Members of the St. Thomas German Club don’t just practice the finer points of the language – their activities now also include weekly ballroom dancing lessons in preparation for a Viennese ball at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
The students eventually hope to start a ballroom dance club on campus. While they are in the process of gaining club approval, the group is organizing through the German club to promote ballroom dancing on campus and to hold classes every Sunday night at 7:30 p.m.
Students are currently learning the Viennese waltz to prepare for the April 9 ball. About ten students will attend the ball, but the classes are open to all those who wish to learn ballroom dancing. Julia Troschka, senior and German club manager, said ballroom dancing is part of German culture and students can benefit in various ways from learning to dance.
âIt’s not just dancing because you learn to move, to stand up, to have a certain etiquette,â Troschka said. âWe learn German and also the culture. We thought that bringing a little culture and etiquette to the students was a great idea.
Susanne Wagner, advisor and teacher at the German club, was able to call on professional ballroom dancers from the St. Paul Cinema Ballroom studio to teach the lessons. Wagner takes dance lessons at the studio and said the teachers were very excited to help, especially owners Eric and Michelle Hudson, both former students of St. Thomas.
The group hopes to continue classes after the prom to provide a fun way for students to be active and learn something new. Second-year student and member of German club Morgan Kaardal hopes ballroom dancing becomes popular on campus.
âI think there is potential for this to be a great thing,â Kaardal said. “People are skeptical at first, but then they get here and it’s a lot of fun, and they realize it’s not that big of a deal.”
The pupils raised awareness by speaking to all the German classes and distributing leaflets. They also hope to interact with other dance groups on campus, such as the Swing Dancing Club. If the lessons are successful, Wagner said a long-term goal would be to have classes of different difficulty levels.
The club’s junior and German manager, Rachel Weiss, encourages students to try ballroom dancing, as they will likely encounter formal dances in the future.
âI think dancing, especially this kind of dancing, is a skill that everyone will learn about eventually. You might as well learn when you have the option of taking free classes because it’s not as easy when you’re older, âWeiss said.
Claire Noack can be reached at [email protected]