“Welcome to Danceworks!”

Hannah, Jolie and Jessie Mae say,  “Welcome to Danceworks!  Have you been here before?  How can we help you?”

The ladies at the front desk get asked a lot of questions every day, and before our summer classes for adults and youth begin on June 3rd, I thought I could take a few minutes to answer some of the most popular ones:

Hannah and Jolie
Hannah and Jolie
Jessie Mae
Jessie Mae

I’ve never danced before – can I come and try an adult beginner class?

Yay!  Yes!  Good for you!  Danceworks is known for offering classes to people of all ages and abilities.  We are here to help you get moving!  We have lots of beginning adult students who make the move through our doors for their first dance class and get hooked by the fun and new friends they make as much as the dancing.

What do I wear?

Well, the dress code is this: we want you to be comfortable.  You don’t need a new wardrobe — just wear something that is easy to move in for Tap, Hip Hop and Jazz.  The same goes for Ballet but be aware that the teacher needs to see your ankles and feet — leotards, tights and leg warmers are fine but so are leggings and sports tops.  Layers are good and can be removed as you warm up.  For Dance Fitness classes, wear anything you would work out in.

Speaking of Dance Fitness, do I need to bring a mat or weights with me for the workout?

Nope!  We provide the mats, weights, bands and balls.  It’s a very thorough workout, by the way –- a little cardio, arm work, abs, hips and legs. You can always count on some stretching.  (It’s my own once a week workout.)  Professional dancers teach the classes so you’ll never get bored with the routines.

What kind of shoes do I wear?

Ballet Slippers, Tap and Jazz Shoes
Ballet Slippers, Tap and Jazz Shoes

If you don’t have any ballet slippers, tap or jazz shoes, you’re in luck.  We sell them on site.  For Hip Hop, we ask that you wear clean tennis shoes.  For Barre Workouts you can wear ballet slippers, socks or go bare footed.

Do you have Pole Dancing?


I really want to try a class but I’m nervous about it.  Can I just come and observe?

Absolutely!  Just let Hannah, Jolie or Jessie Mae know and they will introduce you to the teacher and help you get situated.

I’m worried I will be older than everyone else.  What is the age range of the students in your adult classes?

Danceworks believes dance is for everyone.  Our oldest student is 87!  Even in our 50+ classes, we don’t card.  These classes are geared at the mature mover and flow at a gentler pace, providing more time for corrections and explanations — but people under 50 are welcome. Students in our general adult classes can range in age from mid-teens to mid-70s.

I’m going to be gone the first week of class and I’ll be in and out throughout the summer.  Can I still join in?

Yes!  We work with adults’ busy schedules and offer ongoing enrollment — you can start at any time.  We also offer flexible payment plans, so you can pay for a single class, purchase a class card of 6 or more classes or sign up for a full session.  The more classes you buy at one time, though, the cheaper it is.

Melissa Feldmeyer takes care of the money.  If you have questions about your payment  she will help.
Melissa Feldmeyer takes care of the money. If you have questions about your payment she can help you.

Where do I park?

We have a parking lot open to students after 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays.  Weekdays before 5:00, there is plenty of free street parking available. There is also a bike rack available in the northwest corner by the river.

Do the adult classes have recitals?

No worries there.  If you are interested in performing though, we have some opportunities.  Check out the Summer DanceLAB!

So, those are a few of our most asked questions. Did I miss one?  Let me know and I will be in touch with you asap.  I really hope to see you this summer and would love to hear about your experience.  We’re rooting for you and hope you find a home at Danceworks!  –Deb Farris

Our lovely Ali is moving on to bright things.  We will all miss her but wish her the very best.
Our lovely Ali is moving on to bright things. We will all miss her but wish her the very best.



“It was the best day of my life!” –MHBT Student

There are two beautiful bouquets sitting on our conference table. Energy snacks and drinks are in the refrigerator. Family and friends know this is a crazy week at Danceworks as we’re days away from the 7th annual Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap Competition at BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Entering the BMO Harris Bradley Center Bowl Photo credit:   Mark Frohna
Entering the BMO Harris Bradley Center Bowl
Photo credit: Mark Frohna

They have sent these gifts to keep us smiling—and we are.

We have a lot of great memories… How about Debbie Payden volunteering to project manage the program our first year?! I honestly don’t know how we would have done it without her. Her church even sent along hams to feed the kids! Her daughter Rachel Payden is now our full-time Outreach Director.

We’re always looking for the perfect formula to give as many students as possible the opportunity to dance at BMO Harris Bradley Center every year. There was the time we let all those not chosen to compete dance in between the rounds of the competitors. These students were having so much fun that they would exit the bowl and run to find anyone they could grab to go out and dance with them again. It didn’t matter what school they were from—all that mattered was that they knew the dance.  When Liz Tesch, our project manager for many years, realized what was happening, she didn’t have the heart to stop them. “That’s what the program is all about,” she exclaimed.  Sheer chaos?  Possibly.  Sheer joy?  Absolutely!  Thank goodness for staff, faculty, volunteers and  community who understand this program is more about breaking down the barriers that divide people than learning perfect dance steps.  That was our longest competition in history.

Watching their team on the Jumbotron
Watching their team on the Jumbotron
Photo credit: Mark Frohna

We’ve made mistakes and learned from them, while many teachers, principals, families and friends who come to watch have supported us and cheered on the students. They understand that Mad Hot offers much more than dance instruction. It’s a beacon of hope for many students and for our community.

The health of urban youth is reaching a critical point. While we don’t claim to solve these challenges, we do offer young people a chance to find joy in movement. When the program ends, many are transformed and seek outlets to continue creative expression and physical activity.  Through our MPS Partnership funding, we are able to provide scholarships to our dance classes, creative arts camps and school day off workshops for students wanting to continue on. Danceworks Youth Performance Company provides an opportunity for serious students to perform.

If you need a little hope yourself, come experience this on May 18th. Let me know if you come. I’d love to say hi. Oops, gotta go—Debbie Payden just dropped off brownies!    —Deb Farris

trophy shot smaller (2)
Winning the trophy but really they are all winners!
Photo credit: Mark Frohna