Thursday, June 27, 2013

Origin Stories: Two BCH Dance Teachers

This week, we present the bios of the two Brew City Hops summer teachers - where they come from, what they love about dancing, and what they do when they're not dancing.  

Adam Baus

Adam Baus, 33, started Brew City Hops in the spring of 2005.  With the help of fellow BCH instructor Tory Bahe, he sponsored his very first dance at the Urban Ecology Center, and has been committed to providing the best dance experience for today's Milwaukee lindy hoppers ever since.  With the help of many other people in the dance scene, he has sponsored over 40 events, from late night dances, to the Milwaukee Lindy Hop Summits in the winters of 2010 and 2011.  He has also sponsored non-swing dance events: the Pirate Thriller Crawl, and the Winter Dance Card Formal.  

An ardent champion of good music, he has enjoyed many opportunities to DJ at places like the Down & Over, The Bayview Brew Haus, Hot Water, Chicago's Fizz, Madison's Jumptown, the Purdue Lindy Exchange, and various other events.  In January of 2009, Baus began the BCH Monday night classes with partner Becky Brodie.  He took a break from the rigorous teaching schedule in June 2011, and is thrilled to be teaching with Elise for the entire summer of 2013.  

Away from the dance floor, Adam is a pianist by trade.  He set up his business when he moved to Milwaukee 10 years ago, and still devotes most of his time to teaching private students, mainly in Shorewood.  He is an active performer, and is currently the music director for a dinner theatre in Port Washington, along with being the music designer for Optimist Theatre's "As You Like It"; Shakespeare in the Park- being performed at Kadisch Park (across from Lakefront Brewery) in July.  It's FREE, and he would love to have you come hear his selections and compositions.  

Adam is most recently the winner of a Tommy award for his musical direction of Shorewood High School's production of "Spring Awakening".  Just in this past school year, he has performed in "Phantom of the Opera" (Dominican HS), "Girl Crazy" (Cedarburg HS), "Bye, Bye Birdie" (Reagan HS), "Godspell" (First Stage Young Company), and "Candide" (Milwaukee Opera Theatre).  He is also the accompanist for the Marquette Staff Chorale, Cedarburg HS Vocal Jazz, and the Ronald Reagan HS Music Department.  He is a regular performer with the "Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets", and has done work with the Skylight Music Theatre, Combat Theatre, Off the Wall Theatre, and many other schools and performing groups.  

Pirate Thriller Pub Crawl 2012
Building on the event planning experience gained from Brew City Hops, Baus because the designer and director of "The Amazing Milwaukee Race" in 2010, and is getting ready to sponsor his 6th big Milwaukee scavenger/ clue hunt urban race experience in August 2013.  You can check out the race at  

Adam attribute's a lot to his success as a person to many of things gained in learning how to lindy hop.  "Believe it or not, I was a relatively shy person when I first came to Milwaukee.  Perhaps not shy, but socially scared.  I was generally intimidated by everyone, especially women.  The incredible confidence one gains in learning the dance, and then being able to go up to any woman in the room and ask her for a dance cannot be measured.  The ability to walk up to another guy and just introduce yourself and not feel awkward or stupid doesn't happen any more.  I love being able to connect with another person and with fun music.  I've had some incredible travel opportunities, and have friends all around the world thanks to learning to swing dance."

Baus can tell you the best thing to come about from dancing was meeting Lizzy on the dance floor in 2010.  During the last song at the Winter Dance Card Formal last December, he proposed and the two will get married in May 2014.

Elise Russell

Elise Russell, 25, started dancing because her mother forced her into ballroom dance lessons as an awkward teenager.  After a summer of smugly showing off her basic East Coast steps in her hometown scene, she sauntered off to college at University of Rochester and promptly got her mind blown by the wide world of lindy hop.

Since then, she has been devouring as much swing, lindy hop, charleston, balboa, blues, and solo jazz as she could find, first through the University of Rochester Swing Club and Rochester's local Groovejuice Swing organization, and then by traveling to many wonderful dance events nearby.  

Here are some highlights of her dance career:

- Taking a Musicality workshop that incorporated an actual live band - a feature of Rochester's annual Steven & Virginie weekend event, which is highly recommended!

- Getting to dance with Steven Mitchell, lindy hop legend, at a workshop after-party.  It was a funk song, and it was amazing!

- Founding and teaching a swing dance club on a cruise ship, as part of Semester at Sea study abroad.  Imagine doing charleston with the entire floor rolling up and down beneath you!

- Falling on her face during her first big birthday jam in Rochester - it's tough to keep track of your shoelaces sometimes.

- Attending Frankie95 in New York City, a celebration of Frankie Manning's life on his birthday just a few weeks after his passing.  There were over a thousand dancers attending; the event broke a few world records.

- Traveling through places like St. Petersburg, Kuala Lumpur, and Phnom Penh, and dancing with people who didn't even speak English.  Our mutual language was swing!

- Attending the International Lindy Hop Championships in 2010 and watching the entire crowd get rickrolled by Andrew Thigpen and Karen Thurman: 

- Lindy-bombing the National Mall in Washington, DC, right after the Rally To Restore Reason.  Also hitting up a Reddit party later that night, where she won +1 upvotes for dancing.

- Starting up two separate swing dance clubs while teaching English at a boarding school in Malaysia - one club for girls and one for boys, because the culture was too conservative for them to dance together.  The boys never even showed up to their club, but the girls' club was lots of fun!

- Spending eight days in Seoul, Korea, and dancing lindy hop and blues every single night.  It's true; Seoul has the largest swing scene on earth, and it was full of friendly, skilled people.

The Girls' Swing Club at the boarding school in Malaysia
- Doing a random, spontaneous Soul Train at a local dance in Baltimore, and again at a late-night party at Stompology in Rochester.  Soul Train is coming back!

- Informally jamming out on kazoo with jazz and blues musicians at several different dance events.  It turns out that playing music is as much of a rush as dancing to it.

Elise moved to the lovely city of Milwaukee in 2012 and has since had the privilege of dancing and teaching at a variety of locations, including the Down & Over, the Riverside High School Ballroom Dance Club, the MSOE Swing Club, Milwaukee Recreation, and Brew City Hops Monday Night classes.  She is very excited to be teaching Musicality with Adam Baus this summer, and knows that she will certainly end up learning as much as she teaches!

Aside from dancing, Elise has pursued singing, tall ship sailing, and a great deal of traveling.  She has a Bachelor's in Psychology with a minor in Music, and is currently taking classes with a eye toward Computer Engineering.  She has worked largely in childcare, teaching, and academic research positions, with a summer-long stint on Milwaukee's tall ship the Denis Sullivan.  She has lived on four different continents and three different boats, and still remembers how to hold a conversation in Danish.  She can also tie twice as many knots as your average Boy Scout.

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