Open dance classes provide opportunity for majors, non-majors alike

Sarah Hlusko photo: Students of all levels take class in the Dance Space from upper level dance majors.Sarah Hlusko photo: Students of all levels take class in the Dance Space from upper level dance majors.The Mercyhurst Center for Dance Education offers a variety of open dance classes available to dance majors, Mercyhurst students and the public.

The classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays and are taught by dance majors who have either completed their pedagogy class (the study of becoming a teacher), or happen to specialize in a certain style of dance other than ballet or modern.

The open classes are a nice chance for majors to experience a range of more diverse instructors who are different from their daily dance professors.

It is very helpful for the dance majors to take advantage of the variety of classes and instructors so they can continue to expand their dance repertoire.

Students who come to take class from outside of the department, especially beginner students, learn quickly due to the large number of styles they are exposed to and the many teachers they learn from.

On Tuesdays, senior Anna Daught teaches belly dancing from 6 to 7 p.m.

It usually attracts a wide mix of students, as the class is a type of dance that most are not very familiar with.

Daught says, “In some ways it is easier to teach non-dance majors because they are less likely to get bored with the more simple steps or movements. However, belly dance is very different from ballet so teaching the majors and non-majors isn’t too different.

‘With the exception of a few of my regulars, everyone is starting with the basics together.”

Daught explained how teaching belly dancing is different from ballet. “In ballet there is the set class structure, but in belly dance there isn’t, so I’ve had to assemble my own structure for the class,” she said.

Senior Tori Scott is teaching the intermediate level ballet class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

This class is a good opportunity to work on the basics of technique and to stay in shape. It is also a good class for those who may have given up dancing once they came to college.

The most crowded class is hip-hop taught by junior Jessica Stachelrodt on Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Students of all levels, many with a fair amount of talent, show up for this class.

Stachelrodt says she is always happy to see people who enjoy her class and who put their own style and flair into it.

Noelle Partusch, associate professor of dance who often teaches the Saturday morning class, says she particularly enjoys teaching open classes because it is the only thing she has to do all day, as opposed to office work and paper grading she usually does on weekdays.

Despite the variety of strengths and levels in the open classes, Partusch says it is not a problem because the corrections she works on go across the board and students are able to use them as needed.

She also stressed the importance of teaching class versus giving class.

Just because it is an open class and not a requirement of any kind, she is concerned that students get something out of what the classes have to offer.

The open classes are a way to reach out to Mercyhurst students and people of the Erie community and share the gift of the arts with those who are eager to be a part of it.

Drop-in class cards cost $100 and are good for 20 classes. Mercyhurst students with ID can attend belly dancing and hip-hop classes for free. For the general public, drop-in class cards are $100, which are good for 10 classes. Single classes are $15.