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Almost 40 years on, Windfall still dancing



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Brynn Parkinson, left, and Khrissy Batts, right, strike a pose in front of the class during the Hip-Hop Dance Class. The class teaches basic movements and gives dancers the opportunity to change these movements to fit their own style. Jordin Perkins and Jordin Perkins Buy Photos

On the wall in their dance studio, a 38-year-old poster shows the original members of Windfall Dancers grinning at the camera after their first ?concert.

Though they didn’t belong to any dance company and did not own a studio, they, along with a few other dancers, came together and performed for the first time in Bloomington.

Debbie Knapp, Liz Monnier, Cindy Brian and Jackie Pullano, who are four of the original dancers, decided it would be the first of many performances.

One year later, Windfall Dancers, under the direction of Knapp, became incorporated as a nonprofit dance organization. Their mission was to cultivate a thriving dance community in Bloomington, according to their website.

Knapp went on to choreograph more than 50 dance performances and produce more than 60 with various dance organizations.

Though Windfall has since changed leadership and locations, the spirit of dance remains with the company.

Kay Olges, president of the board of directors at Windfall Dancers Inc., said anyone can be a dancer. She joined the business in 1995 and participates in many of their dance classes.

“My philosophy is if you can move, you can dance,” Olges said. “It doesn’t matter how young or old or big or little. You can dance — and should.”

The nonprofit bought their current building in 2006 from Unity Church. When the stockmarket crashed, Windfall felt the pressure to keep their appeal to members.

Like many other businesses, Windfall lost some of their partnering companies.

“People still danced, but they were more careful,” Olges said. “We had no control over that.”

However, Windfall found a solution.

“Whenever there’s been some challenge, someone has stepped forward — or a group stepped forward — and we could do it,” ?Olges said.

Since then, they have shared the space with other dance groups, such as the Hoosierettes Dance Team and the IU Swing Dance Club.

The relationships among the dance organizations, she explained, is one way the nonprofit has successfully stayed in business for 38 years.

“It’s a really long time, but I think that just shows how important it is for the community,” Olges said. “I think Windfall’s continuing existence just speaks to that importance.”

The white oak-topped, sprung dance floors are better than the studios they had before, which reduces stress on dancers’ joints.

“There are not that many places that are appropriate surfaces for dance,” ?Olges said.

Due to the high-quality studio dance floors, dance companies are quick to use Windfall’s space when they can.

The Hoosierettes even exchange eight of their fundraising opportunities at IU concession stands for time in the Windfall studios.

The nonprofit offers a variety of classes to all ages including children’s tap, children’s hip-hop and adult ballet.

Their adult classes offer an opportunity to those who may not have been able to dance when they were younger.

“My favorite part is the progression,” Khrissy Batts, a hip-hop dance instructor, said. “I thought to myself, ‘Are they really going to get better?’ but I’ve actually seen growth and its so amazing.”

Olges said she loves hearing adults get excited about taking classes, but hearing about why they didn’t take them when they were younger is saddening.

“They’ll say, ‘I’ve always wanted to take a dance class, but mom said I was too clumsy or dad said my feet were too flat’ and it kind of breaks my heart,” she said.

According to Olges, Windfall has become a place where anyone who wants to dance is welcome, regardless of age or dance ?experience.

Windfall offers classes year-round along with specific summer camps. In August, they’re offering an advanced ballet intensive class for adults, and once fall session begins at IU, they’ll also offer a Saturday advanced contemporary class.

Windfall is looking forward to their 40th year in business and has already begun planning for a celebration. Knapp, Brian and other original dancers are expected to return for the celebration.

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