This past Monday on October 16, Rhythm Performing Arts hosted a hip-hop workshop in the student centre’s boardroom. The workshop was hosted by the group’s dance experts Anshita Khanna and Paul Rodriguez.

“We wanted to do something more than just our regular dance classes,” said Khanna, the group’s co-president and a fifth-year anthropology and biology student, “We wanted a bigger crowd and to give students the opportunity to dance and to those who want to learn. We thought it would be great to start a workshop in the UTM community where we introduce different dance styles [to make it more] affordable for students.”

The focus of the workshops is to bring students with all levels of dance knowledge together in a fun and open learning environment. Students are encouraged to embrace new genres of dance, understand the history behind different dance styles, and learn new movements.

Rodriguez, co-president and fourth-year philosophy and political science student, said:  “Dance to me is the expression of your inner emotions. […] It’s like learning a different language and also learning to appreciate different types of music and learning different types of dance genres.”

As an attendee of the workshop myself, I highly enjoyed this experience. As an avid dancer, I love learning new styles of dance. In the past, I have been exposed to different styles of dance taught by many different industry experts and instructors. I thought that the level of teaching by Khanna and Rodriguez was comparable to the excellence delivered by professionals. I felt comfortable with the pace and the dance moves they taught.

In the beginning of the class, Rodriguez spoke about the origin of hip-hop and how it grew from different dance genres.

“Dancing is innate, despite some people saying that they can’t dance. I actually think it’s something that you just need to be exposed to properly and hopefully enjoy…it’s a full expression of your innermost feelings,” said Rodriguez.

Both instructors reviewed movements and always ensured everyone was understanding the instructions. The instructors helped the participant “find their rhythm,” as Rodriguez said. After learning a variety of moves, there was a short choreography piece for everyone to learn.

“I went to the first [workshop], the salsa one, and it was actually fun. My friend pushed me into it and I figured, hey, why not try something new and get out of my comfort zone? [The instructors] were great, nice and helpful so I decided to come back and really enjoyed it. I have no background in dance at all. It’s something good to know, it might come in handy,” said Zak Jamal, a second-year criminology and political science student.

The group hopes to hold future workshops on ballet, ballroom, and Bollywood styles of dance. The workshops will run bi-weekly on Mondays and will continue throughout the school year. The next workshop is a Halloween special being held on October 30.

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