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ISSUE 121 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/16/2007

Everybody dance now

By Bryan Runck
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 16, 2007

At the beginning of last fall, professor Anne Von Bibra saw a void in the St. Olaf community after the disintegration of the International Dance Club, so she decided to take it upon herself to create Community Dance Hour. Open to students, faculty and staff, Community Dance Hour is truly a "community" oriented event that reaches across the typical generational divides found in modern social dance.

To many people, including myself, challenging current social dance norms may seem intimidating. Not many students frequently attend formal dances with people their own age even, much less people of their parents' generation. But soon after learning the steps for the "Cross" waltz and pairing off with someone, the initial discomfort dissipates in the movement and laughter coming from the dance partners. The act of dance seems to strip away the barriers and force people to interact as peers, as members of the same community.

Community Dance Hour is typically split into two half hour pieces. In the first half, a new dance is taught step by step without music. If the dance requires partners, the individual parts are taught separately and then brought together once everyone is somewhat comfortable with the steps. Finally, after everyone has a fairly good idea of what's going on, the music rolls and the dance partners glide and turn each other about with the occasional stumble, reset and count off to begin again.

Requests of previously learned dances encompass the second half of Community Dance Hour. So if someone wanted to practice the Viennese Waltz or La Eastringue, they can request it to preserve skills they have already gained from previous dance classes.

Yet, Professor Von Bibra stressed, "You don't have to have experience. Community Dance Hour is geared for people of all levels." And I can attest to this statement. I had never participated in a formal social dance, but it was easy to follow the paced instruction and, after my partner and I became comfortable with one another, dancing with relative ease about the room.

Community Dance Hour meets normally meets twice a month. There will be one last meeting after Thanksgiving break, so take a break from Christmas Fest and studying to get the blood moving.

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