If the summer brings with it a sense of motivation and possibilities, maybe it's also the time to try out a new hobby or rediscover a beloved one.
Kern Dance Alliance will start its new "Just Dance: Pop-Up Summer Series for Adults" on Saturday, with free dance classes taught by local instructors throughout the summer.
The series "is meant to be a fun, no-pressure, summer experience for Kern County adults either looking to take a dance class for the first time or to get back into classes all over again for free," said Andrea Hansen, president of KDA.
Just Dance is a new program for KDA, which has been offering a variety of dance programs and series since it started in 2015.
"KDA is often asked about adult dance instruction in Kern County," Hansen said. "There are only a handful of classes offered and many of them are for experienced adult dancers. Part of the KDA mission is to make dance more accessible to all populations. Just Dance was the perfect opportunity to reach our adult demographics."
The series will also help the local dance community identify adult dancers, Hansen said, which could lead to more adult classes at local studios in the future.
"We see Just Dance as a win/win," Hansen said. "Adults get to dance, dance studios receive more visibility and knowledge about our adult dance community, and KDA stays in step with our mission."
The series will cover a range of dance styles, with classes on everything from ballet and jazz to Zumba and hip-hop. There will even be a belly dancing session.
Each class is an hour to 90 minutes long, Hansen said. They will start with a warm up and stretch before learning the dance technique and choreography, as well as dance terminology.
"Many of the instructors will also be speaking about the history and background of the dance class they are teaching," Hansen said. "Did you know ballet began in Italy? Not France!"
Several of the classes are beginner-friendly, which Hansen said the Just Dance committee did intentionally.
"Providing introductory level dance classes opens the door for more adults to try and that is the point," Hansen said. "Just Dance is meant to inspire more Kern County adults to dance regardless of their experience or ability."
The first session will be held on Saturday morning at Civic Dance Center, where Kellie St. Pierre will teach contemporary partnering. She said she chose this class because she wanted to share the special connection dancing with a partner creates.
"I wanted to give back what I've loved most about my career as a professional dancer: the magic moments that happen when you are partnering with another person," St. Pierre said. "When you are faced with taking care of another person on stage in addition to yourself, your focus shifts deeper, your body finds a new intelligence and your 'performance' behavior becomes more authentic."
For her class specifically, St. Pierre said some dance training would help but she encourages anyone interested to attend the session.
"I think it is incredible for KDA to offer free pop-up classes for the Kern County community, and I am for lighting up the spirit of dance that really never goes away," she said. "No judgment, non-competitive zone, just uniting in the understanding of the joy dance has to offer."
Local instructors applied for the series back in May and will be paid $35 per class they teach, but keeping the classes free was important to the alliance, so that no one wouldn't be able to dance for lack of finances.
"KDA works tirelessly to fundraise for our organization," Hansen said. "As an all-volunteer non-profit, every dollar raised by KDA goes right back into our programs. Just Dance is a perfect example of how our fundraising efforts supports our community programs."
Hansen encouraged dancers and not-yet-dancers alike to join KDA at one (or more) of the free classes this summer.
"Our dance community is one of the most welcoming, kind-hearted and encouraging groups of people in Kern County," Hansen said. "Dancers want to see dancers succeed, from first-timers to the most experienced."
Beginners shouldn't be intimidated to try, she said.
"You will likely not be the only beginner in the class," Hansen said. "We have all been there and know that feeling, 'Gosh, everyone is going to look at me and I do not want to feel silly!' Dance instructors are educated and have your best interest at heart. They will keep you safe and informed all while having great time!"