MADISONVILLE, Ky. — Ballet and jazz may be typical classes expected when parents sign up children for dance classes.

However, local dance instructor Natalia Gordon is pushing to broaden the horizons of her students.

"As a teacher, I always recommend ballet; it is the foundation of all dance," she said. "The body awareness you learn in ballet can be carried over into styles like hip hop as well. You can never go wrong with a ballet class."

When the fall semester begins for students at Stellar Dance Center in Madisonville, they will have the option to take ballet, jazz and creative movement, but also there are openings for adult ballet, acro dance, hip hop and pom.

"Adult ballet is being offered because there is a need and want for it," Gordon said. "Maybe the class size is small right now, but I believe it will grow. As adults, I think we get caught up with life and forget to treat ourselves to exercise and expression that is really helpful to our health and happiness."

She believes adults often focus on family and jobs more and about themselves less.

"Taking one hour a week to dedicate to yourself is so important," she said. "The ballet barre work builds up a sweat, but the expression of dance really helps one release stress. No one in the adult class is worried about anyone else. We are there to workout, have fun and express ourselves. You don't have to be 'good' at it. You just have to show up and give your best effort."

Gordon said acro dance is a tumbling class designed for the dancer. It involves strengthening, stretching and acrobatic skills, hip hop is an extension of jazz dance where students learn hip hop technique and tricks, and pom is a style of dance inspired by cheerleading. It is characterized by tight motions and visual choreography.

"If you watch popular dance TV shows, you will hardly find a professional dancer who doesn't perform acrobatic skills," she said. "It's just part of being a well-rounded dancer. It gives you more of an edge. It is a bit different than power tumbling seen in gymnastics and cheer. In acro class, tumbling and acrobatic skills are incorporated into dance choreography to make it seem seamless and unexpected. I grew up in competitive gymnastics, so I have always had a love for it, but as I have transitioned to dance life, there is a difference in the way a cheerleader or gymnast needs to tumble and the way a dancer needs to tumble."

Priority registration has passed, but there will be one more registration window from 4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at the studio at 254 E. Center St., Suite 4.

"You do not need any experience prior to signing up for dance classes," Gordon said. "Each semester reviews the basics, then builds upon that foundation. I have always prided myself on mastering foundations before moving on. Some may find this boring or slower paced, but you really can't master advanced skills without mastering beginners skills. So many times I have seen kids in the area jumping straight to the advanced skills that are performed at a poor or average level. This type of practice leads to one thing - injury. Not only that, but in the competitive world, you get deducted for performing advanced skills poorly. It may seem boring to perform a skill repeatedly, but it will pay off in the long run."

Adult ballet is offered on Sundays. Class fees begin at $45 for one hour each week with a discount for additional classes.

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