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Arts & Life

Barefoot Dance Studio Makes Art From Movement

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Chynna Lockett
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Movement is a form of storytelling for many types of artists. The Barefoot Dance Studio in Rapid City is home to a variety of classes that teach students to use their bodies for self-expression.

A group of 7 women work on choreography during a modern dance class at the Seed Theater.

Andrea Schaefer is the instructor and owner of the building.

Schaefer: “I am in my 10th year of business here and I have been a dance teacher for a long time.”

Lockett: “What kind of different dance classes do you teach?”

Schaefer: “We have ballet, tap, jazz hip-hop and musical theater just in our dance program. And then on top of that we have music classes, drama classes, aerial classes, kung fu classes, tai chi, kick boxing. It goes on and on.”

Lockett: “How many teachers do you have?”

Schaefer: “We have 5 dance instructors and teachers in all of those other fields that come in to teach their own separate classes.”

Lockett: “Can you explain your philosophy for dance?”

Schaefer: “Sure. I mean, for us it’s not just about teaching dance but we try to have an aspect of community within this studio. And giving the kids something beyond an hour class but something that they can really grow on and build on, and then extending what they’ve learned beyond just steps, but the bigger stuff. Teamwork. Confidence. I know that people say that a lot when they work with kids but it really does develop over time.”

Lockett: “Why are movement arts important?”

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Credit Chynna Lockett
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Schaefer goes over choreography with the Modern Dance Class at the Seed Theater.

Schaefer: “I think that movement is one of the most honest and true ways to communicate and a good dancer stays honest and authentic on stage. And you just can’t lie, bodies just don’t lie. So if you’re hurting you can see it on stage. If you forget your dance you can see it.”

In the theater room, a group of 6 to 9 year olds get instructions before their theater class.

Lukas Ptacek teaches acting classes for the Black Hills Playhouse at the Barefoot Dance Studio.

Ptacek: “This is our 12th week of doing the classes and I really wanted to get the kids excited again. And so I thought ‘well what do the kids like to talk about?’ They’ve been talking about Trolls since we started. So we’re using some of the music for fun to dance to and just kind of looking at the themes and how that works in a broader sense for acting. Things like emotions—how do we show those emotions. Things like happiness and sadness.”

Lockett: “Can you tell me how you do show that?”

Ptacek: “So when you’re a character on the stage you need to show that character through your body. If you’re a mermaid on stage and you have a tail and you can’t move around, perhaps you’ve got some sort of contraption that holds you up off the ground. Well that’s only part of it. You’re not going to be held up and then it’s going to move you all around. You have to move yourself around. How do you do that? How do you move a tail when humans of course don’t have tails? So movement plays a lot of different parts.”

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Credit Chynna Lockett
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The Modern Dance Class rehearses at the Seed Theater.

Outside, an instructor is moving boxes of equipment into the theater. 

Naomi Even-Aberle is the newest teacher in the building.

Even-Aberle: “I am the founder and the co-owner of Full Circle Martial Arts in Academy and we offer programing in the Korean based martial arts. And we build character development into their day. So we work on learning things like mutual respect, physical balance, understating, and spatial understanding. But really, we utilize the motion and the movement of the martial arts to reach the kids and help them develop a better version of themselves.”

Lockett: “Can you tell me a little bit about why you guys decided to consolidate into one building?”

Even-Aberle: “I have always had this dream to have like, a creative complex where different performing artists in different genres can come together and really help support each other and create and an empathy and understating of diversity in movement. And so when Andrea sort of mentioned in passing that she wanted to utilize the space, I sort of raised my hand and I was like ‘pick us; we want a new gym space that’s creative.’”

Even-Aberle says the space will help support movement education for students.