Free ballroom dance lessons pick up the pace

Graduate student Matt Cagle and senior Siobhan Grogan teach a group of dancers the basic steps of smooth dance.

At Mississippi State University, students are taught skills and life lessons to help aid in the navigation of life. One skill that is not emphasized often is ballroom dancing.

Ballroom dancing has many benefits: being able to enjoy oneself at special occasions such as weddings, gaining confidence and elegance, and keeping a talent in your back pocket for the right moment. MSU’s Ballroom Dance Club meets weekly in the Sanderson Center on Sunday evenings to teach lessons and enjoy the art of dance.

The Ballroom Dance Club started in 2005, and has provided free lessons ever since. This club is for anyone who loves to dance, and allows students to meet new people and have a different and new experience. There is no membership fee or required time commitment.

Matt Cagle, an active member of the Ballroom Dance Club, describes what people will get out of the lessons.

"We start with the very basic steps, and we get students to where they can perform the dance confidently around the floor with different partners," Cagle said.

There is a variety of dances taught, including the Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Waltz, Salsa, East Coast Swing, Hustle and Quick Step. Sundays’ lessons are at 4 and 5 p.m., with both a smooth and rhythmic dance taught. At 6 p.m., there is an open dance hour where students can put their new-found knowledge to the test.

Anyone with any skill level is welcomed to attend, making it a comfortable and judgment-free atmosphere for someone who has never danced before. This atmosphere is coupled with the seasoned instructors of the classes  able to help those at any skill level.

Erin Sanders, an aerospace engineering major who has attended a few classes, said the instructors are very encouraging. Sanders plans to continue attending the dance lessons in the future because she wanted a useful and respectable activity to spend her time.

The only requirements to attend is movable clothing, two dancing legs and a bottle of water. If someone does not have a partner, it will not be a problem. All dancers rotate partners, so one will end up dancing will everyone of the opposite sex.

Siobhan Grogan, a former president of the ballroom dance club and a nationally-ranked Lindey-Hop dancer, encourages everyone to try ballroom dancing.

"If you don’t know if you would like it, just jump in and give it a shot because it’s a valuable skill that you’re going to wish you’d have," Grogan said.

On Nov. 4, the dance lessons will finish teaching the Foxtrot and the Cha Cha. The following week will start on the Rumba and the Waltz. The classes have a three-week focused rotation on two types of dance.

For those who are not new to dancing, there are Thursday classes for intermediate dancers. The Quick Step, Viennese Waltz and Lindey-Hop are only available to the intermediate dancers because of their level of difficultly.

The club also attends a monthly event with the Salsa Mississippi Dance Club. On the second Saturday of the month, the members of the club or anyone who wants to attend will carpool to Jackson. At 9 p.m., there is a Salsa dance lesson. After the lesson, everyone will Salsa until about 2 a.m. The fee for students is $5, and $10 for everyone else.

The Ballroom Dance Club attends various collegiate dance competitions and has gone to different social clubs around campus to teach lessons. All services are free.

Learning to dance does not take a lot of time, energy or resources, and dancing skills can definitely impress someone professionally or socially. So, spend your time wisely and learn to dance in the process. 

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