Friday, 24 October 2014 14:05

Just Dance: Get your dance on in West Michigan

Written by  Revue Staff and Minions
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Grand Rapids Ballet school Grand Rapids Ballet school PHOTO: JON CLAY

Sometimes, you've just got to dance. REVUE has compiled a rundown of West Michigan dance options for everyone.

 

If You Want Something Classic

Ballet has been enriching the lives of audiences across the world since 15th century Italian Renaissance. Today, under the artistic direction of Patricia Barker, the Grand Rapids Ballet Company (341 Ellsworth Ave. SW, Grand Rapids)has gathered 24 dancers, apprentices and trainees from around the world to perform the best in classical and contemporary dance. “Grand Rapids Ballet School offers its students the rare opportunity of working hand in hand with Michigan’s only professional ballet company," Barker said. “In addition, all GRBS faculty members have danced in professional companies, worked with renowned choreographers creating contemporary repertory, and performed many of the classical full-length ballets allowing them to pass along the rich tradition of ballet experience to each of their students.”

More than 1,500 students receive free introductory classes through the Dance Immersion program. A class dedicated to immersing students into a greater appreciation for art and experience the joy of dancing. Additionally, GRBC offers pointe, ballet, Pas de Deux, free boys classes, contemporary and classes for students with Down syndrome, autism and Parkinson’s disease.

GRBC accepts everyone into the programs and Barker encourages dancers to be part of their school. “We are looking for students who are excited about joining a nurturing and encouraging environment where they will develop knowledge of technique and a love for dance," she said.

Recently, GRBC has offered up adult ballet classes to the public. The first class is free to try and classes are open to all ranges and abilities. For more information, visit grballet.com. -Kayla Hay

If You're Looking for Something More Modern

Contemporary dance is a style that infuses methods from ballet and modern dance. Fans of this free-spirited form believe in creating abstract ideas and extreme emotions without adhering to the strict ideals that ballet is built on.

The form is seen as a genre, rather than a technique. Bent knees and flexed feet are deemed acceptable, allowing for artistic freedom.

Joette Sawall, the artistic director of West Michigan School of Middle Eastern Dance, says “[contemporary dance] isn’t about smooth lines. It’s about getting a hard visual of the body as opposed to the soft, fluid ballet form.”

For those interested in breaking laws in the world of dance, here’s a couple locations in West Michigan that teach the contemporary style: Dance in the Annex (1110 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids) recently won an ArtPrize juried award in the time-based category for its dance-on-film and live dance entry, "respirador (breather)." Those who are already familiar with the genre can take intermediate and advanced classes at the Wealthy Theatre Annex. DITA also offers workshops throughout the year where beginners can get involved. Visit danceintheannex.com to keep up with the latest news and classes. Wellspring Cori Terry & Dancers offers a number of creative, modern and contemporary dance class options for you to test out. Classes are semester-based, but the company offers drop-ins. Laura Armenta's Armentality offers an intimate dance experience. Classes are held in Armenta's home and there is detailed attention given to each individual student. For more information on classes, visit lauraarmenta.com.-Giovana Barreto

If You Wanna Bump 'n' Grind

O’ drudgery of the work week slog! To sack a jammed inbox on Monday only to return the next morning to find it replenished with tortuous memos! Meetings! Water cooler conversation! Though unlike Sisyphus’s eternal plight of boulder rolling, we doreceive respite and its name is Five O’Clock Friday. Time to drink and let loose if only for one night of dionysian jubilee. But what sort of party fits your personality? If bottle service and pampering are your gig, swank out at The Gatsby (300 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo) whose dress code prohibits mesh jerseys and tiger graphic jeans to ward off dude-bros looking for something to hump. If boogie’s your thing, head to Rocky’s (633 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids) second floor on Friday nights for DJ sets featuring a booty-poppin’ mix of hip-hop and electronic bangers. Caution: at 12:01 the crammed dance floor is a sweat hole, taking on the aroma of a jockstrap full of sardines. A couple kamikazes should dull the senses and get the grinding started. Then there’s Rumours (69 Division Ave. S, Grand Rapids), where the crowd knows how to bash uninhibited. Whether it’s with the summer foam parties or Turn Up Tuesday specials, you’re guaranteed a special night of weird with a fabulous crew. Craving some bass in your face? Hit up Billy’s Lounge (1437 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids) BassBin Monday nights for local DJs blaring the womp womp. Lose yourself in the rave, or get so hammered that you demand “Sandstorm” from the jockey every five minutes. -Jack Raymond

If You Want Something Retro

Not all dance has to be choreographed. Sometimes, there is nothing better to just let loose and let the music and your body tell you where to go. It's even better when you can dress for the occasion. Mega '80s takes you back to a time when the shoulders were big, the hair was bigger and the music was synthesized. The cover band performs at The Intersection (133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids) monthly and sometimes bi-monthly, giving you the chance to dance to some of the greatest hits from the '80s. Retro D'Luxe spans the '70s, '80s and '90s, finding retro videos, music and video games to completely immerse yourself in anything and everything pre-2000. This month, Retro D'Luxe hosts an event on Thanksgiving Day at The Pyramid Scheme. Admission is $2 for the 21+ event. If you're more of a '90s child, Billy's Lounge offers '90s Holla Back every Thursday night. -Lindsay Patton-Carson

If You Wanna Class It Up with Some Ballroom

While ballroom dancing may remind you of your grandma, it has made a bit of a comeback with "Dancing With The Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" in recent years. A dance that was once only for the privileged, you don't have to be ‘privileged’ to take a step at ballroom dancing in West Michigan. Get a group of friends and head over to Kalamazoo Dance Sport (1522 Gull Rd. #A, Kalamazoo) where group lessons are $10 per person or a one-hour introductory class is $25. The Dance Asylum School of Music (3467 Blue Star Hwy, Saugatuck) has a one-time registration fee of $20 and offers family discounted prices. At Studio 33 Ltd. (3609 Portage St., Kalamazoo)a trial lesson is free. Arthur Murray Dance Studio, which has three Grand Rapids locations, has been instructing ballroom dance for more than 100 years with specially trained instructors. “We have gotten so much better because we are all connected,” said Leslie Sharp, a professional dancer of 30 years and an instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studio. “Our instructors have constant training, some traveling to other countries to learn different techniques.” Her passion for teaching comes from helping people see themselves in a new way. “Dancing can change peoples lives and add so much to it,” she said. Arthur Murray offers a $25 introductory lesson, which could be a good date night option and a chance to, “see each other in a new light.” -Anastasia Hauschild

If You Want Swing in Your Step

If you're still riding that swing wave from the '90s, there are plenty of places for you to jump and jive. Of course, there is the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society (or G.R.O.S.S., which is obviously way more fun to say), which alternates its locations between Rosa Parks Circle in the summer and indoor locations, which are updated on the website (grandrapidsoriginalswingsociety.com) in the colder months. This org is legit, too, having carved space for itself in the Guinness Book of World Records for largest swing dance and boasting more than 5000 members. Mainly because it's open to all ages and skill levels, with a lesson 30 minutes prior to the dancing.

So you want to try out some swing, but you also want to try out some some waltz, rumba and salsa. We get it. We here at Revue are the kind of people who mix all the fountain pop choices into one cup. Lucky for us, Kalamazoo Dance (1522 Gull Rd. #A, Kalamazoo) lets us try a little bit of everything. This isn't just a drop-in whenever kind of deal, though. You have to be a member of USA Dance, but that's not too hard. The membership is open to dancers of all skill levels. So if you're serious about mixing all that dance into the soda cup called life, a membership might be worth your while.

Movier Dance Studio (2485 Burlingame Ave. SW, Wyoming)also gets into the swing of things Mondays at 8 p.m. and offers free foundation lessons for beginners. Intermediates can join in for $10 lessons or $5 for studio members. If you're ready to just get to dancing, you can join in for $5 if you are a member or $8 for nonmembers. -Lindsay Patton-Carson

If You Want to Learn Some Sensual Seduction

There is a reason why watching Shakira dance through "Hips Don't Lie" can put you in a trance, even almost nine years after the song was released. The singer is known as much for her bellydancing as she is for her unique howl that's made her the most popular celebrity on Facebook. THIS is what some carefully crafted bellydancing will get you, my friends. OK, now where do you start? Bellydance Grand Rapids (959 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids) is a good place. Bellydance GR offers classes to all experience levels, starting with very beginners and encourages bellydance not only as a dance style, but as a form of fitness as well. If you dig it, you can invest in a 12-month unlimited membership. If you feel like testing the waters, Bellydance GR also offers drop-in classes.

Flirt Fitness (5366 Plainfield Ave. Suite J, Grand Rapids) combines the seductive art of pole dancing with fitness, encouraging women to feel sexy and strong. The pole is only part of the 90-minute lesson, however. Flirt Fitness incorporates yoga, pilates and exotic dance moves to give you a well-rounded workout. New students sign up for level one courses and all students have options for private and semi-private lessons. -Lindsay Patton-Carson

The Latin Trio: Salsa, Merengue, Bachata

Latin music is infamous for its sexy, upbeat tempos, but the various styles usually get lumped together into one category, losing their identities. The most recognizable of these include salsa, merengue and bachata, each with their own similarities and differences. Salsa is most popular, having ties to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Colombia, but its specific origin is uncertain. A hybrid of the cha-cha and mambo with swing influences, salsa became popular in New York in the 1970s. Think of Gloria Estefan’s song, "Oye" for go-to salsa. Merengue is a traditional Dominican Republic folk dance, brought to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Its 2/4 time signature gives it a march-y feel, but influences come from hip-hop and R&B. Bachata is native to the rural neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic. In the early days it included slow, sad, romantic guitars, giving it its own distinctive sound. Need an example? Look up Romeo Santos, "Propuesta Indecente" on YouTube.

Now you’re probably thinking, 'Wow, this is awesome! Where can I get involved?'

Western Michigan University’s Social Salsa Club brings the community together every Friday for an evening of Salsa dancing. Meetings are held in the basement studio of Seidschlag Residential Hall, from 5 to 7:45 p.m.. Beginners are welcome, too. The only things you need to bring with you are socks, water, comfy clothes and a friend.

Kneading Serenity (5900 Portage Rd., Portage),a health and wellness center in Portage, is also serving up some fancy footwork with their Social Latin Dance. They offer specialized lessons in salsa, merengue, bachata, and cha cha. Everyone is welcome, and although no partner is required, bringing a friend would enhance the experience. -Lindsey Wylie-Gruen

If You Want Some Fitness and Fun

Pure Barre (2107 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids) utilizes the ballet barre to give you a full-body workout. The 55-minute class is low-impact, meaning it's easy on your joints, but strengthens, tones and stretches the muscles throughout your body. If you are ready to get cozy with the barre, you can get a month of unlimited classes. If you want to try it out and see how you like it, a single class is $21. Pure Barre also offers private and group single classes.

Zumba takes the fitness benefits of dance and ups the ante by creating interval dancing (think switching from low-intensity to high-intensity) in order to burn maximum calories. Influenced by Latin and World music, the key to Zumba is to disguise the workout as a fun, social dance party. Zumba with Tara hosts classes at various locations in Grand Rapids, like The Pyramid Scheme (68 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids) and the David D. Hunting YMCA (475 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids). Baila Cardio (525 Michigan Ave., Holland) specializes in group fitness classes, with an emphasis on fun. The classes are flexible, with drop-in offerings and monthly memberships. -Lindsay Patton-Carson

If You've Got a Little Country in You

One time, Revue beer bro Nick Manes went into Back Forty (48 Fulton St. W., Grand Rapids) at 7:45 p.m., ordered a Miller Lite, paired it with tequila, left and then complained about how lame it was. Well, that's his own damn fault because he barely even gave it a chance. If that turd furguson stayed for a little while longer, he would have been thrust into some top-notch line dancing with some choice country honeys to promenade around with. Instead, all the Chases, Brantleys and Garths got to break in their cowboy boots a little bit more while Manes' loafers probably got some more hipster puke on them that weekend. Your loss, Manes. In the meantime, Back Forty offers free (yeah, it's FREE. That Manes. What a dummy.) line dancing every Wednesday through Saturday, with times varying between 7-9 p.m. and 9 p.m. until midnight.

Maybe Manes would have had a little more fun if there were a mechanical bull involved. Who knows with him, but Wild Bull (330 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo) has got a bull. I know, that's some heavy stuff. And if you already know how to line dance, well then, you can just bring the party with you.

For those who need a little less bull and a little more line dance learnin', Cowboy Up (22046 Michigan 60, Mendon) has line dancing Wednesday through Saturday nights. Shakespeare's Lounge (241 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo) also hosts monthly country nights, where you can participate in line dancing. -Lindsay Patton-Carson

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