Dance Class Brings Ballroom and Swing to Town for a Good Cause

Dance class in progress. Loewen at forefront, far left, dancing with a student. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Dance class in progress. MaryBeth Loewen dances with a student on the left. MaryBeth’s parents, Walt and Kate Loewen, stand in the background on the right. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

An ongoing dance class series is raising money for the Kodiak Arts Council and making the town just a little more coordinated at the same time. Fish and Game salmon research biologist and member of the Arts Council Board of Directors, MaryBeth Loewen, teaches the classes – ballroom on Tuesdays and swing on Sundays.

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Loewen says the classes have been popular and attracted all levels.

“What’s really satisfying for me is when you get a new couple or solo person who’s never danced before but is brave enough to try it, and it’s amazing how quickly people can pick it up. By the end of an hour, everyone is actually dancing.”

Loewen says she also teaches ballet, which she says she’s been doing for about 12 years.

“I started teaching here in Kodiak and I’ve been lucky enough to go to some really great trainings. I try to go to some sort of dance teacher training every summer just to keep my skills up and keep learning, and so that’s kind of how ballroom came into it for me. My parents are actually much better ballroom dancers then I am. So, as a dancer you’re always looking for more and varied art options, and that’s how I got interested in ballroom.”

Later, I approach a couple and realize after a few seconds that I’m interviewing Loewen’s parents, Walt and Kate. And when I bring up their daughter’s claim that they’re the better ballroom dancers, Kate Loewen is quick to correct me. And she tells me how they learned to ballroom dance.

“We picked this up only about ten years ago when we were living in Fairbanks that had a really great ballroom club up there, and no, but it is really fun seeing your daughter excelling in something and doing such a great job. And she’s so grateful and quick. So, we learn more every class that we take from her, so that’s great.

Another student is Coast Guard deck watch officer, John Lerchbacker. He says he joined some friends in attending the class.

“I danced growing up as a kid and since coming out here in Kodiak, there didn’t really seem to be a whole lot of opportunity to do this kind of thing, so when I learned about the opportunity to come out and dance, I jumped on it.”

Dance instruction ends April 17, which means there are two more classes left for both ballroom and swing. All classes begin at 6 p.m. in the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium dance studio. If you want to take a chance on learning a few steps this month, the drop-in rate is $15 dollars per person.

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