Students who stay on campus for summer classes like Management 101 can also learn some Latin dance while they’re here.
Penn Latin and Ballroom Dance, the organization responsible for Dancing with the Professors in December, offered its first summer class open to the public last Sunday.
Although the PLBD team competes during the school year, the summer classes will be focused solely “on the social aspect,” said instructor and 2004 College graduate Christine Kam. “You can enjoy it with other people and get to meet people in a really personal way.”
The social classes have a “relaxed atmosphere,” said PLBD Vice President and 2011 Engineering graduate Melzer Pinto, adding they “don’t concentrate on technique” as much as the team classes held during the school year.
Beginners to advanced dancers are welcome in classes, PLBD Social Lessons Coordinator Paul Samulenas said. The first class was “split between never, ever danced and people who have been taking classes for years,” Samulenas said, adding that the classes often see a diverse group of students, professors and those unaffiliated with Penn.
Classes are held Sunday in two Latin American techniques, with the salsa class at 2 p.m and bachata at 3 p.m. The two dance styles were chosen for their popularity at Latin clubs, Pinto said.
Kam acknowledged some may be “anxious” about starting dancing. “It’s nice to be able to show people that dancing isn’t as hard as they say it is. You just have to get rid of the mental block,” Kam said.
“I was one of those people who swore he would never dance, and now I dance competitively.” Samulenas began dancing about ten years ago, when he “caught the [dancing] bug.”
“It’s a heck of a lot of fun,” Samulenas said.
Kam was originally trained as a ballerina, but wanted to try something different. “I wanted to try … something I could do with other people,” she said, which led her to salsa and ballroom dance.
Watching her students improve to the point where “they’re really holding their own and they’ve matured into a really good dancer” is the most rewarding part of teaching dance, she said, adding that some of her students have become professional dancers.
The PLBD also holds social classes throughout the school year in a larger variety of dance types, said Samulenas.