On Monday and Thursday nights, the Auxiliary Gym bustles with life as experienced and would-be dancers alike remove their shoes and step bare-footed onto the Marley.
This is Ballroom Dance Club and it is open to anyone in the Knox community. As club president sophomore Kira Meehan likes to advertise, “Ninety percent of the people who attend have never danced before, and I’m not joking.”
Meehan loves this. Reminiscing on her own introduction to ballroom dance as a 13 year-old who “could not dance to save [her] life,” she describes how “it cultivated a love of dance that has helped me gain confidence and just discover who I am as a person, which is one of the reasons that I love that we work with so many beginners, because it gives them a place to be proud of something that they thought they couldn’t do, just like I did.”
The club began a few years ago when a new professor, who happened to be a ballroom dancer, arrived at Knox and started giving lessons. He and his students formed a competitive team, and when he left, the students took over. Professor of Physics Charles Schultz ’72 currently presides as the club’s sponsor. Though primarily attended by Knox undergrads, the occasional teacher or post-baccalaureate fellow shows up too.
Completing the team are vice president sophomore Abby Kravis and instructor senior Kate LaRose. At the beginning of the year, Meehan was approached by LaRose who asked if she could help teach.
“I was like ‘Of course!’” Meehan said. “She is certified in all the moves that we’re going to be learning.”
Over the course of this year, the club intends to cover American Rhythm and American Smooth, which include the foxtrot, tango, cha cha, rumba and salsa dances.
Interested dancers are always welcome, even in the middle of the term. Meehan advises that potential members watch their e-mail for opportunities such as visiting teachers, field trips and performances in the works.
“We’re doing all these new things that Ballroom has never done,” Meehan said, “and we’re trying to learn moves in a faster way, and we have an actual curriculum that we’re basing things off of. This year, we went and got professional.”
Meenhan hopes that the newer, professional atmosphere will lead to a higher turnout.
“I want it to spread … I don’t care if you come once, I don’t care if you come 18 times … I just want people to show up … That’s one of the things I want to show people: that you can dance,” Meehan said.
“This is a community that is thriving with amazing dancers,” Meehan said.
Following Terpsichore’s decision to start holding competitive auditions in the wake of a 200-person cast, Meehan sees the club as helping to fill a campus-wide desire. “We need, as a campus, for people to dance for fun, no pressure … So, Ballroom Dance Club, and things like the belly dancing club and the dance classes that Terp is offering, give people a non-stressful way of trying out dancing and not being overwhelmed.”