Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 24, 2016

Student-run dance classes liven up Aux Gym

Students looking to catch onto growing fitness trends like barre and power barre classes might find a good fit in senior Hannah Steele’s Dance Conditioning classes.

The class combines dance technique — after all, it is offered through the Terpsichore dance collective — but offers different fitness challenges like tricep dips and planks. Steele began the class around the same time Terpsichore began offering student-led dance classes. She’d been dancing since age eight, and was looking for a class where she could work up a sweat, but she realized that class wasn’t offered. “So I said ‘I know, I’ll just teach it,’” Steele said.

Three years later, Steele’s still teaching the class. Since she started the class, she says she’s become more comfortable teaching. She’s also comfortable teaching to various fitness and technique levels. Some of her students are trained dancers, but some are beginners. “Because of the nature, it’s easy to teach to a multitude of levels,” Steele said. Right now, her class has between seven and nine students, but she’s open to drop-ins. Students can expect an hour of various exercises, but when Steele has more time, she’ll sometimes add a half-hour of choreography at the end of class. “It’ll make you feel better, and dance is a good outlet to give your brain a break and body energy. It’s a worthwhile thing,” she said. “You’re not just going to the gym by yourself.” Steele teaches dance conditioning every Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Sophomore Claire Cody didn’t always want to teach. But when she came to Knox and realized there weren’t any ballet classes, she decided to start the class herself. “I couldn’t part with it,” said Cody, who’s been dancing since she was four years old. “If it’s not offered to me, I’ll do it.” This Winter Term is her third term teaching ballet, and she says she may switch to jazz next term. For her, ballet is a reflective practice. “It’s like yoga, how it’s meditative and serves to center me, because you’re working on precise shapes and details,” Cody said. Like Steele’s class, ballet attracts various experience levels. “You want to challenge people with ballet experience but not lose the inexperienced ones,” Cody said.

This term, she has between four to five students, but the group has been different every term. When she started, she had between two to three regular students. Cody, who’s a chemistry major and dance minor, says it’s sometimes a challenge to be a teacher to her peers, but she enjoys dancing with them. “I get to share it with them,” she said. “I have to come up with choreography and what exercises work to strengthen and stretch.” Cody teaches ballet every Sunday between 4-5 p.m.


Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  ballet Claire Cody dance dance conditioning Hannah Steele terp

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