The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Dance like no one’s watching: A look at UVM’s dance opportunities

Emily Kobus
Dance force performs for their 2023 spring showcase April. 15.

Editor’s note: This story was updated November 28 at 6:00 p.m. to remove an incorrectly labeled photo that did not depict any of the dance groups mentioned.

With busy schedules and social calendars, it may be difficult for students to find time for movement in their everyday lives. 

The open dance classes and social dances that UVM’s dance organizations host every week, however, offer a solution.

Dance Force, UVM’s first and only all-inclusive dance organization, is designed for all dance levels, styles and commitment levels, said sophomore Erin Fraser, vice president of Dance Force. 

“For Dance Force, there’s no audition at any point in the process,” Fraser said. 

All dancers are able to take and teach classes at their own discretion as well as perform in Dance Force showcases, regardless of previous dance experience, she said. 

Anyone interested in participating in classes can join Dance Force on the UVM Clubs page or can direct message the club’s Instagram account, @uvmdanceforce, for more information, said Fraser. 

For students looking for other low-commitment dance opportunities, UVM’s Salsa Team also hosts open classes in the form of weekly salsa community lessons, said junior Ali Palmer, artistic director of the Salsa Team.

Every Thursday from 8:30-9:30 p.m., members of the Salsa Team teach the basics of the dance style to anyone interested in learning—no previous experience required—Palmer said.

At the beginning of each semester, the Salsa Team also holds auditions for anyone interested in taking their salsa dancing a bit more seriously with a higher commitment level, Palmer said.

“The people are just great,” they said. “Everyone’s super inclusive.”

Anyone interested in participating in community lessons or joining the Salsa Team can find more information on the team’s Instagram account, @uvmsalsateam, they said.

Similar to UVM Salsa’s community lessons, UVM’s Ballroom and Swing Society hosts weekly social dances, said sophomore Anastasiya Semyannikova, director of ballroom with BASS.

Every Friday from 6-9 p.m., BASS holds a lesson in a new style of dance for anyone interested in learning, regardless of previous experience or club status. After the lesson, there is a two-hour social dance where members can show off their newly learned dance skills and meet new people, said Semyannikova. 

“[Ballroom dance] really builds a strong sense of community,” she said.

BASS also provides the opportunity for a higher commitment level for dancers who are interested in taking weekly West Coast swing, standard ballroom and Latin ballroom classes as well as performing, she said. 

Ballet Viridis, UVM’s ballet company, also provides a weekly open class, said junior Olivia Owen, president of the company. 

The company hosts classes open to all UVM students every Monday night, as well as additional weekly classes for those who audition and become part of the company, said Owen.

Ballet Viridis also hosts a weekly event as part of their Project Prima initiative, where the company hosts a dance class for disabled dancers of all ages in the Burlington area, she said. 

Traditionally, there is a negative cultural view on the culture of ballet that holds dancers back from continuing their ballet participation, but Ballet Viridis is dedicated to eliminating this negativity and creating a welcoming and inclusive space, Owen said.

“We have a community that embodies all the good things about ballet,” Owen said.

For students looking to explore styles of dance from other parts of the world, UVM’s Celtic Cats provide opportunities to learn both Irish step and Scottish highland dance, said sophomore Mia Cullen, co-president of the organization. 

Celtic Cats is a competitive travel team that hosts weekly classes, occasional performances, and ultimately competes in the College Irish Dance Association. No previous experience is required to participate in classes or audition for the team, and all experience levels from beginners to champions participate, said Cullen.

When not preparing for a competition or performance, Celtic Cats also hosts events such as “Bring a friend to dance day” or Scottish Highland days, said Cullen.

More information about Celtic Cats can be found on the Celtic Cats’ Instagram, @uvmcelticcats, or can be found on the Celtic Cats page on the UVM Clubs website

Another dance group providing instruction in an international style of dance is UVM’s Bollywood and Bollywood fusion group, Jazbaa, said junior Ellett Merriman, president of the group. 

Jazbaa is an audition-free team that offers classes in Southeastern Asian and Bollywood dance styles that are open to all skill levels and backgrounds with a focus on providing an inclusive and positive learning environment for all dancers, said Merriman.

Though Jazbaa offers practices three times a week, dancers are able to attend as many or as little as they are able or willing to make the level of commitment completely up to each dancer, she said.

“Make it work with your schedule. Come once, come once a month, once a week or all three times a week,” said Merriman.

More information about Jazbaa can be found on Jazbaa’s Instagram account, @uvmjazbaa, or can be found by emailing [email protected], she said.

With a variety of classes and styles, all students can find dance opportunities that fit with their schedule and interests. No matter what your dance background is, UVM’s dance programs have something for everyone.

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About the Contributor
Emily Kobus
Emily Kobus, Co-Photo Editor
(She/her)  Emily Kobus is a sophomore public communication major, concentrating in community media and journalism and minoring in political science. She began her work at the Cynic as a staff photographer before taking on the role of photo editor. In her free time, Emily enjoys writing, café hopping and exploring the outdoors. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Emily.