Hether Samuels

"I was born in Jamaica an island surrounded by water but I am a poor swimmer. If it weren't for dancing I wouldn't move around at all - I am sooo NOT athletic. In fact I avoided gym class by taking jazz (dance) classes in high school."
So sayeth half of the founding force behind the BluesBlaze.
Well, Hether's sure moving - and shaking - now! Along with co-creating the BluesBlaze with Joy Arrico (see following post), Hether is the founder of JookJoint Shimmy Blues. The latter being a blues lovers 'organization' that, amongst other endeavors, holds bi-weekly blues dances in NYC. How's that for some Blues cred?
And even though she's a member of The Bar, these days that also means she can be found dancing in the bar - any bar! Fortunately for us - or maybe most of all for any prospective opponents - Hether is momentarily more preoccupied with practicing sidesteps than sidebars; lyricism than litigation.
But her musical choices reflect a good attorney's thoroughness and attention to detail - along with a great attorney's creativity and sensitivity to a client's needs and wants.

So, I'd say that swimming's loss (as well as that of the shark-infested waters of the law) is dancing's gain.

Come listen to her play and you, too, will 'get off' on a technicality! ;)

Joy Arrico & Justin Hileman

Bill Speidel

Josh Boroff & Devona Cartier

Mike "the Girl" Leggett

Michael Lenneville & Emily Schelstrate

Keith "Big Papa" Shapiro

It's not often that you can find a blues DJ that also crows about his fried chicken. That certainly gives Keith "Big Papa" Shapiro's "chirp scratches" a whole new meaning. He's even challenged another Blues Dancing pioneer, Damon Stone, to a fried chicken throwdown! Well, as it happens, Damon will also be in attendance (more on that later) - what a coincidence - so I vote for Friday Fried Chicken Night! Anyone with me? I'm sure that between spinning platters, "Big Papa" (He loves being called that. Well, what man doesn't? Really.) and Damon could offer up platters of BP or DS FC. That way, we'll all dance for our supper! What a great way to kill two birds (er...probably more with this crowd) with one Damon Stone. Oh, alright - probably won't happen. But...we can dream, can't we?
If "Big Papa's" chicken can feed your tummy (his wife and two children swear by it), his music can feed your soul. Check out his podcast http://www.confessingtheblues.com and you'll get the idea.
So, ok, chickadees - you'll have to bring your own eats. But it best be protein.
'Cuz when "Big Papa" brings his blues to the Big Apple - all the way from Austin - he plays (or Bobby Flays) for keeps. Count on his set cooking with gas, frying your freestyles and kicking major butt. http://kickbuttblues.com/about-djs.php And that's not chicken scratch.

Ogden Sawyer & Amanda Gruhl

Dancing together since early 2000, Ogden and Amanda each began studying movement at an early age. He with martial arts and she with dance. They quickly became internationally known for their blues choreography and teaching, as well. http://www.itsallswing.com
But, don't let their breezy, blase' blues moves fool you. There's some serious wattage in those frontal lobes. Between Fish Tails, Amanda apparently managed to matriculate herself to an MIT degree. Making engineering those tricky dance routines easier than...Pi. And also making Amanda kind of like the Tina Fey of Blues Dancing.
And Ogden...well, Ogden is also an engineer (natch) with 12 years in the nuclear power industry, specializing in fire protection. So all those fires he starts on the dance floor - he can also put out. SSSS...Steam Heat! BUT, more impressively (and this goes out to all the geeks out there - you know who you are), Ogden is an anagram for GNode. Just sayin'.

Devona Cartier

"Oo you make my motor run, my motor run. Gun it coming off of the line", Devona..."My-ee ey-ee by-ee ahee ah woo!" "Ma ma ma my" Devona. "Ma ma ma my" Devona.

Well, gentlemen: start your engines. Tracks will be played and if you play your Mooche just right, Devona's musical selections just may make 'players' out of you. And no letting up until the checkered flag - or your checkered past - comes out. Whichever comes first.
But no gaming with Miss D. She's taken. Soon to be Mrs. And Josh might grind you (and not at all in a good way) into the dance floor. Sneak a peak over the top of her laptop and catch a glimpse of her ring finger as she works those keys. From Cartier, perhaps? Hm. You'll have to ask.

Steven Mitchell & Virginie Jensen

If you do a web search for Steven and Virginie, without even going to their site http://www.stevenandvirginie.com, you will find superlatives such as "renowned professors of lindy hop", "special chemistry", "unique style", "killer workshops", "considered to be the best", and on and on. Not a single negative comment to be found. At least not amongst the 10 pages I perused before getting bleary-blues-eyed.
Not that I expected any. For almost as long as I've been "swinging" and "bluesing", I've heard their names uttered with either hushed reverential tones or with the fanatacism of Red Soxs fans at a Yankees game! (Or vice versa, of course.)
For those very few who have not yet experienced a live tutorial with them (yes, that'd be me, sadly - though I certainly have had the pleasure of watching them and came oh-so-close to dancing with Steven at Frankie95, darn it), our excitement and anticipation is at least equal to that of the legions of the already converted. If you want to whet your appetite, check out the vids on YouTube - where you can also find some footage of Steven singing. He just happens to be one heck of a singer, as well.

So, are you ready to enter the hallowed halls of a Steven and Virginie workshop? Just leave those hushed tones at the door (this is NYC, remember?) and be prepared for some serious schoolin' and sweet, smooth stylin'. All with a shiny, healthy topcoat of SV BLUUUUUE!