By Ravyn Ammons
SAN MARCOS, TEXAS—Texas State University has become the home to many newly founded organizations run by students that offer a variation of free dance classes for any students who are willing to learn.
These organizations started becoming prominent in the spring of 2019 but have grown especially this school year. Some of these dance groups include Dance Works, Bobcat Dance Theater, Queen Empire, and Choreo Kidz just to name a few.
Dance department professor and director of Texas State Strutters, Tammy Fife said she believes the sudden increase of these organizations is due to one group of students trying to outdo another.
“These students may want to share their love of dance with other students here on campus but I think the real reason that there are so many of these student-run organizations popping up is because someone may have attended another free dance class and was dissatisfied,” said Fife. “So they figure they will just create their own and do it better. I think that is perfectly fine and just gives student dancers more options to pursue.”
Dance Works was founded in the Fall of 2018 by former Texas State dance major, Kenna Priore. The organization was founded as a way to give students an outlet to express themselves through dance without being committed to a single team. It is one of the first dance organizations to start the current boom of student-run groups that offer dance classes. As it is open and free for all students to attend and learn, any student can also apply to teach a class.
Dance Works founder and former President, Kenna Priore, 24, said that she was inspired by her own personal experience to start the organization.
“I was on the Texas State dance team, the Strutters”, said Priore. As much as I loved it, it was strongly focused on high kick and jazz styles of dance. I wanted to have a place where I could do other styles of dance to increase my versatility as a dancer. I also had so much creative energy that I used to choreograph my own pieces and I wanted to share that with others.”
Dance Works offers classes in jazz, contemporary, hip hop, pom, and heels. Each class varies in difficulty level but no experience is required and dancers are encouraged to challenge themselves in class. Many students have claimed to see improvement in their movement quality, choreographic memorization, and technique.
Texas State student, Solei Charles said that attending Dance Works classes has increased her confidence in dancing and performing.
“I used to have really bad performance anxiety,” said Charles. “During class, we usually learn choreography and perform in groups in front of each other so it has really helped me become more comfortable with performing in front of others.”
Choreo Kidz is a hip-hop dance organization founded by Texas State student, Prince Imo. CK started hosting free classes every Wednesday in the fall of 2019. Many of the classes are taught by Imo himself but some classes have guest choreographers in to keep classes new and fresh.
Imo started Choreo Kidz after an attempt to create a performing dance crew didn’t work out. He said that he still wanted to teach hip hop to others.
“Many people know me for my dance crew, Kidz Next Door,” said Imo. “It started off pretty well and we even won Texas State’s Got Talent Show one time. The way my schedule is set up this year, though, I don’t have time to choreograph, teach, and run several practices. I was devastated but decided to start this group as a loophole to still do what I love.”
Queen Empire Dance was founded in the spring of 2019 and is not only an organization that hosts free dance classes but also is one that promotes the liberation of women and finding confidence and inner beauty. Queen Empire is known for its heels classes but will occasionally have hip hop and jazz funk classes.
Queen Empire choreographer and student, Tory Duncan said that her favorite part about teaching and running the organization is seeing people feel beautiful, talented, and in their element.
“So much is expected of women in society,” said Duncan. “We have to be skinny, act like this, talk like that, look like her. When you come to a Queen Empire class, we expect nothing of you other than to be yourself and dance like no one is watching.”