2018-02-10 / News

Island Residents Are Learning the Moves of Ballroom Dance This Winter

By Jacob A. Ball


The Ballroom Dancing program meets weekly in the small gymnasium at Mackinac Island Public School. The group for Thursday, January 25, includes (front, from left) instructor Heather May, Phillip Rice, Margo Hessler, Jennifer White, Becky Grobelski, Kristine Herman; (back) Jeri- Lynn Bailey, Deb Styburski, Ken Styburski, Gregory Hessler, Dave Mallard, Myron Johnson, and Shane Paeth. The Ballroom Dancing program meets weekly in the small gymnasium at Mackinac Island Public School. The group for Thursday, January 25, includes (front, from left) instructor Heather May, Phillip Rice, Margo Hessler, Jennifer White, Becky Grobelski, Kristine Herman; (back) Jeri- Lynn Bailey, Deb Styburski, Ken Styburski, Gregory Hessler, Dave Mallard, Myron Johnson, and Shane Paeth. The waltz, rumba, and tango are among dance moves people are learning this winter in a ballroom dancing class offered through the Recreation Department. Art teacher Heather May teaches a variety of steps and focuses every class on swing dancing techniques. The class is held every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at the school.

“Everyone always gets a chance to dance, and there are lots of solo dance moves, too,” she said, so people don’t need to bring a partner to participate. Partners are rotated during the class.

She learned ballroom dancing in a Recreation Department program about 10 years ago, and now she is passing along her knowledge with the return of the weekly program. The class is open to all skill levels, and Ms. May is happy to go over the basics with beginners.

Each week at ballroom dancing, half the class is spent reviewing and learning new swing dance moves, while the other portion introduces a different dance style. Ms. May wants to give the participants an opportunity to perfect at least one style.

Between 10 and 20 people each week are at the class.

Programs such as ballroom dancing are opportunities that would not be available without the support of the volunteer teachers and the recreation department.

For many, it’s a new experience.

“It is fun to see people try things out that they would not otherwise,” Recreation Director Mary Patay said.

Ms. May also participates in the department’s newest offering, Monday Music Jam Session at Community Hall. The program takes place every Monday at 7 p.m. Island resident Pete Badour suggested this would be a good addition to the programs and enlisted Ms. May’s help. She then approached the Dr. Patay about organizing an openformat music program in the hall. About 20 people attended the first session in early January.

“I just like the fact that there is more music in the community that gets more people involved,” she said. “When you come to music Mondays, everyone feels really welcome... I think I enjoy it because of how welcoming the atmosphere is.”

The sessions are coordinated by musician Brian Thomas, who sends out sheet music each week to allow everyone to prepare. The songs are typically wellknown rock and pop songs. Dr. Patay says it has been fun to see people come up on stage to try new instruments, but if people want to just come and listen, there is no pressure to participate. A variety of instruments are made available, including a drum set, a piano, guitars, and a conga drum. Those with their own instruments are free to bring them, as well. Ms. May says it is a casual activity, and no formal music training is needed to participate.

The Recreation Department offers many opportunities for people to socialize, be active, and learn new skills. Activities range from physically challenging, such as pick-up volleyball and yoga, to social, like knitting and book club. Mary Patay manages the program, which relies on volunteers and some donations, and she regularly seeks new funding to improve or increase the offerings. A goal, she said, is to promote physical activity and personal well-being, so the programs all provide good health benefits. A lot of time is spent inside in the winter, she said, and leaving the house to participate in any of these activities can be mentally stimulating.

Weekly Winter Recreation Schedule

Sunday

Youth Open Gym (Ages 5 to 12), Noon to 2 p.m., at Public School.

Dartball, 2 p.m., at Community Hall.

Monday

Tots Open Gym (Ages up to 4), 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., at Public School.

Kitty’s Knitting, 1 p.m., at Trinity Parish Hall.

Monday Music Jam Session, 7 p.m., at Community Hall.

Tuesday

Walking Club, 8:20 a.m., at Public School - Meet at front doors.

Indoor Walking, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Public School - Check in at school office.

Crafting Club, 1p.m., at Public Library.

Afterschool Skating Program, 4 p.m., at State Park Ice Rink.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Class, 5:30 p.m., at Public School.

Bingo, 6:30 p.m., at Community Hall.

Wednesday

Tots Open Gym (Ages up to 4), 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., at Public School.

Yoga with Alexa Miller, 5:30 p.m., at Community Hall.

Ballroom Dancing, 6 p.m., at Public School - Small Gym.

Adult Pick-Up Volleyball, 7:30 p.m., at Public School.

Thursday

Walking Club, 8:20 a.m., at Public School - Meet at front doors.

Indoor Walking, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Public School - Check in at school office.

Afterschool Hockey Program, 4 p.m., at State Park Ice Rink.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Class, 5:30 p.m., at Public School.

Yoga with Alexa Miller, 5:30 p.m., at Community Hall.

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