Dancing is good for you, plain and simple. And there’s an exciting new option for this summer: A series of six classes, titled “Broadway Dance for Fitness (and Fun!),” on Tuesdays at Florida Studio Theatre begins July 9. The classes will consist of safe, effective exercise that focuses on improving balance, endurance, flexibility and strength. Perhaps the best news is that there is no previous dance training required.
Teaching artist Natalia Mock is in charge of the summer sessions. She is a graduate of Point Park Conservatory in Pittsburgh and also teaches acting in the Visual and Performing Arts Program at Booker High School. Her associate is education intern Samantha Mills, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in contemporary dance from Radford College in Radford, Va.
The teaching team stresses that the classes are fun, nothing too technical, but are easy combinations that students will have a good time doing. Many of the moves have a lot in common with Pilates in their focus on strengthening the core and developing long, lean muscles.
The hour-long classes will start with a roughly half-hour warm up of conditioning moves to get the body ready to dance. The balance features easy steps and choreography and learning routines, but the teachers emphasize “no pressure, not like a recital.” Styles will include swing (without the lifts), Fosse (think “Chicago” and “All That Jazz”) and classic-jazz combinations à la “West Side Story.” The music will feature songs by Cole Porter and Kander and Ebb, and tunes from the likes of “A Chorus Line.”
Perhaps most important: The teachers’ approach is to build the classes around their students. Said another way: Don’t worry if you think you can’t do a two-step. If you like music and you like to move, give it a try. It’s a good bet that you’ll surprise yourself and discover a new fitness option.
Variety is important, not just because it is healthier and more productive to use your muscles in a variety of ways (what we call “cross training”), but because, in my view, more fitness programs succumb to boredom than any other cause. And this is a great, easy way to build something different and just plain fun into your routine.
This is the second year that FST is offering dance for adults. Last year’s summer session had about 12 students ranging in age from 17 to 85, and Mock says, “That’s what was so great about it.” She and Mills also note that the long–term benefits of dancing go beyond the physical and include making friends, being part of a team and becoming part of the dance community.
Sound like fun? That’s the idea. The fee is $89 — a special summer discount and just under $15 per class — for six hour-long sessions from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays starting July 9. The classes take place in the studio on the third floor of FST’s Keating Theatre (North Palm Avenue at Cocoanut Avenue in Sarasota).
You can wear whatever feels comfortable. Footwear is nothing — dance barefoot — or wear your tennies or any dance shoes you may happen to own. It’s up to you. And it bears repeating that no formal dance training is required.
To register or for more information, call Pam Smith at 366-1350.
Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older-adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals I and II and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center and the Longboat Key Club and Resort. Email her at mschechter@YourObserver.com.