Find the beat and get ready to move your feet with the assortment of dance opportunities available with the St. Charles Park District.
From tots who’ve learned to walk to adults reconnecting with their love for the sport, there is a class for all ages and skill levels, with patient instructors excited to share their passion for dance.
“My youngest dancer is about 18 months and I’ve got adults into their 80s in my classes too,” said Samantha Newman, dance program coordinator for the St. Charles Park District Dance Academy.
A dancer herself, Newman said she loves helping others find their rhythm on the dance floor. She teaches the adult classes of tap for beginners, many of whom have always wanted to learn the craft, and another tap class for more intermediate or advanced dancers. This core group of adults includes those who enjoyed dancing in their younger days and have reconnected with the sport building a great camaraderie.
“The members of the class have formed a great bond. Some have been dancing together a short time and some have danced together for years,” she said.
Hip hop is the newest class offered for adults at the park district this season and Newman is excited to welcome a new instructor who will bring the lively dance genre to the studio.
“He plays old school music, and it will be so much fun to learn,” Newman said.
Dance can be a wonderful way to workout. Newman teaches Barre Strong, a fitness class that is rooted in ballet and jazz.
“It’s a great way to get exercise and get back in the studio,” she said.
The St. Charles Park District Dance Academy offerings for children include seasonal classes through award-winning competitive teams. Seasonal classes include those taking their first steps in a tot and parent classes. As each child’s dance ability blossoms, there are many more opportunities to enjoy independence and instruction in a variety of classes. Additionally, Recital classes offer students the opportunity to participate in a Winter Showcase and the annual Spring recital complete with costumes.
For young dancers who love the spotlight and are looking for more opportunities to perform there is the St. Charles Park District Dance Academy Performance team. This is a fantastic way for young dancers to hone their skills, enjoy local performances, while still being able to balance other sports and activities in their lives.
“Performance Team is good start to be a part of the dance company,” Newman said.
For the advanced dancer, there is a Competition Team, which typically practices four hours a week and includes larger dance competitions. Performance Team and Competition Team are award-winning teams where the focus is on student development and having fun. The teams do require auditions, which helps teachers to place students in the best team and genre, which includes jazz, lyrical/contemporary and tap.
The St. Charles Park District Dance Academy welcomes students of all gender identities as students. Newman said many of the teachers are former dancers and parents, who understand the importance of providing a positive, upbeat experience.
“We want a happy, warm and friendly environment,” Newman said. “Just like me, many of our teachers have grown up dancing and we know how happy dance made us and that’s what we want to provide to our students.”