00pm – 4:00pm
Foundations
Groove Together
Dan and Julie
Technique & Styles
Rhythm Gifting
Jenny
Make It Sing!
Relax! Dancing to FAST Jukin’ Music
Krystal and Adam
Cultural Seminar
Stretch Your Groove Thang
Guest Star:Darla Wilson
4:15pm – 5:15pm
Foundations
Embrace
Nick and Grace
Technique & Styles
Modern Delta Blues in Context
Adam and Krystal
Make It Sing!
Adaptive Leading, Radical Following – Embrace
Julie and Dan

2019 Saturday Workshop Descriptions
Dancing Close: Close Embrace ConnectionJulie and Dan
Saturday 11:30am – 12:30pm
Close embrace is an essential connection style for many Blues dances, but can also be challenging at first. In this class, we’ll work on getting your embrace feeling comfortable to you and your partner, as well as leading & following clearly here.
Lengthen your IdeaJenny
Saturday 11:30 – 12:30pm
Let one idea go longer than you think. We will cover ways to develop and lengthen an idea in movement. Be able to express a full thought or theme and avoid dancing a list of moves.
Experimenting with Partnered LagAdam and Krystal
Saturday 11:30 – 12:30pm
In this class we will talk about partnered lag and how we can leverage it to create momentum. We will then release that momentum to generate cool, dynamic movements. We’ll work through exercises leveraging our combined inertia to study quick addition and subtraction of energy within our partnered dance.
Keeping the Blues AliveGuest Star:  Miss Freddye Stover
Saturday 11:30 – 12:30pm
It seems Blues is going by the wayside these days. It needs to be preserved and remembered in a way that can last for years. What does the future of Blues hold?
Savoy Walk from the Ground UpKrystal and Adam
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
When the music slowed at the Savoy Ballroom, dancers switched from Lindy Hop to Slow Dancing in a way that we now call Savoy Walk. We’ll lay down the basics of Savoy Walk, then break out of the box step to explore traveling and develop swing-inspired spins and passes that ride the melody of this iconic music.
Slow DancingNick and Grace
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
This class will guide you towards cozy, simple dances to slower music in both Blues and Blues-related genres. Favorites on the social floor for their slow dancing, Grace and Nick will let you in on a few secrets to crafting and enjoying those dances with your partners. An understanding of close embrace is recommended.
Getting in a Good CutJenny
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
So you’ve walked into a solo cutting situation, be ready for it and understand what is going on. This class will approach strategies, timing, and different styles of cutting, along with the respect this kind of battling has.
Blues Community:  Juke Joints & PartiesGuest Star:  Eugene Morgan
Saturday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Come and hear Eugene speak about the community, Juke Joints, parties, and Blues dancing during his years as a Blues musician.
Blues AestheticGrace and Nick
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
As a highly improvisational style that spans many different idiom dances, Blues can be difficult to define. However, there are a number of common elements that tie these idioms together. In this class, we’ll take a look at Blues fundamentals, as we explore what makes them unique and how to embody the Blues aesthetic in our dancing.
Angularity and AsymmetryForrest and Laura
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
To quote Jacqui Malone, in the book ‘Steepin’ on the Blues’: “To many western and central Africans, flexed joints represented life and energy, while straightened hips, elbows, and knees epitomized rigidity and death. The bent kneebone symbolized the ability to ‘get down.'” Come focus on adding angularity and asymmetry to your solo movement and Blues partnership.
Learning Blues Language [with live music]Dan and Julie
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Blues songs contain a language of riffs passed down through generations. With the help of a live musician, we’ll learn some of these riffs, how to predict them, where they might be used in a song, and how we might choose to dance them.
Blues from A to ZHead DJ:  Kenneth Shipp
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Mojo Hand, Hoochie Coochie Man, The Crossroads, Killing Floor- We’ve all heard these phrases or words used in different songs and biographies, but what do they mean and what significance do they have to the history of the Blues? Let’s talk about the stories behind these words and how key they are to understanding certain songs, movements, and pieces of Blues history.

2019 Sunday Workshop Descriptions
Pulse, Groove, Then MoveJenny
Sunday 11:30am – 12:30pm
Using a pendulum swing in the body to inspire groove and movements smoothly. Focus on pulse and let everything else fall into place. Walk away with jazz moves, transitions and ways to direct you towards your path to personal style.
Stress Testing Your ConnectionGrace and Nick
Sunday 11:30am – 12:30pm
Put your connection to the test! With a focus on some unusual connection points and linear redirections, we’ll help you zero in on where your connection may need some additional love.
Creativity in Ballroomin’Laura & Forrest
Sunday 11:30am – 12:30pm
As magistrates of the Ministry of Silly Walks, Laura and Forrest will help you increase your silliness within your partnership. Within Ballroomin’ Blues, the workshop will cover lead and follow techniques for defying expectations. Bring a bit of joy and creativity into your dance!
Nerdy BluesHead DJ:  Kenneth Shipp
Sunday 11:30 – 12:30 pm
Curious how certain artists got their sounds? Wonder which songs are appropriate for particular dances? We’ll dive into some of the coolest hallmarks of your favorite artists and why some songs work well and others don’t.
Slow it Down! Lag and RelaxationKrystal and Adam
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
In this class we’ll study getting behind the beat to bring a chill to our dance. Once we’ve calmed it down, we’ll explore how partnered lag can introduce gushy compressive and stretchy movements to our dance and how to use those dynamics to create new moves!
Off the Beaten TrackDan and Julie
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Let’s think outside the track! In this class we’ll explore a dance position that will place leads and follows totally offset. We’ll cover entrances, exits, and some ideas to try out in this rarely-used position!
The Unspoken WordNick and Grace
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
Have you ever had a dance where it’s magically SO MUCH FUN, and you’re not entirely sure who came up with each idea? Yeah, us too. They’re the best. As follows, we incorporate a lot of “creative suggestions” that invite moments of play with our partners, and as leads we learn to listen for and participate in those moments. In this class, we’ll be exploring some the ways in which follows can draw their partners in new directions, and leads can be receptive and engaged.
Scene & Community Leaders Discussion Moderater:  Laura Chieko
Sunday 12:45 – 1:45pm
This is your chance to bounce ideas off of scene and community leaders from all over North America. You get to write your own description for this one–so feel free to drop a question or topic suggestion in the anonymous box at the registration table!
Groove TogetherDan and Julie
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
In this class, we’ll learn how to build a relaxed connection that lets each partner express themselves and add their own stylings & variations while leading or following in Blues.
Rhythm GiftingJenny
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Often musicians will set up a rhythm for other musicians (or dancers) to play with. Do this in your dance partnership. Have a rhythm conversation and see how witty you can be. Side effect may be laughter.
Relax! Dancing to FAST Jukin’ MusicKrystal and Adam
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
It’s Sunday afternoon and the floor is heating up. In this class we’ll keep the tempos hot! To keep up with the beat we need to chill… We will explore how relaxing tone will improve partnership dynamics and keeps us fresh dance after dance.
Stretch Your Groove Thang – Guest Instructor: Darla Wilson
Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Do you ever imagine a dance move and then wonder why your body won’t cooperate? Have you watched another dancer and thought “my joints just don’t work that way.” If we want creative moves and combinations, why do we still do the same 2 or 3 stretches? Come stretch, twist, and bend to explore the unique way your body moves and what it needs to be able to safely create new movements and isolations on the dance floor!
EmbraceNick and Grace
Sunday 4:15 – 5:15pm
Not just a critical connection for most Blues dances, close embrace is also one of the great pleasures of Blues dancing in general. It is a surprisingly challenging connection for leads and follows alike, but it is the most rewarding connection to master in Blues dance. Once your embrace connection becomes relaxed, comfortable, and confident, you’ll have partners lining up to dance it with you!
Modern Delta Blues in ContextAdam and Krystal
Sunday 4:15 – 5:15pm
At a juke joint in Clarksdale, Mississippi called Red’s, they don’t have a smooth wooden floor. They’ve got a worn red area rug covering the small space that’s both stage and dance floor. Shuffling here is tricky, but people still get down and dance with each other and the musicians! We’ll lay out that experience and how to dance in a small space so close to the band and dance it out in a tiny area brimming with vigor. Come Juke with us!
Adaptive Leading, Radical Following – EmbraceJulie and Dan
Sunday 4:15 – 5:15pm
When we dance with a partner, sometimes we have similar ideas of what to do, and sometimes our ideas are very different. In this class we’ll dance entirely in embrace as we explore making individual choices that let us express ourselves and stay connected while adapting to partner ideas.