Laurier recreational dance program on the rise

Arts - Dance - Steph

Graphic by Stephanie Truong

The Wilfrid Laurier University recreational dance program is on the rise. While the Athletic Complex is thought of as home to treadmills, weights and a gymnasium, it supports weekly dance lessons that have been packed during the first semester of 2016.

 

“Since the program started, this semester we’ve hit the highest number ever,” said Lindsay Sinclair, dance coordinator.

 

“We have 20 different classes, different styles and levels [and] it’s all student-taught. They teach a weekly class then we have a showcase at the end of the semester.”

 

The program looks to offer flexibility in order to accommodate any student looking to make dance a part of their university experience. Confident in the structure, an open week is provided where those curious about the program can try out a class for free. If they feel the program is right for them, students can become part of recreational dance for $63 plus tax.

 

Open and beginner classes are conscious of the anxious and amateur student. There is also an extensive list of advanced classes for those who are more experienced.

 

While dancing is the focus of the hour session, instructors and students are aware of the benefits that go beyond a coordinated movement of limbs.

 

“It’s not just an hour [and] 15 minute dance rehearsal with your peers, it’s hanging out with family,” said Bria Akomah, a fourth-year participant in the program.

 

Rooted-2-Nick_Lachance.jpg

Photo by Nick Lachance

 

Thandiwe Gregg, the dancehall instructor, is aware of the communal dynamic to her Monday night session. She spoke about the positive effects the class has in terms of body image.

 

“I know some people feel intimidated or think ‘I don’t look like her, I can’t do that move’ but you just need to own yourself … dancing helps with that.”

 

In a culture that has experienced a health renaissance over the last couple of years, dance has surfaced as an alternative to the elliptical and weights.

 

“I’m not a gym person, so going to dance is like my workout,” said Sinclair.

 

Dancing can be viewed as an example of the university experience in its social nature, but also as an escape to all the unhealthy habits that comes with the student lifestyle.

 

While the sweating is burning off calories, dancing offers the unique space for emotional expression along with the other benefits. During the second go-around of the essay and exam slog, paired with the slosh of winter, blowing off steam is a factor in the program’s second semester boom.

 

“It’s the perfect balance to the physical benefits you receive,” Sinclair explained. “There’s cardio and strength building, but there’s also an emotional outlet. As university students, we have a thousand things on our plate. Therefore having an emotional outlet whether it’s a slower dance or a more fun and upbeat style helps people to express themselves.”

 

While the commitment of the instructors and organizers has laid the groundwork for the recreational dance program’s rise in interest, Sinclair and Gregg both agreed how the rise in popularity could be attributed to a shift in the use of dance in pop music.

 

For years, many music videos that incorporated dance did so in a hyper-sexualized or overtly serious way.

 

But videos in recent memory, such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” show dance doesn’t have to be serious. Dance can be fun.

 

 

Even if it’s silly and even if it’s over the top — the act of dancing can be infectiously positive.

 

While all those involved are enjoying the rise of interest in dance and participation in Laurier’s program, an adjustment needs to be made in order to accommodate the growth.

 

“We’re looking towards revamping our program a little bit. We need to accommodate for these new numbers. Right now the way our program is set up we can’t sustain the numbers we have because they’re through the roof. Obviously we’re thrilled about that so we just need to accommodate to the increasing interest that exists. There will be changes to the program next year and I’m excited about that,” said Sinclair.

 

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