story by: Madison Saenger and Amy Webster
For some, dance serves as a form of self-expression. For others, it functions solely as a hobby and a source of movement and exercise.
Irene Rodriguez Betancourt, a senior who moved to Asheville from Mexico last summer, views dance as a hobby that allows her to show her feelings in a way that she enjoys.
“I can express myself through dance without words, and if I’m in a really good mood or a bad mood, I just throw it all into my dancing,” she said.
Betancourt danced when she was in Mexico, but it was much different than her experience in the U.S. When she lived in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico, she took Hawaiian and Tahitian dance classes for almost eight years, which were specified to the techniques of Hawaiian culture.
“One of the reasons why I did those styles of dance is because you don’t have to be very flexible. So coming into the class knowing that we will be learning all kinds of different styles where you have to be more flexible in some areas was very scary. I was afraid,” Betancourt said.
Dance teacher Heather Weaver explained that Roberson designs their dance classes with levels ranging from beginner, honors and advanced. The classes cover all types of dance, from African to modern and hip-hop. Betancourt decided to take the beginner’s class so that she could start from scratch and learn all of the different styles.
“I teach a modern dance based program and we do a little bit of everything. Some of the types of dance are hip-hop, jazz, and this semester we are focusing on dances from different cultures,” Weaver said. “We have a guest choreographer who was born in Africa who is teaching us African dance, and we also have a Bollywood instructor that teaches us all kinds of different cultural dances as well.”
When Betancourt arrived at Roberson, she said she was already nervous being a new student in her senior year. Added to that stress, she was moving from a different country. During her time here, she said that she has made many friends through her dance class and has felt welcomed by the student body overall.
Betancourt is one of the two seniors in the beginners class. Through it, she says has become a leader for the younger students and has gotten a chance to take responsibility within the class and become closer to the other students.
“It’s actually a big responsibility and stresses me out sometimes with dance because I want to be able to help everyone out in the best way I can,” Betancourt said.
The dance program will be performing its semi-annual recital on May 26 in order to combine what each class has been taught this semester. It will take place in the auditorium at 7:00 p.m.
Senior Michelle Cobb enjoys dance because it gives her a chance to move everyday as well as be creative with choreography.
“I think what kept me in dance was the relaxation of it and the fact that I can’t sit still for more than 30 minutes. An hour and a half where I just get to move is great,” Cobb said.