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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Ballroom dance is a beneficial art form for students

Students practice the one, two, three; five six, seven-step process for salsa dancing. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

The studio room is illuminated by bright incandescent lights with a soft purple hue. You can see your reflection in the giant wall mirror in front of you and in the shining wood floor beneath you. The sound of shuffling feet is in rhythm with a one, two, three, five, six, seven count. After a few more collective repetitions, everyone seems ready,

“Let’s add some music now, what could go wrong?” says Luke Scherba.

The leaders, the men, practice their footwork while the followers, the women, mirror their steps. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Scherba, a Chico State alumnus, opened Studio One in 2006. Scherba said he wanted to provide something fun that was different than the bar and party scene within Chico.

“Rather than going out to the bars, I wanted to host a place for people to come that was non-alcoholic,” Scherba said. “Dance is a great way to connect with somebody.”

Studio One offers lessons in different styles of dance, ranging from ballroom to foxtrot. On Friday night, they co-hosted a salsa dance lesson with CSU Chico State Ballroom Dance club for students at a discounted price.

About 50 students were at Studio One Friday night to learn the salsa. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Cameron Riddle, the president of the ballroom dance club at Chico State, has been dancing ballroom for four years.

“It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there on the dance floor,” Riddle said, “but there’s always going to be at least one other person starting out too.”

Cameron Riddle, in the blue shirt, practices the pattern of steps with a group of Chico State students at the Friday night dance. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Three college dance nights are held each semester with Chico State Ballroom Dance club and Studio One. The first two events are more casual, while the third one, Ballroom Dance Night, is a formal dance. Everyone gets dressed up and all students enrolled in the beginning level dance classes attend the event.

“Everyone just looks great, it’s like having a prom all over again,” Riddle said.

Though the formal event is held primarily for students enrolled in the ballroom dance class, Riddle said students are still encouraged to bring a friend– or ten– who are interested in learning ballroom.

Danny Wright and Grace Grant dance swing while their movements are reflected in the mirror. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Studio One sponsors the Chico State Ballroom club, which allows students to receive a discounted price on many of the events and lessons.

“They understand that being a student is really hard, especially financially,” Riddle said. “They do what they do to help us have a positive and fun experience.”

Cameron Riddle spins his dance partner, Breeann Taylor. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Friday night was the first time, Chico State student, Briana Picquelle had been to a Studio One dance. She had taken some classes in her hometown area of Orange County, but didn’t know there was a ballroom community in Chico.

“I feel like it’s a lost art form,” Picquelle said. “You can still have so much fun with this kind of dancing.”

Besides the social aspect, Scherba cited a Stanford study that discovered intellectual and physical benefits to dance.

“Partner dancing uses both sides of the brain and increases neuroplasticity better than any other activity,” Scherba said.

Carla Perez and Marshall True practice the step and spin patterns for salsa dancing they are learning. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Riddle said that it doesn’t matter who you are, your level of experience or your perceived confidence in your dancing ability, because, “dancing knows no age or gender.”

“It brings people together of all different lifestyles and different walks of life,” Scherba said.

The social dance part of the night included various styles of dance so everyone could show off their skills. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

There are beginning and intermediate ballroom classes offered at Chico State and many different dance classes scheduled at Studio One throughout the week.

The Ballroom Dance Night for students will be on Dec. 7 at Studio One, and they have events listed on their Facebook.

Olyvia Simpson can be reached at [email protected] or @OSimpson15 on Twitter.

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