The Ballroom Dance Club is working towards breaking stereotypes and creating a fun, relaxed atmosphere for all members at the University of Rhode Island.
The club is instruction style and designed to teach people how to ballroom dance. Instructors teach a rotation of latin or rhythm, and standard or smooth style of dance between a Â two hour class period.
Club President Myrtha “Mikki” Duijsens, said that it is a “just for fun” club, meant for anybody interested in the style. Duijsens said the club originally formed in 1995 by Kristen Coleman, and it was designed to be a place where competent ballroom dancers could come together to dance in high octane competitions.
“To me, the URI Ballroom Dance Club is more than just another student organization, it’s a community,” Duijsens said. “We’re all people with the same interest in dancing, and we all work equally hard to achieve whatever goals we have, whether that be competing, performing, or simply improving your skills.”
This year is Duijsens’ first year as president and she said the club is meant to “provide a comfortable environment for people who want to learn how to dance.” Her goal is to bring people together and teach them the fun of ballroom dance, as well as to allow them the opportunity to move onto more advanced levels of dancing.
Duijsens said the club is an incredibly laid back group. Anybody can walk in at any time and sign up to take a class. The classes meet every Wednesday, and are designed so several dances are taught during the same six weeks. While the current sessions are on their final week, there will be new sessions to join soon.
For students, faculty, and any other people who are considered part of the URI community, the fee is $5 to sign up. Anyone outside the community can pay $10 for the same opportunity. This fee pays for six weeks of professional classes taught by two instructors, each seasoned and skilled dancers who enjoy teaching others their craft.
One of the instructors, Randy Deats, along with his wife Kathy St Jean, co-own a well know Rhode Island Dance Studio called “The Dancing Feeling.” This studio is in Warwick, and members usually go there during weekends for extra sessions. Deats is also a certified championship level judge with the National Dance Council of America (NDCA).
Duijsens said the Ballroom Dance Club has an illustrious history with dance competitions, but they eventually slowed to a halt. This year, the club has re-entered the dance circuit, and their first competition got the a championship spot. Duijsens hopes to bring more club members into the competition spotlight, and eventually to bring the club into larger, more renowned competitions.
One of Duijsens’ goals is to bring the group into a higher competition while still maintaining the relaxed atmosphere. She wants everybody to be able to enjoy themselves no matter their level of skill or their aspirations. The club is currently in the American Ballroom Dance Circuit, and Duijsens plans on competing more often over the year.
Since the ballroom dance community at URI is a small group, the club hosts two ballroom dances per semester and tries to advertise all over the school.
“My goal for the future is to change the public’s view of ballroom dancing and to get more people involved,” Duijsens said.
Currently, the club is working towards gaining more funding so they can offer more advanced classes, as well as better access to studios like Dancing Feeling.
The start of fall semester classes will run through October 21 and the second session classes run from Oct. 28 to Dec. 9. Anyone is welcome to come to a class without pre-registration. To view the Ballroom Dance Club’s schedule and find more information, visit their website at http://ballroom.apps.uri.edu/.