Regardless of which gym you attend, the typical scenery remains: metal is lifted, legs run laps, feet quickly pedal and rond de jambe a terre occurs at the barre.
For the groups of dancers that regularly fill the upstairs practice rooms of Ramsey’s Health and Wellness Center, spot-on pirouettes and develepe leaps across the floor constitute an ordinary evening at the gym.
Beyond weight training and workout classes, an array of technical dance styles are taught at Ramsey that many people are unaware of, as it is a rarity for a gym to offer a dance scene. Many of them began a few years ago, thanks to Skylar Russell and her sister, Taylor.
“My sister and I have danced our whole lives and simply wanted an outlet to dance, without majoring in it,” says Skylar, a senior at the University of Georgia and Ramsey dance teacher. “The styles I wanted to teach weren't happening at Ramsey, so my main focus was to reach out to two groups of people: those who had danced prior and wanted to continue, and those who wanted a new and exciting way to workout.”
She, along with another teacher, Allie Faggetter, teach classes on dance techniques that range from ballet to hip-hop, to advanced contemporary/jazz fusion. Not only are the classes a great workout, but they also appeal to those who love the art of dance and want a more relaxed environment at a less expensive price.
“There are even optional performance opportunities in the springtime for the dancers that love the stage,” says Skylar.
While these classes are a part of Ramsey’s instructional classes, there are other dance groups that utilize these practice rooms as well. One such group is the Junkyard Dawgs, an expanding club of break-dancers that meets in Studio A twice a week. There are no fees or requirements for joining and everyone is encouraged to bring their own style to the classroom.
“You can always choose whatever you want to learn. Its really all about inspiration because you have nothing to lose,” says Devin Huang, one of the officers of the Junkyard Dawgs.
For the first hour, Huang and Wesley Hong, a leader who’s been dancing with the group for six years, play music and teach novel choreography. The rest of the time is open for free-style dancing and collaborations. Break dance in a classroom setting goes beyond what is usually imagined of the style and introduces the opportunity for plenty of technical growth.
“When people think of break-dance, they typically think of common moves like head spins, but it is important to take into account the musicality aspect,” says Wesley.
Dance is an engaging form of expression and certainly catches the eye of onlookers only expecting to see weight-lifters, track runners and bikers in their gym. These unexpected classes provide a great opportunity to discover dance, continue dancing or simply get in shape in an alluringly graceful manner.