They Make It Look Easy

Dear Reader,

Dancing is harder than it looks. Scratch that — anyone can get up on the floor bump, grind, and flail around—but that’s not the genre of dance to which I am referring.

As is my custom, I have dived (dove?) headfirst into a new activity — a group dance class. Although I have a solid background in dance from childhood lessons, I’m not a natural and I always struggle when it comes to committing the moves to memory. Regardless, being on a college campus, I would be remiss if I forewent lessons at a student-run dance organization in favor of more expensive community classes (like this one I tried a while back, more here).

Most of the student instructors come from formal dance backgrounds. They choreograph a dance in a style of their choosing (ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical/ modern/ contemporary, hip hop) and teach their dance to a small group of dancers weekly until the public exhibition at the end of the semester.

I must say that I was very impressed by these students. Before selecting a particular dance class, there was a sort-of “orientation” meeting, where organizational leadership explained the ins and outs of the club, as well as showcased short performances from all the instructors with their original choreography. Most of the dances were just so… professional (with a few silly, fun, and theatrical performances thrown into the mix)! Also, as a Millennial in a sea of Gen Z’ers, it was interesting for me to see the overwhelming enthusiasm for anything T-Swift or Britney Spears related (artists that in my mind are more heavily associated with Millennials).

I ended up signing up for a jazz class (jazz is a high-energy, upbeat dance genre). Like the classes of my childhood, our sessions began with a warm up and stretches. Then, we did an activity that millions of young dancers participate in to learn the basic moves— we went “across the floor.” In this format, the instructor demonstrates a short combination of moves like a series of walking grand battements (which are large, yet majestic, kicks) to the front, the side, and then the back. We would repeat the sequence traveling from one side of the room to the other in groups of three. This practice is useful, as students can see their forms in the large mirrors and can adjust as they move across the floor. Going across the floor is also a helpful pedagogical tool, as instructors will usually take moves from the choreography and isolate them so the students may practice the moves before incorporating them into the dance routine.

We quickly moved into learning the choreography. The tempo of this particular song was fast, which was hard to get used to. Additionally, without dance shoes (we were all in socks), I found it somewhat hard to control certain turns on the slick wood floor. Unlike classroom learning, one cannot just grab a pen and paper and take notes as they receive the information. Instead, the instructor demonstrates the moves, the class reproduces them, and then the instructor moves on to the next section of the dance. My brain is just not adept at receiving/ storing info in this way. Very thankfully, however, each of our performances at the end of each class is recorded to allow us to review the routine at home.

Dance has become quite the learning experience for me! Regardless, it’s fun all the same (and engaging in different types of learning keeps the brain sharp, right??).

I again thank and applaud all the student instructors/ choreographers. They really are doing an amazing job and I hope to be able to participate again in the future 🙂

Happy dancing!



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