GV Swing Dance club hosts interactive workshop

By Ty Konell | 3/29/17 10:04pm

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Most people who dance know it takes practice and dedication. Grand Valley State University’s Swing Dance club took this knowledge and started a free dance workshop Sunday, March 26, held in Kirkhof Center.

Two professional swing dancers, with a combined experience of over 20 years, taught the workshop. Members of the club said the workshop offered an opportunity for members to learn the craft more thoroughly.

“Everyone has different teaching styles, and even if you learn the same dance from more than one person you learn more,” said Alex Candela, event planner for Swing Dance Club. “Having the ability to learn from club members and then learning from professionals makes you a better dancer.”

Moreover, executive board members of the club said having an on campus workshop inspires members to travel more, which hones in their dancing skills.

“There is a limited amount of growth that can happen dancing in the campus bubble, and one of my big things is to get people dancing off campus,” said Brenden Hoekstra, president of the club. “Another way to encourage people to do that is to bring people in so they can just wake up and go into this free workshop being taught by two of the best dancers in Michigan.”

Representatives for the club said having the instruction of experienced professional dancers is useful to swing dancers in many ways.

“That professional supplement to what you get in club is very beneficial because if you only have one teacher, you’re only going to know what that one person has to say. Even just a second teacher broadens everything,” Hoekstra said. “Additionally, they come in having way more experience and they can break things down in a way that none of us could.”

Furthermore, members said attending workshops may influence attendees to appreciate dancing more than they previously did.

“Before my first Lindy-hop workshop, I didn't like the Lindy style of swing dancing,” Candela said. “It wasn't my favorite dance to do, but after my first workshop I noticed I kept wanting to practice it and get better at it.”

Some members of the GVSU Swing Dance Club instruct dance lessons weekly. Still, they feel they have a lot to learn, and workshops can fine tune their skills as an instructor as well as a dancer.

“I take classes more than I teach them. I travel for dance all the time and when I do I’m always learning from really great instructors,” said Hoekstra. “Because of that, I can pick and choose which thing I liked from which instructor and put it all in my own toolbox, so when a dancer comes up to me with a question I can help them.”

Members of the club believe attending workshops can reward attendees with the pride felt when a participant can keep up with a professional dancer.

“I think members think it's really cool that they can do things with dancers who have a lot of experience,” Candela said. “When you are able to keep up with professional dancers, it something that shows yourself that you improved.”

For Candela, who has been swing dancing for three years, their favorite part is not only expanding dance knowledge, but viewing the appreciation for swing dance by those who attend.

“For me, my favorite thing is learning new moves that we don't cover in our normal lessons,” Candela said. “I also like seeing other members more than just on Thursday nights, it's cool to see how many people are really dedicated to swing dancing.”

To find out more about the GVSU Swing Dance Club, meetings are on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. located in the Kirkhof Center's Pere Marquette Room. 

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