We have a fantastic line-up of teachers and workshop leaders ready to challenge and inspire you during the retreat. Not only do we have some international inspiration, but this weekend will also feature teachers from each of the main dance centres around New Zealand.
Left to right (top to bottom): Kara Martin (Melbourne), Evan Hughes (Melbourne), Matt Robinsson (Auckland), Shieva Norusian (Wellington), Carla Benton (Christchurch), Rebecca Stewart (Dunedin)
Read more about our teachers and workshop leaders below! For information on classes see our Workshops area.
Kara Martin and Evan Hughes (Melbourne)
Kara and Evan first encountered each-other on the blues floor at a late night party at Church City Blues, Australia’s first ever blues event. Since then, they have both made major contributions to the development and promotion of blues dance. Kara and Evan have taught blues together all over Aus and in NZ, they bring a mix of silliness plus brain breaking concepts to each class so every student can dance up a storm.
Kara has danced in one form or another since she was a kid. In 2004 she found swing dancing, blues followed soon after, and she’s never looked back. Kara has been an event organiser, manager, DJ, student, performer, choreographer, judge, competitor and dancer but teaching is where she excels the most. Bringing fun and collaboration to both leading and following, she loves empowering dancers to find their own style and musical journey.
Evan, on the other hand, was a hard-core, dedicated non-dancer. Once he finally made the transition to the dance life, nothing held him back. His passion for social dancing has seen him travel all over to learn, teach, and hang out all to advance his own dancing. He has won a bunch of things, taught in a bunch of cities in a bunch of countries, performed in a bunch of cool places, but in the end just digs social dancing a bunch.
Photo credit to Michael Alesich (http://www.alesich.com/)
Matt Robinsson (Auckland)
Matt has dabbled in various dance forms since childhood, and of them all Blues has definitely had the strongest pull on his heart. Originally a Dunedin Swing Rioter, Matt set off to travel after finishing University and stumbled across a Blues exchange in Edinburgh in 2013. That fateful weekend, the Blues flame was lit under his heart and has been burning fiercely ever since.
Matt’s main joys in Blues are the wonders of Ambidancing (switching roles), the finesse of Micro movements, and conversing in the dance. And of course generally nerding out about Blues.
Matt is one of the key Blues teachers in Auckland, and frequently travels overseas to chase Blues dance events. He has recently come back from teaching workshops in Europe and UK, and is super excited to be teaching again in Dunedin!
Shieva Norusian (Wellington)
Shieva found Blues dancing after following a long and passionate love affair with American roots music into the swing dance community. What started with Lindy Hop in 2011 quickly became an immersion into Blues, Balboa and Jazz Roots.
Recently, Shieva has emerged on the world-stage as an outstanding solo Blues dancer. She placed first at Studio Hop Summer Camp – Blues Week 2016 (France) and third at Drag the Blues 2016 (Barcelona).
Shieva spends a lot of her time travelling the world attending dance events, but when she’s in New Zealand she teaches at Full Swing in Wellington. She also spent three months teaching at Black Bottom in Valencia, Spain in 2016. Her strengths as a dancer in movement and musicality are also her inspiration for classes when teaching Blues.
Carla Benton (Christchurch)
Carla began her journey as a Blues dancer after first encountering Lindy Hop in Sydney, 2008. She had no idea what to expect from swing dancing but a passionate friend convinced her it was worth a try. Sure enough, it was love at first step! Since then, Carla has moved to Christchurch and fervently pursued everything swing-related – including Balboa, Shag, Solo Jazz and especially Blues.
Carla has a big soft spot for Blues on her dance card, and is fantastic in both leader and follower roles. Her favourite thing about Blues (and also all swing dances) is the expression of individual personality within the partnership. She loves to dance with as many people as possible to explore the nuances that make every dancer unique.
As an experienced teacher now in the Christchurch swing dance community, Carla’s main goal is to share her passion with everyone she dances with (and to never take things too seriously!).
Rebecca Stewart (Dunedin)
Rebecca’s journey into Blues dancing began after a good friend in the swing dance community convinced her to give it a go, and three years on she’s never looked back! Her passion for Blues dancing has taken her as far as Black Swan Blues (Perth) and Slowdown (Canberra) in her efforts to explore traditional and emerging expressions of Blues dance throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Her passion is in the craft of following, but she also loves to lead. In 2017 she won first-place dancing as a lead with Sibby Dillon in the partnered Blues all-skate at the Christchurch Swing Festival (South Island Competitions). Her experience has given her a unique insight into the mechanics of super-connected play and expression for both roles in the dance.
Rebecca’s love of Blues dance is matched with a fierce passion to build dance communities infused with a culture of respect, consent and joy. She’s now involved in building the Blues dance scene in Dunedin with Swing Riot. Her classes build on student discussion and experimentation, with a focus on the moment-by-moment joy of Blues dancing.