Get en Pointe

CAC’s Dance Class Caters to All Dancers

Dancer(s): Jenna Ziegler, Savannah Grottenthaler, David Kennon, Cosme Gomez, Kamille Ritchie, & Lauren Leal

Kamille Ritchie, Cactus Staff Writer

CAC offers its students a variety of electives to help blow off the stresses that college brings, and its Fine Arts department is no exception. Renowned for its culinary classes as well as its thriving theatre department, you may not be aware CAC also offers courses in dance. At Signal Peak, on Mondays and Wednesday from 10:30 to 1:15, you have the opportunity to explore the wonders of Jazz and Ballet with peers just like you. If you’re looking for something a little more edgy, audition for CAC’s Dance Company at the end of the semester and make your own destiny… or dance. In an exclusive interview with Professor Karen Burns, we discuss the ins and outs of CAC’s Dance Company, take a trip down memory lane, and what know as a newcomer to dance.

Having spent 23 years teaching the craft, Karen has been dancing for longer than that. Born with a disease that crippled her legs, she turned to ballet at the age of four to cope. Eventually, her legs straightened out, but she did not stop dancing. Taking a break after middle school, she traveled to Europe where she rediscovered the craft in a British production of A Chorus Line. Now 20 and dancing once again, she took on jazz while continuing in ballet. She states, “You must take ballet with any form of dance, even hip hop.” A year later, she moved to New York City and got a job dancing as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. After several years of working in the entertainment industry, a notable mention for her role in CBS’s The Young and the Restless, Karen married, moved down to Arizona, and had two children. Continuing what she started in L.A., Karen has taught tap, jazz, ballet, musical theatre, and tumble; currently, she only teaches jazz, musical theatre, and ballet while recovering from a hip replacement.

Beginning her second year at CAC, one of Karen’s biggest accomplishments here at CAC is Dance Company, the performance group. During her first semester, Karen was amazed not only by the talent in her dancers but also their enthusiasm towards dance and was inspired to start a dance company. After discussing the idea with director of the Fine Arts department, Dr. John Owens, the company was approved to begin in the spring of 2015. Since that semester, all our dances classes have grown in numbers. As of September 5th of this year, the company has changed their name to Middle of Somewhere Dance Company, according to inside sources. Middle of Somewhere consists of Company A, Company B, a Physical Comedy Troupe, and a Hip Hop group but know this isn’t a cliquish situation, everyone works together. While Company is working with its resources, it does have room for improvement. One of our biggest needs is an increase in participants, especially more boys! Yes, it might be awkward at first and of course, people will have their opinions but they do not define you. Dancing is not girly nor does it mean you are gay. As Karen best puts it, “Dancing is the epitome of athleticism… it does not have to do with sexuality, [granted, it might in some] it’s artistic.” We always want to build our skill level and you might be able to teach us something new. If we are allotted more time by the school, we’ll in turn be able to put on more performances and you’ll be able to demonstrate your talent and get your name out there.

If the idea of dancing still makes you cringe, understand it’s not as hard as you might think. Yes, you may not be as skilled as some of the other dancers but remember everyone has to start somewhere. Karen always says, “The only dancer you compare yourself is the dancer from yesterday.” Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t do a certain move perfectly, dance is something that you have to practice to become better at. Karen reassures, “The world is not going to end if you can’t do something. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to not be perfect.” What makes our classes and our company unique is we will embrace you as one of our own. We are all on different levels of dance but we will gladly help you build your own. If anything, Karen suggests to just come out and try a class, they’re open enrollment so you’re always welcomed.

Karen hopes that the program is able to thrive and expand as do I. Take it from me, a plus size dancer, it is not that bad. Yes, there are times where you just want to give up and just to say to heck with everything but when you are finally able to nail that move that has been the bane of your existence, you feel so much better. Don’t knock something off until you try it because you might surprise yourself. George Elliot once said, “It’s never too late to become who you might have been.”

If you want more information or find out how you can help the company, please contact Karen Burns at [email protected] (document.currentScript) {