UAA Dance Club adapts to physical abilities

Most students hear about Dance Club through UAA’s dance program, which allows them to continue to dance outside of classes and performances. However, the group is also for students and non-students outside of the dance program.

UAA Dance Club members at the PSB dance studio. Photos courtesy of UAA Dance Club.
UAA Dance Club members at the PSB dance studio. Photos courtesy of UAA Dance Club.

The UAA Dance Club is for anyone, beginner or experienced, who is looking for a dance community. The main goal is to make dance more inclusive and increase dance involvement on campus and in Anchorage, Vice President Marissa Citro said.

“It’s just a campus-wide activity that you can come to and have freedom of expression,” Dance Club President Kimberly McGrath said. “Everyone needs art. For some people it’s drawing, for some it’s photography or music. Ours is dance.”

Social work student Panika Teeple is pursuing a dance minor. Even though she hasn’t been dancing very long, she is very passionate about the art form.

“It’s such a good feeling to create something with your body, and let your body speak for you instead of words,” Teeple said.

The club meets on Fridays at 4 p.m. for movement sessions. These are free lessons that primarily teach modern and contemporary dance but also include a variety of other styles, such as musical theater, ballet, hip-hop, jazz and salsa.

UAA Dance Club members.

Dance Club teaches dance in a way that adapts to all skill levels and limitations. McGrath described modern dance as “where you take movements from ballet and shift them in a direction that is not as structured and more fluid.”

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McGrath and Citro have both had knee injuries and have to wear braces while they dance. Through the accommodating nature of Dance Club, they are still able to continue dancing.

“We are trying to include everybody. It doesn’t matter what physical implications you may have,” McGrath said.

The UAA Dance Club started sometime in the 1980s, according to professor and Dance Program coordinator Jill Flanders-Crosby.

It was started by students in collaboration with a faculty advisor, myself, who wanted to support and integrate dance concerts, dance master classes and guest artist residencies with the dance program,” Flanders-Crosby said.

The Dance Club also produces shows in the fall and spring. In previous years, the Dance Company Ensemble was in charge of performances. With the departure of assistant professor Brian Jeffery, who directed performance, the responsibility fell to Dance Club.

“We decided to do a student showcase, otherwise the students wouldn’t have a show to participate in,” Citro said.

The club brings in revenue through bake sales. In the past, they have also hosted flash mob performances and dance parties to raise awareness of the club.

There are no more movement sessions for the spring semester, but they will continue fall semester.

UAA Dance Club members at the PSB dance studio.
UAA Dance Club members at the PSB dance studio.

UAA’s Dance Club will showcase modern, contemporary and ballet at the Alaska Dance Theater on April 5-6 and 12-13 at 7:30 p.m. and April 7 and 14 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 for the public and $10 for students, military and senior citizens.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the UAA Dance Club Facebook page.