Sashay away from your stress with fun and unique PE classes

Photo by Jo Tacacek

By Julia Warling

Have you ever wanted to learn to defend yourself against attackers or how to do a waltz? Included in the Lewis & Clark graduation requirements are two semesters of physical education credits. This physical education can take on a wide variety of forms, such as varsity sports, adventures outdoors, self-defense, or even dance classes like ballet or ballroom, among many others. In one class, dancers spin, hop, and waltz around the room in pairs, gliding over the hardwood floors. In another, women learn to defend themselves, both mentally and physically.

Beginning Ballroom at LC is taught by Cynthia Hively, an adjunct instructor and dance teacher in the wider Portland community. “Teaching ballroom/dance is what I do as a profession … It’s different from the normal adult recreational classes I teach in the community where we have people dancing in traditional roles,” Hively said via email. “(At LC) I love the mix of everyone learning to lead and follow, and everyone dancing together, regardless of traditional norms.”

Let’s talk about what exactly goes on during the semester in a ballroom dance class.

Jo Tabacek ’21 is one of the students taking part in Ballroom Dance this semester. “Our course schedule does five different social dances, so, we’ve done swing dance, foxtrot, waltz, tango, and rumba. And we did a little bit of merengue, just for fun.”

In this class, there’s lots to learn and lots to do, but that doesn’t discourage the students from taking part.

“There’s someone in our class who, this is his like fourth or fifth time taking this class, so the people that are into it really, really like it,” Tabacek said. “The fall and spring classes do different dances and … I would definitely take it again”.

But Beginning Ballroom isn’t just enjoyable; it also teaches confidence.

“I hope students who take my class learn some basic dance skills that they will use the rest of their lives. At the least, I hope that in the future when students come across dance situations they will have enough confidence to get out on the dance floor and move,” Hively said.

Speaking of confidence, the Self Defense for Women class, taught by Annie Erickson, is a wonderful space for self assurance. The class aims to bring something to each student enrolled.

“We learn how to defend ourselves and also learn about listening to your intuition,” Jasmine Bruinooge ’20 said. “I like how empowering it is and how we’re able to create a space … to freely share our ideas, and feel comfortable in.”

Students say they enjoy their classes because they are empowering and difficult to find in other places.

“I’d recommend it to everyone, pretty much. All my friends. I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t get the chance to do in other situations so I think it’s a great opportunity to do at Lewis & Clark,” Bruinooge said.

With all the options to choose from, there is certainly no shortage of new curriculum for students to try, and in each and every class, there is something valuable to be learned.

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