HANCEVILLE, Ala. — You don’t have to be a dance, theater, or even an art major to enjoy taking the new Elementary Modern Dance class offered this fall at Wallace State Community College. If you have ever had the urge to learn to dance, would like an alternative to a traditional exercise class, or just want to find a way to meet new and interesting people and have fun at the same time, this class is for you.
Susan Kirkes of Decatur will be the instructor for the class, which will be held on Mondays and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., in room 112 of the Burrow Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The class is a 3-hour credit course and is open to Wallace State students and the public. There are no prerequisites required to join the class.
Kirkes comes to Wallace State with a wealth of experience as a dancer and choreographer. A native of Florence, Ala., Kirkes said she’s been dancing all of her life and giving people direction for almost as long. She can recall directing an impromptu performance at Opryland, gathering up other children in the area to dance along with the music playing at the theme park. She was 6 years old at the time.
She received numerous scholarships to The University of Southern Mississippi and attended The American Dance Festival at Duke University. After graduating from The University of Southern Mississippi with a B.F.A. in Dance, where she was lieutenant of the Dixie Darling Dance team, Kirkes went to New Orleans, where she joined a dance team company that worked with high schools, colleges and universities all over the United States to choreograph dance routines and half time shows. The company also choreographed dance routines for the pre-game entertainment portion of the Super Bowl. She worked Super Bowl events in Miami and New Orleans. During the Miami event, she danced in the show with only 20 minutes notice. She taught perceptual movement and music at Cedarwood School in Mandeville, La., and dance at the Music – Art – Drama – Dance Camp known as MADD camp for 3 summers.
Kirkes also owned a dance studio in New Orleans, but when she and her family moved back to North Alabama, she decided she enjoyed the artistic aspect of choreography better than the business side and began working with River City Performing Arts in Decatur. She also worked for several years with West Main Studios in Cullman.
Still teaching at River City, Kirkes is now getting ready to teach her first class at Wallace State as an adjunct professor. Modern Dance is not as precise as ballet, she said, though ballet is the foundation of all other dance styles and students will learn some of the moves and terms.
“Modern is sort of the rebel of dance,” Kirkes said. “It’s very grounded, you have to really become friends with the floor, you always get bruises. You have to learn to fall the right way.”
A dance background or previous dances classes are not required to take Elementary Modern Dance. “I can pull anyone off the street,” Kirkes said. “That’s the beauty of it.”
Kirkes will teach the techniques required for the class and feels she has a talent for finding and bringing out each individual’s special gift.
Along with the physical benefits — mind-body awareness and physical activity — Kirkes said dance also helps a person’s overall self-confidence. “It doesn’t matter what your body type is, how smart you are or how pretty you are, the best accessory you can have is your self-confidence,” she said.
Kirkes hopes the class will allow students to challenge themselves, have fun, learn and be proud. “I really think this is a wonderful thing for Wallace State,” she said of the class. “There are so many of my students that go on to college and they want to dance because it’s how they got their stress out; it’s how they met friends from other schools. It becomes like a little family, a group to belong to, a way to connect.”
For more information about the class, call 256.352.8000, or contact Lauren Cantrell Salerno at 256.352.8422 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Priority registration is currently under way. Open registration begins July 21. Select orientation classes begin on Aug. 14, with all other classes starting on Aug. 18.
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