Janice Jewett’s Dance Appreciation class at Pittsburg State really moves.

Janice Jewett’s Dance Appreciation class at Pittsburg State really moves.
Twice a semester, it moves to a different location, including elementary schools and nursing homes. Last week, one class visited Lakeside Elementary School and later in the week, another section visited Cornerstone Village.
But Jewett said she does not force a location upon the students — they choose where they go.
“They vote as a class, sometimes they want a certain age group or a certain facility,” Jewett said. “All I do is coordinate that. We just go out there and dance.”
The class itself teaches folk dances, square dances, ballroom dancing, country and international dances. It also teaches students about the history of dances and the cultural significance of each dance.
But when visiting a facility, the plan often changes. For the Lakeside students, the Dance Appreciation class taught the Grand March, the Chicken Dance and the Macarena. While visiting Cornerstone Village, the PSU students did the waltz, polka, western swing, foxtrot and other dances.
One student, Brittany Streiff, said the kids at Lakeside reacted well to seeing the older students.
However, the students did have to deal with an abnormal situation or two when dealing with the kids at Lakeside.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been that young,” Streiff said, a PSU biology senior. “They’re just excited to do anything with older students. It’s always fun to see that excitement.
“They seemed to enjoy it pretty well. My lab partner had two girls that got really attached to him. That was pretty funny.”
Jewett said that when visiting Cornerstone Village, one resident got up and began calling out cues and leading the dances. That resident said she had been a dance instructor in New York.
Jewett noticed a difference in the way the kids reacted to the PSU students and the way the Cornerstone Village residents reacted.
“When we go to the elementary schools, they see them as college students, but the kids relate to them as students,” Jewett said. “At Cornerstone Village, it’s more a matter of asking where they’re from and what they do, because the residents relate to them on a location and a major or field they worked in, too.”
For many students, the class is a dream come true.
“I actually had learning the foxtrot, salsa and tango on my list of things to do before I die,” Streiff said. “Now I can do all three.”
Jewett said Streiff’s comments are pretty typical, and many students get into the class as a acquired ability rather than for a grade.
“It’s a life skill and something they can use at their weddings,” Jewett said. “Kids are always telling me they want to dance at their wedding or it’s something that they will use the rest of their life. It’s something they use very readily.”