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Thursday, Feb. 29
The Indiana Daily Student


Shall we dance?

Joe Ehlers, president of the IU Ballroom Dance Club, sat on the floor of HPER 169 brushing the bottom of his suede shoes. His dance partner looks on, waited for him to get ready so the two could practice for their upcoming competition.\n"Either you go to clubs, stand on the side and watch thinking that 'person can really move,' or you're that person who's the center-of-attention," said Ehler, adding that ballroom dancing helps students learn how to dance so they won't remain sidelined at parties.\nWhether it's to partake in an enjoyable exercise or just for pure passion, various forms of dancing have become a popular outlet for students. Dancing caters to students in search of a hobby or an exercise routine.\nIn various cultures and traditions throughout history, people have used dance as a form of expression. With a multitude of cultural dances to choose from, the generic and archaic definition of dancing has been replaced by more of an eclectic one. From folk dancing to hip hop, each dancing style provides people the opportunity to let their bodies move to the music.\n"(Dancing) is very different than anything else I do -- studying, physics problems; it's a change of pace," said freshman Kari Stevenson, a contra and swing dancer. "It's a different kind of thinking -- you stop analytically thinking."\nSwingers\nSince she was three, Ph.D. student Patricia Hardwick's fresh feet displayed a flair for dancing. At a young age, she learned to twirl, tap and jazz to the rhythm of the music. So when a friend suggested taking swing dancing classes, Hardwick readily agreed. \nEight years later and hundreds of miles from her California introduction to swing dancing, Hardwick continues to find herself ready to jump and jive as a member of the IU Swing Dance Club. She said she enjoys the personal freedom and improvisational qualities of swing dancing. \n"It's fun," Hardwick said with a smile, as she demonstrated a dance move. "I get overstressed so I like to let go and forget. It's a release for me."\nWith about 125 members, the IU Swing Club has attracted many community members, from professors and undergrads. \n"A lot of people see swingers in movies like 'Swing Kids' and think that's cool," said Debi Hanuscin, IU Swing Club officer. "People like swing dancing because they like the music. A lot of it has to do with the popularity of jazz."\nFilled with twirls, dips and lifts, swing dancing's lively nature creates a nostalgic atmosphere as well as an aerobic workout. \n"I couldn't bring myself to go to the SRSC, but I could go to swing dancing," Hanuscin said.\nAlthough swing dancing requires a partner, the club's Web site says you can find several at the meetings.\n"It's a real easy way to meet people of the opposite sex in a non-threatening way," Hanuscin added.\nEvery Monday from 8 to 9 p.m., the club offers lessons then holds an open dance session from 9 to 11 p.m.\nStrictly Ballroom\nSophomore Carrie Capone had always been intrigued by the elegant figures she saw gliding across movie screens, but not until her freshman year of college did she act upon this desire to dance. Just a year later, she's developed a passion for ballroom dancing, Capone said.\n"I can't get enough of it. I'll find myself coming to practice, dancing for three hours and never growing tired of it," Capone said. \nIn addition to teaching standard ballroom dances, such as the waltz or foxtrot, the club practices a variety of Latin and night club dances.\nThe IU Ballroom Dance Club meets from 9 to 11 p.m. every Wednesday. The club holds an open practice session for club members. Guests are allowed and are usually directly instructed by an experienced peer. \nFolk Festivities\nAlthough folk dancing has usually appealed to an older audience, the dance has begun to spark student interest.\n"I love the fact that there are so many different dances, all with different steps," freshman Emily McFarlin said. \nMcFarlin began folk dancing in Oklahoma when she was four because of her mother's interest in the dance. \nIn folk dancing, dancers join hands, then hop, tap and bang their feet to the traditional music of countries like Greece or Armenia.\n"They don't teach every dance," freshman Sarah Phillips said. "You get in a circle and watch other people's feet." \nIn other dances the gender ratio can often present a problem, but in folk dancing a partner is not necessary. \n"It doesn't matter if there's enough guys or girls," Phillips said. "It's not a partner dance so if I mess up it doesn't throw someone else off." \nThe folk dance club meets in the Union every Friday from 9 to 11 p.m. to learn and practice new folk dances.\nHip shakin'\nBeyond Shakira's belly dancing imitations and random television clips, graduate student Heidi Tebbe said she had no experience with exotic Middle Eastern dance. She saw the class listed in the group exercise schedule at the SRSC and thought it sounded interesting. \nTebbe said it was a "looser dance form" that includes moves such as belly rolls that emphasize the importance of having a belly and hips.\n"I think my stomach's definitely more toned," Tebbe said. "I could be my imagination, but I think it is."\nAt 7:30 p.m. every Thursday, a group of women meet to sway their arms, swivel their hips and play finger cymbals to complement the rhythm of the music. The women enviously watch their instructor's hips roll effortlessly while the women simultaneously try to emulate her movements but also concentrate on their own. Many of them are smiling as they concentrate on the movements of the dance and on mastering the art of hip-shaking. \nHip hop hooray\nSwiveling their hips, hands in the air, yelling "hey, ho," students follow the command of their instructor as he leads a room full of dancers to the music's upbeat rhythm. Trendy and untraditional, hip hop dancing has swarmed onto the exercise scene.\n"It makes me work out," freshman Abby Coe said. "I tend to get real lazy if I don't have a class that meets that I can go to." \nIn addition to keeping in shape, dancers learn a variety of dance steps, including Michael Jackson moves and choreography from music videos.\n"It's the only class I leave not feeling tired," freshman Jordan Berg said. "I'm put in a good mood. It's exercise, but it's so much fun it doesn't feel like exercise."\nHip hop classes are offered Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the SRSC.\nGet your groove on\nVarious styles of dancing fulfill students' desires for different reasons like exercise, learning experience and a hobby.\n"How many little girls took dance lessons growing up but are not pursuing it as their major?" Hanuscin asked. \nIn addition to satisfying former dancers, dance classes and clubs on campus present a learning environment for inexperienced dancers. \n"The steps are kind of tricky, but how they teach it is really easy," Berg said. "The average person with no dance experience can pick it up. It's not really about the steps. It's about how you feel. You let your emotions take over."\nBelly dancing instructor Katya Faris agreed. In this art form, she said people express a tremendous amount of emotion, and that belly dancing "stimulates the mind and body."\nThough some students enjoy dancing in clubs and classes, others, like freshman Laura Lindquist, don't. While Phillips enjoyed the extemporaneous aspect of folk dancing, Lindquist, her roommate, was discouraged by the complexity. \n"I get so frustrated I can't try anymore," Lindquist said. Lindquist admits she has always had difficulty with dancing. She's quit every dance class she's taken. \nThough Lindquist doesn't enjoy taking dance classes, she understands the raison d'être for most dancers' devotion: "I like to dance alone in my room when no one's watching!" she said.

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