Studio 9 Dance

Dance students at Studio 9 Dance are encouraged to swap partners to truly benefit from the experience and improve their dance skills.

By Mark Nessia

Dancing has always been a passion for Studio 9 owner and founder Debra Gonzalez but finding the time to “shake it” was always a struggle.

“I spent my whole life as a nurse and raising my children. I never really spent that much time on fun things for me,” Gonzalez said.

Having a busy schedule can make it difficult for some to find time for the things they love, like dancing, and that’s where Studio 9 comes in handy.

“It’s a safe and fun place and a more family atmosphere to learn how to dance,” Gonzalez said.

Studio 9 is a dance studio located in central Bakersfield that offers evening dance classes Monday through Friday. The studio teaches various dance styles, such as club style and country two-step.

“It’s a very friendly community, especially to beginners,” said Studio 9 instructor Karina Villarreal. Villarreal teaches bachata every Monday night from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Students are encouraged to come with or without a partner. Instructors have students rotate partners various times throughout their classes, giving everyone a chance to dance and meet new people.

“When we rotate partners, people smile, they introduce themselves and they never criticize each other, ever. They pat each other on the back,” said Cianne McGinnis, a dance instructor at Studio 9.

McGinnis is one of six dance instructors at the studio. She has 35 years of experience and knows 16 different dances including ballroom, Latin, swing and country western. She teaches country two-step from 7 to 8 p.m. and nightclub two-step from 8 to 9 p.m. on Thursday nights.

“It doesn’t matter about your age or reason,” McGinnis said. “Dancing is for everyone and it’s a great way to socialize while brushing up on your dancing skills.”

While most classes are offered in the evenings, the studio is also open during the day for private lessons. Studio 9 also offers social events for its students to show off new dances they have learned.

“Just come to the classes. You’re not going to get good just sitting down,” said Chad San Juan, a regular at Villarreal’s bachata classes.

Juan, 28, started taking dancing classes at Studio 9 in December 2015. He made it a 2016 New Year’s resolution to learn and improve. Juan is originally from Delano and most of his friends are still in Delano so he got inspired to take classes to meet new people. 

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