Back into the swing
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – In Kelly Alvarez’s Street Jazz dance class at Lake Tahoe Community College, there’s no reason to be shy.
“We’re all in this together,” Alvarez told her class Monday night, as she guided them through the steps and swings of a short routine. The students laughed and ran through the moves again.
Whether it’s Argentine tango, Middle Eastern, country, swing, Afro-Cuban or street dance, the college’s dance program has a wide range of classes. With such variety, the program has seen a rise in popularity in recent years.
“We went through a phase when dance wasn’t doing well, now it seems it’s back and doing great,” Alvarez said. Now the dance coordinator, she’s been teaching several different kinds of dance at the college since 1994.
Students in the street jazz were taking the class for different reasons.
“This is a fun class, not like English or math or economics,” said Gerardo Simentao, who’s also taking “Conditioning for Dancers”.
“I don’t know how to dance,” said Charbel Garibaldi. “I figured if I took this class I would feel good enough to dance in public.”
“It’s active. It’s good for your stamina and coordination,” said Ian Lundin. “And there’s a pretty girl in it.”
Tabitha Row has taken belly dancing, modern dancing and ballet at the college. She likes how the classes always change and that they’re not too serious.
“I like the variety,” Row said. “I like how the teacher understands that people who take dance at community college aren’t always super serious about dance.”
But many of the teachers in the program are serious about dance, with professional careers as one type of dancer or another, Alvarez said.
“Most of the teachers here dance professionally,” Alvarez said. “When there’s a big band in town, they’ll go out and dance on the circuit.”
New students shouldn’t be intimidated though. Whether you’re looking for a fun workout or to learn a specific dance, everyone is welcome, she said.
“If it’s something you’ve really wanted to do, then go for it,” Alvarez said.
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