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The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

TIMES ARE CHANGING — FAFSA announced changes to its filing system in February.
Editorial — The "better" FAFSA
North Wind Editorial Board February 27, 2024

Get your groove on

Couples throughout history have found enjoyment in the art of dance, sashaying across dance floors in each other’s arms, hips swishing, feet moving in time to the music. Ballroom dancers especially know how to enjoy variety, whether they’re jumping and jiving to swing, or marching across the floor cheek to cheek to the tango.

At Northern, the Steppin’ Out Dance Club invites everyone who’s ever moved it or shaken it, or those who haven’t, to learn the different types of ballroom dance.

Steppin’ Out was started around six years ago, when a group of students wanted to bring ballroom dancing to Northern. Since then, the club has expanded, becoming a staple on campus. What keeps drawing students in is that ballroom dancing is just plain fun, said Marge Sklar, advisor for the club and associate dean of business.

“Ballroom dancing is interesting,” Sklar said. “It’s been getting a lot of free advertisement lately because of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ It’s elegant; it’s a skill, but it’s something you can pick up at the social level in a couple of nights, you can learn enough to have fun.”

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Sophomore business major Carolyn Leedham, who is also president of the club, joined in the fall because she has always loved dance.

“My parents met while dancing,” she said. “I was two weeks old when I went to my first social dance with my parents. It’s just always been there, I don’t know what life would be without it.”

Leedham, who helps instruct at meetings, learned a variety of dances through Steppin’ Out, but said she has been dancing her whole life.

“I’ve done dances very similar to (those) since before I could walk,” Leedham said.

Sklar has been dancing as long as she can remember as well, and has always found enjoyment in expressing herself through dance.

“I’m Italian,” Sklar said. “We dance at weddings, we dance at picnics, we dance at christenings, at engagements, at holidays-we dance.”

In fact, most other countries dance more frequently and appreciatively than Americans, she said.

“Most European nationalities dance at the drop of a hat. There are some festivals in Greece that go on for two weeks. The whole town will do a dance for days,” Sklar said.

Steppin’ Out gives dancers a plethora of styles to learn and love, said Sklar. The class teaches dances such as the tango, American tango, cha-cha, swing, rumba, the waltz and the foxtrot.

“Ballroom dancing encompasses all the different forms of couples dancing. There is the waltz, which is very elegant and very traditional,” Sklar said. “The waltz even shocked people when it first came out, that people were actually touching – oh how shocking!”

“Swing got its roots in the ’30s and looks a whole heck of a lot different than the waltz,” she said. “It was also considered scandalous when it came out.”

Kelsey Drew, a sophomore secondary math education major, joined the club about a year ago and also helps in instructing the class when needed. She thought dance would be a good way to blow off steam after a long day of studying.

“It’s just something I found myself interested in when I started here (at NMU),” Drew said. “I find it to be good stress relief. If I didn’t dance I would lose my sanity sometimes.”

She also noted how beneficial the class has been as far as becoming more of a leader and having confidence in herself.

“I’ve taken a leadership role in the group. I’ve learned to be more comfortable with myself and who I am because it’s hard to be self-conscious in dance,” Drew said.

But it’s not just leadership roles that students can learn while dancing. Another thing dance helps teach is the use of nonverbal communication, Sklar said.

“You are working with someone and you’re learning to communicate with your body. You’ve got a leader and you’ve got a follower and it’s all nonverbal communication,” she said.

The Steppin’ Out Dance Club will be holding a ball in place of the Presidents Ball on March 14. There will be a band as well as food, Sklar said, adding that it’s an opportunity for students to dress up, but it’s not a requirement in order to attend.

The Steppin’ Out Dance Club meets every Sunday at 7 p.m. in the University Center. For students who are interested in attending, a pair of clean shoes is a must, Leedham said. Everyone is welcome, down to the most inexperienced dancers as every meeting will start from the basics and work their way up. There’s no need to worry if you don’t have a partner as the members try to switch it up so everybody has a chance to learn the different dances.

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